Scattershooting: Kelowna favoured as 2020 MC host? . . . Broncos, Silvertips take early leads . . . Wild takes BCHL title to U.S.

Scattershooting

Bruce Hamilton, the president and general manager of the Kelowna Rockets, announced Thursday that his organization, in conjunction with the city, Tourism Kelowna and KelownaRocketsProspera Place, officially is in the bidding to play host to the 2020 Memorial Cup.

The Rockets last played host to the four-team tournament in 2004, when they won it all. That season, the Rockets, under head coach Marc Habscheid, lost a seven-game Western Conference final to the Kevin Constantine-coached Everett Silvertips, who were in their first WHL season. The Silvertips then were swept from the championship final by the Medicine Hat Tigers.

What makes the Rockets’ decision to enter the 2020 fray so interesting is that it means officials from three of the five B.C. Division teams say they are preparing bids for the 2020 tournament.

Kamloops1The Kamloops Blazers announced on Nov. 9 that they will be in the chase, while the Victoria Royals also are expected to bid.

In November, I asked Cam Hope, the Royals’ president and general manager, if his organization is interested in playing host to the 2020 Memorial Cup and he gave me a one-word answer: “Absolutely.”

Around the same time, Hope told the Victoria Times Colonist that “we intend to bid for the 2020 Memorial Cup.”

Victoria and Vancouver will be the host cities for the 2019 World Junior Championship, VictoriaRoyalsand Hope sees a link between a successful WJC and the 2020 Memorial Cup. You can bet that ticket sales from the WJC will be a big part of Victoria’s bid presentation.

Any one of the other 19 WHL teams has until June 1 to make an expression of interest. Those who are still interested will make their bid presentations at a board of governors’ meeting in Calgary on Oct. 3. Following the presentations, the governors will vote and a host team/city will be revealed at the conclusion of the meeting.

At this early date, I would suggest that the Rockets are the favourites, for at least three reasons. Firstly, the 2004 tournament was a fabulous show and really raised the bar for future Memorial Cups. Second, the Rockets, with super scout Lorne Frey on staff, have a history of icing competitive teams. Third, Hamilton, who also is the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, carries a lot of weight at the executive level.

The Royals could upset the applecart, though, because as nice as Kelowna is in May, who wouldn’t want to spend a couple of weeks in Victoria at that time of year? They also have a recent history of being competitive, and Hope showed in January that he isn’t afraid to roll the dice at the trade deadline. It didn’t work this time, with the injury bug perhaps playing a role, but he definitely showed a willingness to pull the trigger.

Kamloops is the underdog in this three-horse race, having missed the playoffs in two of the past four seasons, and having lost out in the first round in the other two. The Blazers are rebuilding, witness their January deal with Everett in which Kamloops dealt two veterans — F Garrett Pilon and D Ondrej Vala — for two roster players in F Orrin Centazzo and D Montana Onyebuchi, two 2002-born prospects and two 2019 bantam draft picks.

By Oct. 3, however, the 2018-19 season won’t be nearly far enough along to give the voting governors a handle on the bidding teams’ expected level of competitiveness for 2019-20. That means it will be up to each team to convince the governors with a thorough scouting report.

In the end, of course, it may come down to money, meaning the team that guarantees the largest profit — and we’re talking a few million Canadian dollars here — may win the bid.

That being the case, Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner, could use some of his family money to guarantee the profit, a move that just might give Kamloops an edge.

The 2018 Memorial Cup is to be held in Regina, with the 2019 tournament in Halifax.


BTW, the Blazers revealed their 2018-19 season-ticket prices this week, with premium tickets going for $657, adult for $582, senior for $478, and youth/student for $403. The premium price is up $16 from last season, with the other three each having gone up by $15. . . . The WHL, of course, is reducing its regular-season schedule from 72 to 68 games, meaning that increase is for two fewer home games than in 2017-18.


The WHL has 22 teams. What might be the over-under for the number of teams to increase season-ticket prices?


The WHL’s conference finals began on Friday night, with the host Swift Current Broncos whlskating to a 3-2 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes, and the Everett Silvertips getting past the visiting Tri-City Americans, also 3-2. . . . Game 2 in each series will be played in the same venue tonight. . . . When this season began, who had those four teams in the conference finals? . . . In Swift Current, G Stuart Skinner stopped 38 shots and F Aleksi Heponiemi broke a 2-2 tie at 11:11 of the third period. In 29 career playoff games, he has one goal and 27 assists. . . . Artyom Minulin didn’t finish the game for the Broncos, but head coach Manny Viveiros told Shawn Mullin, the team’s radio voice, that the third-year Russian defenceman has “a touch of the flu.” . . . In Everett, G Carter Hart stopped 24 shots and F Garrett Pilon scored twice for the Silvertips. . . . F Morgan Geekie had one of the Americans’ goals, meaning he has at least one goal in each of the club’s nine playoff games this season. Tri-City went into the game with an 8-0 record in these playoffs. . . . Everett now has won five straight games.


Please note that final is singular, so it is the Western Conference final and the other series is the Eastern Conference final. The next round will be the WHL final. OK?


The SJHL final continued Friday night, with the Nipawin Hawks beating the visiting Estevan Bruins, 3-1, to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven final for the Canalta Cup. They’ll play Game 6 in Estevan on Sunday. . . . The Bruins got the game’s first goal, from F Michael McChesney at 2:24 of the first period, but weren’t able to get another one past G Declan Hobbs. D Josh McDougall pulled the Hawks even at 10:17, and F Chad McCartney got what proved to be the winner at 1:33 of the second period. D Gage Misskey also scored for Nipawin, at 19:55 of the second. . . .

In the MJHL, the Steinbach Pistons hold a 3-2 lead over the Virden Oil Capitals, who are scheduled to play host to Game 6 tonight. The Oil Capitals won the first two games in the series, only to have the Pistons roar back with three straight victories, including 4-0 in Virden on Monday and 7-1 in Steinbach on Thursday. . . . The MJHL and SJHL winners will meet for the ANAVET Cup, with a berth in the Royal Bank Cup on the line. That tournament opens in Chilliwack, B.C., on May 12. . . .

In the BCHL, the Wenatchee, Wash., Wild wrapped up its first championship on Thursday, beating the visiting Prince George Spruce Kings, 3-0, to win the Fred Page Cup in front of 3,845 fans in the Toyota Town Center. The Wild is in its third season in the BCHL. Wenatchee is the first American team to win the BCHL title since the Bellingham Blazers in 1979. . . . The Wild next will face the AJHL-champion Spruce Grove Saints, starting in Wenatchee with games on Friday, April 27, and Saturday, April 28. The winner of that series will advance to the Royal Bank Cup in Chilliwack. . . . The Saints won the AJHL title on Friday, beating the host Okotoks Oilers, 3-2, to take the Inter Pipeline Cup final, 4-1.

If you’re wondering how Wenatchee and Spruce Grove will handle the travel, here’s an excerpt from an AJHL news release:

“If one team sweeps the first two games (in Wenatchee), the remainder of the series will be played in Spruce Grove. If the teams split the opening two games, Game 3 will be played in Wenatchee before the series switches to Spruce Grove for the remainder of the series.”


Assistant coach Ian Herbers’ three-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers is soon to Saskatoonexpire. He took a three-year sabbatical from the U of Alberta Golden Bears — he had been their head coach — to sign with the Oilers. Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal reports right here that Herbers, should his deal with the Oilers not be renewed, could be headed back to the Golden Bears. . . . Matheson also reports that Serge Lajoie, who replaced Herbers at the U of A, “has interviewed for the vacant (head-coaching) job with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades, which sounds like he’s being proactive (in case) Herbers moves back to the Bears.” . . . The Blades are looking for a head coach after firing Dean Brockman at the end of the regular season.


USA Hockey announced Friday that David Quinn will be head coach of its junior team that will play in the 2019 World Junior Championship in Vancouver and Victoria, Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. . . . Quinn just completed his fourth season as the head coach of the Boston University Terriers. . . . Quinn’s assistant coaches with Team USA will be Mike Hastings of Minnesota State-Mankato, David Lassonde of Dartmouth and Steve Miller of Ohio State.


The Delta Hockey Academy has added a pair of former WHLers to its coaching staff. Milan Dragicevic takes over the Bantam Prep White team, while Rick Lanz will coach the U15 team. . . . Dragicevic played with the Regina Pats, New Westminster Bruins, Tri-City Americans, Spokane Chiefs and Victoria Cougars (1986-90), and later spent four seasons as an assistant coach with the Americans and two (2000-02) as the Vancouver Giants’ head coach. He also spent 12 seasons as the head coach of the UBC Thunderbirds. . . . Lanz was on the Americans’ coaching staff for one season (1997-98).


If you’re young and thinking about a career as a play-by-play man, the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks may have a spot for you. They are looking for someone to handle play-by-play and to manage their social media accounts. . . . There’s more right here.


You see it before NHL games — a player seated on a bench cracks open a small packet, waves it under his nose and grimaces, and you know he’s ready. But what is that all about, and is it performance-enhancing? . . . The incomparable Roy MacGregor of The Globe and Mail checks it out in an entertaining read that is right here.

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Scattershooting: The Logan Effect . . . Jokiharju done in Portland? . . . Whistle in goal for Great Britain

Scattershooting


So many Canadians have registered as organ donors since April 6 that some people are calling it the Logan Effect. Logan Boulet was a player with the Humboldt Broncos who died in the crash of their bus on April 6. Boulet had registered as a donor upon turning 21 on March 2, and some of his organs went to recipients following the accident. . . . André Picard of The Globe and Mail has more right here.



The SJHL’s championship final is 2-2 after the host Estevan Bruins beat the Nipawin Hawks, 5-3, on Wednesday night. They will meet again Friday in Nipawin and Sunday in Estevan, with both games to start at 7:30 p.m. If needed, Game 7 will be played Tuesday in Nipawin.

The winner of the SJHL final will meet the MJHL champion for the ANAVET Cup. The Steinbach Pistons and Virden Oil Capitals are tied, 2-2, going into Game 5 tonight (Thursday) in Steinbach. Game 6 will be played Saturday at Virden, with Game 7, if needed, in Steinbach on Monday. All games start at 7:30 p.m.

In the AJHL, the Spruce Grove Saints hold a 3-1 edge on the Okotoks Oilers as they play Game 5 in Okotoks on Friday. . . . The BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild has a 3-1 lead on the Prince George Spruce Kings going into Game 5 in Wenatchee tonight (Thursday).


The WHL’s conference finals will get started on Friday with the Tri-City Americans visiting the Everett Silvertips, and the Lethbridge Hurricanes in Swift Current to meet the Broncos. They also will play in those same venues on Saturday night.


Scott Powers, who covers the Chicago Blackhawks for The Athletic, reported this week that D Henri Jokiharju may not be back with the Portland Winterhawks for a third Portlandseason. Jokiharju has been on loan to the Winterhawks from his Finnish team, Tappara, so is eligible to play next season in the AHL. The Blackhawks, who have yet to sign Jokiharju, selected him in the first round, 29th overall, of the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . The last time something like this happened involving a WHL team it was in the fall of 2014 and the Swift Current Broncos lost D Julius Honka. He had been loaned to them by his Finnish team, JYP, so moved onto the AHL after one season with the Broncos. The Dallas Stars picked him 14th overall in the NHL’s 2014 draft and he played the next three seasons with their AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars. He got into 16 games with Dallas in 2016-17 and had a goal and three assists in 42 games there this season.


G Jackson Whistle, who played five seasons in the WHL, is on Great Britain’s roster for the IIHF World Championship (Division 1, Group A) that opens Sunday in Budapesdt, Hungary. Whistle played with the Vancouver Giants (2011-12) and Kelowna Rockets (2012-16). This season, he played with the EIHL’s Belfast Giants. His father, Dave, coached in Great Britain, and Jackson has dual citizenship.


F Cole Shepard of West Vancouver has committed to attend Harvard U and play for the Crimson, starting in 2020-21. Shepard, 16, had 53 points, including 34 assists in 34 games with Delta Hockey Academy’s prep team in the CSSHL this season. A second-round selection by the Vancouver Giants in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft, he is likely to play next season with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees.


Here’s some baseball culinary news from Brad Rock of Salt Lake City’s Deseret News:

“The Salt Lake Bees are upping their food game with a new sandwich that is half ham, turkey, roast beef and cheddar cheese with a basil aioli; the other half consisting of salami, capicola, pepperoni, provolone cheese and green chili aioli.

“Both halves are topped with jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions and carrots mixed with Italian dressing.

“The $24 sandwich, sized the same as a regulation base, is called the ‘6-4-3 Double Play.’ Also known as ‘Gwyneth Paltrow’s Revenge’.”


Living in the U.S. as he does, Jack Finarelli, aka the Sports Curmudgeon, has regular access to ESPN, which is why he writes:

“According to reports, Pope Francis said that there is no Hell. Most assuredly, I do not wish to challenge His Holiness on religious matters. I know when I am in over my head.  Nonetheless, I wonder what the Pope would call viewing First Take and/or Undisputed day after day after day after . . .”

The curmudgeonly one then added: “I guess they don’t get those programs in Vatican City . . .”


Headline at SportsPickle.com: Report: Patriots stockpiling draft picks in hopes of taking a quarterback who can catch.


Fran O’Hanlon, the men’s basketball coach at Lafayette College in Easton, Penn., no longer has his team use a matchup-zone defence. Why not? He explains to CBSsportsradio.com: “The key to the matchup is being able to communicate with one another on the floor. Today’s players can’t communicate unless they text. They can type really fast on their cellphones, but not quite fast enough during a game.”


Attendance at a recent game between the Tampa Bay Rays and White Sox in Chicago totalled 974. As Jim Barach of WCHS-TV in Charleston, W.Va., noted: “All the fans bought a hot dog and beer, so the team still made $3 million from the concession stands.”

Mondays With Murray: Not Only Does He Understand, He Shows He Cares

Twenty-eight years ago, Los Angeles Times sports columnist Jim Murray was awarded the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary. He was the last sports columnist to do so, becoming just the fourth member of this small club. The others are Arthur Daley (1956), Red Smith (1976) and Dave Anderson (1981), all of The New York Times.

From The Pulitzer Files:

“One column in Murray’s winning entry told an off-the-field story involving Jim Abbott, the one-handed major league pitcher. Murray described Abbott as ‘the only reason I know of to be glad there’s a designated hitter rule in the American League.’

 “The other principal in the column was a five-year-old girl from Indianapolis by the name of Erin Bower, whose left hand had been blown off by a bomb. We’ll leave that story to Murray, but the follow-up is special, too. The girl, now Erin Bower Patterson, became a pediatric physical therapist at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. “

Today, in addition to often being a guest pitching instructor during spring training for the Los Angeles Angels, Jim Abbott is a motivational speaker.


TUESDAY, JULY 18, 1989 SPORTS

Copyright 1989/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

 JIM MURRAY

Not Only Does He Understand, He Shows He Cares

   Too often, the major league ballplayer is portrayed as a churlish, graceless individual who comes into public view brushing the little kid autograph seeker aside, refusing to pose for pictures, announcing irritatedly that all he owes his public is a .293 average or an appearance at a baseball card show for which he gets $10,000.

   There are, to be sure, a few who fit this unflattering image. They take the $2 million mondaysmurray2and run. The fans’ love is unrequited. The record books sometime identify these worthies as most valuable players. The public concept of what these letters stand for is quite different.

   So, it gives me great pleasure today to check in with a different kind of story, the account of a major league player who belongs to the world at large, is a citizen in good standing with the rest of the community, a man who cares.

   So far as I know, Jim Abbott is the only man in a big league uniform ever to win the Sullivan Award as the nation’s outstanding amateur athlete. He’s the only one in a big league uniform who only has one hand. Jim Abbott is the only reason I know of to be glad there’s a designated hitter rule in the American League.

   We all know what kind of pitcher Jim Abbott is — eight wins, six losses, 62 strikeouts in 101 2/3 innings, an ERA of 3.45. But I have a clipping from an Indianapolis newspaper that shows what kind of person he is.

   The circumstances require a bit of explanation. On the morning of April 17, little five-year-old Erin Bower went with her mother to the local Kmart store in the Castleton Farms section of Indianapolis. There was this tube of toothpaste on the counter. Erin picked it up. It exploded. Some cretin with a grudge against the store — or the world — had placed a bomb in it.

   It didn’t kill Erin. It just blew off her left hand. You don’t even want to think about it.

   In all the outpouring of sympathy for little Erin, one letter came marked with the logo of the California Angels. It read:

   “Dear Erin:

   “Perhaps somewhere later in your lifetime you will properly understand this letter and the feelings that go behind it. Regardless, I wanted to send something along now after being made aware of your terrible accident.

   “As your parents have probably told you, I was born without a right hand. That automatically made me different from the other kids I was around. But you know what? It made me different only in their eyes. You see, I figured that’s what the good Lord wanted me to work with. So it was my responsibility to become as good as I could at whatever I chose to do, regardless of my handicap.

   “I just won my first major league game. When the final out was made, a lot of things went through my mind. I thought of my parents and all the help they provided; my brother and his support; and all of my friends along the way. The only thing, Erin, that I didn’t pay attention to was my handicap. You see, it had nothing to do with anything.

   “You’re a young lady now with a tremendous life ahead of you. Whether you want to be an athlete, a doctor, lawyer or anything else, it will be up to you, and only you, how far you go. Certainly there will be some tough times ahead, but with dedication and love of life, you’ll be successful in any field you choose. I’ll look forward to reading about you in the future.

   “Again, my best, Jim Abbott, California Angels.”

   Now that, you have to say, is the way to get an autograph. And the news from Indianapolis, as reported in the Star, is good: Erin, who turned six today, has been fitted with an electrically-powered hand at the Medical Prosthetics Center in Houston. It’ll do everything a real hand will do — except throw the curve. If Erin wants to do that, she’ll have to learn to do it with her other hand. As Jim Abbott has shown, that’s no problem.

Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116

———

What is the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation? 

  The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in 1999 to perpetuate the Jim Murray legacy, and his love for and dedication to his extraordinary career in journalism. Since 1999, JMMF has granted 104 $5,000 scholarships to outstanding journalism students. Success of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation’s efforts depends heavily on the contributions from generous individuals, organizations, corporations, and volunteers who align themselves with the mission and values of the JMMF.

Like us on Facebook, and visit the JMMF website, www.jimmurrayfoundation.org

Scattershooting: Hawks, Bruins all even in SJHL final . . . Gotta love D.J. Kennington’s car . . . Broncos and Warriors to decide it tonight

Scattershooting


The SJHL’s championship final is all even after the host Nipawin Hawks posted a 4-1 victory over the Estevan Bruins before 1,122 fans on Sunday night. . . . The Bruins had SJHLwon the opener, 5-2, in Nipawin on Saturday night. . . . Last night, F Adam Beckman led the Hawks with two goals, his first two of the playoffs. Beckman, a fifth-round selection by the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft, played this season for the midget AAA Battlefords Stars. . . . Beckman has played three playoff games with the Hawks. He had one goal and one assist in the only regular-season game he played with Nipawin. . . . The Hawks also got two goals from F Logan Casavant, who has six in the playoffs. . . . F Arthur Miller had Estevan’s lone goal, his seventh. . . . The teams combined to take 24 minors. . . . Nipawin got 23 saves from G Declan Hobbs, while Estevan’s Bo Didur stopped 34 shots. . . . They’ll play the next two games in Estevan on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, with a fifth game back in Nipawin on Friday night.


The Estevan Bruins climbed on their bus Friday and headed for Nipawin, where they were scheduled to start the SJHL’s championship final against the Hawks on Saturday night. En route, the Hawks made a stop — they spent 30 minutes at the site where the Humboldt Broncos’ bus crashed into a big rig on the afternoon of April 6. . . . Chris Lewgood, the Bruins’ general manager and head coach, told Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post that stop was “the first step for a lot of the guys toward closure.” . . . The Bruins went on to win Game 1, 5-2. . . . Vanstone has more on the Bruins right here.


More from Vanstone:

“The Humboldt Broncos went into overtime and, as a result, so did two thoughtful employees at the Domo C-Store (in Nipawin).

“Just as March 30 was becoming March 31, a weary band of Broncos walked into a convenience store near the southern outskirts of Nipawin.

“Earlier that evening, the host Hawks had outlasted Humboldt 3-2 to open a best-of-seven SJHL semi-final. Michael Grant had scored the winner for Nipawin at 2:33 of the second overtime session.

Due to the marathon contest, the Broncos did not arrive at the Domo C-Store until just before midnight — closing time, in other words.

Four Humboldt players barely beat the buzzer, arriving at 11:59 p.m. With the team bus parked outside, the rest of the Broncos trickled in.”

The rest of the story, which is right here, is well worth your time.



If they put this beauty — it’s D.J. Kennington’s Castrol Edge Dodge — on toy shelves as a die-cast car, I really wonder how many thousands would be sold . . .


The Moose Jaw Warriors and Swift Current Broncos will decide their second-round WHL series tonight (Monday) when they meet for a seventh game. . . . The Warriors forced Game 7 with a 3-2 victory in triple OT in Swift Current on Saturday night. Moose Jaw got 58 saves from G Brody Willms, with F Jayden Halbgewachs, the WHL’s leading sniper in the regular season, scoring the winner, on a PP, 74 seconds into the third period. . . . The Broncos had a 1-0 lead and a 28-9 edge in shots through two periods, then took a 2-0 lead at 3:35 of the third period. . . . G Stuart Skinner stopped 35 shots for the Broncos. . . . The winner of Game 7 will meet the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference final. . . . Darren Steinke, the travelling blogger, was at Game 6 and writes about it right here.


When I was a youngster, oh, how I loved my table hockey game, the one with the metal players, all of whom played for the Montreal Canadiens or the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hey, there weren’t any other options with my game. . . . It turns out that the likeness for those players actually had a model. As Tom Hawthorn writes in The Globe and Mail, the likeness was that of Dick Gamble, a long-time pro hockey player who died on March 22. . . . Hawthorn’s obituary for Gamble is right here.

Scattershooting: Ex-player starts Hockey Gives Blood . . . Bruins win emotional opener . . . Holick signs with Yale

Scattershooting


Stu Middleton was playing for the junior B Revelstoke Grizzlies in 2000-01 when his father was killed in a car accident in the Rogers Pass while en route to a game. Since then, Middleton has been wanting to do something with his father’s memory in mind. Following the tragedy involving the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, Middleton hooked up with some former teammates and now a project is underway. It involves the Canadian Blood Services Partners for Life Program and a website — hockeygivesblood.ca. . . . If you are with a team or league, you will want to check this out and you also will want to make this a full-time part of your program. . . . Pam Cowan of the Regina Leader-Post has more right here.



The SJHL issued its players-of-the-week news release on Friday. . . . If you haven’t yet read the news release, it’s right here and it is well worth your time.


When there are tragedies such as the one involving the Humboldt Broncos, major media outlets often send in long-form writers who will attempt to capture the atmosphere in the community. Sports Illustrated assigned Greg Bishop to the story. . . . The top reads: “An unthinkable tragedy struck Humboldt when a bus crash killed 16 members of the Broncos junior hockey team. As the small city recovers, it doesn’t want to be defined by the crash; it wants to be defined by how its heartbroken community responds.” . . . If you haven’t seen it, Bishop’s piece is right here.

Meanwhile, The Globe and Mail gave the assignment to Marty Klinkenberg, who writes that these days “there is no normal” in Humbolt. His piece is right here.


The Estevan Bruins opened the SJHL’s best-of-seven championship final with a 5-2 victory over the Hawks in Nipawin on Saturday night before a sellout crowd of 1,199 fans. They’ll play Game 2 tonight (Sunday) in Nipawin. . . . The Bruins put the game away with two late empty-net goals. . . . This was the first game for both teams since the Humboldt Broncos’ bus crashed en route to Nipawin for a playoff game on April 6. . . . Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post was in Nipawin and filed two pieces. His game story is right here, while a piece looking at the overall scene is right here.



Meanwhile, there is quite a story being written in the AJHL where the Spruce Grove Saints have taken a 2-0 lead over the Okotoks Oilers in the best-of-seven championship final. . . . On Saturday night, the visiting Saints got an OT goal from F Chris Van Os-Shaw, who played the previous two seasons with the Humboldt Broncos, to beat the Oilers, 3-2. That was his second goal of the game. The Saints had tied the game on goal from F Josh Harris with 47 seconds left in the third period. . . . Van Os-Shaw, a 20-year-old from Regina, is ticketed for Minnesota State-Mankato next season. . . . One night earlier, Van Os-Shaw, the AJHL’s regular-season MVP, scored on a penalty shot and drew an assist on Harris’s OT winner in a 4-3 victory. . . . They’ll play Games 3 and 4 in Spruce Grove on Monday and Tuesday nights.



TheCoachingGame

Mark Holick is back in the coaching game, this time in Canada. He has been named head coach of the Yale Hockey Academy’s midget prep team and the director of the midget programs. According to a news release, Holick “will also be working with students this off-season on skill development and will be assisting with student recruitment.” . . . Holick has extensive coaching experience, including more than six seasons as a WHL head coach. . . . Most recently, he spent more than one season as the head coach of Pustertal/Val Pusteria, an Italian entry in the Alps Hockey League. . . . The Yale Hockey Academy is located in Abbotsford, B.C.


The AJHL’s Olds Grizzlys have signed Garry VanHereweghe to a two-year deal as general manager and associate coach, while removing the interim head coach tag from Joe Murphy, who also got a two-year deal. . . . The Grizzlys finished last in the South Division, at 18-37-5, this season, and head coach Adam Redmond and Doug Hergenhein, the director of player personnel and head coach left late in the season. Murphy, who had been associate coach and assistant GM, was named interim head coach at that time. . . . VanHereweghe had been the vice-president of hockey operations with the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles.


The junior B Ridge Meadow Flames of the Pacific Junior Hockey League have signed Derek Bedard as their new general manager, replacing Jamie Fiset, who has joined the Valley West Hawks of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. Fiset, who had been with the Flames through 12 seasons, starting as the goaltending coach, will be the Hawks’ general manager. . . . The Flames also announced that Bayne Ryshak will return as head coach.


The junior B Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League need a new head coach after Ken Law’s contract wasn’t renewed. The Coyotes have been in Osoyoos for eight years, and Law had been there from the beginning. Owner Randy Bedard told Richard McGuire of the Osoyoos Times that “it’s just sometimes you know when it’s time to make a change. You get that feeling where it’s time to freshen up.” . . . Law told McGuire: “I was planning on coming back and was negotiating my contract. Randy just said that he decided to change things up. These things happen.” . . . This season, the Coyotes finished 32-11-2, with two ties, leaving them atop the Okanagan Division, nine points ahead of the Kelowna Chiefs. Osoyoos dropped the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference final in seven games to the Revelstoke Grizzlies. . . . McGuire’s story is right here.

Scattershooting: Blades’ voice has idea to honour Tyler Bieber . . . Guy Charron? Call him commissioner . . . Virden up 2-0 in MJHL final

Scattershooting

Les Lazaruk, the veteran radio voice of the Saskatoon Blades, caught a ride with Blades assistant coach Jerome Engele on Thursday morning and the two headed for Humboldt.

They went to the Elgar Petersen Arena for the funeral of Broncos’ radio voice Tyler Bieber, who was killed in Friday’s bus crash.

While in the seats, just prior to the service starting, Lazaruk had an idea.

“One other thing I feel as I sit and look at Tyler Bieber’s spot in the 107.5 Bolt FM broadcast booth,” he tweeted, “. . . I want to honour Tyler’s memory by calling Humboldt Broncos game on Bolt-FM. For free! No talent fee! No gas money! No meal money! I don’t care where the game is.

“There are 58 regular-season games in 2018-19 and I hope 57 other broadcasters step up and do the same in Tyler’s memory.”

If there is a way to make this work, you can bet on it happening.

Chris Cuthbert, Gord Miller, Peter Loubardias, Phil Andrews, Kelly Moore, Shawn Mullin, Ryan Switzer, James Gallo, Troy Gillard, Dave Randorf, John Fraser, Ben Holden, Joey Kenward, Tim Edmonds, Jason Gregor, Lee Jones, Tony Brar, Rob Mahon, Nick Gismondi, Brendan Parker, Peter Mills, Pete Krupsky and Cameron Birnie were among those to respond in a resoundingly positive fashion.


Tyler Bieber was a huge fan of the NFL’s New England Patriots.

Upon hearing that, Robert Kraft, the Patriots’ owner, called Bieber’s family — he ended up leaving a voicemail expressing condolences, according to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan — and also made sure that flowers were sent.



Bob Wilkie was a defenceman with the 1986-87 Swift Current Broncos. He survived the Broncos’ bus crash on Dec. 30, 1986, and went on to win the 1989 Memorial Cup with SCBroncosthem.

Wilkie later co-authored a book about the Broncos and that accident — Sudden Death: The Incredible Saga of the 1986 Swift Current Broncos.

On Sunday, he was in Saskatoon and Humboldt as he, Sheldon Kennedy, Peter Soberlak and Darren Kruger worked to spread hope among those impacted by the Humboldt bus crash.

This week, Wilkie dug up a souvenir of that 1989 Memorial Cup championship.



Elsewhere . . .

The Spokane Chiefs have signed three members of their organization to contract extensions, the lengths of which weren’t released. Assistant coach Scott Burt, equipment manager Tim Lindblade and Chris Baird, the assistant director of hockey operations, all have new deals. . . . Burt is preparing for his sixth season with the Chiefs. . . . Lindblade joined the Chiefs for the 2013-14 season. . . . Baird just completed his first season as equipment manager after 10 seasons as the Chiefs’ video co-ordinator.


Jeff Wagner is the new general manager and head coach of the junior B Fernie Ghostriders of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He had been assistant GM/associate coach with the KIJHL’s Creston Valley Thunder Cats. . . . Wagner replaces Craig Mohr, whose contract wasn’t renewed after the Ghostriders were first-round playoff casualties. This was his fourth season as the club’s GM/head coach.


Guy Charron, a former NHLer who did a couple of turns as the head coach of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, is the new commissioner of the Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League. . . . You can bet that Charron will be a busy man because, as Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week writes, “The league has never been short on fiery personalities and hot-button issues — and this year is no different.” . . . Hastings has more right here.


JUST NOTES: If you’re following the WHL playoffs, you will be aware that the Tri-City Americans completed a four-game sweep of the Victoria Royals on Wednesday night. The Americans play in the U.S. Division and were a wild-card entry into the playoffs. They have swept the B.C. Division’s top two teams — the Kelowna Rockets, who finished atop the division, and the Royals, who were second. Does this mean the Americans get to hoist a B.C. Division championship pennant prior to next season? . . . In the MJHL, Rylee Zimmer had a goal and two assists to help the host Virden Oil Capitals to a 4-3 victory over the Steinbach Pistons. Zimmer tied the game at 14:07 of the third period and drew an assist on Landyn Cochrane’s winner at 15:48. . . . Virden won the opener, 2-1, in Steinbach on April 6. Game 2 had been scheduled for Sunday, but was postponed out of respect for the Humboldt Broncos. Game 3 is scheduled for Saturday in Steinbach. . . . The winner of the MJHL championship will meet the SJHL champ, either the Estevan Bruins or Nipawin Hawks, in the ANAVET Cup series. The SJHL final opens Saturday in Nipawin. . . .


A really interesting hockey book was published a year ago, but somehow I missed it. That book is Father Bauer and the Great Experiment: The Genesis of Canadian Olympic Hockey. I came upon it last month, and simply devoured it. Written by Greg Oliver, it details all that went on as Canadian hockey moved into the national team era and beyond. When I was growing up in northern Manitoba, among my hockey heroes were the likes of Roger Bourbonnais, Terry O’Malley, Barry MacKenzie, Fran Huck, Seth Martin, Ken Broderick, Jean Cusson et al. These were the Canadian players who would venture to Europe and get in the face of the great Soviet machine. The stories of all that went into getting the national program off the ground — no, Clarence Campbell’s NHL didn’t like it at all — all are right here. Great stuff!

Scattershooting: The SJHL “will play hockey” . . . Big day for Beaudry . . . Willie helps out

Scattershooting

The SJHL’s board of governors voted unanimously on Wednesday afternoon to have the league’s playoffs played to a conclusion. The best-of-seven final will open Saturday with SJHLthe Estevan Bruins visiting the Hawks in Nipawin.

The league has been in a holding pattern since Friday when the bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos to Nipawin for a game that night was involved in a crash in which 16 people died. The Hawks led that series, 3-1, at the time.

“We had a gruelling decision to make with respects on how we can pay tribute and honour the Humboldt Broncos,” SJHL president Bill Chow said in a statement. “On behalf of the board of governors, this intensive decision has been made and that decision is to carry through and finish off the 2017-18 season.

“The league will play hockey.”

The winner of the final will win the Canalta Cup and go on to play the Manitoba Junior Hockey League champion for the ANAVET Cup.

If you’re wonder, the Broncos’ organization is onside with the decision to play the final series.

“In my opinion, I think that hockey is important in our world, and it’s part of the healing process,” Broncos president Kevin Garinger told The Canadian Press. “I think it’s important to recognize that it is part of the healing process for everyone involved in this tragedy.”

Garinger also repeated that the Broncos expect to be one of the SJHL’s 12 teams when the 2018-19 season arrives.

“We know that hockey is critical for our Humboldt Broncos family,” he said. “We know that moving forward it will take time but we fully expect that the Humboldt Broncos organization will be part of the 2018-19 Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League schedule. We will look toward that when the time is right to consider it.”

——

SJHL final (best-of-seven):

Saturday: at Nipawin

Sunday: at Nipawin

Tuesday: at Estevan

Wednesday: at Estevan

If necessary:

Friday, April 20: at Nipawin

Sunday, April 22: at Estevan

Tuesday, April 24: at Nipawin


The Nipawin Hawks began preparations for the SJHL final at practice Wednesday afternoon, and they had a new assistant coach on the ice with them. Humboldt assistant coach Chris Beaudry, who wasn’t on the Broncos’ bus on Friday because he was driving himself to the game, had on his coaching gear and was helping the Hawks.

Later in the day, Beaudry hit send on the following tweet:


If you follow the WHL, you know that the Saskatoon Blades didn’t qualify for the playoffs and, subsequently, head coach Dean Brockman was fired.

If you are one of those people who believes that things happen for a reason, well, before joining the Blades as an assistant coach, Brockman spent 17 seasons with the Broncos, the last 10 as general manager and head coach.

With that in mind, might Brockman end up back there, charged with putting the franchise back together?

Only time will tell. In the meantime, Brockman’s thoughts on the tragedy and what has transpired are right here in a piece from CBC.


On Tuesday afternoon, I posted a piece here — The boys grab some sticks and win a game — and the response has blown me away. On Wednesday morning, Cam Hutchinson, the editor of the Saskatoon Express, asked for permission to print the story in the next issue of that newspaper. Of course, I told him to go ahead. So, if you’re in the Saskatoon area, you can watch for it in print on Monday and online on Tuesday. . . . On Wednesday afternoon, following the death of Broncos athletic therapist Dayna Brons, I updated the story to include her.



There are stories everywhere involving victims of Friday’s bus accident. Here’s one that I absolutely love. . . . Graysen Cameron is one of the Humboldt players who was hospitalized after the accident. His brother, Bretton, is the captain of the ECHL’s Greenville Swamp Rabbits. He played three seasons (2007-10) with the Medicine Hat Tigers, while Willie Desjardins was the general manager and head coach. . . . Bretton badly wanted to get to Saskatoon in order to be with Graysen, but was having visa problems. It just happened that Desjardins called on Saturday to ask about Graysen. During the conversation, Bretton mentioned the visa issues. Well, it seems that Desjardins knows a lawyer through his NHL connections and, well, Bretton was on a plane to Saskatoon on Sunday. . . . These are the kinds of relationships that are forged while buses carry teams across this land.