The combatants for the WHL’s championship final will be known tonight (Tuesday) after the Seattle Thunderbirds and host Kamloops Blazers meet in Game 7 of the Western Conference final.
The winner of tonight’s game will open the championship series for the Ed Chynoweth Cup against the Oil Kings in Edmonton on Friday night.
Kamloops, the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed, opened this series by winning, 5-2, at home on May 20, and since then the teams have alternated victories. The No. 4 Thunderbirds tied the series, 3-3, with a 2-1 victory in Kent, Wash., on Sunday.
Seattle has won two of the last three games while holding Kamloops F Logan Stankoven to two assists and shutting out F Luke Toporowski. Stankoven leads all playoff scorers in goals (17) and points (30), while Toporowski is tied for second in points (23).
The Thunderbirds also have been in this position before in this playoff season. In their conference semifinal, they went seven games with the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks. In fact, the Thunderbirds won Game 6 at home, 2-1, and then went into Portland and won Game 7, 6-3, on May 17.
Will history repeat? We’ll find out tonight.
Lucas Punkari of the Brandon Sun informs us via Twitter that this will be the first Game 7 in a conference final since 2013 when the Oil Kings, behind 26 saves from G Laurent Brossoit, beat the Calgary Hitmen, 2-0, at Rexall Place in Edmonton on April 30. . . . The last Western Conference final to go the distance featured the Tri-City Americans and Spokane Chiefs in 2008. The Chiefs won Game 7, 4-1, in Kennewick, Wash., on April 29 to end a series that featured five games that went to OT, with three of those going to double OT.
One day before playing in Game 7 of the Western Conference final, D Tyrel Bauer of the Seattle Thunderbirds signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. He was selected by Winnipeg in the sixth round of the 2020 draft. . . . Bauer turned 20 on March 23. If he doesn’t earn a spot with the Jets, he is eligible to return for one more WHL season, or he could end up with the Manitoba Moose, Winnipeg’s AHL affiliate.
Three other NHL draft picks who played in the WHL this season have to sign NHL deals by Wednesday or they will go back into the draft or become unrestricted free agents.
F Connor McClennon of the Winnipeg Ice was a sixth-round pick by the Philadelphia Flyers but hasn’t signed. He is eligible to return to the WHL for his 20-year-old season.
D Alex Cotton of the Vancouver Giants and F Bear Hughes of the Spokane Chiefs completed their 20-year-old seasons so have used up their junior eligibility. Cotton was a fifth-round selection by the Detroit Red Wings, while Hughes went to the Washington Capitals in the fifth round. Neither has signed an NHL deal, although Hughes has signed with the AHL’s Hershey Bears for 2022-23. Still, if he doesn’t sign with Washington, he will become an NHL free agent.
More light has been shed on the mystery of the deficiencies at Prospera Place in Kelowna. According to the Kelowna Rockets, those deficiencies prevented them from putting in a bid to host the 2023 Memorial Cup.
The Rockets were to have been the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup only to have it cancelled by the pandemic. On Friday, the CHL announced that the 2023 event will be played in Kamloops with the Blazers as the host team.
Anyway . . . Regan Bartel, the longtime radio voice of the Rockets, posted four tweets on Monday that added some clarification to things:
- GSL, the owner and operator of Prospera Place, have some explaining to do on Kelowna’s inability to bid for the 2023 Memorial Cup. Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, “City of Kelowna taxpayers shouldn’t be (footing) a bill that could potentially reach the millions of dollars . . .”
- “. . . to host this event (for upgrades to building) when the partner (GSL), who stands to gain the most revenue because of this event, was not coming to the party as a full partner.” Substandard lighting was a concern heading into 2020 tournament. City/Rockets paid for it.
- “GSL, which is in care and control of the arena until 2029, was not willing to pay the cost to change the lighting. This has been a long standing issue. One just needs to walk through the building. Tell me what has changed since that facility opened in 1999?”
- “This is not a facility that is in the care/control of the City of Kelowna”, Basran added. “I truly believe the CHL wants to bring the event back, but it’s clear we have a partner that’s not quite as accepting to make that happen.”
I have a feeling there’s more to come on this story. Stay tuned!
The Chicago White Sox are scheduled to open a series in Toronto against the Blue Jays today, and they’ll be without two of their key pitchers. Starter Dylan Cease and reliever Kendall Graveman, both right-handers, have been placed on MLB’s restricted list, which would indicate that they aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19 so are able to cross the U.S.-Canada border. . . . Players don’t get paid while on MLB’s restricted list.
My wife, Dorothy, a kidney transplant recipient in 2013, will take part in the 2022 #kamloops Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year on Sunday. Yes, it’s virtual again. You are able to sponsor her 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
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.