Friday, July 3, 2015

Asuchak gets AHL deal . . . Mattila young man on mission . . . Wheat Kings defender signs NHL deal








KHLG Michael Garnett (Red Deer, Saskatoon, 1999-2002) signed a one-year contract with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). Last season, with Traktor Chelyabinsk (Russia, KHL), he was 2.20 and .926 with one shutout in 36 games.
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AHLF Spencer Asuchak (Tri-City, Prince George, 2008-12) of Kamloops has signed a one-way, one-year contract with the Chicago Wolves, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues. . . . The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder played most of last season with the ECHL-champion Allen Americans. He had 30 points, including 12 goals, in 28 games. In 25 playoff games, he added 21 points, 11 of them goals. . . . He also had two goals and four assists in 18 games with the AHL’s Providence Bruins and was pointless in three games with the AHL’s Worcester Sharks. . . . Asuchak is to learn in August whether he will get an invitation to the Blues’ training camp. Perhaps his Kamloops connection will provide him some currency with Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock.
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Myles Mattila is a 16-year-old hockey player who recently moved from Prince George to Kelowna. . . . As Sawyer Klassen of the Kelowna Capital News writes, Mattila is bringing more than his hockey abilities to the Okanagan. He is “bringing his campaign for mental health awareness to the Okanagan.” . . . What this young man has done and is continuing to do is nothing short of terrific. . . . Give his story a look right here.
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Steve Ewen, who covers the Vancouver Giants for the Vancouver Province, is a cancer survivor. He sends along this note:
“We're holding a Ride To Conquer Cancer fundraiser on Aug. 5, at Earls Restaurant on Fir Street in Vancouver.
“We receive a portion of the food and drinks sold that night, so coming by and having a little nourishment helps out.
“We also have a silent auction, featuring items from Michael Buble, Bif Naked and various sports teams.
"We're looking for more auction items, so if you have something you'd like to donate, we'd love to have it.”
You may check out Steve’s page and make a donation right here.
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NHLD Ivan Provorov of the Brandon Wheat Kings Kings has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Philadelphia Flyers, who selected him with the seventh overall pick in the NHL’s 2015 draft. . . . Provorov will be in Voorhees, N.J., next week for the Flyers’ development camp. . . . He had 61 points, including 15 goals, in 60 games with the Wheat Kings last season. He led all WHL freshmen defencemen in scoring and was fourth among all defencemen.
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Got a tip or some information you feel could be useful to me, feel free to send an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
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Coaching

OHLRocky Thompson, a former WHL player and coach, is the new head coach of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires. Thompson, 37, replaces majority owner Bob Boughner, who now is an assistant coach with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. . . . This will be Thompson’s first head-coaching position. He has been an assistant coach with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers (2014-15) and in their organization with the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons (2010-14). He also spent three seasons (2007-10) as an assistant with the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Thompson played four seasons (1993-97) in the WHL, with the Medicine Hat Tigers and Swift Current Broncos, putting up 64 points and compiling 906 penalty minutes in 271 games.
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The Regina Pats have signed F Zach Cox and D Jared Freadrich, a pair of their bantam draft picks. . . . Cox was an eighth-round pick in 2014. Last season, he had 11 points, including six goals, with the midget AAA CFR Bisons. He added a goal and four assists in 13 games as the Bisons won the AMHL championship. . . . Freadrich was a fourth-round selection in 2013. He played last season with the AJHL’s Whitecourt Wolverines, putting up 11 points, four of them goals, in 45 games. . . . Regina now has signed six of its eight 2013 draft picks and four of the nine players taken in 2014.

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Flames checking Kylington contract . . . Berehowsky back coaching . . . Yamamoto on U.S. team








D Tyson Marsh (Vancouver, 2001-05) signed a one-year extension with the Cardiff Devils (Wales, UK Elite). Last season, he had eight goals and 25 assists in 61 games. He was the team captain and a second-team all-star. . . .
F Mitch Wahl (Spokane, 2005-10) signed a one-year contract with Oskarshamn (Sweden, Allsvenskan). Last season, with the Florida Everblades (ECHL), he had 15 goals and a team-high 44 assists in 53 games. . . .
F Marek Kalus (Spokane, Brandon, 2010-13) signed a one-year contract with Havířov (Czech Republic, 1. Liga). Last season, with Cracovia Krakow (Poland, Ekstraliga), he had 19 goals and 23 assists in 45 games. . . .
D Kenton Smith (Calgary, 1995-2000) signed a one-year extension with the Swindon Wildcats (England, Premier). Last season, he had two goals and seven assists in 28 games. Smith will be primarily an assistant coach running the bench during games — the Wildcats have a playing head coach in D Daniel Sullivan — but will be available to play as needed. . . .
F Kris Beech (Calgary, 1996-2001) signed a one-year contract with the Belfast Giants (Northern Ireland, UK Elite). Last season, with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had nine goals and 17 assists in 51 games.
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The Brandon Wheat Kings selected D Oliver Kylington with the last pick of the first round of the CHL import draft on Tuesday. Kylington had been a second-round selection by the Calgary Flames in the NHL draft on Saturday. But he is under contract to AIK, a pro team in Sweden, for the next two seasons. Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun reports that Calgary “is looking into whether it has an outclause that would allow him to report to the WHL. Kylington would be eligible to play in the AHL at his age.” . . . Calgary assistant general manager Craig Conroy told Sportak: “We want to do what’s best for him. We don’t want to throw him in a situation that doesn’t benefit him. We want him to play tons of minutes and just develop.”
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NHLer Rich Clune is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who has been sober for five years now. He also is a hockey fighter, albeit reluctantly. He has told his story for The Players Tribune. This is engrossing and frightening stuff, but it also is enlightening, and it’s right here.
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Got a tip or some information you feel could be useful to me, feel free to send an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
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Coaching Game

Former Lethbridge Hurricanes head coach Drake Berehowsky has signed on as associate coach with the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves under new head coach Dave Matsos. . . . Matsos recently was promoted from associate to head coach. . . . Berehowsky was in his second season as the Hurricanes head coach when he was fired on Dec. 10. He has previous OHL coaching experience, having been an assistant with the Barrie Colts and then-Brampton Battalion. . . . The Wolves also announced that Bryan Verreault will return for a second season as an assistant coach, while Miguel Beadry is back as goaltending coach.
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Bob Boughner has stepped down as head coach of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires in order to sign a three-year deal as an assistant coach with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. . . . Boughner will remain as the Spitfires’ majority owner and team president. . . . The Spitfires won the 2009 and 2010 Memorial Cups under Boughner.
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USA Hockey released the roster for the team that will play at the U-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament next month. The roster includes F Kailer Yamamoto of the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Yamamoto had 57 points, including 23 goals last season, and was named the WHL Western Conference’s rookie of the year. . . . The tournament is scheduled for Aug. 10-15 in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia. . . . The USA Hockey news release is right here, with a link to the roster.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Giants introduce head coach . . . Ice fills out hockey staff . . . Pats bring back familiar face








EIHL-UKD Mike Wilson (Prince Albert, Swift Current, 2003-08) signed one-year contract with the Belfast Giants (Northern Ireland, UK Elite). Last season, with the Wichita Thunder (ECHL), he had 13 goals and 37 assists in 72 games.
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The Vancouver Giants introduced Lorne Molleken as their newest head coach on Tuesday morning. Molleken, the fourth-winningest coach in WHL regular-season history, replaces Claude Noel, who replaced Troy Ward 25 games into last season. . . . Molleken, 59, last coached in 2012-13 with the Saskatoon Blades. He was the Blades’ general manager the following season, then was bought out when Edmonton-based auto dealer Mike Priestner bought the franchise. . . . Cam Tucker of Metro Vancouver has more right here.
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The Kootenay Ice have finished filling out the hockey operations side of their organization. Last month, general manager Jeff Chynoweth announced the hiring of Luke Pierce as head coach, replacing Ryan McGill, whose contract wasn’t renewed. . . . On Tuesday, Chynoweth announced the hiring of Gordon Burnett as assistant coach. As well, Garnet Kazuik, the director of scouting, has been re-signed, while Darcy Ewanchuk is returning to the Ice as trainer/equipment manager. . . . Burnett, Kazuik and Ewanchuk each signed a three-year contract. . . . Burnett, 34, is from Regina. Last season, he worked as an assistant coach at the U of Notre Dame. In 2013-14, he was with the Central league’s Arizona Sundogs. . . . Kazuik has been with the Ice since 2005. He has been the director of scouting since 2007. . . . Ewanchuk takes over from Cory Cameron, who stays with the team as an athletic consultant. Ewanchuk was with the Ice when the franchise was in Edmonton, working as assistant athletic trainer (1996-98) and was the Ice’s training in Cranbrook from 1999-2007. He also has worked with the Edmonton Oil Kings and Tri-City Americans.
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Graham Tuer is back with the Regina Pats. He will scout for the team and also serve as a liaison with Hockey Regina, which oversees minor hockey in the city. . . . Tuer, who had been scouting with the Kelowna Rockets, has been associated with hockey in Regina for more than 50 years. . . . An annual bantam AA tournament in Regina was named after him in 2007. . . . Tuer worked as the Pats’ assistant GM and director of player personnel in the early 1990s. . . . He is a member of the Regina Sports Hall of Fame and has been on the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League’s board of directors since 1983.
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Got a tip or some information you feel could be useful to me, send an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
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THE IMPORT DRAFT:


Some notes . . .
The Victoria Royals used their first-round selection on Russian F Vladimir Bobylev, 18, who played last season with the Vancouver Giants. He had three goals and six assists in 52 games. . . . Vancouver had selected him in the first round of the 2014 draft, but dropped him before Tuesday’s draft. . . .
The Red Deer Rebels took Czech F Michael Spacek in the first round. The Rebels rolled the dice because Spacek, 18, has one year left on a contract with HC Dynamo Pardubice of the Czech Extraliga. Spacek was selected by the Winnipeg Jets in the fourth round of the NHL draft on Saturday. . . . After the Rebels took Spacek, Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun tweeted: “At the draft, Michael Spacek expressed interest in playing in North America next season. Rebels are hosting the 2016 Memorial Cup.” . . . 
The Kootenay Ice took Slovakian D Mario Grman, 18, in the second round. He played last season with the Red Deer Rebels, earning three assists in 35 games. . . .
The Saskatoon Blades were the first WHL team to pick and they took Czech D Libor Hajek with the second overall selection. . . . Scott Larson of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has more right here. . . .
With the last selection of the first round, the Brandon Wheat Kings took Swedish D Oliver Kylington. The Calgary Flames selected Kylington in the second round of the NHL draft on Saturday. . . . Kylington is signed for the next two seasons with AIK, which plays in Sweden’s Allsvenskan, the country’s No. 2 pro league. . . .
The Vancouver Giants held the eighth overall pick and took Slovakian F Radovan Bondra, 18. He is said to be 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds. He was a fifth-round pick by the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL draft on Saturday. . . .
The Regina Pats selected Russian D Nikolai Knyzhov, 17, with their first-round pick. He has played the last two seasons in Phoenix. Last season, he had a goal and three assists with the U-16 Phoenix Jr. Coyotes. . . .
With their first-round pick, the Seattle Thunderbirds took Swedish F Gustav Olhaver. On Saturday, he was taken by the Colorado Avalanche in the seventh round of the NHL draft. . . . He is said to be 6-foot-6 and 213 pounds. . . .
There is a complete list of WHL team selections right here.
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Coaching

SJHLDarcy Pindus is retiring after 18 seasons with the SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings. Pindus, a defence man in his playing days, first joined the Red Wings in 1980. He played parts of three seasons with Weyburn, while having stints in the WHL with the Regina Pats, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Medicine Hat Tigers. He also played five seasons with the U of Regina Cougars. In 1997, he began helping then-head coach Dwight MacMillan with the Red Wings. . . . From a Red Wings’ news release: “During his 18-year tenure, Pindus helped the Red Wings to two league titles, two Anavet Cups, and what he calls his most cherished memory with the Wings, winning the 2005 RBC Cup on home ice.”
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SJHLThe SJHL’s Estevan Bruins have signed GM/head coach Chris Lewgood to a four-year extension that runs through 2019-20. Lewgood, who had one season left on his original three-year contract, is preparing for his third season with the Bruins. . . . Estevan is 49-47-1-15 under Lewgood.
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Fabian Joseph has signed on as head coach and assistant GM of the Woodstock, N.B., Slammers of the junior A Maritime Hockey League. Joseph (Victoria Cougars, 11982-84) had been on the coaching staff of the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats since 2007. . . . He is a native of Sydney, N.S.
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ECHLAnthony Noreen is the new head coach of the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears. He was the USHL’s coach of the year after his Youngstown Phantoms went 40-14-6 last season. . . . Noreen, who is from Chicago, was the Phantoms’ general manager and head coach for four seasons.
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The NHL’s Edmonton Oilers invited eight free agents from the WHL to their development camp that opens today. Headed to Edmonton are G Jordan Papirny, 19, of the Brandon Wheat Kings, D Kevin Davis, 18, of the Everett Silvertips, F Connor Rankin of the Calgary Hitmen, F Jakob Stukel, 18, of the Vancouver Giants, F Cole Sanford, 20, of the Medicine Hat Tigers, F Braden Christoffer of the Regina Pats, F Tyler Soy, 18, of the Victoria Royals and F Tyler Robertson, 19, of the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Rankin and Christoffer played out their junior eligibility last season. . . . F Trevor Cox, 20, of the Medicine Hat Tigers will skate with the Washington Capitals.
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Monday, June 29, 2015

Giants get their coach . . . Chiefs deal D-man to Tigers . . . Hitmen, Thunderbirds sign skaters








F Štěpán Novotný (Kelowna, Swift Current, 2008-11) signed a one-year contract with the Graz 99ers (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had 13 goals and nine assists in 39 games. He also played 13 games with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga), scoring three goals.
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The Vancouver Giants will introduce Lorne Molleken today as their newest head coach. . . . Molleken, 59, is one of four coaches to have won more than 600 WHL regular-season games. His 603 victories trail only the retired Ken Hodge (742), Don Hay (637), who now is with the Kamloops Blazers, and Don Nachbaur (632) of the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Molleken, who is from Regina, began his coaching career with the SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings. In the WHL, he has been the head coach of the Moose Jaw Warriors, Regina Pats and Saskatoon Blades. He also has coached in the AHL and NHL. . . . In Vancouver, he takes over from Claude Noel, who wasn’t retained following the last season. Noel took over from Troy Ward, who was hired last summer and fired after 25 games. . . . Ward was hired after the Giants allowed Hay out of his contract in order for him to return to Kamloops. . . . The Giants have missed the playoffs in two of the past three seasons. . . . Daniel Nugent-Bowman has more on the Molleken signing right here.
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Steve Ewen, who covers the Giants for the Vancouver Province, takes a look right here at the team’s coaching situation. He says it’s time the organization changed its approach and started grooming future head coaches.
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With the Vancouver Giants having signed Lorne Mollken, it means that all 22 WHL teams now have head coaches in place. . . . Of those teams, three have made coaching changes since the 2014-15 season ended. . . . The Kootenay Ice hired Luke Pierce to replace Ryan McGill, who is believed to have been on Vancouver’s shortlist. . . . The Lethbridge Hurricanes hired Brent Kisio to take over from Peter Anholt, who will focus on his general manager’s duties. . . . Molleken, who turned 59 on June 11, is the third-oldest coach in the WHL, younger than only John Paddock of the Regina Pats, who turned 61 on June 9, and Don Hay of the Kamloops Blazers, who hit 61 on Feb. 13. . . . The youngest? Pierce will be 32 on Aug. 18, with Kisio scheduled to turn 33 on Dec. 15.
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The Spokane Chiefs have dealt D Tamas Laday, 19, to the Medicine Hat Tigers for an eighth-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft. Laday, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound Hungarian, had six assists in 60 games as a freshman last season with the Chiefs. . . . The trade allows the Chiefs, who also have Austrian F Dominic Zwerger on their roster, to select one player in today’s CHL import draft. They go into the draft with the 26th selection. . . . The Tigers also have German F Markus Eisenschmid on their roster. He had 44 points, including 19 goals, in 50 games last season, but at 20 years of age would be a two-spotter in 2015-16.
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The CHL import draft poses a lot of problems for WHL general managers because, in many instances, they don’t control a whole lot about it. So it’s always interesting to see what some of them have to say.
Here’s what John Paddock, the Regina Pats’ GM/head coach, told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post:
“It’s like picking a needle out of a haystack. You try to do your work. You have friends or people you know in the pro ranks that see these guys play. You talk to agents. You try to get as much information as you can.”
Paddock also said:
“You hope and pray. There are no guarantees of anything. When I looked around our league last year, there’s not a lot of significant Europeans. There’s the odd top one like (Leon) Draisaitl and (Ivan) Provorov, but with a lot of teams I couldn’t tell you who their Euros are.”
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Got a tip or some information you feel could be useful to me, send an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
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Coaching

The QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders will introduce Jim Hulton as their new head coach on Thursday. . . . He will replace Gordie Dwyer, who was dropped after the Islanders didn’t get through the second round of the postseason. . . . Hulton, 46, has OHL coaching experience with the North Bay Centennials, Mississauga IceDogs, Belleville Bulls and Kingston Frontenacs. . . . He also spent three seasons (2008-11) as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Florida Panthers. . . . Since 2011, Hulton has been the general manager and head coach of the USHL’s Tri-City Storm.
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Josh Hepditch, the former general manager and head coach of the junior B Creston Valley Thunder Cats of the Kootenay International junior league, has signed on as head coach of the County Aces, a junior A team that plays out of St. Stephen, N.B., in the Maritime Hockey League. . . . Last season, Hepditch was general manager and head coach of the MHL’s Amherst Ramblers.
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F Patrick D’Amico, who played out his eligibility with the Regina Pats last season, will attend the New Jersey Devils’ development camp. . . . F Tyler Soy, 18, of the Victoria Royals and F Jakob Stukel, 18, of the Vancouver Giants will be in the development camp of the Edmonton Oilers. . . . Tri-City Americans D Brendan O’Reilly, an 18-year-old from Southlake, Texas, will skate with the Dallas Stars. . . . F Terrell Draude, 18, of the Calgary Hitmen will be in camp with the Tampa Bay Lightning. . . . F Markus Eisenschmid, 20, of the Medicine Hat Tigers is to attend the Montreal Canadiens’ development camp. . . . D Justin Hamonic, who played with the Tri-City Americans as a 20-year-old last season, is going to camp with the Colorado Avalanche.
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The Calgary Hitmen have signed F Tristen Nielsen, the 19th overall selection in the 2015 bantam draft. Nielsen, from Fort St. John, B.C., played last season at the Edge School in Calgary. He had 97 points, including 59 goals, in 52 games with the bantam prep team.
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The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed D Brandon Schuldhaus, who was a fifth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. Schuldhaus, a 17-year-old native of Houston, Texas, who now lives in Calgary, has played two seasons at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault, Minn. Last season, with the midget AAA team, he had 12 points, five of them goals, in 31 games.
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Concussion Report

D Patrick Wey, 24, has retired from hockey after being unable to return from two concussions incurred less than a year apart. . . . Wey, from Pittsburgh, was a fourth-round pick by the Washington Capitals in the 2009 NHL draft. He had been playing with the AHL’s Hershey Bears. . . . Mike Vogel, who writes for the Capitals, tweeted the news Monday morning. . . . Wey has said he will pursue “educational interests.” . . . Wey played 28 games in 2013-14 and just three games last season. . . . He suffered his first concussion in a fight on March 30, 2014, while up with the Capitals, then suffered the second one in the third game of last season, thanks to an elbow to the head.
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