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Chiefs forward Eli Zummack invited to Maple Leafs camp

Spokane Chiefs center Eli Zummack  tries to control the puck against Portland during Game 6 of a WHL playoff game at the Spokane Arena in April. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane Chiefs center Eli Zummack tries to control the puck against Portland during Game 6 of a WHL playoff game at the Spokane Arena in April. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
From staff and wire reports

Spokane Chiefs forward Eli Zummack has been invited to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ development camp, according to the NHL team.

Zummack, 18, went undrafted in the NHL Entry Draft over the weekend but was ranked 184th by NHL’s Central Scouting after posting career highs in goals (15) and points (41) during the 2017-18 season. The Kelowna, B.C., native earned the Chiefs’ Most Sportsmanlike Player award after recording only four penalty minutes in 58 games played.

He is one of 27 forwards and 46 total players invited to the camp, which will begin Monday with on-ice testing and medical exams before on-ice practice sessions on Tuesday.

Chiefs to open Sept. 29

The Chiefs announced on Monday that they will open their 2018-19 regular-season home schedule with Bud Light Opening Night on Saturday, Sept. 29 against the Kootenay Ice. The full 2018-19 regular-season schedule will be unveiled by the Western Hockey League on Tuesday.

It will mark the second straight Chiefs home opener against Kootenay; Spokane fell to the Ice, 2-1 in their 2017 opener at Spokane Arena. They’re 2-1 all-time in home openers against Kootenay.

Spokane will open its full regular-season schedule on the road on Sept. 22.

Chiefs acquire defenseman

The Chiefs announced that they have acquired 2000-born defenseman Bobby Russell from Kootenay in exchange for a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft.

“Adding Russell to our team provides our defense with some added depth. We liked what we saw from him with Kootenay last season and are excited to bring him into the fold,” said Chiefs general manager Scott Carter. “We’d like to welcome Bobby to the Chiefs and look forward to seeing him at training camp in August.”

Russell, a 6-foot, 164-pound defenseman from Langley, B.C., appeared in 41 games as a rookie with Kootenay last season, scoring one goal and adding six assists. He appeared in five games as a 16-year-old with the Ice during the 2016-17 season.

He was originally a sixth round (123rd overall) pick by Kootenay in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft.

Kamloops hires Lajoie

Serge Lajoie has been named head coach of the Western Hockey League’s Kamloops Blazers. Lajoie spent the last three seasons behind the bench of the University of Alberta Golden Bears and won a U Sports championship this year.

Lajoie replaces Don Hay, who retired this past season, but remains on the Blazers staff as an advisor.

Lajoie, from Bonnyville, Alberta, played seven games for the Blazers during the 1986-87 season. He played for the Golden Bears for five years.

He then spent four seasons playing in Germany before entering the coaching profession.

“This is an excellent opportunity for me, to be involved with such a strong CHL organization,” Lajoie said.

“There have been so many great players and coaches to come through Kamloops. I am looking forward to the challenge of continuing this rich tradition of excellence.”

The Blazers went 30-37-1-4 and did not make the playoffs this past season.

Lajoie’s son Marc, a defenseman, was a first-round pick of the Tri-City Americans in last month’s WHL bantam draft.

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