The Tri-City Americans will pay tribute to longtime off-ice official Alfred “Fred” Vallee, who died June 6. He was 71.
Vallee, a native of Quebec, manned the goal light at the Zamboni entrance at Toyota Center since the first game in 1988. Over the years, he missed just a handful of games because of health issues.
In honor of Vallee’s contributions to the Americans franchise over the past two decades, the club has named the on-ice official’s locker room in his honor.
Vallee moved to the Tri-Cities in 1975 and was a pipefitter in the Hanford area.
When the Americans arrived in Kennewick in 1988, Vallee found out the team was looking for off-ice officials and applied.“My neighbor was in charge and I found out about it and applied,” Vallee said in a 2005 interview. “Mr. (Ron) Dixon offered us $10 a game, but he reneged on it.”
But Vallee’s love of hockey kept him coming back, with his payment consisting of a ticket for his wife, Ramona.
There will be three services for Vallee, with a rosary at 7 p.m. today and a memorial mass at 10 a.m. Saturday, both at St. Joseph’s Chapel in Kennewick. There will be a celebration of life at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Charter HD Lounge at Toyota Center.
Former Tri-City American on the move: Defenseman Shawn Belle (Tri-City, 2001-05) signed a two-year contract with Färjestad Karlstad (Sweden, Elitserien). He had two goals and seven assists in 42 games with Adler Mannheim (Germany, DEL) this season.
Everett brings back Constantine: The Everett Silvertips went back to their roots Thursday, hiring former coach Kevin Constantine to try and bring the team back to a competitive level.
Constantine was Everett’s first coach and led the team from 2003-07 when he departed to coach the Houston Aeros (AHL). After three years in Houston, he coached Ambri-Piotta of the Swiss National League A.
“My family and I are eager for the opportunity to come back to a team and an area that has been an exciting part of our lives in years past,” Constantine said in a news release. “I have such a high comfort level with coming back to this organization, these fans, and this region that it really is a blessing to be able to return to the Silvertips. Hopefully we can have the same type of success we enjoyed the first time around.”
The Silvertips won three U.S. Division titles (2004, 2006-07) under Constantine, but since then have exited the playoffs in the first round every year.
This past season, they were fifth in the U.S. Division and eighth in the Western Conference with a 25-40-3-5 record.
Rebels-Blades trade: The Red Deer Rebels acquired 20-year old forward Lukas Sutter from the Saskatoon Blades in exchange for defenseman Kevin Pochuk, 18, as well as the Rebels’ third and seventh-round selections in the 2014 WHL bantam draft.
WHL schedules to be released in two weeks: The league is using a new computer assisted scheduling system. The exhibition schedule will be released June 25, with the regular-season schedule to follow the next day.
Former Edmonton Oil King Pelss missing: Edmonton Oilers prospect Kristians Pelss, who played this past season for the NHL team’s minor-league affiliates in Oklahoma City and Stockton, Calif., has been reported missing and perhaps drowned in his Latvian homeland, according to that country’s online news website Apollo.
Police in Riga, Latvia, say the 20-year-old left-winger, a 2010 draft pick by the Oilers who starred for the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL before joining the pro ranks in 2012-13, has been reported as missing.
Earlier Thursday, a report out of Latvia said Pelss had died after jumping off a bridge late Tuesday in the Latvian capital. Police, however, have not confirmed the death.