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.

KEN PEARSON

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 . . .


THURSDAY:

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 greggdrinnan@gmail.com. I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).


Blazers likely to move camp … Chiefs, ‘Tips add trainers … Ex-WHLers get ECHL deals

My camera doesn’t really do justice for a shot like this, but that’s the sun, which was blood red, setting over the hills east of Kamloops on Wednesday night.

As you can tell by the photo, it was another smoky day in Kamloops.

As mentioned previously, we live 20 km east of the city in an area known as Campbell Creek. There was a change in the smoke on Tuesday that carried over to Wednesday; oh, it’s still smoke, but it’s lower now than it had been; it lays in the trees and hovers just above water level in the South Thompson River.

There are rumblings that we may get a break from it as the weekend approaches, and I even heard something about scattered showers in the forecast for Saturday or Sunday. Yes, I will believe that when it happens.

In the meantime, you should know that if you go into the back country, start a campfire and get caught, the BC Conservation Officer Service will write you a ticket that will cost you $1,150. On the long weekend, the BCCOS wrote 19 such tickets. Seriously!


F Kruise Reddick (Tri-City, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had six goals and 13 assists in 52 games with Vita Hästen Norrköping (Sweden, Allsvenskan). . . .

D Linden Springer (Prince George, Portland, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Manchester Storm (England, UK Elite). Last season, with Lakehead University (OUA West), he had two goals and five assists in 23 games. . . .

D Petr Kuboš (Prince George, 1997-99) has signed a a tryout contract with Vsetín (Czech Republic, 1. Liga). Last season, he had three goals and 13 assists in 39 games with Tychy (Poland, PHL). Kuboš is from Vsetín.


The Kamloops Blazers may be forced out of the Sandman Centre for training camp and exhibition games. Radio NL, the longtime voice of the Blazers, reported Wednesday that the wildfire situation may necessitate a switch. The arena is being used as an evacuation centre and is housing evacuees. As Jon Keen, the play-by-play voice, tweeted, the “situation likely not improving the next month.” . . . Goalies are to report to camp on Aug. 22, with freshmen coming in Aug. 25 and veterans on Aug. 27. . . . According to Keen, the Blazers are preparing to hold training camp at the McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre or Memorial Arena. . . . Memorial Arena was the home of the Blazers before the opening of the Sandman Centre, which was then known as Riverside Coliseum. . . . The Blazers have two home exhibition games scheduled — against the Victoria Royals on Sept. 1 and the Kelowna Rockets on Sept. 9. According to the exhibition schedule on the WHL website, both games will be played at McArthur Island.


Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, wrote a piece over the weekend that carried this headline: When Shultz stirred the pot between Raiders and Blades. . . . The blog entry detailed goings-on leading up to and during a game between the Saskatoon Blades and hometown Prince Albert Raiders on Jan. 30, 2004. Chris Schlenker was a defenceman with the Raiders and found himself in the middle of some stuff in that game. . . . Steinke’s blog is right here.

Meanwhile, the Medicine Hat News carried a piece on Schlenker on Wednesday. If you aren’t aware, Schlenker, who was a WHL tough cookie, now is an NHL referee. The News’s story is right here.


Joseph Hurley is the Spokane Chiefs’ new head trainer and conditioning coach. He replaces Todd Daniels, who has left Spokane after nine years to join the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners. The Chiefs announced his departure on Monday. . . . Hurley, 28, spent last season with the NAHL’s Amarillo Bulls. He has an exercise and sports science degree from Coastal Carolina and graduated from Seton Hall with a master’s of science in athletic training in 2015. He was an assistant trainer with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers in 2015-16.


The Everett Silvertips have added Blake Draughon as their athletic trainer. He replaces Rob Tagle, who has joined the ECHL’s Worcester Railers, who are preparing for their first season. . . . Draughon, 28, has a bachelor of science from Texas Tech (2011) and graduated from the Texas Tech Health Sciences Centre with a master’s of science in athletic training in 2015. . . . He has training experience with Plainview, Texas, High School, and with Texas Tech, including with the Red Raiders football team. He also worked with the NHL’s Dallas Stars during their July 2014 development camp.


Marty Williamson, a veteran OHL coach, has been named interim head coach of the Brock U Badgers for 2017-18. The Badgers play out of St. Catharines, Ont. . . . Williamson, 54, replaces Murray Nystrom, who had coached the Badgers since 1998. . . . Williamson had been the general manager and head coach of the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, who also play out of St. Catharines for six seasons (2010-16). The IceDogs fired him in May 2016 despite the fact they made the playoffs in each of his six seasons and won two Eastern Conference championships.


The BCHL’s Vernon Vipers announced on Wednesday that they have signed F Alex Swetlikoff, 16, and F Josh Prokop, 17. . . . Swetlikoff, from Kelowna, was grabbed by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the third round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. He has committed to Denver U for 2020-21. Last season, he had 19 goals and 26 assists in 28 games with the Yale Hockey Academy prep team in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League. . . . Prokop, from Edmonton, was a fifth-round selection by the Swift Current Broncos in the fifth round of the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. Last season, Prokop had 29 goals and 28 assists in 30 games with the CSSHL’s Northern Alberta X-Treme prep side. . . . “We feel like both of these players are major acquisitions for our hockey club,” Mark Vernon, the Vipers’ head coach, said, “and they will both be important pieces of the Vernon Vipers, not just for next season, but for the future as well. We are really excited.”

——

The Athol Murray College of Notre Dame, which is located in Wilcox, Sask., and is home to the Hounds, is looking for a hockey operations assistant who also would help out as an assistant coach with the junior A team that plays in the SJHL. A partial job description: “The hockey operations assistant is responsible for recruiting, co-ordinating and organizing the Spring Showcases and Summer Camps . . . while providing assistance with the fall camp operations. The individual in this position will work within the Hockey Office and related areas providing administrative support. The staff member in this position directly reports to the male hockey co-ordinator.” . . . There’s a lot more information right here.


The SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars, who are the reigning champions, firmed up their coaching staff on Wednesday, naming Brandon Heck general manager and head coach, with Boyd Wakelin coming on board as assistant coach. . . . For the past four seasons, Heck, 32, has been the head coach of the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League’s Camrose Red Wings. From Forrestburg, Alta., he played junior A with the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers and the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder, then spent four years playing for NCAA Division III Castleton, Vt., Spartans. . . . Heck replaces Nate Bedford, now the head coach of the Portage College Voyageurs in Lac La Biche, Alta. . . . Wakelin, 26, is from Battleford and is a former North Stars player.


F Patrick D’Amico, who played three seasons (2012-15) with the Regina Pats, has signed with the ECHL’s Atlanta Gladiators. D’Amico, 22, is from Winnipeg. He played 50 games with Atlanta in 2015-16, putting up 13 goals and seven assists. Last season, he had six goals and 10 assists in 38 games with the ECHL’s Indy Fuel. . . . Meanwhile, the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads have re-signed D Corbin Baldwin for a third season. Baldwin, 26, spent four seasons (2008-12) with the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Sean Zimmerman, another former Spokane defenceman (2003-07), has signed with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears. He spent last season with the ECHL’s Colorado Eagles. In fact, Zimmerman, 30, was the team captain as they won the Kelly Cup as ECHL champions.


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 greggdrinnan@gmail.com. I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).