WHL’s Final Four all set . . . Thunderbirds complete comeback, oust Winterhawks . . . Kamloops next up for Seattle

Dan Russell, the longtime host of the Vancouver-based radio show Sportstalk, has written a book. Oh, has he! . . . While it’s the story of his life and career to this point, Russell doesn’t pull any punches. There are lots of anecdotes and a ton(ne) of behind-the-scenes stories. . . . You are able to purchase Kindle and soft-cover editions at Amazon and a hard-cover edition is on the way. . . . Full disclosure — I may have provided Russell with a helping editing hand, an ear and, at times, a shoulder. Despite all that, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed in Russell’s story.


And then there were four . . .

WHLplayoffs2022The WHL’s 2022-23 playoffs are down to the Final Four — the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice and No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings in the Eastern Conference, and the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers and the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds in the Western Conference. . . . The Thunderbirds beat the Winterhawks, 6-3, in Portland on Tuesday night to win that series, 4-3. Seattle trailed, 3-1, only a few days ago. . . .

So . . . the playoffs now take time off while the WHL holds a couple of its drafts. Game action is to resume on Friday with the opening games in both conference finals — the Oil Kings will be in Winnipeg and the Thunderbirds will spend some time in Kamloops.



Western Conference

In Portland, the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds scored three second-period goals in a span of 2:11 and went on to beat the No. 3 Winterhawks, 6-3, in Game 7 of Seattletheir conference semifinal. . . . Seattle became the 16th team in WHL history to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a series. . . . The Thunderbirds last appeared in a Western Conference final in 2017 when they went on to win the franchise’s first league championship. . . . They will open the conference final with games against the No. 2 Blazers in Kamloops on Friday and Saturday. . . . Games 3 and 4 are scheduled for Kent, Wash., on May 24 and 25. If necessary, they’ll play in Kamloops on May 27, in Kent on May 29 and in Kamloops, again, on May 31. . . . Last night, F Nico Myatovic (2) got Seattle started with a shorthanded goal at 19:05 of the first period. . . . The Thunderbirds really took control early in the second period with those quick goals. D Jeremy Hanzel scored his first two playoff goals at 5:48 and 7:20, and F Lucas Ciona (6) made it 4-0 at 7:59. . . . The Winterhawks halved the deficit with a pair of PP goals — F Jaydon Dureau (1) struck at 10:03 and F Robbie Fromm-Delorme (3) at 19:09. . . . Seattle F Lukas Svejkovsky (7) pretty much iced it when he upped the lead to 5-1 at 11:51 of the third period. . . . Portland brought G Taylor Gauthier to the bench as it went on the PP with 5:22 left in the third period and it paid off as Fromm-Delorme (4) scored at 15:50. . . . Seattle F Reid Schaefer (5) iced it for good with an empty-netter at 17:22. . . . G Thomas Milic, who was especially solid over the final three games, stopped 33 shots in this one, nine more than Gauthier. . . . Portland was 3-for-6 on the PP; Seattle was 0-for-4. . . .

The last time a WHL team erased a 3-1 deficit to win a series? It happened twice in the spring of 2017 — and remember that there weren’t any playoffs in 2020 or 2021. Anyway, in 2017, the Lethbridge Hurricanes beat the Red Deer Rebels, who had led 3-1, in a first-round series, and, in an Eastern Conference semifinal, the Regina Pats got past the Swift Current Broncos after trailing 3-1. . . . That same Pats squad went on to lose to the Thunderbirds in the championship final. . . .

Kamloops and Seattle met three times earlier this season, with the Blazers winning twice. . . . They faced off twice in November in Seattle, with Kamloops winning, 5-1, on the 20th and, 4-1, on the 24th. . . . They played in Kamloops on Dec. 10, with the Thunderbirds winning, 6-1.

Chris Branch, writing The Athletic Pulse for Tuesday, sums up the biggest story going into the weekend’s PGA Championship:

Terror reigns in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this week. Fans at the PGA Championship, which starts Thursday, will have to pay the following prices for beer:

Michelob Ultra: $18

Stella Artois: $19

People are understandably flabbergasted. We are used to paying more on gameday as sports fans, but this feels like too much. . . . Who’s paying $19 for a Stella anywhere?

Sadly — and as a cheap-beer lover, I don’t say this lightly — the beers are simply suffering from a branding problem. Nowhere on the menu does it say how many ounces are in that beer — they’re 25-ounce brews. Still expensive at about $9 for a 12-ounce beer, but not the rip-off you think it is. Just a little more expensive than the average beer price at NFL stadiums.

The $16 chicken caesar salad, though? That’s a bridge too far.

Bill and Denise Burke, the owners of the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, announced on OHLTuesday that they have sold the franchise to Darren DeDobbelaer, a businessman from Brantford, Ont. . . . The transaction awaits the stamp of approval from the OHL’s board of governors. . . . DeDobbelaer owns the junior A Brantford 99ers and the junior B Brantford Bandits. . . . The Burkes had owned the franchise for 15 years. . . . The Burkes purchased the Mississauga IceDogs and moved the franchise to St. Catharines where it has operated as the Niagara IceDogs. . . . From Luke Edwards of the St. Catharines Standard: “While the team had made an impact and was visible throughout Niagara, the franchise also experienced some turbulent waters earlier this year. Billy and Joey Burke, the team’s head coach and general manager, respectively, were given two-year suspensions after the league learned about a group chat where the pair made comments that violated the league’s harassment and abuse/diversity policy. The pair are also part-owners of the team. . . .”


COVIDFrom the New York Daily News: Eric Clapton, who has railed against lockdowns and vaccines, has tested positive for COVID-19. The 77-year-old English singer has canceled two upcoming concerts, Tuesday in Zurich and Wednesday in Milan, after being diagnosed, his team announced Monday.

From The New York Times: Apple, in a blow to its efforts to restore normalcy to its operations, has suspended its requirement that employees return to the office this month for at least three days a week because of a resurgence of Covid-19 cases.

JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Ryan Ward is the new head coach of the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms. He had been the director of player development with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm. Ward replaces Brad Patterson, who had been with the Phantoms since 2009-10, the franchise’s inaugural season, and had been head coach since 2016-17. . . .

If you have interest in being a junior hockey play-by-play voice, you should know that two BCHL teams — the Merritt Centennials and Salmon Arm Silverbacks — are looking for new radio voices. . . .

In the BCHL last night, the visiting Penticton Vees got a goal from F Stefano Bottini (3) at 2:55 of OT to beat the Nanaimo Clippers, 3-2. . . . The announced attendance was 2,332. . . . The Vees lead the series, 3-0. Game 4 is scheduled for tonight in Nanaimo.

My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so 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



Or, for more information, visit right here.



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