If you haven’t noticed, the Kootenay Ice and Red Deer Rebels are tied for third place in the WHL’s Central Division, each with 51 points. Each team has 14 games remaining. This being the era of the loser point, it’s worth noting that the Ice (24-31-3) has five more victories and five more losses than the Rebels (19-26-13), who have 10 more loser points. In this instance, it’s all about those loser points.
Whichever team loses the race to third in the Central Division likely will miss the playoffs. That’s because the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot is 10 points away.
The Moose Jaw Warriors (42-9-3) lead the overall standings by three points over the Swift Current Broncos (41-13-4). However, the Warriors have four games in hand. If you’re wondering, those teams only have two games remaining with each other — Wednesday at Swift Current and March 10 in Moose Jaw. . . . Five of Moose Jaw’s remaining 18 games will be played against the Brandon Wheat Kings.
It‘s good to see former Brandon D Dwayne Gylywoychuk working the bench with the Canada’s women’s team at the Olympic Winter Games. He’s an assistant coach, and if you catch a glimpse of him you’ll see why his nickname is Chewy. I still can’t believe he doesn’t have an endorsement from Double Bubble.
Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle:
“If Tom Brady can be at the top of his game at 40, why not a rebuilt Tiger Woods at 42? There’s just too much accumulated golf knowledge, hunger and battle savvy packed into that bad-ass, free-safety body for Tiger to fade away. Plus, Woods never gets sacked, so to speak.”
One of the interesting things to happen this week has been the tweets from Mr. T — remember him? — professing to a new-found love for curling. This has led to speculation on social media that curling’s pooh-bahs will change the name of the T-line to the Mr. T line.
Former MLB pitcher Jim Deshaies, who now provides analysis on Chicago Cubs’ telecasts, remembers a time when the late Oscar Gamble saw pitcher Nolan Ryan’s name on a marquee in Anaheim and said: “Ooh, boy . . . 0-for-4 and no fractured skull is a good day.”
Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, points out: “The last ‘Really Good’ QB for the NY Jets may in fact have been Joe Willie Namath. To put that in perspective, he is six months older than I am; and when I was in high school, they were able to teach all of World History in four days.”
Those international hockey games between the American and Canadian women’s teams certainly have a lot of body contact for a game in which bodychecking is against the rules. . . . I got a personal introduction to that rivalry two years ago when the IIHF Women’s World Championship was decided in Kamloops. It only seems to have grown hotter since then.
D Austin Madaisky (Calgary, Kamloops, 2008-12) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Leksand (Sweden, Allsvenskan) after receiving his release from the Straubing Tigers (Germany DEL). He had five goals and eight assists in 45 games with Straubing this season.
DAN’S DIARY . . .
Dan Courneyea, one of the Kamloops Blazers’ off-ice officials, is at the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. With the men’s hockey competition having started, he is a busy man.
Early Thursday (Pacific time), he reported . . .
“A day at the exciting last game of the day. Korea vs Czech Republic. The Czech won 2-1, but the big thing was what happened inside the game building, actually. We’re in South Korea in an ice rink and who comes in — nope, not him — but a singing and dancing choir from North Korea. WOW is all I had to say.
“Hockey is interesting without the NHL. Anyone can win this tournament.”
Later Thursday — it was well into Friday in PyeongChang — Courneyea worked the men’s game between Slovakia and the U.S.
“I’m now supervising the upstairs crew,” he wrote, “Ed (Petrullo) from Seattle was moved downstairs onto scorekeepers row. You might see him on TV. He’s at centre ice level right above the large snowflake on the boards.
“The atmosphere in here is great.”
Petrullo is an off-ice official with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds.
“We are doing training for the local Koreans who came to work and will move on to the Paralympics.
“We originally came to do one job but our experience has over-ridden that. We also didn’t want to cut out those locals who have been training and working for this time. That was our group’s consensus when the four of us came in on the first day.”
As for the men’s tournament, he wrote:
“This is ANYONE’S tournament. No clear winners!”
It’s worth noting, too, he wrote, that the sweaters players are wearing in these Olympics, “have chips to track all the on-ice stats.”
If you weren’t watching, Team USA beat the Slovakians, 2-1.
A LITTLE OF THIS . . .
A tip of the Taking Note cap to the players on the Vancouver Giants for something they did after their 4-2 victory over the Winterhawks in Portland on Wednesday night.
Many junior teams have something that goes to a player of the game. In the Giants’ case, it is a replica of a WWE championship belt.
Jess Rubenstein is the prospect editor for the Blueshirt Bulletin, and keeps close tabs on New York Rangers’ prospects, including Giants F Cliff Ronning.
All Ronning did in Portland was score twice — Nos. 50 and 51. In the process, he became the first player in franchise history to score 50 times on one season. No, he didn’t get the replica WWE belt.
Rubenstein was at the game and sent along a couple of notes after the game:
“The belt was given to bus driver Derek Holloway. He was wearing the belt with a giant-sized smile as he supervised the postgame loading.
“It was a huge win for the Giants players but they honoured their driver for his 600th road game. Hockey truly is special.
“It was truly a classy move by the players to honour the guy who gets them from place to place. The rest of the world doesn’t know how important these drivers are, so it was great to see the Giants do that for Holloway.”
The Regina Pats will honour Jock Callander by retiring his number (15) prior to a game against the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors on Sunday. . . . Callander played four seasons (1978-82) with the Pats, totalling 368 points, 158 of them goals, in 201 games. In franchise history, he is sixth in points, tied for seventh in goals, and sixth in assists (210). . . . In 1981-82, Callander led the WHL in scoring, with 190 points in 71 games. . . . Callander, who is from Regina, went on to a pro career that included a Stanley Cup title with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992. . . . He also played 1,054 games in the now-defunct International Hockey League. He finished with 1,242 points, and that’s No. 1 in IHL history. . . . The last Regina player to wear No. 15 was F Braydon Buziak, who was traded to the Victoria Royals earlier this season.
Other numbers retired by the Pats — 1. Ed Staniowski; 7. Jordan Eberle; 8. Brad Hornung; 9. Clark Gillies; 12. Doug Wickenheiser; 14. Dennis Sobchuk; 16. Dale Derkatch/Mike Sillinger; 17. Bill Hicke.
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IF THE PLAYOFFS OPENED TODAY …
Saskatoon at Moose Jaw
Regina at Medicine Hat
Brandon at Swift Current
Kootenay at Lethbridge
Seattle at Everett
Tri-City at Kelowna
Spokane at Portland
Vancouver at Victoria
No Games Scheduled.
FRIDAY (all times local):
Regina at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.
Brandon at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.
Medicine Hat at Swift Current, 7 p.m.
Saskatoon at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.
Tri-City vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m.
Kelowna at Kamloops, 7 p.m.
Red Deer at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.
Edmonton vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7:30 p.m.
Everett vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:35 p.m.