Les Lazaruk, the long-time radio voice of the Saskatoon Blades on CJWW, and I have been friends for more years than either one of us cares to remember.
So . . . I can imagine how excited he was prior to calling the play for the Blades’ game in Winnipeg against the Ice on Saturday night. I mean, you have to know that Les gets excited before every game. But this one was extra special.
That’s because his nephew, Nolan Powell, who is from Winnipeg, was one of the game’s two referees, along with veteran Adam Bloski.
You should know that Nolan makes music with more than his whistle.
Besides being an on-ice hockey official, he is an accomplished classical guitarist.
From a story headlined ‘To hear Nolan Powell play is to believe in perfection’ from the U of Manitoba News in June 2020: “The 2020 Master of Music graduate, who also holds a B.Mus and B.Ed from the University of Manitoba, has a long history of impressing people, and received the Dr. Bonnie Buhler Graduate Scholarship in Music for his master’s degree.”
About the only degree his uncle has involves Strat-O-Matic Baseball.
ICING THE OPPOSITION: It should be pointed out that the Winnipeg Ice swept that weekend series from the Saskatoon Blades, 4-1 and 6-0. . . . The Ice, the CHL’s top-ranked team, now is 17-1 and has outscored its opposition, 98-31. Winnipeg leads the Eastern Conference by seven points over the Edmonton Oil Kings (12-3-3) and tops the East Division by 11 points over the Blades (11-6-1). . . . Winnipeg forwards Mikey Milne and Matt Savoie lead the WHL points race, each with 29. Milne and teammate Connor McClennon are No. 1 in goals (14), with Savoie tops in assists (21). . . . If you are a plus-minus fan, Ice players hold down the top five spots — Milne (24), F Jakin Smallwod (22), F Conor Geekie (21), and D Carson Lambos and D Nolan Orzeck each 19. . . . G Daniel Hauser of the Ice leads the league in GAA (1.45) and save percentage (.941).
THE CENTURY CLUB: G Nolan Maier of the Saskatoon Blades posted his 100th career regular-season victory on Friday, beating the Wheat Kings, 2-1, in Brandon. According to quanthockey.com, he is the 21st goaltender in WHL history to reach 100 victories. The record is shared by Tyson Sexsmith (Medicine Hat, Vancouver, 2004-09) and Corey Hirsch (Kamloops, 1988-92), each with 120. Sexsmith did it in 179 games; Hirsch in 181. Maier has played in 170. . . . Next up for Maier is Cam Ward, at 102.
LOVIN’ THE AHL: So . . . you’re wondering how Mitch Love is doing in his first season as a head coach with the AHL’s Stockton Heat? Well . . . you should know that he’s doing just fine after leaving the Saskatoon Blades’ coaching staff for a spot in the Calgary Flames organization. F Justin Kirkland scored the shootout winner on Friday to give the host Heat a 3-2 victory over the Henderson Silver Knights. That was the Heat’s franchise-record ninth straight victory. . . . The Silver Knights bounced back on Saturday and ended that streak with a 4-3 OT victory.
HEY, THANKS FOR COMING: The Calgary Hitmen released D Alexei Garapuchik, 18, earlier this week. He cleared CHL waivers and returned to his home in Belarus. Garapuchik, who was picked in the CHL’s 2020 import draft, was pointless in one game with the Hitmen. . . . The move left the Hitmen with Russian F Maxim Muranov, 17, and F Anton Astashevich, 17, of Belarus as their two import players. Both were selected in the CHL’s 2021 import draft.
EMAILBAG: After a piece appeared here the other day about the owners of the Winnipeg Ice having abandoned, at least for now, plans for a new arena, there was email. Like this one. . . . Re the Winnipeg Ice. The Ice are still being sued by the City of Cranbrook for breaking the lease in Cranbrook. . . . From a former Ice season-ticket holder in Cranbrook, now a season-ticket holder for the Cranbrook Bucks who watches the Bucks games in our little arena of 4,700.
KINGS OF THE HILL: The Saskatoon Hilltops have won seven consecutive Prairie Football Conference championships after going into Regina, rushing for 386 yards, and beating the Thunder, 29-9, on Sunday. Yes, they’ve got a junior football dynasty going in Toontown. . . . The Thunder had gone into the final with a 9-0 record, including a pair of three-point victories over the Hilltops, who now are 8-2. . . . Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was on hand and posted this report right here. . . . The Hilltops will visit the Langley Rams, the B.C. Football Conference champs, in a CJFL semifinal on Saturday. . . . It’s worth pointing out that the Hilltops’ run of six straight Canadian titles was halted by the pandemic, which refused to allow a 2020 season.
WATER UNDER THE BRIDGEWATER: Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) of YahooSports tweeted late last week that “it’s pretty amazing that the current Carolina Panthers regime now is paying Teddy Bridgewater (who they signed to replace Cam Newton) and Sam Darnold (who they traded for to replace Teddy Bridgewater) only to pay Cam Newton to fix their QB problems.”
Or, as Dion Beary (@hashtagdion) put it: “David Tepper is current paying Cam’s replacement, the replacement for Cam’s replacement, and Cam to replace the replacement for his own replacement.”
PERRY’S CORNER: “Green Bay Packers backup QB Jordan Love completed just 6 of 17 passes for 30 yards against the blitz, according to ESPN Stats and Information, in losing 13-7 to the Kansas City Chiefs in his starting debut,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Who says you can’t hurry Love?”
Perry, again: “The Los Angeles Rams have replaced wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who was released after complaining he wasn’t getting enough touches with the Rams, with Odell Beckham Jr., who complained he wasn’t getting enough touches with the Cleveland Browns. Check back in a month or so for any updates.”
TINFOIL MAN: “What if the 49ers had drafted Aaron Rodgers instead of Alex Smith?” writes Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle. “It might have led to greater glory, maybe Super Bowls. And now San Francisco fans would be stuck with an all-time local hero that they are ashamed of. Maybe Mike Nolan knew what he was doing, after all.”
Ostler, again: “This just in: Rodgers has lost another appeal to the NFL. Rodgers, citing personal freedom to make his own health decisions, and extensive research, requested permission to ditch his standard football helmet and wear a tinfoil hat.”
HEY, THANKS FOR COMING, PART 2: The NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders have dumped their top two selections from the NFL’s 2020 draft because of off-field indiscretions. As Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, noted: “Apparently NFL teams employ psychologists to help them evaluate draft picks’ readiness. . . . Seems like the Raiders need to re-evaluate their evaluator.”
AN IMPERFECT 10: F Drake Batherson had two goals and two assists as the host Ottawa Senators beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, 6-3, on Saturday. He didn’t play in Sunday’s game against the visiting Calgary Flames after testing positive and becoming the 10th Ottawa player to be placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. It also marked the ninth straight day on which the Senators have had someone test positive. . . . Batherson joined F Connor Brown, D Josh Brown, F Alex Formenton, F Dylan Gambrell, D Nick Holden, D Victor Mete, G Matt Murray, F Austin Watson and D Nikita Zaitsev on the list, along with associate coach Jack Capuano. . . . Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reported Sunday that the Senators have had to make so many recalls from AHL-Belleville that there now are only nine players left with the farm club who are under contract to the NHL team. . . . The NHL hasn’t shown the Senators any mercy, either, as it refuses to postpone games. On Sunday, the Senators lost, 4-0, to the Flames. . . . On Sunday night, the Senators announced they won’t practise on Monday, the fourth straight practice to be cancelled. . . . Ottawa next is scheduled to fly out Monday for a Tuesday night date with the New Jersey Devils.
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
Toll free: 1-877-922-9822
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
Or, for more information, visit right here.