The Portland Winterhawks’ defensive corp got a whole lot better when former Red Deer Rebel Matthew Dumba was returned to junior hockey by the NHL’s Minnesota Wild immediately following the world junior hockey championship. Dumba, who has yet to play with Portland due to an illness, was traded in December in exchange for Presten Kopeck and a trio of conditional second-round picks in the Western Hockey League’s bantam draft. Red Deer took a flier that Dumba might stick with Minnesota, but after playing in just 13 games the Wild felt he would be better off back in junior. Portland, which had already lost its first-round picks for the next five years after last season’s sanction for recruitment violations, now has to give away their second-round picks with Dumba joining the team. To make room for Dumba the Winterhawks reassigned Shawn MacPherson to the Kindersley Klippers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League and they also traded Steven Alldridge to the Lethbridge Hurricanes with the latter needing to waive a no-trade clause before that deal could be completed.
Kamloops Blazers’ head coach Dave Hunchak has taken a leave of absence from the team and is being replaced by former bench boss Guy Charron. No reason was given for the departure…Still with the Blazers, does anyone remember the name Jake Kryski? The 15-year-old forward was Prince Albert’s first-round selection in the 2013 bantam draft who ultimately was traded to Kamloops for goaltender Cole Cheveldave in the offseason. Kryski recently made his WHL debut with the Blazers and picked up a pair of assists…One more Kamloops note with a local connection has former Minto netminder Taran Kozun moving to the Seattle Thunderbirds on the trade deadline. The deal was late in being finalized and never made the sheet listing all of the moves that were completed.
Brandon Wheat King head coach and general manager Kelly McCrimmon recently picked up his 350th career victory to move into 15th place on the all-time coaching list for wins. Vancouver Giants’ coach Don Hay is at 599 and will join the elite group of Ken Hodge and Lorne Molleken with 600 victories or more when he gets his next win…The stigma created in Lethbridge this year continues as former Saskatoon Blade Shane McColgan has refused to report to the Hurricanes after being included in a deal with the Portland Winterhawks at the trade deadline. McColgan, who had been moved to Portland in the offseason and then left the team before Christmas, has opted to remain with the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League…Curtis Valk is the new captain of the Medicine Hat Tigers after Hunter Shinkaruk was lost to the season due to hip surgery.
Former Prince Albert Raider Todd Fiddler was the WHL’s player of the week last week after the 20-year-old scored five times and set up five others in four games with the Prince George Cougars. Fiddler, who started the year with the Moose Jaw Warriors, now has 22 goals and 22 assists in 26 games with Prince George and is 10th in league scoring with 54 points…Vancouver’s attendance has plummeted despite the Giants becoming one of the better teams once again in the Western Conference. Last year when the team finished dead last more than 7,200 fans attended Vancouver home games, on average, while this year that number is under 6,000, on average.
A couple of interesting stories came out of the trade deadline. The first involved the Calgary Hitmen’s Zane Jones who, after being told he was dealt to the Everett Silvertips when the Calgary bus rolled into Regina, immediately caught a flight back to Alberta to gather his things and then flew to Vancouver. His flight was delayed 90 minutes out of Calgary and then he had another 90-minute delay crossing the American border leaving him watching his new team play Tri-City from the stands as he arrived at the end of the first period of that game. The second had Marek Tvrdon going to Kelowna from Vancouver, but the Giants showed no discretion as Tvrdon’s old jersey No. 17 had already been given to No. 1 prospect Tyler Benson in the fall. Tvrdon, who had 107 points in 90 games with the Giants before joining Toledo of the East Coast Hockey League this year, was even given a different number at training camp. Tvrdon has since left Toledo to take up an overage spot with the league-leading Rockets and could come back to haunt Vancouver as those two clubs meet four times in the final eight games of the regular season.
Former Prince Albert Raider Pat Elynuik has passed on his hockey genes to his sons. The oldest, Campbell, is in the Boston Bruins system, the middle son, Jakson, plays with Alberni of the BCJHL and the youngest, Hudson, is now with the Spokane Chiefs after being involved in a deadline trade that saw him move over to Washington state from the Kootenay Ice…The Regina Pats recently lost a couple of players when Marc McCoy left the team to get an early start on his post-secondary education and Tye Hand went home to Yellowknife, NWT, to recover from his sixth concussion in the last four years. McCoy was subsequently traded to Kelowna, but has not reported to the Rockets…We started this piece with news of the Portland defence and we will end it with more about that group as the Winterhawks recently signed Blake Heinrich to a standard education contract. What makes this interesting is the 18-year-old walked away from a scholarship at Minnesota-Duluth to join the Winterhawks and will make his debut when his current team, Sioux City in the United States Hockey League, finishes its season in March. Heinrich is a fifth-round pick of the Washington Capitals last year.
Information for the WHL Notebook is gathered from submissions by the WHL Writer’s Group.