Andy Eide spent many an hour covering the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds prior to the arrival of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken. But even while covering the Kraken, he found time to attend the odd Thunderbirds’ game. . . . On Saturday, as he was preparing to cover another Kraken game, he suffered a stroke. . . . Please keep a really good guy in your thoughts and prayers, and if you are in a position to give, please do. There’s a GoFundMe page right here.
THE BEDARD REPORT, Part 1: Everyone is well aware of the numbers that F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats has put up on the ice. How about some off-ice numbers that also are related to Bedard’s on-ice production? . . . Bedard and the Pats were in Saskatoon where they beat the Blades, 4-2, on Sunday. The game drew a single-game record 14,768 fans to SaskTel Centre. . . . Scott Ford, the facility’s executive director, told Keenan Sorokan of CTV News-Saskatoon that the fans purchased 2,200 boxes of popcorn, 2,500 sodas and somewhere around 1,500 hot dogs. Ford estimated that about $221,500 was spent at concessions. . . . Ford also explained that the financial impact was even greater. “We had a lot of people that were coming from all over Saskatchewan to this game,” Ford told Sorokan. “Lots of people booking in hotel rooms, lots of people shopping in Saskatoon stores prior to the game, after (the) game staying in Saskatoon hotels, so our tourism economy and the spin-off economic benefits of a big event like this really are tremendous.” . . . Sorokan’s complete story is right here. . . . Someone from Regina putting lots of money into the jeans of folks in Saskatoon . . . never thought I’d see the day. LOL!
It also took more than 600 SaskTel Centre staff members and volunteers to keep things running smoothly with almost 15,000 people in the house on Sunday. And they’ll get to do it all over again on Friday as F Connor Bedard and the Regina Pats return for another visit. And, yes, another huge crowd is expected to show up. . . . The Blades hold a 3-2-0 edge in the season series, having outscored the Pats, 22-16. . . . And as if that isn’t enough, it really is looking as though the Pats and Blades will meet up in the first round of the playoffs that are scheduled to open on March 31. . . . The Blades will be the Eastern Conference’s No. 3 seed, meaning they will play the sixth-place team. The Pats are sixth with two games remaining. They are four points behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who have three games left, and six ahead of the Calgary Hitmen, who also have three games to play. . . . In other words, it’s sure looking like the Pats and Blades will meet in the first round. It will be the first playoff meeting between these two distinguished franchises since the Blades beat the Pats, 4-2, in a first-round series in 2005-06. Of course, as hard as it may be to comprehend, the only time since then that the Blades and Pats both qualified for the playoffs in the same season was in 2011-12. . . . You are free to wonder how much a seven-game series between the Blades and Pats would be worth this time around.
Did you know that Metallica holds the attendance record for the building that now is known as the SaskTel Centre and is home to the Saskatoon Blades? . . . Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, has more right here.
THE BEDARD REPORT, Part 2: As expected, a scoring change on a goal in a Saturday game has given F Connor Bedard one more assist. After the fact, Bedard was credited with the lone assist on the first goal of the Pats’ 7-3 victory over the Warriors in Moose Jaw. That goal, a shorthanded effort, was scored by D Parker Berge (3). . . . The assist gave Bedard his second six-point game of the season. He finished with three goals and three assists. . . . He also has nine five-point outings. . . . Yes, he has 57 points in those 11 games. . . . Bedard, of course, followed Saturday’s six-pack with a goal and an assist in a 4-2 victory over the Blades in Saskatoon. . . . So he now leads the WHL in goals (70), assists (72) and points (142). . . . Bedard and the Pats have two games remaining — in Saskatoon on Friday and at home to the Prince Albert Raiders on Saturday. . . . Bedard goes into those games with nine goals and eight assists over his past four games.
Jack Todd, in the Montreal Gazette: “If NHL teams are not going to get serious about involving players in their Pride Night warmups, they might as well scrap the whole idea. Right now, all they’re accomplishing is to provide a platform for homophobic athletes like James Reimer.”
G Dylan Ferguson stopped 48 shots in his first NHL start on Monday night, as he carried the Ottawa Senators to a 2-1 victory over the Penguins in Pittsburgh. . . . Only Laurent Brossoit of the Edmonton Oilers, on April 9, 2015, and Manny Legace of the Los Angeles Kings, on Oct. 21, 1998, stopped more shots (49) in their first NHL starts. Ken Wregget of the Toronto Maple Leafs (March 8, 1983) and Bill Oleschuk of the Kansas City Scouts (Jan. 23, 1976) also stopped 48. . . . Ferguson, a 24-year-old from Lantzville, B.C., made his first NHL appearance on Nov. 14, 2017, playing nine minutes for the Vegas Golden Knights in a 7-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers. Ferguson, then 19, gave up one goal on two shots that night. He was playing for the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers at the time. Vegas, which owned his NHL rights, had three goaltenders injured at the time, so Ferguson spent a couple of weeks backing up Maxime Lagace. . . . Selected by the Dallas Stars in the seventh round of the 2017 NHL draft, he was dealt to Vegas. He since has played for the ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets and Wichita Thunder, and the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, Henderson Silver Knights, Toronto Marlies and Belleville Senators.
If the WHL playoffs started today (x-locked in):
Winnipeg (1) vs. Medicine Hat (8)
Red Deer (2) vs. Calgary (7)
Saskatoon (3) vs. Regina (6)
Moose Jaw (4) vs. Lethbridge (5)
Seattle (1) vs. Kelowna (8)
Kamloops (2) vs. Vancouver (7)
x-Portland (3) vs. Everett (6)
x-Prince George (4) vs. Tri-City (5)
MONDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:
No Games Scheduled.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The WHL first-round playoff series between the Prince George Cougars and Tri-City Americans will follow a 2-3-2 format. The Cougars, who will finish fourth in the Western Conference, will play host to the first two games on March 31 and April 1. Then it will south to Kennewick, Wash, for Games 3, 4 and, if necessary, 5 on April 4, 5 and 7. Games 6 and 7 would be played in Prince George on April 9 and 11. . . .
The only other series that is set in stone going into tonight’s games has the Portland Winterhawks, the Western Conference’s No. 3 seed, meeting the No. 6 Everett Silvertips. They will open in Portland on March 31. . . .
In the Eastern Conference, the Winnipeg Ice, Red Deer Rebels, and Saskatoon Blades, the top three seeds, all will open at home on March 31. However, they don’t yet know who will provide the opposition.
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