WHL PLAYOFF NOTES:
After a couple of nights off, the WHL playoffs are back on centre stage tonight as the Saskatoon Blades are in Winnipeg to meet the Ice.
These were the top two Eastern Conference teams in the regular season. The Ice finished with the WHL’s best record, going 57-10-1; the Blades, at 48-15-5, had the conference’s second-best record.
The Ice are 8-2 in the playoffs, having swept the Medicine Hat Tigers and then taken out the Moose Warriors in six games.
The Blades are writing an amazing story. They are 8-6 after winning a pair of seven-game series. In both series, against the Regina Pat and Red Deer Rebels, the Blades dropped the first two games on home ice, then came back to win Game 7 at home. Of course, they actually lost three in a row to Red Deer before becoming the third team in WHL history to do that and then win the series.
The Ice won four of six regular-season meetings with the Blades, who went 2-3-1. The Ice won all three meetings in Winnipeg. In their latest meeting, the host Blades put up a 3-2 victory on Feb. 4.
JUST NOTES: Game 2 will be played in Winnipeg on Saturday, with Games 3 and 4 in Saskatoon on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Saskatoon F Justin Lies is eligible to return after having sat out the last three games while serving a WHL-issued suspension. . . . The Western Conference final, featuring the No. 1 Seattle Thunderbirds and No. 2 Kamloops Blazers, is to open on Saturday in Kent, Wash. They’ll play Game 2 there on Sunday, and then head to Kamloops for games on Tuesday and Thursday. Should this series go seven games, they’ll play Games 6 and 7 on back-to-back nights — May 8 in Kamloops and May 9 in Kent. . . . Each team is 8-0 this spring, the result of that being that Seattle hasn’t played since April 19, and Kamloops last played on April 20.
The 2023 Kamloops Kidney Walk is scheduled for June 4, and Dorothy is taking part once again. She will celebrate 10 years as a kidney-transplant recipient in September, so the annual Kidney Walk is a big deal for her. In fact, she is participating for a 10th straight year. Yes, that means she is fund-raising, with all donations going to the Kidney Foundation. . . . Things are rolling right along, too, as she now has surpassed $3,300 thanks to help from people like the former WHL general manager who has more than one Memorial Cup ring. . . . If you are interested in helping, you are able to do so on her home page, which is right here.
The Seattle Kraken has signed F Jagger Firkus of the Moose Jaw Warriors to a three-year entry-level contract. Firkus, who will turn 19 on Saturday, had 40 goals and 44 assists in 66 games with the Warriors this season. In 10 playoff games, he added 10 goals and 11 assists. . . . Seattle selected him in the second round of the NHL’s 2022 draft. . . .
G Dante Giannuzzi of the Portland Winterhawks has signed an ATO with the Manitoba Moose, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. Giannuzzi, who is from Winnipeg, played out his junior eligibility this season. In 109 appearances over five seasons with Portland, he went 59-32-12, 3.07, .896. . . . This season, he was 23-13-3, 3.37, .894. . . .
The New York Rangers have assigned F Ryder Korczak of the Moose Jaw Warriors to their AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack. Korczak, 20, had 28 goals and 41 assists in 48 games with the Warriors this season, then added three goals and eight assists in 10 playoff games. He was a third-round selection by the Rangers in the NHL’s 2021 draft.
Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton): Calgary tackles housing crisis by spending $867 million on new home for the Flames.
Headline at Deadspin (@Deadspin) after the New York Jets acquired QB Aaron Rodgers: Anti-vaxxer introduced as QB for franchise of Johnson & Johnson heir.
THE COACHING GAME:
The BCHL’s Merritt Centennials are looking for a new general manager and head coach after choosing not to renew Curtis Toneff’s contract. Toneff had been an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos when he joined the Centennials on Dec. 22, 2021. . . . The Centennials, who were 1-20-1 when Toneff was hired midway in the 2021-22 season, finished that season at 3-47-4. This season, they went 12-37-5. . . .
The junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League have signed Vin Jackson as an assistant coach for the 2023-24 season. . . . Jackson, 20, used up his junior eligibility as a player this season, finishing up with the VIJHL’s Campbell River Storm. This season, he also played with the Princeton Posse and Fernie Ghostriders, both of the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . . With the Buccaneers, he will work alongside GM/head coach Lee Stone. Jackson will be a full-time assistant as he relocates from his home in Creston, B.C., to Nanaimo.
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.