THE BEDARD REPORT: After a brief respite it would appear that F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats is back on track. He had just two points, both goals, in his previous four games, but came up with two goals and two assists on Wednesday in a 6-3 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Bedard leads the WHL in goals (63) and points (129), all done in 52 games. . . . Bedard and F Riley Heidt of the Prince George Cougars are tied for the lead in assists (66). . . . According to Quant Hockey (@QuantHockey), only F Sidney Crosby scored more goals in one CHL season as a 17-year-old than Bedard. Crosby had 66 with the 2004-05 Rimouski Oceanic. . . . Bedard’s 63 goals are the most in one season for a Regina skater since 1997-98 when F Ronald Petrovicky scored 64. . . .
Up next for Bedard and the Pats? Three games in fewer than 48 hours — the Moose Jaw Warriors visit on Friday, and the teams play in Moose Jaw on Saturday, then it’s into Saskatoon for a Sunday date with the Blades. . . .
The Blades say they are expecting a crowd of “around 15,000” on Sunday, which would be their first-ever sellout crowd. Les Lazaruk, the Blades’ radio voice, tweeted: “Ticket sales for Sunday’s visit by Connor Bedard . . . have surpassed 14,000! Just a few hundred remain. Sales for the following Friday rematch are at 13,600!”
On Wednesday, the Blades issued a release informing fans exactly what they can expect in terms of doors opening, a park-and-ride service, transit availability, parking and a whole lot more. If you’re interested, it’s all right here.
Le Journal de Quebec reported last week that the QMJHL is moving to ban fighting from its games. Tony Ferrari of The Hockey News added to that story on Wednesday. A QMJHL spokesperson told Ferrari: “The QMJHL is planning to have a rule in place that will ban fighting, making it black and white that it is no longer a part of our game. The punishments have not been decided as of yet. We will be looking to have a rule in place in June when the next general annual assembly of the members of the board of governors takes place.” . . . The aim is to have these changes in place for the start of the 2023-24 season. . . . With all that is known about concussions and CTE, the time has come. You have to think it won’t be long before the OHL and WHL follow suit. . . . Ferrari’s story is right here.
The Vancouver Giants and Kelowna Rockets are involved in a scrap for seventh place in the Western Conference as the WHL’s regular season heads down the stretch. The prizes? The seventh seed gets the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers in the first round; the eighth seed draws the No. 1 Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . The Giants, though, are likely to be without F Samuel Honzek until at least Tuesday as he recovers from a headshot he absorbed from Kelowna F Carson Golder on Friday. Golder was later suspended for four games. . . . Honzek, who has 21 goals and 31 assists, isn’t expected to play this weekend as the Giants suit up three times in fewer than 48 hours. . . . The Giants are at home to the Portland Winterhawks on Tuesday. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia has more on the Giants and their injuries right here.
If the WHL playoffs started today:
Winnipeg (1) vs. Calgary (8)
Red Deer (2) vs. Medicine Hat (7)
Saskatoon (3) vs. Regina (6)
Moose Jaw (4) vs. Lethbridge (5)
Seattle (1) vs. Kelowna (8)
Kamloops (2) vs. Vancouver (7)
Portland (3) vs. Everett (6)
Prince George (4) vs. Tri-City (5)
WEDNESDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:
F Matteo Danis scored four times to lead the host Calgary Hitmen to a 7-1 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Danis, 17, is from Calgary. A freshman, he now has 11 goals in 59 games. . . . His first goal, at 8:55 of the first period, turned into the winner. . . . Danis got his second goal on a PP at 1:00 of the second period, then got the game’s last two goals, at 8:45 and 15:40 of the third period. . . . F Maxim Muranov helped out with three assists. . . . G Koen Cleaver, 15, made his WHL debut with Lethbridge when he entered in the third period in relief of starter Bryan Thomson. Cleaver, from Port Alberni, B.C., gave up two goals on seven shots in 18:25. He was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2022 draft. . . . Calgary (27-27-8) moved into eighth in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of Swift Current and Brandon, both of whom lost last night. . . . Lethbridge (33-24-6) clinched a playoff spot despite the loss when Saskatoon beat host Swift Current. The Hurricanes are fifth in the conference, four points ahead of Regina. . . .
The Regina Pats scored the game’s first four goals, two of them by F Tanner Howe, en route to a 6-3 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Howe, who has 33 goals as a 17-year-old, made it 3-0 at 11:39 of the first period and 4-0, while shorthanded, at 10:42 of the second. . . . Brandon got to within 5-3 on F Nolan Ritchie’s 26th goal at 13:34 of the third period, but Regina F Connor Bedard got the empty-netter at 18:27. . . . This season, Howe had 78 points in 62 games; last season, he finished with 69 points, including 42 assists, in 64 games. . . . Regina (32-27-4) had lost its previous four games (0-3-1). It remains sixth in the Eastern Conference, four points behind Lethbridge and five ahead of Medicine Hat. . . . Brandon (26-30-8) has lost two in a row and now is two points out of a playoff spot. . . .
F Trevor Wong had a goal and two assists to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 3-2 victory over the Broncos in Swift Current. . . . Wong got his guys into a 1-1 tie at 12:51 of the first period, then was in on goals from D Aidan De La Gorgendiere (12), at 2:49 of the second, and D Tanner Molendyk (9), at 19:54, for a 3-1 lead. . . . F Josh Filmon’s 44th goal got the Broncos to within one at 1:59 of the third but the home team wasn’t able to equalize. . . . Wong’s second assist was the 100th of his career. This season, he has 81 points, 57 of them assists, in 64 games. In 114 games with Saskatoon, since coming over from Kelowna, he has 123 points, 82 of them assists. . . . G Austin Elliott earned the victory with 29 saves. In his freshman season, he is 23-5-3, 2.15, .913. . . . Saskatoon (45-14-5) will be the Eastern Conference’s No. 3 seed for the first round of the playoffs. . . . Swift Current (28-31-4) has lost five straight (0-4-1) and is two points from a playoff spot. . . .
The Kamloops Blazers scored five times in the first period and added five more in the second en route to an 11-1 victory over the visiting Victoria Royals. . . . F Matt Seminoff finished with eight points, including four goals, while F Caedan Bankier had three goals and three assists. . . . That was Seminoff’s first hat trick this season and the second of his career. This season, he has 79 points, including 31 goals, in 56 games. . . . The WHL record for points in one game is 10; it has been done five times. . . . Bankier put up his fourth career hat trick, the second this season. This season, he has 78 points, 35 of them goals, in 51 games. Bankier also is riding the WHL’s longest active point streak at 14 games. . . . At one point in the second period, Kamloops was leading 7-0 with a 34-4 edge in shots. At game’s end, it was 48-20. . . . G Dylan Ernst stopped 19 shots in earning his WHL-leading 37th victory. That is the most in one season by a Kamloops goaltender since Corey Hirsch put up 48 in 63 appearances in 1989-90. Hirsch and Grant Fuhr (Victoria Cougars, 1980-81) share the WHL single-season record. . . . The Blazers continue to be without injured forwards Logan Stankoven and Daylan Kueffler, who have combined for 62 goals and 89 assists. . . . Kamloops (45-11-6) has won seven in a row and 18 of 19. It is second in the Western Conference, seven points behind Seattle. Each team has six games remaining. . . . Victoria (15-42-7) has lost 11 in a row (0-10-1). . . .
F Chase Wheatcroft scored twice, added three assists and surpassed the 100-point mark to lead the host Prince George Cougars to a 6-3 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Wheatcroft, who has 46 goals, broke a 1-1 tie with goals at 16:26 of the first period and 0:38 of the second. . . . The Cougars were never headed after that point. . . . Wheatcroft, 20, went into the season with 82 points, including 31 goals, in 137 games. This season, he has 101 points in 64 games. He is the second WHL player to surpass 100 points this season. . . . F Koehn Ziemmer added a goal (37) and two assists for the Cougars. . . . Prince George (34-24-6) has points in seven straight (5-0-2). It is headed to a fourth-place finish in the Western Conference. . . . Kelowna (26-35-3) had won its previous three games. It is eighth in the conference, three points behind Vancouver, which has two games in hand.
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