The Saskatoon Blades announced Thursday that coaches Dean Brockman, Bryce Thoma and Ryan Keller have been signed to contract extensions that carry through the 2019-20 season. . . . Their contracts were to have expired following this season. . . . Brockman, 50, is preparing for his second season as the Blades’ head coach. He spent two seasons as an assistant coach before moving up to the head role. Before joining the Blades, he had been with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos since 1997-98. . . . Thoma, 35, joined the Blades as an assistant coach prior to last season after three seasons with the SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings. He was Weyburn’s head coach for one season and the GM/head coach for the last two. Prior to that, he spent five seasons as an assistant coach with the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Keller, 33, is a Saskatoon native who is preparing for his season on the Blades’ coaching staff. He is a former Blades player, having spent four seasons (2001-05) with them. . . . Meanwhile, long-time assistant coach Jerome Engele and goaltending coach Tim Cheveldae are back for another season.
The Saskatoon Blades also announced Thursday that they are bringing back the Pac-Man logo on a full-time basis. “After plenty of public demand for the Blades to return to the retro skate blade logo (aka the Pac-Man),” the team said in a news release, “Saskatoon’s hockey team will once again don the classic look with the original blue-and-gold colours the team wore on day one in 1964.” . . . Darren Steinke of Stanks’ Sermon was at the news conference and he blogged about it all right here.
Todd Vrooman, the play-by-play voice of the Portland Winterhawks, is leaving the WHL team “to pursue other career opportunities,” according to a news release. . . . The Winterhawks have had a Vrooman call their games for 31 of the previous 33 seasons. Dean (Scooter) Vrooman, Todd’s father, was their radio voice from 1982 to 2007 and now is the team’s director of corporate sponsorships. . . . Todd came on board as the analyst in 2009 and took over as the broadcast and media relations co-ordinator in 2010, at 21 years of age. . . . The Winterhawks said they have conducted a search for a replacement “and are in the final stages of naming a replacement.” . . . The team also announced that Andy Kempter will return as the analyst for all home games.
Citing injuries, F Meyer Nell of the Brandon Wheat Kings has chosen to retire, reports Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun. Nell, who is from Boissevain, Man., played in only 30 games last season, scoring two goals and adding two assists. . . . The Wheat Kings acquired Nell from the Red Deer Rebels in December for a conditional 10th-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft. He left the U of Manitoba to join the Wheat Kings. . . . Nell, a fifth-round pick by the Rebels in the 2012 bantam draft, played 49 games with Red Deer in 2013-14 and 72 the next season. The only hockey he played in 2015-16 was with the Boissevain Border Kings, a senior team that plays in the Tiger Hills Hockey League. . . . Nell’s retirement leaves Brandon with three 20-year-olds — G Logan Thompson, D Kade Jensen and D James Shearer. . . . Bergson also reports that Shearer, F Caiden Daley and Czech D Daniel Bukac are sidelined with undisclosed injuries.
The Prince Albert Raiders lost a whack of cash last season, the team’s annual general meeting was told Wednesday night. “Citing a drop in ticket sales, liquor sales, promotions and fundraising revenues, and league revenue sharing, the team reported a loss of approximately $250,000 for the 2016-17 season,” Trevor Redden of paNOW.com reported. . . . The Raiders didn’t make the playoffs last season, something that definitely hurts any team’s bottom line. . . . Redden’s story is right here.
F Devon Skoleski, 20, was waived by the Everett Silvertips and claimed by the Prince Albert Raiders. From St. Adolphe, Man., Skoleski played two seasons with the Silvertips, putting up 23 goals and 30 assists in 131 games. Last season, he had 14 goals and 20 assists in 65 games.
The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed G Garin Bjorklund to a WHL contract. The 15-year-old Bjorklund, who is from Grande Prairie, Alta., was selected in the first round of the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. Last season, he was 15-6-3, 1.97, .918 with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons and was named the top goaltender in the South Division of the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League.
Former WHL F Haydn Hopkins won’t be back with the OHL’s Erie Otters; instead, he’ll be joining the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals. Hopkins, 20, is from Victoria. He played parts of two seasons (2013-16) with the Saskatoon Blades, Prince George Cougars and Vancouver Giants. . . . Last season, he was pointless in four games with the Otters, while also playing with the Capitals and the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
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Jerred Smithson has been hired by the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers as a part-time assistant coach. Smithson, 38, is from Vernon. He played five seasons (1995-2000) in the WHL, totalling 319 regular-season and 49 playoff games, all with the Calgary Hitmen. He went on to play 606 games in the NHL, before finishing up with the Herning Blue Fox in Denmark in 2015-16. . . . Smithson actually helped Mark Ferner, the Vipers’ director of player personnel and head coach, late last season and that obviously translated into this present position. Kevin Kraus and Kevin Pedersen are the other assistant coaches in Vernon.
The SJHL’s Melville Millionaires have hired Jarett Waldbauer as an assistant coach. He will work with Devin Windle, the general manager and head coach, and fellow assistant Mark Chase. Waldbauer, who played for the Millionaires, is from Melville, where he was an assistant coach with the bantam AA team last season.
— Brandon Wheat Kings (@bdnwheatkings) August 24, 2017
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