Late assist gives Zellweger share of record . . . Blades send series back to Red Deer . . . Ice, Warriors to clash tonight

When we went to bed on Thursday night, D Olen Zellweger of the Kamloops Blazers was coming off a six-point night and was one point out of the WHL Kamloopsplayoff scoring lead. . . . That all changed at some point on Friday when he was awarded a fourth assist from the Blazers’ 10-4 series-clinching victory over the Winterhawks in Portland.

The assist in question came on the Blazers’ fourth goal, at 2:29 of the second period, that provided the visitors with a 4-2 lead. It was scored by F Matthew Seminoff, with the primary assist going to F Cedar Bankier.

The added point upped Zellweger’s night’s work to seven points and means that he actually tied the WHL record for most points by a defenceman in a playoff game. Darryl Sydor, a former Blazers skater who now is one of the franchise’s five owners, had seven points, including six assists, in an 11-5 victory over the visiting Tri-City Americans on March 22, 1991.

The WHL record for most points in a playoff game is eight. It is shared by F Dave Chartier of the Brandon Wheat Kings and Portland F Alfie Turcotte. Chartier had five goals and three assists in a 13-4 victory over the visiting Regina Pats on March 27, 1981; Turcotte put up four goals and four assists in a 13-4 victory over the host Seattle Breakers on March 26, 1983.

The added point also moved Zellweger into a tie with F Logan Stankoven of the Blazers for the WHL’s playoff scoring lead, each with 21 points, one more than F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats, whose season ended on April 10. Stankoven has 10 goals and 11 assists; Zellweger has seven goals and 14 assists.

Stankoven is tied for the lead in goals with Bedard and F Dylan Guenther of the Seattle Thunderbirds. Zellweger is tied for the lead in assists with Seattle F Brad Lambert.

The Thunderbirds, the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed, and the No. 2 Blazers, will open the best-of-seven conference final in Kent, Wash., with games on April 29 and 30.

Both teams will go into Game 1 with 8-0 records in these playoffs.

A few Twitter tidbits left over from Thursday’s lone WHL playoff game . . .

From Scott Sepich (@SSepich): “I remember being there the last time the Winterhawks gave up 10 in a playoff game at home in the 1989 league final against a Swift Current juggernaut (also a 10-4 score). Hawks haven’t been beaten this soundly much over the years, but the Blazers just had a huge talent advantage.”

Sepich, again: “Portland’s captain in that 1989 loss to Swift Current was Shaun Clouston, who just happens to now be the Blazers’ head coach.”

From Chad Klassen (@klassen87): “According to the WHL, the Blazers are undefeated through two rounds for the first time since 1984 when they went 10-0 (best-of-9 series) on their way to the WHL championship.”

Klassen, again: “The Blazers meet Seattle in a Western Conference final rematch that will be fantastic. With both teams 8-0, it’s the first time since 2009 (Brandon vs. Calgary in East final) that undefeated conference finalists meet.” . . . Calgary swept Brandon in that 2009 Eastern Conference final.



While the Seattle Thunderbirds enjoyed yet another day off while going to a baseball game, the Red Deer Rebels and Saskatoon Blades played in Friday night’s lone WHL playoff game. . . . The Blades, playing at home, put up a 6-3 victory and now trail their Eastern Conference semifinal, 3-2, with Game 6 to be played in Red Deer on Sunday afternoon. If they need a seventh game, it would be played in Red Deer on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the other Eastern Conference semifinal will resume tonight in Winnipeg with the No. 1 Ice and No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors tied, 2-2. After Game 5, they’ll return to Moose Jaw for Game 6 on Monday. If needed, a seventh game would be played in Winnipeg on Wednesday.




Red Deer (3) at Saskatoon (2) — The Saskatoon Blades sent their Eastern SaskatoonConference semifinal back to Red Deer with a 6-3 victory over the Rebels. . . . Red Deer still holds a 3-2 series lead, with Game 6 scheduled for Sunday afternoon. . . . A seventh game, if needed, would be played in Saskatoon on Tuesday night. . . . Last night, the Blades scored the game’s last three goals after the teams had traded goals and found themselves in a 3-3 second-period tie. . . . D Tanner Molendyk (2) gave the Blades a 1-0 lead at 5:39 of the first period, only to have F Kai Uchacz (7) tie it at 11:08. . . . The Blades went back out front as F Egor Sidorov (6) scored, on a PP, at 11:59. . . . And the Rebels tied it when Uchacz (8) scored again, at 16:58. . . . Sidorov (7) struck on another PP at 18:03 and the Blades led 3-2 at the intermission. . . . F Ollie Josephson (2) got Red Deer back into a tie at 1:28 of the second period. . . . But it was all Blades after that, with D Aiden De La Gorgendiere (2), who also had two assists, counting on a PP at 19:35, F Jayden Wiens (6) scoring at 5:41 of the third period, and Molendyk (3) adding another at 12:34. . . . The Blades got three assists from F Trevor Wong, who has 17 points, 13 of them helpers, in 12 games. . . . Saskatoon was 3-for-6 on the PP; Red Deer was 0-for-3. . . . G Ethan Chadwick earned the victory with 14 saves. . . . The Blades were without F Justin Lies who was hit with one of those TBD suspensions after taking a headshot major and game misconduct for a hit on Red Deer F Kalan Lind in Game 3 on Wednesday. Lind, who left the ice on a stretcher that night, also was scratched. One would have to believe he is in concussion protocol.


At some point in the past week, I heard former NHL D P.K. Subban, who is rather good in a studio role during these NHL playoffs, talking about hockey being football on ice with all the collisions and nastiness. . . . Except that I would suggest there are far more headshots in hockey than in football. And, of course, two football players aren’t allowed to stand and punch each other in the face. . . . And if your head is above ground, you know that there are a number of people who played hockey and came to struggle with brain injuries later in life. . . . And yet there was Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, denying all in a conversation with A Martinez of National Public Radio just the other day.

“We listen to the medical opinions on CTE and I don’t believe there has been any documented study that suggests that elements of our game result in CTE,” Bettman said. “There have been isolated cases of players who have played the game that have CTE, but it doesn’t necessarily come from playing in the NHL.”

Ken Campbell of Hockey Unfiltered points out that the NFL admitted in 2016 that there is a link between head trauma and CTE. The NHL, though? Not so much.

“What you’re trying to do,” Bettman said, “is equate football to hockey, and the two are not comparable when it comes to head contact.”

As Campbell writes: “But now it’s getting laughable. His statements on the link between the kind of head trauma that can occur in the NHL and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) are getting as ridiculous as those of the tobacco lobby when it comes to cigarettes and the National Rifle Association when it comes to guns. And he’s clearly putting himself on the wrong side of history.”

Hey, P.K. Subban, back to you.


Derrick Martin is the new general manager and head coach of the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. Martin, 38, has spent the past two seasons on the coaching staff at the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Edmonton. Prior to that he was an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints for four seasons. . . . Martin takes over from Clayton Jardine, who spent four seasons as the Kodiaks’ head coach. Jardine signed on as general manager and head coach with the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers on April 10.

THINKING OUT LOUD — We all are well aware that we can’t get away from the gambling commercials on TV and the ads all over the place in the playing facilities. Hey, just watch those stupid changing board ads during an NHL game. In other words, the pro leagues are racking in the dough. So let’s not act surprised when the NFL has to discipline a bunch of people for violating their betting rules and regulations. . . . And you can bet that there will move of this down the road. . . . I’m sorry, Hyundai, but I still don’t know what the heck WAH is. . . . There isn’t anything more predictable in sports than fan reactions during NHL playoffs. Both sides are upset with the biased officiating and it seems that the broadcast crew is biased both ways, too. And it repeats itself year after year after year.


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