The passing of the torch in Saskatoon was completed last week when the sale of the Blades was unanimously approved by the Western Hockey League’s board of governors at a special meeting held in Calgary. Mike Priestner from Edmonton is the new owner of the league’s oldest franchise when his $9 million offer was accepted by Jack Brodsky and given the stamp of approval by the league. The Brodsky family had owned the franchise for 37 years and with the sale a new era has begun. For current coach David Struch and general manager Lorne Molleken, the leash might be short. Priestner’s son Colin has moved to Saskatoon to oversee hockey operations while Steve Hogle has also relocated to the Bridge City as the president and alternate governor. The younger Priestner has delayed his recording of a CD in order to take over his father’s new business while Hogle is a former vice-president of communications with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. Both will have the final say in any transactions associated with the team meaning Struch and Molleken won’t have the same autonomy they have been given in the past. As for Brodsky, he has purchased eight season tickets and will remain a loyal supporter of the team that he was part of since 1976.
The Kootenay Ice have a name on their roster that is familiar to Prince Albert fans as former Raider Pat Elynuik’s son Hudson is expected to make the final roster as a 16-year-old. The senior Elynuik was a star for the Raiders in the mid-1980s and helped the team win its one and only Memorial Cup before moving on to the NHL for a 500-plus game career with the Winnipeg Jets, Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators. The younger Elynuik was an injury call-up for the Ice last spring and saw limited action during Kootenay’s playoff series with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Hudson Elynuik was the 60th player selected in the 2012 bantam draft and spent most of last year playing Midget AAA hockey in Alberta.
Still with familiar names, Tyson Dallman, the son of another former Raider Rod Dallman, was reassigned by the Tri-Cities Americans this week to the West Kelowna Warriors of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League. Dallman has spent the last two seasons with the Americans, but did not figure into the Tri-Cities plans as an overage. Dallman becomes the fifth former Prince Albert Minto to crack the roster of the Warriors as Matt Anholt is the team captain while Kylar Hope, Tanner Burgardt and Adam Osczevski are all in their first season with the club. Another former Prince Albert Midget AAA player, Rylan Ferster, is the team’s head coach.
Yet another former Minto, Taran Kozun, has had a slow start with the Kamloops Blazers this fall which resulted in the club acquiring Bolton Pouliot from the Red Deer Rebels for a sixth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft. Kozun is still listed as the No. 1 netminder in Kamloops, but the arrival of Pouliot will undoubtedly make it a two-horse race for that coveted spot. Pouliot was deemed expendable when Canadian Hockey League goaltender of the year, Patrik Bartosak, was returned to Red Deer by the Los Angeles Kings. Bartosak is in his overage season and will likely get the bulk of workload as he is a rare import/overage player in the league.
A pair of other import players were finally cleared to join their teams this week as Nikita Sherbak got his release from a Russian team and can now take to the ice for practise sessions and future games while Alexander Chirva was the victim of a Canadian foreign services strike and had to endure a lengthy wait before his visa was issued. Sherbak had been with the Blades the last two weeks, but due to the contract conflict could only ride a stationary bike and do other dry-land activities while his teammates were on the ice. Chirva is now in Moose Jaw and looking to make an impact during the remainder of training camp…An exhibition game between the Medicine Hat Tigers and Swift Current Broncos last weekend had to be called after one period of play when the fog in the arena became too thick and player safety was jeopardized. League officials stopped the game as the Tigers held a 3-2 lead after 20 minutes of play.
Information for the WHL Notebook is compiled from submissions by the WHL Writer’s Group.