Only time will tell whether it was a save that at least helped to turn around the WHL’s Western Conference final.
But this one particular save definitely played a key role in the host Kamloops Blazers beating the Seattle Thunderbirds, 4-1, on Tuesday night, an outcome that tightened the series. Seattle now leads, 2-1, with Game 4 in Kamloops tonight.
The play in question occurred late in the second period with the Blazers holding a 2-1 lead. The Thunderbirds thought they had tied it when a puck that originated with Seattle F Gracyn Sawchyn took a crazy bounce and ended up behind G Dylan Ernst — perhaps in his glove or pinched between the glove and his back. Or was it on his right shoulder?
A screen shot from a highlights package on the WHL’s website shows Ernst’s glove completely over the goal line. Except that the puck isn’t visible. If you watch the entire series on video and then watch the replays, the puck actually appears to end up on his right shoulder before he collapses and ends up gloving it.
Anyway . . . here’s how Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week explained the goings-on . . .
“A Seattle shot pinged off the backboards and boomeranged back over the net, falling dangerously onto the backpedaling backstop . . . who has Sesame Street character Ernie painted on the back of his mask.
“Physics dictates that momentum would on most occasions have carried or propelled the (puck) over the goal line.
“But this occasion belonged to contortionist Ernst, who, with Ernie’s eyes in the back of his head, pinched the puck into his No. 35 with his mitt and fell forward to deny the T-Birds — and physics.
“ ‘I wasn’t too sure where it was,’ Ernst said. ‘It hit off the crossbar and I felt it hit my back. I got lucky when I swung my hand around and caught it.’
“Ernst shot up, prize raised high above head in glove, and drank in the chant: ‘Ernie! Ernie! Ernie!’
“ ‘Honestly, I wasn’t too sure if I was over the goal line or not,’ Ernst said. ‘I was hoping. Obviously, I wasn’t.’
“No goal was the call after the review, which (resulted in) another chant: ‘Whose house? Ernie’s house!’ ”
That’s how the score remained at 2-1. The Blazers put it away with two late third-period goals.
Hastings’ complete story is right here.
WHL PLAYOFF NOTES:
There was a point on Wednesday night when the Winnipeg Ice became huge fans of the Kamloops Blazers.
The No. 1 Ice completed an Eastern Conference final sweep of the No. 2 Saskatoon Blades last night, winning 3-2 in the Saskatchewan city.
The Western Conference final, with the No. 1 Seattle Thunderbirds holding a 2-1 edge on the No. 2 Blazers, is to resume tonight in Kamloops.
The Blazers will be the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup tournament, meaning that if they reach the WHL’s championship final their opponent will get the WHL’s spot in the four-team tournament.
Sure, the Ice wants to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup, but you can bet it would take some of the pressure off if the Memorial Cup berth already was in their left hip pocket. Right?
The Ice will have home-ice advantage in the championship final and, yes, I’m told Winnipeg’s home games will be played in the Wayne Fleming Arena, which seats about 1,700.
Meanwhile, after playing tonight in Kamloops, the Blazers and Thunderbirds will head for Kent, Wash., and Game 5 on Saturday night.
BTW, Kamloops D Olen Zellweger lost a goal at some point after Tuesday’s game, going from 10 to nine. So he no longer is tied for the playoff points lead, his 26 now one behind teammate Logan Stankoven and F Matt Savoie of the Ice.
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. . . . If you are interested in helping, you are able to do so on her home page, which is right here.
WEDNESDAY IN THE WHL PLAYOFFS:
Winnipeg (1) at Saskatoon (2) — The Winnipeg Ice brought an end to Saskatoon’s playoff run, beating the host Blades, 3-2, to sweep the conference final. . . . The Blades had reached the conference final by winning two seven-game series — the first after losing the first two games at home, the second after opening with two home-ice losses and one on the road. They became the third team in WHL history to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first three games. . . . The Ice outscored the Blades, 17-5, in the four games. . . . Last night, D Aidan De La Gorgendiere (3) gave the Blades their first lead of the series when he opened the scoring at 15:08 of the first period on a delayed penalty situation. . . . F Connor McClennon followed with two goals, at 18:40 on a PP, and at 13:30 of the second period, for a 2-1 Ice lead. . . . McClennon, who scored six times in the last three games, leads the WHL playoffs with 13 goals. . . . F Trevor Wong (3) got the Blades even at 2:45 of the third period, only to have F Briley Wood (3) break the tie at 6:19. . . . Wood, who turned 20 on Jan. 15, is from Rivers, Man. He had two goals in 13 regular-season games with the Ice this season. In 91 career regular-season games, the first 78 with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, he put up four goals. He has three in 14 games in these playoffs. In his career, he has one regular-season game-winner and now one playoff winner. . . . A note from Lucas Punkari (@lpunkari): “Prior to coming back to the Ice in mid-March, Wood was with the MJHL’s Neepawa Titans. The 20-year-old Rivers product recorded 57 points (19 goals and 38 assists) in 39 games.” . . . The Blades took the game’s only four minor penalties; the Ice was 1-for-4 on the PP. . . . The Ice got 16 saves from G Daniel Hauser. . . . Saskatoon G Austin Elliott stopped 36 shots. . . . The Ice again was without D Wyatt Wilson, while the Blades remained without D Ben Saunderson and D Blake Gustafson.
This is just so Canadian minor hockey. . . . The coach of a U11 team takes his guys off the ice because they are being subjected to all kinds of racial abuse. He ends up being suspended and losing his coaching position. There comes a time when there just aren’t words.
It sounds as though Chris Crich, the WHL’s top referee each of the past two seasons, is into the final days of his whistling career. Crich worked the game in Kamloops between the Blazers and Seattle Thunderbirds on Tuesday night. . . . Later, Jon Keen, the radio voice of the Kamloops Blazers, tweeted that Crich had told him: “This is pretty much it. It’s been a good run. It is probably getting to be time with the family and the job.” . . .
The Quebec Remparts earned a spot in the QMJHL’s championship final on Wednesday, beating the host Gatineau Olympiques, 3-1, to sweep the series. . . . The Patrick Roy-led Remparts won two of the games in OT. . . . The Remparts had the league’s best regular-season record (53-12-3), finishing four points ahead of the Olympiques (49-12-7). . . . The other semifinal, featuring the Sherbrooke Phoenix and Halifax Mooseheads, is to resume tonight in Sherbrooke. The Phoenix holds a 2-1 lead. They’ll play a fifth game in Halifax on Saturday afternoon. . . .
In the BCHL, the Alberni Valley Bulldogs advanced to the Fred Page Cup final for the first time with a 3-2 victory over the host Chilliwack Chiefs. The Bulldogs swept the Coastal Conference final. They won last night’s game when F Ethan Bono broke a 2-2 tie with his eighth goal at 19:31 of the third period. . . . In the Interior Conference final, the Salmon Arm Silverbacks stayed alive with a 3-2 OT victory over the visiting Penticton Vees. Salmon Arm won on F Isaac Lambert’s sixth goal at 3:36 of OT. The Vees, who had a 27-game playoff winning streak come to an end, lead the series, 3-1. They are to play Game 5 in Penticton on Friday night.
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.