Will the Brandon Wheat Kings make the playoffs? . . . The Brandon Wheat Kings were third in the WHL’s overall standings, behind Moose Jaw and Swift Current, when the trade deadline arrived. Brandon’s brass chose to sell, and today the Wheaties are 10th in the overall standings. More importantly, they hold down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, four points ahead of Saskatoon and 10 up on Prince Albert. So, yes, the Wheat Kings should be in the playoffs when they get here.
Headline at SportsPickle.com: Montreal Canadiens request to become NHL expansion team in hopes of becoming as good as Vegas Golden Nights.
How much green is it worth for a head coach to make a post-game visit to the referees’ room? . . . You know the WHL is in the stretch run and that the heat is on when a head coach checks in with the on-ice officials after a game. As I understand it, that happened on Saturday night. I’m thinking it might be worth $500. . . . We should find out early this week.
Have the Regina Pats found themselves? . . . The Pats, the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup, have undergone something of a makeover since this season started. For a lot of the season, they have been wandering around like a thirsty man in a desert. But they took two in a row from Moose Jaw on the weekend, something that has to give Regina fans some hope. . . . It’s now looking like the Pats’ first-round matchup — against Moose Jaw or Swift Current — should be an Ed Whalen special, a ring-a-ding-dong-dandy.
A big hello to the readers of this blog who are at the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. There were nine of you visiting here on Saturday — although that may have been Sunday where you are. . . . Thanks, too, to the readers who are vacationing in Mexico. Keep cool!
I’m wondering why Canadian skip Rachel Homan didn’t cross-check — cross-brush? — the Danish skip the other day? But, then, that wouldn’t have been very Canadian, eh?
Yes, Larry Walker should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. So . . . why haven’t the voters put him in there? Walker summed it up when he told TSN Radio in Montreal: “No needles went in my ass. I played the game clean, but I played in the ballpark, and it’s almost like Coors Field is my PED.”
Steve Simmons, a columnist with Postmedia, went to great lengths in a recent piece to point out that Willie Desjardins, the head coach of Canada’s men’s hockey team, isn’t at all like Mike Babcock. As Homer Simpson would say: “Doh!” . . . “The best coaches,” Simmons has observed, “exude a certain arrogance, a certain confidence: Desjardins has yet to demonstrate any of these skills.” . . . Hey, Willie is Willie, and he isn’t about to change now. . . . The Olympics aren’t yet near an end and Simmons already has done hatchet jobs on mixed curling and Desjardins. One more and he gets a tin medal.
Wouldn’t it be something if the NRA and its puppet Republicans got taken to the woodshed by the U.S.’s high school students?
You can’t make the playoffs in the first nine games of a WHL season. But the Kamloops Blazers are in the process of proving that you can miss them by starting 0-9-0. That’s how the Blazers started this season and that early damage is proving to be too much to undo.
After the New York Yankees acquired quarterback Russell Wilson from the Texas Rangers, Seattle Times decker Brett Miller noted: “Imagine how the Jets and Giants feel, knowing that the Yankees have the best QB in New York.”
Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “Fired Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema will receive 37 monthly installments of $322,567.57 through Dec. 31, 2020 as called for his in buyout, the Hogs’ support foundation announced. Final score: Greenbacks $11,935,000, Razorbacks 0.”
F Zane Jones (Chilliwack/Victoria, Calgary, Everett, Lethbridge, Vancouver, 2010-15) has signed a contract for the 2018 season with the Newcastle North Stars (Australia, AIHL). He is playing for Sollentuna (Sweden, Division Division 1), where he has 16 goals and five assists in 28 games. . . . Jones played for Newcastle last summer, scoring 12 goals and adding six assists in 16 games. . . . The AIHL begins its regular season on April 21 and it ends on Aug. 26. The sudden-death semifinals are Sept. 1 and the league final is Sept. 2.
DAN’S DIARY . . .
Dan Courneyea, who is part of the Kamloops Blazers’ off-ice crew of officials, is working men’s hockey games at the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. He has been keeping Taking Note readers up to date, too. Here is his latest note:
“As expected, the Games are a success. The events are getting large numbers of spectators from around the world.
“The hockey has been interesting, to say the least. No clear team has the advantage, yet those weaker teams are making each game interesting.
“When the Korean team hits the ice, the building is electric. The venue is sold out and the fans, not being as knowledgeable of the sport, get really excited when Team Korea charges down ice. (There are a lot of knowledgeable fans which is nice to see.)
“Now the real hockey competition begins. The playoff brackets are set and it’s time to see who comes out on top.”
IF THE PLAYOFFS OPENED TODAY …
Saskatoon at Moose Jaw
Brandon at Medicine Hat
Regina at Swift Current
Red Deer at Lethbridge
Seattle at Everett
Tri-City at Kelowna
Spokane at Portland
Vancouver at Victoria
At Regina, the Pats scored two third-period goals and beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 4-2. . . . Regina (31-24-6) has won two in a row. It moved back into third in the East Division, one point ahead of Brandon. . . . Moose Jaw (43-11-3) has lost two in a row. It is tied with Swift Current atop the overall standings. The Warriors have three games in hand. . . . This was the third time these teams met in five days. Moose Jaw won 6-3 in Regina on Wednesday; Regina won 5-3 in Moose Jaw on Friday. . . . On Sunday, F Jayden Halbgewachs (55) gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead on a PP, at 8:59 of the first period. . . . The Pats went ahead 2-1 on second-period goals from F Emil Oksanen (15), at 6:31, and F Sam Steel (23), at 9:31. . . . The Warriors tied it when F Brett Howden (21) scored at 19:44. . . . Pats D Cale Fleury (11), who had two assists, snapped the tie at 8:49 of the third period. . . . Regina F Matt Bradley (34) added insurance at 10:38. . . . Halbgewachs, the WHL’s leading sniper, also had an assist, giving him 101 points in 57 games. Last season, he finished with 101 points, including 50 goals, in 71 games. . . . He joins teammate Brayden Burke in the 100-point club. Burke, who sat out a third straight game, has 102 points. The last time the Warriors had two 100-point men in the same season was 1984-85 (F Kent Hayes and F Mark MacKay). . . . Halbgewachs is the first Moose Jaw skater with back-to-back 50 goal seasons since Hayes (84-86) and F Theo Fleury (1986-88). . . . Moose Jaw was 1-4 on the PP; Regina was 0-4. . . . The Pats got 21 saves from G Max Paddock, including a first-period stop on Halbgewachs on a penalty shot. . . . Moose Jaw G Brody Willms blocked 22 shots. . . . Prior to the game, the Pats honoured Jock Callander by retiring his number (15). If you were watching on TV, that was Kevin Gallant, a former play-by-play voice of the Pats, handling the emcee duties from ice level. . . . Announced attendance: 6,484.
At Calgary, F Braylon Shmyr scored three goals to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 5-1 victory over the Hitmen. . . . Saskatoon (30-27-3) holds down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, four points behind Brandon and six points ahead of Prince Albert. . . . Calgary (17-33-7) has lost two in a row. . . . Shmyr scored the game’s first two goals — at 5:51 of the first period and 5:18 of the second, the latter on a PP. . . . F Jakob Stukel (27) got Calgary’s goal at 14:09 of the third period. . . . F Max Gerlach (27), F Bradly Goethals (14) and Shmyr (31) had third-period goals for Saskatoon. . . . Shmyr has two hat tricks this season and five in his career. . . . Gerlach also had an assist. . . . Saskatoon was 1-3 on the PP; Calgary was 0-4. . . . G Nolan Maier stopped 32 shots to earn the victory. . . . The Hitmen got 25 saves from G Nick Schneider. . . . Saskatoon is 2-1-0 on a four-game swing into the Central Division that concludes Monday afternoon in Edmonton. . . . Announced attendance: 8,455.
At Cranbrook, B.C., F Jordy Bellerive broke open a scoreless game 16 seconds into the second period and the Lethbridge Hurricanes went on to a 4-1 victory over the Kootenay Ice. . . . Lethbridge (29-24-6) has won three in a row. It is second in the Central Division, one point behind Medicine Hat. . . . Kootenay (25-33-3) has lost two straight. It is fourth in the Central Division, two points behind Red Deer. . . . Lethbridge beat visiting Kootenay, 5-2, on Saturday night. . . . The Hurricanes went 3-0-0 in playing three games in fewer than 48 hours. . . . The Ice also played three times in fewer than 48 hours, going 1-2-0. . . . On Sunday, Bellerive opened the scoring with his 42nd goal. . . . D Ty Prefontaine (5) made it 2-0 at 2:06. . . . The Ice got its goal from F Colton Veloso (21), on a PP, at 7:37. . . . The visitors put it away with third-period goals from F Brad Morrison (23), at 18:06, and F Taylor Ross (16), into an empty net, at 18:26. . . . Bellerive also had an assist. . . . Kootenay was 1-5 on the PP; Lethbridge was 0-1. . . . The Hurricanes got 38 saves from a solid Reece Klassen. . . . G Duncan McGovern made 20 saves for the Ice. . . . Kootenay played without D Martin Bodak, who got a one-game suspension after he took a kneeing major and game misconduct on Saturday night. . . . The Hurricanes lost D Calen Addison to a headshot major and game misconduct at 6:25 of the second period. . . . D Tate Olson of the Hurricanes played in his 300th regular-season game. . . . Announced attendance: 2,608.
At Langley, B.C., F Brandon Cutler scored two goals and added an assist to lead the Red Deer Rebels to a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . Red Deer (21-26-13) has won four in a row and now is in sole possession of third place in the Central Division. It is two points ahead of Kootenay. Red Deer has 12 games remaining, Kootenay 11. . . . Vancouver (31-20-8) has lost two straight. It went 2-2-0 in playing four times in five days. The Giants are third in the B.C. Division, five points behind Victoria. . . . F Dawson Holt (11) gave the Giants a 1-0 lead, shorthanded, at 17:32 of the first period. . . . Red Deer tied it on a goal by F Kristian Reichel at 6:34 of the second period. . . . Cutler broke the tie at 11:48, then gave his guys a 3-1 lead at 3:49 of the third period. Cutler, who turned 18 on Jan. 4, has five goals this season. . . . F Jared Dmytriw (13) got the Giants to within a goal at 5:19. . . . Reichel (27) added insurance at 11:35. . . . Red Deer got two assists from F Brandon Hagel. . . . Vancouver was 0-1 on the PP; Red Deer was 0-3. . . . G Riley Lamb stopped 39 shots in winning for the seventh straight time for Red Deer. . . . The Giants got 37 saves from G David Tendeck. . . . The Giants played three games in fewer than 48 hours, going 1-2-0. They lost 4-3 in Victoria on Saturday night, while the Rebels were enjoying a night off in Vancouver. . . . The Rebels, who are 11-1-2 in their past 14 games, went 4-0-0 on a four-game trek into B.C., winning in Prince George, Kelowna and Victoria prior to Sunday’s game. . . . The Giants welcomed back D Darian Skeoch, who had been out since Feb. 3, but remain without D Dylan Plouffe, D Matt Barberis, D Alex Kannok Leipert and F Milos Roman, all of whom are hurt, and F Owen Hardy (ill). . . . Announced attendance: 3,769.
At Everett, G Dustin Wolf stopped 20 shots to help the Silvertips to a 4-0 victory over the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Everett (38-17-5) has points in eight straight (6-0-2). It leads the Western Conference, by five points over Kelowna. . . . Kamloops (26-29-5) has lost five in a row (0-4-1). It has 12 games remaining and is eight points out of a playoff spot. . . . Wolf recorded the fourth shutout of his freshman season. It came in his 17th appearance. . . . Wolf’s partner, Carter Hart, has seven shutouts. . . . F Martin Fasko-Rudas (5) opened the scoring at 11:05 of the first period. He also had two assists for his first career three-point game. . . . D Jake Christiansen (6) upped it to 2-0, on a PP, at 2:28 of the second period. . . . The Silvertips closed it out with PP goals from F Patrick Bajkov (28) and F Bryce Kindopp (18). . . . F Matt Fonteyne had two assists, with Bajkov adding one. . . . Everett D Kevin Davis, 20, played in his 335th regular-season game, tying him for top spot on the franchise’s list with F Shane Harper (2005-10). Davis is from Kamloops. . . . Everett was 3-7 on the PP; Kamloops was 0-2. . . . The Blazers got 38 saves from G Max Palaga. . . . Both teams played three games in fewer than 48 hours. The Blazers played at home Friday and Saturday, then rode the bus to Everett for the Sunday afternoon game. . . . The Silvertips went home-and-home with Seattle so didn’t have quite the same travel. . . . Kamloops went 0-2-1 in the three games; Everett was 2-0-1). . . . This was the first meeting of the season between these teams since the trade deadline, when the Blazers dealt F Garrett Pilon and D Ondrej Vala to the Silvertips for D Montana Onyebuchi, F Orrin Centazzo, two prospects and three bantam draft picks. . . . Onyebuchi was in the penalty box for two Everett goals; Centazzo was in stir for one. . . . Kamloops was without D Nolan Kneen, who drew a one-game suspension after taking a kneeing major and game misconduct in Saturday’s 7-6 shootout loss to visiting Prince George. . . . Announced attendance: 4,417.
At Kent, Wash., F Kailer Yamamoto had two goals and an assist to help the Spokane Chiefs to a 5-1 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Spokane (33-20-5) has won three in a row. It is third in the U.S. Division, three points behind Portland. . . . Seattle (28-21-9) has points in each of its previous two games (1-0-1). It holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, one point behind Tri-City. . . . F Hudson Elynuik (24) got the Thunderbirds started with a shorthanded goal, at 16:40 of the first period. . . . D Nolan Reid (12) made it 2-0 at 17:51. . . . Yamamoto upped it to 3-0, on a PP, at 17:01 of the second period. . . . D Austin Strand (19) got Seattle’s goal at 18:01. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (34) and Yamamoto (16) added third-period goals for the Chiefs. . . . Anderson-Dolan and Reid added an assist each. . . . Yamamoto has 14 goals and 23 assists in 16 games since Jan. 12. . . . Spokane was 1-2 on the PP; Seattle was 0-2. . . . The Chiefs got 25 saves from G Dawson Weatherill. . . . G Liam Hughes stopped 26 shots for Seattle. . . . Seattle went 1-1-1) in playing three games in fewer than 48 hours. . . . Strand left in the first period after taking a stick to the face. He returned in the second period wearing a cage. . . . Seattle F Blake Bargar left in the second period and didn’t return. . . . Announced attendance: 5,099. . . . Andy Eide of 710 ESPN in Seattle has a gamer right here.
MONDAY (all times local):
Moose Jaw at Brandon, 2:30 p.m.
Regina at Prince Albert, 4 p.m.
Saskatoon at Edmonton, 4 p.m.