Scattershooting and channel surfing … MJHL coach puts up 500th win … Ferguson returning to Blazers … Broncos captain gets NHL deal

Ahh, this will be a glorious Thursday night. There are five TSN channels and Gary Bettman’s NHL has games on four of them.

Let’s watch the Arizona Coyotes against the Canadiens in Montreal. Maybe we’ll see how it is that the Coyotes have opened without a regulation victory in about 100 games. . . . Whoops! Blacked out.

Well, let’s move on to the next channel where the Winnipeg Jets are entertaining the Philadelphia Flyers. Let’s watch as F Nolan Patrick returns to the Flyers’ lineup after missing nine games with a concussion, and he does it in his hometown. . . . Whoops! Blacked out.

Oh well, there’s always the next channel where the New Jersey Devils are visiting the Toronto Maple Leafs. These aren’t your father’s Devils, you know. They don’t trap. Rather, they fly around the ice with the purpose of scoring goals. This one could be fun. . . . Whoops! Blacked out.

And it’s on to the fourth TSN channel, where the Pittsburgh Penguins are visiting the Ottawa Senators. Hey, it’s always fun to watch Sid Who Used To Be A Kid. . . . But not tonight. You guess it. Blacked out.

Thanks, Mr. Bettman.

What about that fifth TSN channel. Yes, it’s on to the NFL where the Tennessee Titans are visiting the Pittsburgh Steelers. . . . Thanks again, Mr. Bettman. You’re really doing a good job of selling the, uhh, NFL.

Brent Sutter, the owner, general manager and head coach of the Red Deer Rebels, remembers when his off-season training spot was a barn in which there was a heavy bag, a speed bag, some weights and a couple of bikes. Last summer, he did Pilates. Why? Because he wanted to experience what his players were doing. It’s all part of an attempt to cut down on injuries by improving flexibility and core strength.

When this WHL season began, Don Hay, now with the Kamloops Blazers, had 720 WHL head-coaching regular-season victories, meaning he needed 23 more to break Ken Hodge’s career record of 742. The Blazers have won seven of their first 20 games, meaning they are on pace for 25 victories this season.

Hey, there’s an NHL game on one of Sportsnet’s umpteen channels. It’s the St. Louis Blues in Edmonton against the Oilers. Always fun to watch McDavid and Draisaitl, even if we have to put up with Sportsnet’s computer-generated ads plastered all over the glass. . . . Oh wait. It’s blacked out.

After the Carolina Panthers dealt wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin to the Buffalo Bills, quarterback Cam Newton offered this analysis: “Yeah, we just lost a great player, but the Titanic still has to go.” . . . To which Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times responded: “Considering it’s Carolina’s less-than-stellar aerial game, shouldn’t it be the Hindenburg?”

“Twitter has increased the number of characters allowed per tweet from 140 to 280,” notes blogger Tony Chong of Richmond, B.C. “So isn’t that considered an email?” 

Hey, we found another NHL game on Sportsnet as the Vegas Golden Knights visit the Vancouver Canucks. Ahh, no blackout. Might check it out after the football game. Or earlier, if it’s a blowout.

By now you are aware that Dylan Ferguson of the Kamloops Blazers has been the Golden Knights’ backup goaltender since Oct. 30. He has been responsible for more publicity for Kamloops and the Blazers over the past couple of weeks than was generated when J-Lo, Morgan Freeman and Robert Redford were in the area to film An Unfinished Life.

Don’t discount the Vancouver Giants in the WHL’s Western Conference this season. The key, of course, is that F Tyler Benson has to stay healthy, something that hasn’t happened in either of the past two seasons. With Benson, head coach Jason McKee’s guys have two terrific forward lines. If the goaltending holds up, the Giants could make some noise.

Congratulations to Ken Pearson, the head coach of the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers.


When the Flyers beat the host Steinbach Pistons 3-2 in OT on Wednesday night, Pearson chalked up his 500th regular-season victory as an MJHL head coach.

Pearson has made more than a handful of stops during his coaching career, including stints with the Neepawa Natives, Prince Albert Raiders, Brooks Bandits, Winnipeg South Blues and Battlefords North Stars. He has scouted for the Tri-City Americans and NHL Central Scouting.

All told, Pearson is in his 12th season behind the Flyers’ bench.

Pearson’s 500 regular-season victories are third on the MJHL’s all-time list, behind Doug Stokes (670) and Don MacGillivray (669). In the MJHL, Stokes coached the Kildonan North Stars, Winnipeg South Blues, Dauphin Kings, Selkirk Steelers and Winnipeg Saints. MacGillivray, now an assistant coach with the Brandon Wheat Kings, coached with the St. James Canadians, Southeast Blades, Neepawa Natives, Portage Terriers, Winnipeg South Blues and Winnipeg Blues.

Pearson’s Flyers go into this weekend at 16-6-0, tied for second in the 11-team league with the OCN Blizzard (15-5-2). Both teams are one point behind Steinbach (16-4-1).

The Calgary Flames have signed F Glenn Gawdin, the captain of the Swift Current Broncos, to a three-year entry-level NHL contract. Gawdin, 20, was selected by the St. Louis Blues in the 2015 NHL draft, but wasn’t signed by them. He was eligible for the 2017 draft, but wasn’t selected. Gawdin, from Richmond, B.C., was in the Flames’ training camp prior to this season as a free agent. . . . This season, Gawdin has 40 points, including 14 goals, in 18 games and his third in the WHL scoring race, behind line mates Tyler Steenbergen, who has 49 points, and Aleksi Heponiemo (48). . . . Gawdin was the fifth overall selection in the WHL’s 2012 bantam draft. In 263 games with the Broncos, he has 228 points, including 84 goals.

Taylor Shire, who works in TV at Global Regina, tweeted on Thursday: “Tickets for the Regina Pats outdoor game at Mosaic Stadium will range from $149, $219 or $319 per seat. They also have standing room only for $75. Includes Sat and Sun games.”

Among the replies to that tweet:

“Wow, those are some big numbers. Out of my price range so I won’t be joining the regiment for this game.”

“Does this include a signed Jordan Eberle jersey, beer, hand warmers and a hot dog?”

“For a dub game give your head a shake Regina.”

Meanwhile, on Dec. 17, the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s are going to face the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques at The Stadium at TD Place, the home of the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks.

A general admission ticket will set you back $15, with reserved seats going for $20 each. Those prices include all taxes and surcharges, along with transportation to the game.

F Josh Prokop revealed via Twitter on Thursday that he has made a commitment to attend Ohio State and play hockey for the Buckeyes. Prokop, 17, is from Edmonton. He was a fifth-round selection by the Swift Current Broncos in the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. This season, Prokop has 14 points, eight of them goals, in 25 games with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers. . . . Last season, he put up a CSSHL-leading 57 points, including 29 goals, in 30 games with the Northern Alberta X-Treme.

The Vegas Golden Knights flew out of Vancouver and headed home late Thursday night after posting a 5-2 victory over the Canucks.

Yes, G Dylan Ferguson of the Kamloops Blazers wasn’t on the plane and is to return to Kamloops today (Friday).

Ferguson, 19, was on the bench for an eighth straight game in support of starter Maxime Lagace last night. Ferguson had made his NHL debut during Tuesday’s 8-2 loss to the Oilers in Edmonton. He played 9:14 and stopped one of the two shots he faced.

Ferguson is from Lantzville, which is on Vancouver Island, so you know he had some supporters in the crowd last night. But they had to be content with watching him in the pregame warmup.

The Golden Knights have three goaltenders out with injuries, although one of them, Malcom Subban, has returned to practice. Subban, who was in Vancouver yesterday and watched the game from the press box, seems  ready to return, at least in a backup role. Starter Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion) and Oscar Dansk, who was injured on Oct. 30 and whose injury resulted in the phone call to Ferguson, also are injured.

The Golden Knights are next scheduled to play on Sunday against the visiting Los Angeles Kings.

Ferguson will rejoin the Blazers in time for two weekend home games, with the Vancouver Giants in town tonight and the Lethbridge Hurricanes following on Saturday.

The Blazers were 3-2-0 while Ferguson was with Vegas. Max Palaga, 17, who has been backing up Ferguson, made three starts, while Dylan Garand, a 15-year-old from the Delta Hockey Academy, was 1-1-0 in his two starts.

The political scene the U.S. is in upheaval due to, among other things, an investigation into whether Russia, under President Vladimir Putin, had its hands in the 2016 election. A short time ago, F Alex Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals’ starry Russian, waded into the mess by creating something that he, or somebody, has dubbed “Putin’s Team.” . . . So just what is that all about? And why would Ovechkin get involved in something like that at this particular point in time? . . . Matt Flegenheimer of The New York Times takes a look right here.

If you like what you see here, you may want to consider donating to the cause. Should you choose to help out, simply click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner of this page and away you go. Thank you!

D Montana Onyebuchi of the Everett Silvertips won’t play tonight against the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds as he serves a one-game WHL suspension. That comes after he took a charging major and game misconduct during a 2-0 victory over the visiting Prince Albert Raiders on Wednesday night.

Colin Birkas is out as head coach of the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks, and has been replaced, at least on an interim basis, by Darryl Olsen. . . . Birkas had been head coach since Aug. 11. He replaced James Poole, who resigned earlier in the summer after one season in the position. . . . Birkas had coached junior A in Ontario before signing with the Canucks. . . . A Calgarian, Olsen stepped up from assistant coach to take over as head coach of the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons late last season. . . . The Canucks are 10-12-1 and in fifth place in the eight-team Viterra AJHL South.

What does a fired coach do with his time when there isn’t hockey? Here’s Casey O’Brien, who was dismissed by the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers on Oct. 31 . . .


No Games Scheduled.

FRIDAY (all times local):

Calgary at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.

Brandon at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.

Swift Current at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.

Red Deer vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m.

Edmonton at Prince George, 7 p.m.

Vancouver at Kamloops, 7 p.m.

Lethbridge at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.

Prince Albert vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.

Victoria at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.

Seattle at Everett, 7:35 p.m.

If you would like to contact Taking Note with information, have a question or just feel like commenting on something, feel free to send an email to I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).

Fires: No relief in sight … Tigers, T-Birds confirm Kruger, McLean gone … Some draft rankings

The fire season? All you need to know is that the provincial government declared a state of emergency on July 7. On Friday, that state of emergency was extended through Sept. 1.

After a clear and warm Friday, the winds came up late in the afternoon and smoke rolled back into Kamloops in the early evening hours.

The weekend forecast is for gusting winds and thunderstorms, so the firefighters are anticipating a lot of activity on the front lines.

Stay safe!

If you want some numbers . . . As of Friday at 1 p.m., the province had lost 902,000 hectares to fires. The number is likely to rise with better mapping, too. . . . There were 145 fires burning, with seven of those listed as new. . . . The B.C. Wildfire Service’s costs are now at $329.7 million. . . . There were 4,403 people out of their homes, with more than 20,000 others living under evacuation alerts. . . . The Hanceville-Riske Lake fire is at 218,000 hectares, while the Elephant Hill blaze stayed at 168,000 ha. . . . A windy weekend will change those numbers in a big way, though.

On Friday night, the Cariboo Regional District issued an evacuation order for the Tatla Lake and Kleena Kleene areas, both of which are west of Williams Lake. Tatla Lake had been under an evacuation alert since July 14; Kleena Kleene since Aug. 4.

G Quinton Howden (Moose Jaw, 2007-12) has signed a one-year contract with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL). Last season, he was pointless in five games with the Winnipeg Jets (NHL), and had 13 goals and 11 assists in 58 games with the Manitoba Moose (AHL). . . .

D Jordan Rowley (Kamloops, Prince Albert, 2005-11) signed a one-year contract with the Pelicans Lahti (Finland, Liiga). Last season, he had four goals and 15 assists in 51 games with Vita Hästen Norrköping (Sweden, Allsvenskan). Rowley’s contract with Pelicans includes a tryout period. If the tryout period is a success, the contract converts to a one-year contract.

The Calgary Flames and Medicine Hat Tigers have made official speculation that was mentioned here on Aug. 12. Darren Kruger, the Tigers’ senior director of player development, has joined the Flames as an amateur scout who will spend most of his time in the WHL’s Eastern Conference. . . . Kruger, 48, had been with the Tigers since 2006, first as an assistant coach, then as associate coach, before stepping into his latest role prior to the 2014-15 season. . . . Kruger took over as senior director of player development after Brad McEwen left the Tigers to join the Flames’ scouting staff. McEwen left the Flames earlier this summer and now is Hockey Canada’s head scout.

Meanwhile, the Seattle Thunderbirds announced Friday that Dan McLean, their director of scouting, has joined the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins as an amateur scout. . . . That was reported here earlier this week. . . . McLean had been with the Thunderbirds for 21 seasons, the last two as director of scouting. . . . With the Penguins, McLean will be responsible for scouting the WHL. . . . Speculation is that the Thunderbirds won’t replace McLean, at least not now, instead choosing to spread his workload around one or two people already in their organization.

If you’re into rankings, Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News has issued his first look at potential first-round selections for the NHL’s 2018 draft. With the Vegas Golden Knights now in the NHL, the first round will comprise 31 selections, so Kennedy presents his first Top 31. A word of warning for WHL fans, though — your league has only two players on Kennedy’s list. D Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs is at No. 9, with D Jett Woo of the Moose Jaw Warriors ranked 15th. . . . Kennedy has Swedish D Rasmus Dahlin atop his list, which is right here.

Dan O’Connor and Hartley Miller were a team on Prince George Cougars broadcasts through the past four seasons. However, O’Connor has left Prince George for a position with the Vancouver Giants. In his weekly column, Miller looks back and glances ahead, and it’s all right here.

If you like what you see here, you may want to consider donating to the cause. Should you choose to help out, simply click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner of this page and away you go. Thank you!

If you would like to contact Taking Note with information, have a question or just feel like commenting on something, feel free to send an email to I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).

Things are smokin’ in Kamloops … Hebig getting geared up … Ex-WHLer cookin’ in modelling world

How were things in Kamloops on Thursday?

Well, one of the air quality rating systems works on a 1-10 basis, with 10 being the poorest. At noon, the air quality in Kamloops was rated at 24. Seriously . . . 24!

Except that it went to 27 . . . then 47 . . . then 49!

Yes, it was bad.

In their daily briefing, at 1 p.m., the fire information people told us that there were 126 fires burning, with eight of them new ones. All told, there have been 861 fires and they have scorched 491,000 hectares — that’s 1,213,287 acres.

Still, we’ve got a ways to go before this is the worst fire season on record. In 1958, the scorched total was 855,968 hectares. Right now, though, we’re No. 2.

As for the cost, well, since April 1 the tab is at $204 million, which has to be right there with Norm’s bar tab at Cheers.

G Jackson Whistle (Vancouver, Kelowna, 2011-16) has signed a one-year extension with the Belfast Giants (Northern Ireland, UK Elite). Last season, in 14 games, he was 2.59 and .903. Whistle doesn’t count as an import because he played minor hockey in the UK. His father David (Kamloops, Brandon, 1986-87) played and coached in the UK, including three seasons as head coach of Belfast (2000-03).

F Cameron Hebig of the Saskatoon Blades is eagerly preparing for his 20-year-old season, after sitting out all of last season with concussion-related problems. “I was seeing a neurologist, and you know the brain heals and the body heals,” Hebig told CTV’s Pat McKay. “I had worked hard at my physio, and I think that helped a lot, and I’m feeling 100 per cent now.” . . . Hebig arguably was the Blades’ top forward going into last season. He was coming off an 18-year-old season in which he put up 69 points, 26 of them goals, in 59 games. Those are impressive numbers, especially when you consider that he was playing on a poor team and frequently was up against the other team’s top centre. . . . Without Hebig last season, the Blades missed the playoffs for a fourth straight season. Of course, there isn’t a guarantee that he will be in the lineup when the 2017-18 season arrives because he is, at the moment, one of four 20-year-olds on the Saskatoon roster, along with D Evan Fiala, G Logan Flodell and F Braylon Shmyr. . . . McKay has more on Hebig right here.

The Everett Silvertips have signed G Blake Lyda to a WHL contract. Lyda, from Edmonton, was a fourth-round selection in the 2017 bantam draft. Last season, in 24 games with the bantam AAA Canadian Athletic Club Canadians, he was 3.30 and .917 with one one shutout. . . . Lyda is a cousin to F Vern Fiddler, who has played 14 NHL seasons after playing four WHL seasons (Kelowna, Medicine Hat, 1997-2001).

Rob Sumner, a former head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds, has been promoted to assistant director of amateur scouting by the NHL’s Calgary Flames. Sumner was the Thunderbirds’ head coach for seven seasons (2004-11) after spending seven seasons there as an assistant coach. He has been an amateur scout with the Flames since 2011. . . . The Flames named Sumner and Fred Parker as assistant directors of amateur scouting under Tod Button, their director of amateur scouting.

The ShoWare Center, which is home to the WHL-champion Seattle Thunderbirds, was expected to lose US$311,897 in the second quarter; instead, the loss was $120,683. That’s because the Thunderbirds were a big hit in the WHL playoffs and had eight home playoff games in that time. Steve Hunter of the Kent Reporter writes that “ShoWare’s rental income came in $108,754 more than the budget. The hockey games also increased the food and beverage profits. The arena’s concessions brought in $236,817 for the second quarter, nearly $175,000 higher than budget.” . . . Playoffs aren’t a sure thing, so teams and facilities don’t budget for these numbers. Yes, making the playoffs is awfully important to WHL teams and the buildings in which they play. . . . Hunter’s complete story is right here.


The next time you walk past a Gap store, make sure you check out the photos using male models. If one of them looks familiar, it just might be Jacob Dietrich, who spent four seasons (2004-08) in the WHL, splitting that time among the Moose Jaw Warriors, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Portland Winterhawks. . . . These days, he’s know as Jake and he is represented by Wilhelmina International Inc. . . . Dietrich, who is from Deloraine, Man., a farming community located south of Brandon, is from a hockey family. His father, Don, played for the Wheat Kings, while his brother, Nick, played with Lethbridge and Portland. . . . After his hockey career, Jake was going to enter the world of culinary arts. But he got sidetracked and now he’s busy working for the likes of Joseph Abboud, Michael Kors and, yes, The Gap. . . . Ian Froese of The Brandon Sun has a terrific story right here.

If you like what you see here, you may want to consider donating to the cause. Should you choose to help out, simply click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner of this page and away you go. Thank you!

If you would like to contact Taking Note with information, have a question or just feel like commenting on something, feel free to send an email to I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).