Juuso Välimäki (centre) of the Tri-City Americans shakes hands
with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, who is behind his
wife Jenni Haukio (in purple). (YLE screen grab)
Juuso Välimäki is greeted by Finnish First Lady Jenni Haukio.(YLE screen grab)

D Juuso Välimäki of the Tri-City Americans was in Helsinki, Finland, on Tuesday where he was among those feted in that country’s Independence Day celebrations that included the Linnan Juhlat — Palace Ball — which, according to The MacBeth Report, “is a REALLY big deal . . . it is televised live and garners high ratings.Välimäki was among the honourees because he captained the Finnish team that won the U-18 IIHF world championship in Grand Forks, N.D., in April.Here’s more from The MacBeth Report:It begins with the reception line, where everyone is individually greeted by the President (currently Sauli Niinistö) and spouse/significant other (wife in this case, Jenni Haukio).The first people through the line are war veterans, led this year by 91-year- old General Jaakko Valtanen, former Commander of the Finnish Armed Forces. These are veterans of the Winter War and Continuation War, two wars fought during the Second World War, when the Soviet Union twice attacked Finland. The veterans are dwindling in number every year, just like here.Afterwards, it's dinner, then dancing. Anyway . . . From Turun Sanomat (Turku's daily newspaper), a story that includes a picture of Välimäki arriving at the Palace is right here.There are more pictures of the reception line right here.And there is more coverage right here, in Finnish, from the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE).As best as we can tell, Välimäki was the youngest guest at age 18. A Finnish singer named Robin Packalén also is 18, but Välimäki is about six weeks younger. The oldest was a veteran aged 101.——The Brandon Wheat Kings have acquired F Meyer Nell, 19, from the Red Deer Rebels for a conditonal 10th-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. Nell is from Boissevain, Man., which is south of Brandon and is playing for the Boissevain Border Kings of the Tiger Hills Hockey League while attending the U of Manitoba in Winnipeg. He spent two seasons with the Rebels, picking up nine goals and 15 assists in 121 games. . . . The Rebels selected Nell in the fifth round of the 2012 bantam draft. . . . Nell is expected to join the Wheat Kings after the Christmas break.——F Vladimir Bobylyov chose to return to Russia this season, rather than play a second season with the Victoria Royals. Now, according to News 1130 Sports, a Vancouver radio station, Bobylyov, 19, may be coming back to Victoria. Bobylyov — he was Bobylev in his first stint in the WHL — had 67 points, including 28 goals, in 72 games with the Royals last season, after putting up three goals and six assists in 52 games with the Vancouver Giants in 2014-15. After last season, he was selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2016 draft. . . . He hasn’t been productive in Russia, recording one goal and two assists in 20 games with Spartak Moskva of the KHL before being sent to the VHL’s Khimik Voskresensk. He has a goal and an assist in two games there. . . . The Royals have only one import — Russian D Marsel Ibragimov — on their roster so there is room for Bobylyov.——

The WHL handed out 16 games worth of suspensions and $500 in fines on Tuesday. . . . F Zach Fischer of the Medicine Hat Tigers was given a five-game suspension for becoming “engaged with an unsuspecting opponent.” He hit F Matt Fonteyne of the host Everett Silvertips during a Friday game. Fischer has missed two games and will be eligible to return on Dec. 13 against the visiting Kelowna Rockets. He will miss games divisional games against the Red Deer Rebels, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Calgary Hitmen. . . . F Baron Thompson of the Brandon Wheat Kings was hit with a three-game suspension after taking a headshot major and game misconduct for a hit on F Connor Bruggen-Cate against the host Kelowna Rockets on Saturday. He already has sat out one game and will miss another tonight (Wednesday) when the Wheat Kings play the Cougars in Prince George. . . . F Kolby Johnson of the Prince Albert Raiders was given four games for a headshot major and game misconduct after hitting D Chase Harrison of the host Regina Pats on Saturday. Harrison began this week in concussion protocol. Johnson began his suspension by missing Tuesday’s game against the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . D Ryan Gagnon of the Victoria Royals will sit for four games after taking a charging major and game misconduct in a Saturday game against the Cougars in Prince George. . . . The Medicine Hat Tigers and Seattle Thunderbirds each were fined $250 for warm-up violations prior to their Saturday game in Kent, Wash. Ch-ch-ching! Just in time for the WHL office’s Christmas party!——Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province reports that the Vancouver Giants were missing two players from Monday’s practice. F Radovan Bondra suffered a leg injury on Friday night against the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings and is expected to return Friday against the visiting Everett Silvertips. D Darian Skeoch watched with his right foot/ankle in an air cast. According to Ewen, Skeoch is week-to-week.——F Pavel Kousal of the Spokane Chiefs will be leaving the team to play for his native Czech Republic at the World Junior A Challenge in Bonnyville, Alta., Dec. 11-17. Kousal, who is eligible for the 2017 NHL draft, has seven goals and two assists in 24 games in his first season with the Chiefs.——Patrick Conway offers up his latest look at the KHL and its teams and it’s all right here.——If you’ve got a comment, some information you would like to pass along, or if you just want to say hello, feel free to contact me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.If you would like to donate to the cause, please visit the bottom of this post and go right ahead.———

20+ – WHL 20+ Game Point Streaks, Last 5 seasons:
McGauley (24, 2014-15)
S.Reinhart (22, 2013-14)
Lowry (21, 2012-13)
Brooks (20*, 2016-17)— WHL Facts (@WHLFacts) December 7, 2016


At Cranbrook, B.C., F Riley Woods scored at 2:20 of OT to give the Regina Pats a 5-4 victory over the


Kootenay Ice. . . . Woods has four goals this season. . . . Regina F Adam Brooks ran his point streak to 20 games with a third-period goal. He leads the WHL with 46 points, two more than teammate Sam Steel. . . . F Jake Leschyshyn (11) gave Regina a 1-0 lead at 10:47 of the first period. . . . The Ice then took a 3-1 lead on second-period goals from F Vince Loschiavo (7), at 0:33; F Noah Philp (4), at 1:01; and F Zak Zborosky, on a PP, at 5:02. . . . Zborosky has 22 goals and is tied for the WHL lead with F Jayden Halbgewachs of the Moose Jar Warriors. . . . Steel pulled Regina even with two goals, giving him 19, at 10:55 and 15:39. . . . Brooks gave the Pats a 4-3 lead with his 13th goal, at 3:27 of the third period. . . . Loschiavo forced OT with a goal at 11:07. . . . Regina D Sergey Zborovskiy had three assists, giving him 12 points, including nine assists, over his past three games. . . . The Pats got two assists from D Jonathan Smart, who has five points in three games since being acquired from the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Leschyshyn added an assist to his goal. . . . Zborosky added two assists to his goal. . . . It was Zborovskiy versus Zborosky and each had three points. . . . The Pats got 46 saves from G Tyler Brown, while Payton Lee stopped 39 for the Ice. . . . Kootenay was 1-8 on the PP; Regina was 0-1. . . . The Pats (20-2-4) are 4-0-1 in their past five games and now are tied with the idle Everett Silvertips for first place in the overall standings. . . . The Ice (6-17-8) has points in three straight (1-0-2). . . . Announced attendance: 1,538.——

🚨🚨🚨MICHAEL FARREN!!!!!!!! BLADES WIN!!!!🎉🎉🎉#RiseWithUs pic.twitter.com/ylMiCLvI3G— Saskatoon Blades (@BladesHockey) December 7, 2016

At Moose Jaw, the Saskatoon Blades scored twice in the last two minutes of the third period and then


beat the Warriors, 4-3, in a shootout. . . . F Michael Farren scored in the fifth round of the shootout to give the Blades the victory. . . . It was the first shootout of the season for both teams. . . . With the Warriors leading 3-1, Saskatoon F Chase Wouters (3) scored a PP goal at 18:05. . . . The Blades tied it when F Jesse Shynkaruk got No. 8 at 19:01. . . . The last two goals came with G Brock Hamm out for the extra attacker. . . . The Warriors had taken a 2-0 lead into the third period on goals from F Brett Howden (13), at 11:34 of the first period, and F Noah Gregor (13), on a PP, at 19:06 of the second period. . . . F Caleb Fantillo’s second goal of the season allowed the Blades to halve the deficit at 1:36 of the third period. . . . Warriors F Jayden Halbgewachs gave his guys a 3-1 lead, on a PP, at 12:34. The goal gave Halbgewachs the WHL’s goal-scoring lead. F Zak Zborosky of the Kootenay Ice scored his 22nd later in the evening. . . . Halbgewachs also had an assist, while F Nikita Popugaev had two of them. . . . Farren, a 16-year-old from Surrey, B.C., also had two assists for the Blades, as did F Kolten Olynek. . . . Hamm finished with 33 saves through OT and added four more in the shootout as he won for the second time this season. He hadn’t gotten a victory since Oct. 1. . . . Zach Sawchenko stopped 31 shots for the Warriors. . . . Moose Jaw was 2-3 on the PP; Saskatoon was 1-2. . . . The Blades (11-17-2) had been 0-2-1 in their previous three games. . . . Moose Jaw D Matt Sozanski missed his second game with what is believed to be a shoulder injury. . . . The Warriors (16-6-5) had D Matthew Benson, 16, make his WHL debut. Benson has two goals and six assists in 14 games with the Delta Hockey Academy team in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League. . . . The Blades had F Tyler Lees, 16, in their lineup. He has six goals and 14 assists in 19 games with the midget AAA Regina Pats Canadians. He was a fifth-round selection in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . Some notes from Les Lazaruk, the youthful radio voice of the Blazers: “The victory ended a three-game winless streak, was the Double Blue's first win over the Warriors after five straight losses and was the first win at Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw after eight consecutive setbacks, dating back to Nov. 8, 2013. Add in the fact that the Blades were 0-14-0 when trailing after two periods this season and had only won once previously in 18 games when the opposition opened the scoring, and the result was remarkable.” . . . Announced attendance: 2,808.——At Prince Albert, F Jordy Stallard broke a 2-2 tie at 15:47 of the third period as the Calgary Hitmen got


past the Raiders, 3-2. . . . Stallard scored his fourth goal on a PP. . . . F Carsen Twarynski (9) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at 2:29 of the second period. . . . The Raiders tied it when F Sean Montgomery scored his eighth goal at 4:36. . . . Calgary took the lead right back, with F Beck Malenstyn (7) scoring at 7:07. . . . That lasted until 19:10 when F Simon Stransky (12) pulled the Raiders into a 2-2 tie. . . . Stransky also had an assist. . . . The Hitmen got 22 saves from G Cody Porter, while Ian Scott of the Raiders blocked 39 shots. . . . Calgary was 1-6 on the PP; Prince Albert was 0-3. . . . The Hitmen (9-14-2) had lost their previous five games. . . . The Raiders 6-22-1 have lost two in a row. . . . F Justyn Gurney, 16, made his WHL debut with the Hitmen. From Delta, B.C., he has 25 points, including eight goals, in 17 games with the Valley West Hawks of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. Gurney was a sixth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . Announced attendance: 1,824.——

WEDNESDAY’S GAMES (all times local):

Tri-City at Everett, 7:05 p.m.Seattle at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.Regina at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.Red Deer at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.Brandon at Prince George, 7 p.m.Calgary at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.Victoria at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.——


Friday, Dec. 9: Moose Jaw at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.Friday, Dec. 9: Swift Current at Regina, 7 p.m.Friday, Dec. 9: Kootenay at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.Saturday, Dec. 10: Prince Albert at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.Saturday, Dec. 10: Kamloops at Edmonton, 7 p.m.Saturday, Dec. 10: Kelowna at Kootenay, 7 p.m.Saturday, Dec. 10: Calgary at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.Saturday, Dec. 10: Everett at Portland, 7 p.m.Saturday, Dec. 10: Seattle at Prince George, 7 p.m.Saturday, Dec. 10: Victoria vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.Friday, Dec. 16: Saskatoon at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.Friday, Dec. 16: Portland vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7:30 p.m.Saturday, Dec. 17: Brandon at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.Saturday, Dec. 17: Portland at Everett, 7:05 p.m.Saturday, Dec. 17: Vancouver at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.Saturday, Jan. 21: Vancouver vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:05 p.m.Nov. 26: D Micheal Zipp, 19:47 1st period, Lethbridge 4 at Calgary 2.Dec. 2: D Artyom Minulin, 13:24 1st period, Calgary 1 at Swift Current 5.Dec. 2: F Jordy Bellerive, 14:00 1st period, Red Deer 3 at Lethbridge 5.Dec. 3: F Adam Musil, 14:27 1st period, Lethbridge 2 at Red Deer 3 (OT).Dec. 3: D Ondrej Vala, 10:38 1st period, Vancouver 2 at Kamloops 5.
Dec. 3: F Nick Merkley, 6:54 2nd period, Brandon 1 at Kelowna 3.
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