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.

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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).

Portland hopes d-man back in four weeks … Tri-City forward gets NHL deal … Chiefs to change benches

Kamloops was back in the smoke on Saturday. In Campbell Creek, 20 km east, it also was smoky. It wasn’t as bad as Thursday when the air quality hit 49 on a scale of 1-10, but we weren’t barbecuing yesterday.

The inferno knowns as the Elephant Hill fire, which is north of Ashcroft and just east of Clinton — grew to more than 110,000 hectares — that’s 271,816 acres — as it remains incredibly active.

One of the things I have learned in this summer of fire is that stupidity, like rust, never sleeps.

Consider the above tweet, and that’s just for starters.

On the night of July 31, thieves made off with a water pump and hoses — 10 100-foot lengths — that were being used by the B.C. Wildfire Service in the Castlegar area.

On July 25, two hikers were found in Tweedsmuir Park near Anahim Lake— that’s Carey Price country. It’s also an area that was closed because of the fire situation. Wildlife people had to extinguish a campfire as the two were helicoptered out of the area. They were fined a total of $1,233.

There have been other similar stories, including one from the Kelowna area that involved a couple of $1,000 fines.

In another incident, a helicopter fire-response crew had to stop work due to interference from some folks who were off-roading in the backcountry. There also have been reports of tankers unable to fill up from various lakes because of boaters who were in the way.

Late last week, thieves made off with pet food and supplies from the Four Paws Food Bank that has been operating outside the Sandman Centre in Kamloops.

It goes on and on. Early on in his mess, there were reports out of Quesnel of scammers posing as wildlife officials going door-to-door and telling people they had to evacuate.

And, yes, there are countless reports of thoughtless smokers flipping butts out of vehicle windows.

Kevin Skrepnek, the chief fire information officer for the Kamloops area, made the point on CBC-TV early on Saturday that things likely will get worse before they get better. As he pointed out, August is usually the wildfire service’s busiest time of the year.

Allow me to remind you that August isn’t half over. You know what? It can’t snow soon enough.

The Portland Winterhawks are hoping that D Henri Jokiharju will be in their lineup when they open the regular season on Sept. 23 against the host Everett Silvertips.

Failing that, perhaps at the time he’ll be in camp with the Chicago Blackhawks, who selected him in the first round of the NHL’s 2017 draft.

No matter, the Winterhawks hope the Finnish defender will be skating by then.

Jokiharju suffered an injury to his left knee while playing for Team Finland at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Mich., a week ago. The injury ended his Showcase.

On Saturday night, Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ general manager and head coach, told Taking Note that “we heard four weeks until skating so should be fine.”

The Winterhawks open training camp on Aug. 24, which is slightly more than two weeks away, so it seems unlikely that Jokiharju will be participating, at least in the beginning.

The Blackhawks open camp on Sept. 16, so perhaps he’ll be there, if only for the team’s medical staff to give him a going over.

Jokiharju is heading into his second WHL season, after putting up nine goals and 39 assists in 71 games last season.

F Michael Rasmussen of the Tri-City Americans has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. They selected him with the ninth overall pick of the 2017 NHL draft. . . . The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Rasmussen was limited to 50 games last season after suffering a broken scaphoid in his left wrist. He finished with 32 goals, 15 of them on the PP, and 23 assists. . . . In 114 career games, he has 98 points, including 50 goals. . . . From Surrey, B.C., Rasmussen will be back for a third season with the Americans. He presently is with Team Canada at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Mich.

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!

Season-ticket holders with the Spokane Chiefs are being provided with the option of moving their seats in the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena with the news that the home and visiting teams are switching player benches. Starting with the upcoming season, the Chiefs will occupy the bench closest to the end that they defend in the first and third periods. . . . The home and visiting penalty benches also will be switched. . . . Season-ticket holders were informed of the changes in a letter from the team dated July 28. . . . “The Western Hockey League has ruled that the Chiefs must move benches,” the letter reads, although it doesn’t say why the WHL office made such a decision. “Everything will stay the same except for the Chiefs’ home bench and which penalty box each team uses. This is not a decision put in place by the Chiefs organization, but imposed by the Western Hockey League.” . . . The WHL may have forced the move in the interests of consistency as it works towards using the same template in all buildings. Of course, that’s impossible in some buildings like Brandon and Swift Current, where the player benches are on opposite sides of the ice. . . . I also heard that Dan Lambert, who is heading into his first season as the Chiefs’ head coach, suggested the change, likely preferring not to be faced with the long change for two periods every home game. Lambert spent six seasons on the Kelowna Rockets’ coaching staff so will be quite familiar with playing in Spokane.

The Lower Mainland of B.C. includes three universities with hockey programs. Until now, the three of them — the Simon Fraser Clan, Trinity Western Spartans and UBC Thunderbirds — have never taken part in the same competition. They will in September when they compete in the inaugural Captains Cup, presented by the WHL’s Vancouver Giants. . . . The three teams will play a round-robin affair over two weeks. It begins with the Clan and Thunderbirds meeting at UBC on Sept. 15. One night later, the Spartans will play SFU at the Surrey Sport and Leisure Centre. It all ends on Sept. 30 with the Spartans and Thunderbirds meeting at UBC. . . . From a news release: “The goal of the event is to promote university hockey in the Lower Mainland, while also raising awareness for the WHL’s scholarship program, which is available for players entering into post-secondary hockey. . . . Between the three teams, the 28 players on their collective rosters have experience playing in the WHL. This includes 22 players with UBC, four with TWU and two with SFU. Amongst Giants alumni, the T-Birds have four players who spent time in the WHL with Vancouver.” . . . Also from the news release: “UBC enters the competition with a combined record of 9-1 against SFU and TWU. The Thunderbirds only loss against their BCIHL brethren was Jan. 6, 2012 when the Clan earned a 3-1 win. TWU and UBC played each other last year in an exhibition game for the first time ever, with the T-Birds winning 3-2.”

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).

Colin Birkas is the new head coach of the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks. He replaces James Poole, who left to join the coaching staff at the Edge School in Calgary. . . . Birkas has coached at the junior A level for five seasons, all of them in the OJHL. He spent four seasons (2011-15) with the Kingston Voyageurs and last season with the Brockville Braves. All told, he went 201-124-19, reaching four conference finals and winning one conference title.