Oil Barons cite safety concerns in ending season . . . Blades to retire No. 44 . . . WHL’s Regina hub season ends


The Fort McMurray Oil Barons announced on Wednesday that they are opting ajhlout of the remainder of the AJHL season. . . . Here’s David Fitzgerald, the team president, from a news release: “The Oil Barons organization has decided to conclude the 2020-21 season early out of concern for the safety of our players, billet families, staff and all involved with our league amid the local state of emergency in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. This was a difficult choice, but one we felt was necessary to maintain the health and safety of our organization and community. With case numbers in our community among the highest per capita in Alberta, we feel strongly that this is the best decision — even though it goes against our competitive nature.” . . . Fort McMurray Today reported Wednesday: “At the time of the announcement, the RMWB had 1499.8 cases per 100,000 people, the highest in Alberta and Canada. The region has 1,235 cases in Fort McMurray and 17 in rural areas, more than the rest of rural Alberta. These numbers do not include the commuter workforce. The region also had outbreaks at 19 workplaces and 14 schools.” . . . The Oil Barons went 12-1-3 in this shortened season.


Canada’s Olympic swim trials were to have been held from May 24-28, but now have been moved to June 19-23. They are scheduled for the Pan Am Sports Centre in Toronto. However, the COVID-19 situation in Toronto and area is not good at the moment. . . . Ahmed El-Awadi, Swim Canada’s CEO, said in a statement: “Swimming Canada is also pursuing options for holding the trials elsewhere in North America should running the event in Toronto not be viable based on factors at the time. “The dates would remain the same in an alternate location.” . . . At the same time, the Paralympic part of the trials has been cancelled because the new dates conflict with a meet in Berlin. “We will create alternative competitive opportunities,” El-Awadi said.


The Canadian Grand Prix has been nixed for 2021, with the Turkish Grand Prix replacing it on the Formula 1 calendar, June 11-13. . . . From a Formula 1 news release: “Due to the ongoing international travel restrictions in place in Canada it became impossible for Formula 1 to enter the country without a mandatory 14-day quarantine, leading to the change.” . . . The tour returned to Istanbul last year, in November, for the first time in nine years.


Ham


By now, you’re wondering who will be the head coach of the Seattle Kraken when the expansion team begins play next season. . . . Well, Bodog, an online sportsbook, has posted some odds:

Gerard Gallant +175

Bruce Boudreau +250

Claude Julien +450

Todd Nelson +900

Rikard Gronborg +1100

Rod Brind’Amour +1200

John Stevens +1200

Mike Babcock +1200

Mike Vellucci +1400

Dan Bylsma +2000

Mike Yeo +2000

I might be inclined to go with Gallant, who will be the head coach of the Canadian team at the IIHF World Hockey Championship in Latvia next month, but I also noticed one omission. Travis Green, whose contract as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks is expiring, isn’t on the list. I’m thinking he should be, maybe even at +200.


The seven teams in the Regina hub — five from Saskatchewan, two from WHL2Manitoba — are all finished with the WHL’s 2020-21 development season, and each team got in 24 games. That was the plan when it started and it worked because there wasn’t even one positive test in the more than two months that teams were holed up in dorms at the U of Regina and Luther College. . . . Some numbers about the Regina hub from the WHL: 48 days, 84 games, 1,930 tests for COVID-19, 0 positive tests.

There also were three other games last night. . . .

F Chase Wouters, playing his 280th regular-season game with Saskatoon, Bladesscored the game-winner as the Blades beat the Brandon Wheat Kings, 5-2, to close out their season in the Regina hub. . . . After the game, Colin Priestner, the Blades’ president and general manager, revealed that the team will be retiring No. 44 in honour of the team’s first three-season captain. . . . Brandon (18-4-2), which had a seven-game winning streak snapped, finished atop the Regina hub standings. . . . Saskatoon (16-5-3) won its last two and finished third. . . . D Wyatt McLeod (3) gave Saskatoon a 1-0 lead at 13:59 of the first period, and F Brandon Lisowsky (8) made it 2-0 just 51 seconds into the second. . . . The Wheat Kings tied it on a pair of PP goals from F Lynden McCallum, at 11:59 and 17:56. . . . McCallum finished with 21 goals in 22 games, including nine in his last four games. He scored seven PP goals over his last three games. In those last four games, he twice was first star and twice was third star. . . . Wouters snapped the 2-2 tie with his 10th goal, at 18:38 of the second period. . . . F Colton Dach (10) added insurance at 15:55 of the third, and F Kyle Crnkovic (11) got the empty-netter. . . . F Ridly Greig had two assists for Brandon. You may recall that he tested positive prior the Canadian junior team’s selection camp in December so missed the World Junior Championship. In Regina, he finished with 10 goals and 22 assists in 21 games. . . . The Blades got 35 saves from G Nolan Maier, who went 12-3-2, 2.34 .915. . . . Six players in this one concluded their WHL careers. For an indication of how much experience these teams lose from their lineups with these departures, here’s a note from Les Lazaruk, the long-time radio voice of the Blades: “Brandon’s trio of 20-year-old forwards Lynden McCallum, Reid Perepeluk and Marcus Sekundiak have 482 total games in the WHL. Saskatoon’s 20s — F Chase Wouters, F Caiden Daley and D Wyatt McLeod — have a combined 788 games.” . . . The Blades have retired five other sweater numbers — 7 (Brent Ashton, Gerry Pinder); 10 (Brian Skrudland); 12 (Bob Bourne); 15 (Bernie Federko); and 22 (Wendel Clark). . . .

F Ozzy Wiesblatt scored in OT to give the Prince Albert Raiders a 6-5 victory Raidersover the Swift Current Broncos in the final game in the Regina hub. . . . The Raiders finished 9-11-4, while the Broncos went 6-16-2. . . . The Broncos had forced OT with two goals in the second half of the third period. D Mathew Ward (6) scored, on a PP, at 10:53 and F Cole Nagy (7) tied it at 18:57. . . . To go back to the beginning, the Broncos opened the scoring — F Raphael Pelletier (4) — at 6:42 of the first period. . . . The Raiders took a 2-1 lead on a PP goal from F Reece Vitelli, at 13:21, and D Terrell Goldsmith (2), at 18:46. . . . F Bode Hogan (3) pulled Swift Current even at 6:48 of the second, but Prince Albert went ahead 4-2 on goals from F Tyson Laventure (5), at 17:48 of the second, and F Justin Nachbaur (9), at 0:16 of the third. . . . F Carter Stebbings (4) cut the Broncos’ deficit to one at 1:39, but Vitelli (7) got it back at 7:03. . . . Vitelli also had an assist for a three-point night. . . . The Broncos got three assists from F Michael Farren, in his final WHL game. . . . Raiders G Max Paddock had his WHL career end at 8:01 of the third period when he was hit with a match penalty for attempt to injury after using his blocker to punch F Josh Davies, who had fallen into him. Davies was given an unsportsmanlike minor. . . . G Carter Serhyenko came on in relief, stopped six of eight shots in 12:53, and got the victory. . . . Attendance on the online scoresheet was listed at 190. Obviously the official scorer was a jokester as the WHL games in Canada are being played without fans in attendance. . . .

F Adam Beckman broke a 3-3 tie with a PP goal at 17:05 of the third period to give the host Spokane Chiefs a 4-3 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . This was Tri-City’s first game since April 13 as it was forced to suspend team activities because of a couple of positive tests. . . . Spokane (5-7-3) had lost its previous two games. . . . The Americans (5-8-0) have lost three in a row. . . . Beckman, who led the WHL in goals last season, scored three times, giving him 11, and had an assist. . . . The Chiefs also got two goals and two assists from F Eli Zummack, who has seven goals. . . . F Sasha Mutala (5) gave the Americans a 1-0 lead at 4:39 of the first period, with Zummack equalizing at 16:15. . . . F Booker Daniel (3) put the Americans back in front at 1:09 of the first, but Beckman, at 3:51, and Zummack, at 10:25, gave the Chiefs a 3-2 lead. . . . F Nick Bowman (1) got the Americans back into a tie at 17:58. . . . Beckman broke the tie and then added the empty-netter. . . . G Manny Panghli, 16, made his first WHL start for the Chiefs and stopped 33 shots. He is an undrafted signee of the Chiefs. Panghli didn’t start playing goal until he was 10 years of age. He grew up in Merritt, B.C., and moved to Kamloops in 2018. He signed with the Chiefs on Feb. 16, after playing on the U17 Prep Black team at OHA in Penticton for head coach Robert Dirk, a former Regina Pats defenceman. . . . Veteran F Luke Toporowski is back with the Chiefs after playing 32 games with the Sioux Falls Stampede — he had 14 goals and 19 assists in 32 games. He didn’t play last night, but could play Saturday against the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. . . .

F Ronan Seeley scored twice and added an assist to help the host Everett EverettSilvertips to a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Everett (15-3-0) has won six in a row and holds an 11-point lead over the idle Portland Winterhawks atop the U.S. Division. . . . Seattle (7-10-0) has lost five straight. . . . F Jacob Wright (8) gave Seattle a 1-0 lead at 1:16 of the first period, only to have D Luke Bateman (1) scored for Everett just 32 seconds later. . . . Everett got the next two goals — from F Cole Fonstad (13), shorthanded, at 13:31 of the first, and Seeley, at 15:18 of the second. . . . F Jordan Gustafson (5) got Seattle to within a goal, on a PP, at 5:28 of the third period. . . . Seeley (4), on a PP at 14:49, and D Ty Gibson (1), into an empty net, put this one away. . . . Seeley, the 20th overall pick in the 2017 bantam draft, has four goals in 18 games. He went into this season with four goals in 115 games. . . . Everett G Dustin Wolf stopped 29 shots. He is 14-2-0, 1.69, .944. . . .

F Keaton Dowhaniuk scored once and added three assists to lead the Prince PGGeorge Cougars to a 5-1 victory over the Kamloops Blazers. . . . The game was played in Kamloops with the Cougars as the home team. . . . Prince George (6-7-2) has won two in a row. . . . Kamloops (12-3-0) had won its previous five games. . . . The Cougars took a 3-0 lead into the third period on goals from F Tyson Upper (2), D Ethan Samson (1) and Dowhaniuk (3), the latter coming shorthanded. . . . F Josh Pillar (8) scored Kamloops’ goal, on a PP, at 6:35 of the third period. . . . Cougars F Connor Bowie (6) made it 4-1 at 6:52 and F Koehn Ziemmer (4) added another PP goal, at 13:34. . . . Kamloops F Connor Zary left in the second period after what Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week described as “a dangerous hit to the head.” Zary was helped from the ice by Kamloops trainer Colin Robinson. “Clear head injury,” Hastings tweeted. . . . F Jonny Hooker was given a minor penalty on the play and Dowhaniuk scored shorthanded while he was in stir. . . . The Cougars got 37 saves from G Taylor Gauthier.

The Blazers and Cougars are scheduled to meet one more time this season — on May 12, in what is to be the final game for each team.


Desserted


F Dylan Guenther’s goal at 10:38 of the third period stood up as the winner as U18Canada beat Latvia, 4-2, in a Group A game at the IIHF U18 World Championship in Texas on Wednesday. . . . Canada is 2-0; Lativia is 0-2. . . . Guenther, from the Edmonton Oil Kings, also had an assist. F Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers also had a goal and an assist, while F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats drew two assists. . . . In Wednesday’s other game, Finland won its second straight game, beating Czech Republic, 6-5, in Group B. Samu Tuomaala’s PP goal with 19 seconds left in the third period won it. . . . On Thursday, it’s Sweden (1-1) against Switzerland (1-1) and Belarus (1-1) against Latvia in Group A, and Germany (0-2) versus Russia (0-1-1) and Czech Republic (1-1) versus Team USA (1-0-1) in Group B. . . . Canada’s next game is scheduled for Friday against Switzerland.


Avangard Omsk won its first KHL championship on Wednesday, beating CSKA Moscow, 1-0, in Game 6 of the best-of-seven final. The game’s lone goal came from F Sergey Tolchinsky in the final minute of the first period. . . . Omsk head coach Bob Hartley now has won championships in the CJHL (Hawkesbury Hawks, 1989-90, 1990-91), QMJHL (Laval Titan, 1992-93), AHL (Hershey Bears, 1996-97), NHL (Colorado Avalanche, 2000-01), Swiss NLA (ZSC Lions, 2011-12) and now the KHL.


Don’t forget that my wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here.

——

If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Rick Hannibal is the new general manager of the junior B Oceanside Generals of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. He has been on the club’s board of directors since 2016-17. He takes over from Andrew Riddell, who left the position after getting promotion within his full-time employer. . . . Carson Grant has joined the VIJHL’s Comox Valley Glacier Kings as an assistant coach and scout. Included in his resume is a stint as a scout with the WHL’s Victoria Royals.


Gascars

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