The WHL’s latest available Official Guide includes a category — it’s on Page 273 — with the header: LONGEST WINNING STREAK.
It shows that the Victoria Cougars hold that record, having won 24 straight games from Feb. 6, 1981, through Oct. 9, 1981. That streak obviously overlapped two seasons.
It has the 1967-68 Estevan Bruins next, with 22 straight victories, from Oct. 6, 1967, through Dec. 12, 1967. That was a season-opening streak.
In third spot are the 2013-14 Portland Winterhawks, who won 21 in a row from Jan. 11, 2014, through Feb. 28, 2014.
There is nothing in this particular entry to indicate that Victoria and Portland were playing in “modern WHL history,” while Estevan was playing in some other era. In fact, there is nothing anywhere in the WHL records to indicate that the league differentiates between records set prior to 1978 and after.
In fact, prior to Sunday night I had never heard anyone involved with the WHL refer to “modern WHL history” or “modern WHL mark” or anything else of that ilk.
And yet there was the WHL on Sunday night, tweeting that the Red Deer Rebels “improved their season-opening win streak, becoming the first team in modern WHL history (1978-present) to start a season with 13 consecutive victories.”
No, the WHL didn’t use the word ‘record,’ as in “the Rebels have set a modern WHL (1978-present) record for the longest season-opening win streak.”
However, Chris Wahl the WHL’s senior manager, communications, wrote a piece that was posted on the league’s website on Sunday. It included:
“Over the past 44 years, no Western Hockey League team had ever started a season with 13 consecutive wins.
“The Red Deer Rebels dispatched the Edmonton Oil Kings 7-2 at Rogers Place, earning their 13th win in as many tries, setting a new, modern WHL mark in the process. . . .
“The Rebels streak unseats the 1988-89 Swift Current Broncos 12-game run as the longest season-opening winning streak since the WHL adopted its current name in 1978. . . .
“The all-time League record for consecutive wins to begin a season is 22, set by the WCHL’s Estevan Bruins in 1967.”
(In its first season, it was the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League (CMJHL). Prior to its second season, 1967-68, it changed its name to Western Canada Junior Hockey League (WCJHL). Before a third season got started, there had been another name change, this time to the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL). That name lasted through the 1977-78 season, after which it was changed to Western Hockey League.)
It would seem, then, that the WHL has decided to split its record book into two sections — 1966-67 through 1977-78, and 1978-19 through the present.
If that’s the case, it really is too bad because this league has a whole lot of interesting history, some of it from before 1978. For example, the New Westminster Bruins won a record four straight WHL championships — 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1978. Does that now become the olden day record? If that’s the case, it would leave the Kamloops Blazers (1994, 1995) and Medicine Hat Tigers (1987, 1988) to share the ‘modern’ WHL record of two straight.
Wouldn’t it have been easier just to point out that the Rebels have the second-longest season-opening winning streak (13 games) in league history, and that the 1967-68 Estevan Bruins hold the record (22)? This doesn’t diminish what the Rebels are doing this season. Not at all. And, who knows, maybe they’ll get to 22 before they’re done.
And wouldn’t it be a terrific move for the WHL to hire a historian, provide that person with a desk, a computer and a subscription to newspapers.com, and turn her/him loose?
The Red Deer Rebels got to 13-0-0 with a 7-2 victory over the host Edmonton Oil Kings on Sunday. . . . The Rebels, who scored the game’s last six goals, got a goal and two assists from F Kai Uchacz, who has 11 goals and three assists in 13 games. . . . The defending-champion Oil Kings went 1-11 on the PP as their record slipped to 1-12-1. . . . Troy Gillard, the Rebels’ director of broadcasts and media, tweeted on Monday that the Rebels’ winning streak “is the second-longest in team history.” In 2001-02, the Rebels put together a 14-game streak. They got it started on Jan. 6 with a 4-2 victory over the host Saskatoon Blades. On Feb. 9, Red Deer won its 14th in a row, 6-2 over the visiting Portland Winterhawks. The streak ended on Feb. 13 when the Rebels, playing at home, lost, 5-4 in OT, to the Prince Albert Raiders. Interestingly, the Rebels went on to win their next three games. . . . The Rebels take their 13-0-0 mark into Swift Current on Friday, so could equal the franchise record for longest victory streak in any era while stretching their ‘modern’ era record for longest victory streak to open a season. . . .
In Regina, F Connor Bedard scored twice and added three assists on Sunday in leading the Pats to a 7-3 victory over the Tri-City Americans, who had won four in a row. . . . The Pats had lost their previous four games. . . . Bedard, who is on a 14-game point streak, enjoyed the third five-point game of his career. . . . He leads the league in goals (13), assists (16) and points (29), all in 15 games. . . . Regina D Corbin Vaughan drew a major and game misconduct for a headshot at 12:23 of the first period. He was playing in his second game after serving a four-game suspension that was issued under supplemental discipline following a game against Prince Albert on Oct. 12. . . .
In Sunday’s other game, F Riley Fiddler-Schultz gave host Calgary a 3-1 lead over the Vancouver Giants and the Hitmen held on for a 3-2 victory. . . . Fiddler-Schultz has seven goals this season, including a five-goal outing. . . . Calgary now has won three straight. . . . The Hitmen will play their next two homes games — Wednesday against the Victoria Royals and Friday against the Medicine Hat Tigers — at the 2,000-seat Seven Chiefs Sportsplex on the Tsuut’ina Nation. The Hitmen bill the facility as “our home away from the Dome.”
F Gavin McKenna, a 14-year-old who earned four assists in the only WHL game he has played, will be in the Medicine Hat Tigers’ lineup tonight against the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . F Cayden Lindstrom has been added to the Team White roster for the U17 World Hockey Challenge that is to run in Langley, B.C., from Thursday through Nov. 12. . . . Lindstrom got the call after F Ollie Josephson of the Red Deer Rebels was ruled out because of an undisclosed injury. . . . McKenna, who will turn 15 on Dec. 20, was the first overall selection in the WHL’s 2022 draft. From Whitehorse, he made his WHL debut by setting up four goals in a 9-1 victory over the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes on Sept. 24. . . .
D Trevor Thurston, 20, has joined the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles. He has totalled 107 WHL regular-season games, spending time with the Kamloops Blazers, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Prince Albert Raiders. He started this season with the Raiders, getting into three games before going on to the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials. . . . A fourth-round pick by Kamloops in the 2017 WHL draft, he put up 13 goals and 14 assists in those 107 games. . . . Brent Thurston, Trevor’s father, played in the WHL with the Victoria Cougars and Spokane Chiefs. He was with the Chiefs when they won the 1991 Memorial Cup in Quebec City. . . . The Thurstons are from Delta, B.C. . . .
F Lucas Ciona of the Seattle Thunderbirds has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Calgary Flames, who selected him in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2021 NHL draft. This season, he has seven goals and 10 assists through nine games for the Thunderbirds. . . . Seattle took him in the second round of the WHL’s 2018 draft. In total, he has 92 points, including 38 goals, in 165 regular-season and playoff games with the Thunderbirds. . . . The 9-1-0 Thunderbirds, who play out of Kent, Wash., are at home to the Prince George Cougars tonight. . . .
The OHL’s Sudbury Wolves, who started 3-7-1, fired head coach Craig Duncanson on Monday, with assistant general manager Ken MacKenzie taking over on an interim basis. . . . Duncanson played three seasons (1983-86) with the Wolves. He had been the head coach since July 2021. . . . He is a former NHLer, having been a first-round pick by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1985 draft. . . . The Wolves open a seven-game homestead on Wednesday.
THINKING OUT LOUD — If this World Series goes deep, Game 6 would be played on Thursday, which is Nov. 5. A seventh game would be played on Nov. 6. Until now, the latest ever date for a World Series game was in 2001 and 2009 when they played on Nov. 4. . . . Might be time to move the entire series to a neutral site with a dome. Just kidding. I think. . . . And let’s not forget that Thursday is going to feature the Houston Astros and the host Philadelphia Phillies in Game 5 of the World Series, while Thursday Night Football will have the Houston Texans against the visiting Philadelphia Eagles. . . . The Estevan Bruins hold the WHL record for the longest winning streak to open a season, at 22. Case closed. Unless the league wants to split its history into four eras — CMJHL, WCJHL, WCHL, WHL — and declare record-holders for each, that is. . . . Sheesh! It wasn’t that long ago that the WHL was making a big deal, and rightfully so, about its 50th anniversary season. There wasn’t any talk then about live-puck and dead-puck eras.
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