Seattle stares down elimination for fifth time . . . First team in WHL history to win two Game 7s on road . . . Championship series opens in Edmonton on Friday

The WHL’s championship final, featuring the Edmonton Oil Kings and Seattle WHLplayoffs2022Thunderbirds, will open in the Alberta capital with games on Friday and Sunday.

The series will follow a 2-2-3 format — yes, you read that correctly. Due to building availability issues — the arena is booked for graduation ceremonies from June 9-15 — in Kent, Wash., the Thunderbirds will get only two home games, although they will be designated as the home team for one of the possible five games in Edmonton.

They will play Games 3 and 4 in Kent on Tuesday and Wednesday (June 8), before returning to Edmonton, if necessary, to finish up. Those games would be played on June 11, 13 and 14, with the Thunderbirds the ‘home’ team for Game 6. TSN will televise the series, beginning with Game 3.

The Oil Kings, the Eastern Conference’s second seed, advanced to the final by taking out the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice in five games. Edmonton has been sitting and waiting for an opponent since eliminating the Ice on Friday.

The Thunderbirds, the Western Conference’s fourth seed, ousted the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers, winning Game 7, 3-2, on the road on Tuesday night.

The Oil Kings last reached the WHL final in 2014 when they beat the Portland Winterhawks in seven games en route to winning the Memorial Cup. That was the third of three straight WHL finals to feature Edmonton and Portland — the Oil Kings won in 2012 and 2014.

Edmonton is 12-1 in these playoffs, having swept the No. 7 Lethbridge Hurricanes and No. 3 Red Deer Rebels before taking out the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice in five games.

Seattle last appeared in the WHL final in 2017 when it won the championship by taking out the Regina Pats in six games. One year earlier, the Thunderbirds lost the final, 4-1, to the Brandon Wheat Kings.

In these playoffs, Seattle now is 12-7, having eliminated the Kelowna Rockets, 4-1, and then gone seven games with both Portland and Kamloops.

Interestingly, the Thunderbirds won Game 6 in both those series by a 2-1 count at home, then went on the road to win Game 7. In the process, they became the first team in WHL history — which begins in 1966-67 — to win two Game 7s on the road in the same playoff season.

——

TUESDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference

In Kamloops, F Jared Davidson scored twice and linemate Lukas Svejkovsky drew three assists as the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Blazers, 3-2, in SeattleGame 7 of the conference final. . . . It was the fifth time the Thunderbirds faced elimination in these playoffs and they now are 5-0 in such games. . . . The Blazers opened the scoring for the sixth time in the series when F Fraser Minten (6) struck at 8:34 of the opening period. . . . Seattle F Lucas Ciona drilled the left post behind G Dylan Garand a few minutes later. . . . The Thunderbirds pulled even at 15:47 when Davidson (10) snapped one home from the right face-off dot just seven seconds into the game’s first PP opportunity. That would be the only PP by either team on this night. . . . Davidson (11) shot Seattle into the lead at 2:27 of the second period following another face-off win in the Kamloops zone. . . . The Thunderbirds went ahead 3-1 at 14:56 as F Henrik Rybinski (4) beat Garand by tipping in a shot by D Jeremy Hanzel. . . . Seattle G Thomas Milic preserved the two-goal lead with a big stop off Kamloops F Logan Stankoven through traffic to start the third period. . . . The Blazers finally got  to within a goal, but there were only 7.4 seconds left to play when F Daylan Kuefler (10) scored. . . . Milic finished with 33 saves, four fewer than Garand. . . . What was the key to Seattle’s series victory? Over the last four games of the series, the Thunderbirds held Stankoven, who leads the playoffs with 30 points, to three assists, while shutting out linemate Luke Toporowski, who finished with 23 points. Stankoven had scored hat tricks in Games 1 and 3, with Toporowski recording six helpers. . . . Meanwhile, Svejkovsky put up two goals and eight assists in six games, while Davidson had five goals and three assists in seven games, and Rybinsky, the third member of that line, played in only four games but had a goal and four assists.


Cyclops


The Minnesota Twins will be in Toronto for a weekend series with the Blue Jays, COVIDbut shortstop Carlos Correa, a two-time all-star with the Houston Astros, won’t be with them. He was placed on the COVID-19 restricted list on Tuesday after exhibiting symptoms on Sunday and getting worse on Monday. Also on that list are Joe Ryan, a right-handed started, and backup OF Gilberto Celestino. . . . According to Sportsnet, the Twins, who began the week in Detroit against the Tigers, “have already said they’ll have ‘a few’ players on the restricted list not travelling to Toronto. This generally means players unvaccinated against COVID-19.”


My wife, Dorothy, a kidney transplant recipient in 2013, will take part in the 2022 #kamloops Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year on Sunday. Yes, it’s virtual again. You are able to sponsor her right here.


Bank


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Beau McCue won’t be back as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, but he will be remaining with the organization. According to a news release, McCue, who played four seasons (2012-16) with the Americans, “will remain with the club in a supportive role within hockey operations.” . . . BTW, I asked American’s general manager Bob Tory, who is one of four co-owners, a while back if Stu Barnes would be back as head coach. The one-word response was: “Absolutely.” . . . Barnes, who also owns a piece of the Americans, now is preparing for his second season as the club’s head coach. . . .

The BCHL’s Surrey Eagles have added Matt Dawson as an assistant coach. A former Eagles defenceman, he played five seasons (2015-20) at the U of New Hampshire. In 2022-23, he was an assistant coach with the junior B Delta Ice Hawks of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. . . .

The junior B Westshore Wolves of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League have signed general manager and head coach Derek Sweet-Coulter to a three-year contract extension. He is preparing for his second season with the club. . . .

The junior B Revelstoke Grizzlies, the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s defending champions, have promoted Jiri Novak to assistant general manager and associate head coach. He is going into is fourth season on the coaching staff. . . .

Alex Mandolidis has signed on as the general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. He is coming off three seasons as an assistant coach with the Calgary-based Mount Royal U Cougars men’s hockey team. Before that, he was an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Calgary Mustangs for one season. . . . With the Blues, he takes over from Taras McEwen, who now is the director of hockey operations. . . . The Blues are owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment, which also owns, among other things, the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice and the MJHL’s Winnipeg Freeze.


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

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Sense

Blazers or T-Birds? Who’s going to Edmonton? . . . Seattle d-man gets off-day treat . . . Shedding light on arena deficiencies in Kelowna

The combatants for the WHL’s championship final will be known tonight (Tuesday) after the Seattle Thunderbirds and host Kamloops Blazers meet in WHLplayoffs2022Game 7 of the Western Conference final.

The winner of tonight’s game will open the championship series for the Ed Chynoweth Cup against the Oil Kings in Edmonton on Friday night.

Kamloops, the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed, opened this series by winning, 5-2, at home on May 20, and since then the teams have alternated victories. The No. 4 Thunderbirds tied the series, 3-3, with a 2-1 victory in Kent, Wash., on Sunday.

Seattle has won two of the last three games while holding Kamloops F Logan Stankoven to two assists and shutting out F Luke Toporowski. Stankoven leads all playoff scorers in goals (17) and points (30), while Toporowski is tied for second in points (23).

The Thunderbirds also have been in this position before in this playoff season. In their conference semifinal, they went seven games with the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks. In fact, the Thunderbirds won Game 6 at home, 2-1, and then went into Portland and won Game 7, 6-3, on May 17.

Will history repeat? We’ll find out tonight.

Lucas Punkari of the Brandon Sun informs us via Twitter that this will be the first Game 7 in a conference final since 2013 when the Oil Kings, behind 26 saves from G Laurent Brossoit, beat the Calgary Hitmen, 2-0, at Rexall Place in Edmonton on April 30. . . . The last Western Conference final to go the distance featured the Tri-City Americans and Spokane Chiefs in 2008. The Chiefs won Game 7, 4-1, in Kennewick, Wash., on April 29 to end a series that featured five games that went to OT, with three of those going to double OT.


Treat


One day before playing in Game 7 of the Western Conference final, D Tyrel nhl2Bauer of the Seattle Thunderbirds signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. He was selected by Winnipeg in the sixth round of the 2020 draft. . . . Bauer turned 20 on March 23. If he doesn’t earn a spot with the Jets, he is eligible to return for one more WHL season, or he could end up with the Manitoba Moose, Winnipeg’s AHL affiliate.

Three other NHL draft picks who played in the WHL this season have to sign NHL deals by Wednesday or they will go back into the draft or become unrestricted free agents.

F Connor McClennon of the Winnipeg Ice was a sixth-round pick by the Philadelphia Flyers but hasn’t signed. He is eligible to return to the WHL for his 20-year-old season.

D Alex Cotton of the Vancouver Giants and F Bear Hughes of the Spokane Chiefs completed their 20-year-old seasons so have used up their junior eligibility. Cotton was a fifth-round selection by the Detroit Red Wings, while Hughes went to the Washington Capitals in the fifth round. Neither has signed an NHL deal, although Hughes has signed with the AHL’s Hershey Bears for 2022-23. Still, if he doesn’t sign with Washington, he will become an NHL free agent.


Franklin


More light has been shed on the mystery of the deficiencies at Prospera Place in KelownaKelowna. According to the Kelowna Rockets, those deficiencies prevented them from putting in a bid to host the 2023 Memorial Cup.

The Rockets were to have been the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup only to have it cancelled by the pandemic. On Friday, the CHL announced that the 2023 event will be played in Kamloops with the Blazers as the host team.

Anyway . . . Regan Bartel, the longtime radio voice of the Rockets, posted four tweets on Monday that added some clarification to things:

  1. GSL, the owner and operator of Prospera Place, have some explaining to do on Kelowna’s inability to bid for the 2023 Memorial Cup. Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, “City of Kelowna taxpayers shouldn’t be (footing) a bill that could potentially reach the millions of dollars . . .”
  2. “. . . to host this event (for upgrades to building) when the partner (GSL), who stands to gain the most revenue because of this event, was not coming to the party as a full partner.” Substandard lighting was a concern heading into 2020 tournament. City/Rockets paid for it.
  3. “GSL, which is in care and control of the arena until 2029, was not willing to pay the cost to change the lighting. This has been a long standing issue. One just needs to walk through the building. Tell me what has changed since that facility opened in 1999?”
  4. “This is not a facility that is in the care/control of the City of Kelowna”, Basran added. “I truly believe the CHL wants to bring the event back, but it’s clear we have a partner that’s not quite as accepting to make that happen.”

I have a feeling there’s more to come on this story. Stay tuned!


——

The Chicago White Sox are scheduled to open a series in Toronto against the Blue Jays today, and they’ll be without two of their key pitchers. Starter Dylan Cease and reliever Kendall Graveman, both right-handers, have been placed on MLB’s restricted list, which would indicate that they aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19 so are able to cross the U.S.-Canada border. . . . Players don’t get paid while on MLB’s restricted list.


My wife, Dorothy, a kidney transplant recipient in 2013, will take part in the 2022 #kamloops Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year on Sunday. Yes, it’s virtual again. You are able to sponsor her right here.

——

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

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Senators

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while pondering the mystery of the Prospera Place deficiencies . . .

scattershooting

Perhaps you are wondering about the “significant deficiencies” in Prospera Place, the home of the Kelowna Rockets, that prevented the WHL team from Kelownabidding to be the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup.

That honour, of course, has gone to Kamloops, with the Canadian Hockey League having announced on Friday that the Blazers would be the host team for the four-team tournament in 2023.

The 2020 tournament had been scheduled for Kelowna before the pandemic got in the way. Because of that cancellation and because preparations were well underway at the time, a lot of observers had expected the 2023 event to go to Kelowna.

Not so fast.

As the announcement was being made in Kamloops prior to a playoff game on Friday night, the Rockets issued an open letter in which they pointed a finger at the GSL Group.

“When we submitted our intent to bid,” the letter stated, “there was an audit conducted of Prospera Place, commissioned by the Rockets, the City of Kelowna, and the GSL Group, who own, operate and manage the arena.

“This audit found that there were significant deficiencies that needed to be upgraded for the facility to meet the CHL standards for hosting the Memorial Cup.”

An agreement couldn’t be reached to “make the necessary capital improvements to the building,” thus the Rockets weren’t able to enter a bid.

At this point, no one in the know has explained what those deficiencies might be.

So let’s turn to Doyle Potenteau of Global News in Kelowna. He covered the Rockets for a number of years while with the Kelowna Daily Courier, including the 2004 Memorial Cup that was held there. Yes, he is more than a little familiar with the arena. Anyway, he filed a story for Global that may have shed some light on the subject.

“It’s not known what the issues are,” Potenteau reported, “but one concern is dressing rooms for the players. While the Rockets have a large room, visiting (WHL) teams to Prospera Place are usually squeezed into two smaller rooms.

“Further, when Kelowna hosted the 2004 Memorial Cup, which the Rockets won, two portable dressing rooms had to be built outside the rink for the third and fourth teams, which happened to be the OHL and QMJHL champions.”

Whatever the deficiencies are, they obviously weren’t an issue on Oct. 3, 2018, when the WHL’s board of governors awarded the 2020 Memorial Cup to Kelowna over bids from Kamloops and the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Since then, however, it would seem that issues have come to the fore involving the Rockets’ home arena.

Of course, it’s also worth mentioning that the WHL board of governors no longer selects the host team. That decision now is made at the CHL level.


Glass


The stage has yet to be set for the WHL’s best-of-seven championship final, the WHLplayoffs2022winner of which will be awarded the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . The Edmonton Oil Kings, the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed, now has to wait until Tuesday to find out whether the Kamloops Blazers or Seattle Thunderbirds will open the final in the Alberta capital on Friday night. . . . Game 2 is scheduled for Edmonton on June 5. . . . TSN is to begin televising the championship series with Game 3 from Kamloops or Kent, Wash., on June 7. . . .

On Sunday night in Kent, the Thunderbirds beat the Blazers, 2-1, in Game 6 of the Western Conference final. It’s even, 3-3, so they’ll decide it all in Kamloops on Tuesday. . . . The last time that Kamloops was the site of Game 7 in a WHL playoff series? That would be May 10, 1994. The Blazers beat the visiting Saskatoon Blades, 8-1, in Game 7 of the WHL final, behind three goals from F Ryan Huska and two from F Jarome Iginla, then went on to win the Memorial Cup in Laval, Que.

——

SUNDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference

In Kent, Wash., the Seattle Thunderbirds scored the last two goals to beat the SeattleKamloops Blazers, 2-1. . . . The best-of-seven conference final is tied, 3-3, with Game 7 scheduled for Kamloops on Tuesday. . . . The Blazers had taken a 3-2 lead by beating the Thunderbirds, 4-3 in OT, in Kamloops on Friday. . . . The Blazers won Game 1 of this series at home, 5-2, with Seattle taking Game 2 on the road, 4-1. . . . Seattle, which came back to oust the Portland Winterhawks after trailing 3-1, is 4-0 in elimination games this spring. . . . Last night, F Kobe Verbicky’s first WHL playoff goal gave Kamloops a 1-0 lead at 12:53 of the first period. . . . Seattle tied it at 4:42 of the second period when F Jared Davidson scored his ninth goal of these playoffs. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky (9), who drew the primary assist on Davidson’s goal, broke the tie at 3:28 of the third period. Davidson returned the favour, too, as he got the primary assist on the winner. . . . Seattle was 0-for-2 on the PP; Kamloops was 0-for-3. . . . G Thomas Milic stopped 34 shots to earn the victory over G Dylan Garand, who made 32 saves.


Masks

Just when you thought the pandemic was over you find out that Mike Breen tested positive so wasn’t able to call the play for Game 7 of the NBA conference final that had the Boston Celtics meeting the Heat in Miami on Sunday night. With Breen out of action, Mark Jones was given the assignment. . . . Jones recently signed a contract extension with ESPN; he’s been there for 32 years. Are you old enough to remember when he was at TSN. . . .

Pandemic over? Johns Hopkins University of Medicine’s Coronavirus Resource Center shows 2,576 deaths and 716,435 new cases in the U.S. in the past week. . . . Those figures for Canada are 305 and 18.292. . . . Over? No, not yet.



Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun: “The headline said that Rick Bowness had stepped down as coach of the Stars. The truth: He was pushed out. Owner Tom Gaglardi wanted the change. Good-guy Bowness is now contemplating between retirement, family time, grandchildren visits, and continuing to coach in the NHL.”


Headline at The Onion (@TheOnion): Congress Placed on Lockdown after Deranged Man Enters Senate with Gun Control Measures.

——

Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton): “Electricity” added to “policing” for services no longer provided by the City of Ottawa.


So . . . I’m watching the Toronto Blue Jays and the host Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night. . . . There is a small sign to the left of home plate that reads: $44 — 4 tickets, hot dogs, & sodas — $44. . . . In the eighth inning, Matt Devlin, who is calling the play, reads a Blue Jays’ promo about what the team calls its “value combo.” Devlin informs us that we can get four tickets to the 200 level, four food items and four drinks for $30 per person. . . . You do the math. . . . Hmmmmm!


A puzzler from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Most bitter rivalry on display this month — Edmonton-Calgary in hockey or Johnny Depp-Amber Heard in a courtroom?”


Asked by Detroit radio station WXYT-FM about today’s NBA players, former Los Angeles Lakers star James Worthy replied: “All they do is practise threes, lift weights, get tattoos, tweet and go on social media.”


America


So . . . it has come to this in the WHL where this t-shirt is available in adult and youth sizes on the Portland Winterhawks’ website. . . .

Portlandtee


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Somehow I missed it a few days ago when the junior A Aurora Tigers of the Ontario Junior Hockey League signed Sierra Costa as their general manager. She is the OJHL’s first female GM, and I’m thinking she just might be the first one in all of Canadian junior A hockey. . . . Costa graduated from Humber College’s sports management program. . . . The Tigers are owned by former NHL player Jim Thomson. . . . The fact that this story doesn’t seem to have been a big deal just might signal that a woman in a hockey team’s front office isn’t out of the ordinary any more. . . . And that’s a positive, for sure. . . .

The MJHL’s Portage Terriers will be the host team for the 2023 Centennial Cup tournament. The AJHL’s Brooks Bandits won the 2022 junior A tournament in Estevan on Sunday, beating OJHL’s Pickering Panthers, 4-1, in the final. The 2023 tournament will be held in May with the dates yet to be finalized. Portage la Prairie was to have been the host city for the 2020 tournament but it was cancelled because of the pandemic.


Farm


My wife, Dorothy, a kidney transplant recipient in 2013, will take part in the 2022 #kamloops Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year on Sunday. Yes, it’s virtual again. But she will be there, and you are able to sponsor her right here.


THINKING OUT LOUD — Yes, the annual Kamloops Kidney Walk is set for Sunday, and we’ll be taking part over here in our little corner of the world. If you want to be part of Dorothy’s team, please think about sponsoring her. . . . If you missed it, TSN is going to start showing the WHL’s championship final with Game 3 from Kamloops or Kent, Wash. Can’t imagine why it won’t show us Games 1 and 2 from Edmonton on Friday and June 5, but it does make one yearn for the days when Shaw-TV had a relationship with the WHL. . . . Actually, when Sportsnet handed off the CHL deal to TSN early this season, for some reason I thought we would see quite a few more major junior games, but that hasn’t happened. In fact, when’s the last time a WHL game was shown by TSN? . . . In the days ahead, TSN is going to show the OHL, QMJHL and WHL finals starting with the third game of each. They no doubt will use those telecasts to promote their coverage of the Memorial Cup that opens in Saint John, N.B., on June 20. . . . There isn’t much better than a good cup of coffee on a Sunday morning while listening to Jon Miller call a Major League Baseball game. . . . Coming to a bookstore near you on June 7 — Rickey: The Life and Legend of an American Original, by Howard Bryant. Can’t wait to dig into this one. . . . And speaking of books, Dan Russell, who spent 30 years as the host of the radio show Sportstalk, didn’t pull any punches in his memoir that is just out. Pleasant Good Evening — A Memoir: My 30 Wild and Turbulent Years of Sportstalk is available through Amazon (soft cover and Kindle) and Indigo (Kobo).


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

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Peanuts

Kamloops gets 2023 Memorial Cup . . . Building “deficiencies” prevent Kelowna bid . . . Oil Kings take out Ice; Blazers beat T-Birds in OT

The Canadian Hockey League and the Kamloops Blazers announced Friday CHLevening that they will be the host team for the four-team 2023 Memorial Cup tournament.

The big reveal was done prior to Game 5 of the Blazers’ WHL Western Conference final series with the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds.

Dates for the 2023 event weren’t announced.

This will be the second time that a Memorial Cup champion will be decided in Kamloops. Playing at home in 1995, the Blazers, who were the host team but also had won the WHL championship, beat the OHL-champion Detroit Jr. Red Wings, 8-2, in the championship game on May 21.

That tournament also featured the QMJHL-champion Hull Olympiques and the Brandon Wheat Kings, who were in as the other WHL finalist.

That was the Blazers’ second straight Memorial Cup title and third in four seasons.

You may recall that the Blazers fired general manager Bob Brown just 15 days after having won that Memorial Cup on home ice, with then-president Colin Day saying it was time for the franchise to go in a different direction.

The 2023 tournament will be the first time the Memorial Cup will be presented in a WHL city since the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, the QMJHL champions, beat the host Regina Pats, 3-0, on May 27, 2018.

The 2020 tournament was to have been held in Kelowna with the WHL’s Rockets as the host team. Preparations were well underway before everything was scrubbed because of the pandemic.

The 2021 tournament also was cancelled. The 2022 Memorial Cup is to be played in Saint John, N.B., June 20-29.

In recent years, teams interested in playing host to the tournament would make bid presentations in front of a league’s board of governors. A vote would be held and a winner declared. Such was the case prior to Kelowna being awarded the 2020 event over bids from Kamloops and the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Now, however, the CHL has taken control of the process and it’s all done behind closed doors, so we don’t know what other WHL teams made bid presentations.

In July 2020, Doug Nicholas, the City of Kelowna’s sport and events services manager, told councillors that “decisions are already underway regarding the possibility of Kelowna getting their opportunity to host the Memorial Cup (in 2023),” Castanet reported. “Preliminary discussions have been positive to date with the WHL and the CHL.”

According to Castanet, Nicholas told councillors that the Rockets, who had made a handful of trades to add to the team they had thought would play in the 2020 event, would have time to “rebuild a strong cup-winning team” for 2023. He also pointed out, Wayne Moore of Castanet wrote, that “club owner and president Bruce Hamilton has committed to a 10th two-year term as chairman of the board of directors of the WHL.”

——

Rockets

While the Kamloops Blazers were informing their fans of their good news, the Kelowna Rockets were issuing an open letter addressed to “Season Ticket Holders, Sponsors and Rocket Fans” in which they attempted to explain why the 2023 Memorial Cup won’t be held in their city.

In the letter, the Rockets pointed the finger squarely at the GSL Group, which “owns, operates and manages” their home arena, Prospera Place. The GSL Group also owns, among other things, the WHL’s Victoria Royals and their home arena, Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.

According to the Rockets, they submitted their intent to bid after which an audit of Prospera Place “found that there were significant deficiencies that needed to be upgraded for the facility to meet the CHL standards for hosting the Memorial Cup.”

The open letter continues: “Ultimately, an agreement with the Rockets, City of Kelowna and the GSL Group could not be reached to make the necessary capital improvements to the building. As a result, the building did not meet the minimum standards required to host the event by the CHL and, consequently, the Rockets could not proceed with our bid to host the 2023 Memorial Cup.”

The Rockets didn’t explain exactly what those “significant deficiencies” are, nor did they explain how the building became so deficient in only three years. After all, it must have met the CHL standards to have been declared the home arena for the 2020 Memorial Cup.

“Our hope,” the letter concludes, “as we look toward the future is that the GSL Group will work to complete the necessary improvements the audit identified so that we can once again bring a Memorial Cup back to Kelowna.”

The letter was signed “Your Kelowna Rockets.”


Peanuts


FRIDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference

In Edmonton, the No. 2 Oil Kings dismantled the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice, 7-1, to Edmontonadvance to the WHL final for the first time since 2014. . . . The Oil Kings won the best-of-seven conference final, 4-1, and now are 12-1 in the playoffs. . . . The series, which opened in Winnipeg, followed a 2-3-2 format because of the travel distance between the cities. The Oil Kings got a split in Winnipeg and then swept their home games. Edmonton outscored Winnipeg, 15-6, in those three games and 21-15 in the series. . . . Last night, the Oil Kings struck for four first-period goals and added three more in the second as they built a 7-0 lead. . . . They got two goals and two assists from F Carter Souch (9), with F Dylan Guenther drawing four assists. D Kaiden Guhle (6) had two goals and an assist, F Jakub Demek (3) added a goal and two assists, and F Jake Neighbours (3) scored twice. . . . Neighbours counted at 4:52 and 5:00 of the first period to give his guys a 3-0 lead. . . . Those two goals eight seconds apart were one second off the WHL playoff record that is shared by Bill Derlago (Brandon Wheat Kings, April 9, 1978, 1:02 and 1:09 of third period in 9-6 victory over the visiting Flin Flon Bombers); F Ron Sutter (Lethbridge Broncos, 19:21 and 19:28 of second period in 7-4 victory over the host Portland Winterhawks); and F Joachim Blichfeld (Portland, March 29, 2018, 13:38 and 13:45 of third period in 4-3 victory over the host Spokane Chiefs). . . . Edmonton G Sebastian Cossa stopped 19 shots, losing his shutout bid at 17:20 of the third period when F Connor McClennon (8) scored. . . . Ice G Gage Alexander gave up four goals on nine shots. Daniel Hauser came on in relief at 910:18 of the first period and was beaten three times on 28 shots. . . . Edmonton F Jaxsen Wiebe, returning from a two-game suspension, finished with zero points but did earn 29 penalty minutes — two misconducts, one major and two minors. . . . The Ice was again without F Matt Savoie, who was injured in Game 2. . . . The Oil Kings won the WHL title in 2014, the last time they were in the final. They went on to win the Memorial Cup, the last WHL team to do so.

——

Western Conference

In Kamloops, F Daylan Kuefler scored in OT to give the No. 2 Blazers a 4-3 Kamloopsvictory over the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds in Game 5 of the conference final. . . . The Blazers hold a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven series with Game 6 scheduled for Kent, Wash., on Sunday. . . . A seventh game, if necessary, would be played in Kamloops on Tuesday. . . . Last night, the teams went to OT for the second straight game, the Thunderbirds having won, 2-1, at home on Wednesday. . . . F Conner Roulette (3) put Seattle out front at 1:51 of the first period, only to have F Matthew Seminoff (6) tie it at 6:44. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky (8), back after missing a game with an undisclosed injury, gave Seattle a 2-1 lead at 2:32 of the second period. . . . The Blazers tied it at 8:24 when F Daylan Kuefler (8) scored. . . . Kamloops went ahead 3-2 at 4:58 of the third period after F Connor Levis (3) knocked in a puck out of mid-air. The call on the ice was “no goal,” but that was overturned after about a six-minute video review. . . . Seattle got that one back less than six minutes later when D Kevin Korchinski (6) corned at 10:27. . . . Kuefler, a 38-goal man in the regular season, won it with his ninth goal at 5:39 of extra time. . . . Kuefler also had an assist, for a three-point outing. He’s got 15 points in 15 playoff games. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 34 shots for Kamloops, six more than Seattle’s Thomas Milic. . . . Each team was 0-for-2 on the PP. . . . F Henrik Rybinski also returned to Seattle’s lineup. He hadn’t played since Game 1 because of an undisclosed injury. . . . Earlier in the day, the Thunderbirds were fined $750 for “warmup violations” prior to Game 4 in Kent on Wednesday.


Cars


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Sylvain Couturier has resigned as the general manager of the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan after 20 seasons with the organization. He chose not to expound on the reasons for his resignation, but did suggest that there may be litigation down the road. . . . 

The OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs won the Eastern Conference playoff title on Friday night, beating the host North Bay Battalion, 6-0, to sweep the best-of-seven final. The Bulldogs, who will meet either the Flint Firebirds or Windsor Spitfires in the final, are 12-0 in the playoffs. The Firebirds and Windsor are 2-2 after the Spitfires won, 4-2, in Flint on Friday. . . .

Ryan Tobler has signed on with the AJHL’s Blackfalds Bulldogs as their associate coach. Tobler, 46, played three seasons in the WHL (Saskatoon Blades, Calgary Hitmen, Swift Current Broncos, Moose Jaw Warriors, 1994-97). He was the head coach of the Chinook Hockey League’s Bentley Generals for four seasons (2012-16), then spent four-plus seasons on the coaching staff of the Colorado Eagles, the first two in the ECHL and the rest in the AHL. . . . In Blackfalds, he’ll work alongside Doug Quinn, the owner, president and head coach.


Woods


My wife, Dorothy, a kidney transplant recipient in 2013, will take part in the 2022 #kamloops Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year on June 5. Yes, it’s virtual again. But she will be there, and you are able to sponsor her right here.



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

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Phones

Oil Kings one win from WHL final . . . Western Conference tied at 2-2; resumes Friday in Kamloops . . . Settlement in sexual assault case


After two games on Wednesday night, the WHL’s four remaining teams rested or travelled on Thursday. . . . And when they return to the ice Friday night, the WHLplayoffs2022team that holds the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy for having had the best regular-season record will be facing elimination. . . . Yes, the Winnipeg Ice is down 3-1 to the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Eastern Conference’s best-of-seven final. They’ll play Game 5 in Edmonton on Friday. . . .

The Western Conference final is tied 2-2 and the Seattle Thunderbirds will face the Blazers in Kamloops on Friday. The Thunderbirds held F Logan Stankoven, the WHL scoring leader, to one assist on Wednesday night and will need a similar effort if they are to win Game 5. Stankoven had seven goals — including hat tricks in Games 1 and 3 — in the first three games of the series. . . . A late, late Tuesday night tweet from Geoffrey Brandow: “The franchise record for goals in a single playoff belongs to Dean Evason (21 in 17 games in 1984, under the Kamloops Junior Oilers moniker); the circuit record is 24 by Blair Chapman of the Saskatoon Blades in 1976 (20 games). 9 players have hit 20.” . . . Stankoven leads these playoffs in goals (17) and points (29).



WEDNESDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference

In Edmonton, F Carter Souch scored the No. 2 Oil Kings’ first two goals as they Edmontonskated to a 4-2 victory over the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice. . . . The Oil Kings, now 11-1 in these playoffs, lead the series, 3-1, with Game 5 in Edmonton on Friday night. . . . Souch (6) got the scoring started at 5:01 of the first period, but Winnipeg tied it at 6:12 when F Owen Pederson (8), who had missed Game 3 with a one-game suspension, scored on a PP. . . . Souch (7) sent Edmonton out front again, at 9:23. . . . F Justin Sourdif (4) gave the Oil Kings a two-goal lead at 11:47 of the second period. . . . The Ice got to within a goal at 18:22 on Pederson’s ninth goal of the playoffs. . . . Edmonton got some insurance at 11:24 of the third period when F Dylan Guenther (13) counted on a PP. . . . F Josh Williams had three assists for Edmonton. . . . Each team was 1-for-4 on the PP. . . . G Sebastian Cossa stopped 20 shots for Edmonton. Cossa, whose NHL rights belong to the Detroit Red Wings, is 11-1, 2.04, .906 in the playoffs. . . . The Ice got 32 stops from G Gage Alexander. . . . Edmonton F Jaxsen Wiebe didn’t play as he completed a two-game suspension for a headshot major he incurred in Game 2. . . . The Ice was without F Matt Savoie, its leading regular-season scorer, for a second straight game. He suffered an undisclosed injury in Game 2.

——

Western Conference

In Kent, Wash., F Nico Myatovic scored the game-winning goal as the No. 4 SeattleSeattle Thunderbirds beat the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers, 2-1 in OT. . . . That tied the Western Conference final, 2-2, with the teams scheduled to play Game 5 in Kamloops on Friday night. . . . Game 6 is to be played back in Kent on Sunday. . . . The Blazers took a 1-0 lead into the second period after F Daylan Kuefler (7) scored, on a PP, at 19:06 of the first. . . . It was the 13th time in 14 games that the Blazers had scored the first goal. . . . Seattle got that one back, on a PP, at 1:55 of the second period with F Jordan Gustafson (4) pulling the trigger. . . . The goaltenders — Thomas Milic of Seattle and Dylan Garand of Kamloops — kept the game at 1-1 until Myatovic ended it with his third playoff goal, at 11:16 of extra time. . . . Myatovic, who won’t turn 18 until Dec. 1, is from Prince George. He was a sixth-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 draft. In 67 regular-season games, he scored four times — one of them a winner — and added 24 assists. In the playoffs, he has three goals and four assists in 16 games. This was his second playoff winner, the other coming on May 14 in a 3-1 victory over the Winterhawks in Portland in Game 5 of their conference semifinal. . . . F Lucas Ciona drew an assist on each of Seattle’s goals. . . . Milic finished up with 35 saves, two fewer than Garand. . . . The Thunderbirds had an 8-5 edge in OT shots. . . . Seattle was 1-for-1 on the PP; Kamloops was 1-for-4. . . . Seattle was without F Henrik Rybinski for a second straight game, while F Lukas Svejkovsky was scratched with an undisclosed injury after apparently being injured in Game 3. . . . Rybinski and Svejkovsky have combined for 10 goals and 21 assists in the playoffs after totalling 56 goals and 85 assists in the regular season.




My wife, Dorothy, a kidney transplant recipient in 2013, will take part in the 2022 #kamloops Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year on June 5. Yes, it’s virtual again. But she will be there, and you are able to sponsor her right here.

——

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

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.

Stankoven fills hat once again . . . Blazers win on road for 2-1 series lead in West . . . WHL’s East final resumes tonight in Edmonton


The WHL’s conference finals continued to roll along on Tuesday night as the WHLplayoffs2022Kamloops Blazers faced head coach Matt O’Dette and the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash. The Western Conference final will continue with Game 4 tonight in Kent, before returning to Kamloops for a Friday game. . . . O’Dette was back on the bench last night after missing the first two games in Kamloops with an undisclosed illness. . . .

Meanwhile, in the Eastern Conference, the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice is in Edmonton where it will face the No. 2 Oil Kings again tonight. Edmonton holds a 2-1 lead in the series, thanks to OT goals in Games 1 and 3. The Ice and Oil Kings will hang around Edmonton after tonight, too, because Game 5 is to be played there on Friday.

——

TUESDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference

In Kent, Wash., the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers scored three times before the game Kamloopswas 12 minutes old and went on to beat the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds, 6-3. . . . The Blazers lead the best-of-seven conference final, 2-1, with Game 4 scheduled for Kent tonight. The teams then will return to Kamloops for Game 5 on Friday. . . . F Logan Stankoven, who leads the WHL playoffs in goals and points, scored two of those early goals — at 0:27 and 11:39 — sandwiched around a PP score by F Daylan Kuefler (5), at 11:21. . . . D Kevin Korchinski (5) got Seattle on the board at 18:38. . . . F Jared Davidson (8) pulled the home team to within one goal at 13:25 of the second period. . . . However, F Quinn Schmiemann (2) restored the Blazers’ two-goal lead at 17:58. He also had two assists. . . . Kuefler (6) upped the lead to 5-2 at 13:16. . . . Seattle got that one back when F Matt Rempe (5) scored, on a PP, at 16:13. . . . Stankoven completed the scoring with an empty-netter, at 18:45. . . . That was Stankoven’s second hat trick of the series; he’s got seven goals in the three games. . . . He leads the WHL playoffs in goals (17) and points (28), all done in 13 games. . . . Each team was 1-for-3 on the PP. . . . Kamloops got 27 stops from G Dylan Garand. . . . G Thomas Milic turned aside 23 shots for Seattle. . . . The Thunderbirds were without veteran F Henrik Rybinski for a second straight game. He had 65 points in 47 regular-season games, and had three goals and 10 assists in 13 playoff games when he suffered an undisclosed injury in Game 1 of this series.

Steve Konowalchuk, the head coach of the Red Deer Rebels, was in the house last night in Kent, Wash. Konowalchuk may be coaching in Red Deer now, but you know he’s a fan favourite with the Thunderbirds’ crowd. After all, he was the head coach of the Thunderbirds for six seasons (2011-17), including their WHL championship season of 2016-17. That was the last time the Thunderbirds won the title.



Headline from The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton): Flames head coach starting to think team should cover this McDavid guy.


Vax


From The New York Times: Another form of the Omicron subvariant BA.2 has COVIDbecome the dominant version among new U.S. coronavirus cases, according to federal estimates on Tuesday, a development that experts had forecast over the last few weeks. . . . There was no indication yet that the new subvariant, known as BA.2.12.1, causes more severe disease than earlier forms did. BA.2.12.1 made up about 58 percent of all new U.S. cases, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the week ending May 21. . . . As Americans approach their third Memorial Day weekend of the pandemic, the country is averaging more than 100,000 new confirmed cases per day for the first time since February, according to a New York Times database.


Crypto


The U of Windsor Lancers men’s hockey team is going to spend some time in Merritt, B.C., in August. They will be involved in a hockey academy while there, and they also will play a couple of exhibition games. The big news — really big news — is that they are going to spend time working with First Nations communities who continue on the road to recovery from wildfires and floods that hit them hard in 2021. . . . The Lancers will be helping to erect five emergency homes, a project that should take five days if all goes according to plan. . . . “We’re always looking for opportunities for our student athletes to learn and grow at the rink and away from the rink,” head coach Kevin Hamlin said, “and this just seemed to be a great fit given all the craziness that’s happened and come to light out west.” . . . There’s more on this story from AM800 News right here.


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

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Phone

Flames, Hitmen to get company from Heat . . . Sourdif, Oil Kings work OT for win . . . Blazers, Thunderbirds back at it tonight

It seems that hockey fans in Calgary are in for some interesting times with the news that the NHL’s Flames are moving their AHL affiliate, the Heat, from StocktonStockton, Calif., to Calgary. . . . The AHL announced on Monday that its board of governors has approved the relocation of the franchise in time for next season. . . . With the exception of the 2020-21 season that was impacted by the pandemic, the Heat had been in Stockton since 2015. . . . The Flames and Heat are owned by the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp., which also owns the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen and the National Lacrosse League’s Calgary Roughnecks. . . . All four teams play out of the Scotiabank Saddledome. . . . “At this point,” wrote Danny Austin of the Calgary Sun, “it remains unclear whether the Heat will play at the Scotiabank Saddledome. It’s already a busy rink, so one of the CSEC tenants may need to move.” . . . Former WHL player and coach Mitch Love is the Heat’s head coach and has them in the third round of the AHL playoffs. They opened a best-of-five Pacific Division final against the visiting Colorado Eagles on Monday night. The Heat won that game, 5-0, behind 23 saves from G Dustin Wolf and two goals from F Justin Kirkland.


WHLplayoffs2022After taking Sunday off, the WHL playoffs resumed on Monday night with the Winnipeg Ice meeting the Oil Kings in Edmonton in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final. They will play Game 4 in Edmonton on Wednesday and Game 5 there on Friday. . . . The Western Conference final will be back on the ice tonight with the Kamloops Blazers and Seattle Thunderbirds tied, 1-1, in Kent, Wash.

——

MONDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference

In Edmonton, F Justin Sourdif scored in the first OT period to give the No. 2 Oil Kings a 4-3 victory over the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice. . . . The Oil Kings, who held a Edmonton55-21 edge in shots, have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven conference final. . . . They’ll play Games 4 and 5 in Edmonton on Wednesday and Friday. Because of the distance between the cities, this series is following a 2-3-2 format. . . . This was the second game in the series to be decided in OT; the Oil Kings won Game 1, 5-4, in Winnipeg on Friday. F Tyler Horstmann scored the winner at 1:07 of the first OT period. . . . Last night, the teams were tied 1-1 after the first period for the third time in as many games. . . . The home side went ahead 1-0 when F Dylan Guenther (12) struck at 14:28, with F Jack Finley (7) pulling Winnipeg even, on a PP, at 18:02. . . . The Oil Kings went back in front at 2:12 of the second period when D Kaiden Guhle (4) scored. . . . The visitors scored a pair of third-period goals — by F Connor McLennon (7), at 9:00, and F Zach Benson (9), at 16:14 — to take a 3-2 lead. . . . But Edmonton F Jayden Luypen (4) tipped in a Guhle shot at 18:42 to force extra time. . . . Sourdif scored the winner off a rush through the neutral zone. He split two defencemen at the top of the circles in the Ice zone and sent in to beat G Gage Alexander at 8:04 of OT. . . . F Jake Neighbours, Edmonton’s captain, drew an assist on each of his club’s last two goals. . . . Alexander finished with 51 saves, 33 more than Edmonton’s Sebastian Cossa. . . . Winnipeg was 1-for-2 on the PP; Edmonton was 0-for-4. . . . The Oil Kings were without F Jaxsen Wiebe, who also will sit out Game 4. He was suspended for two games after being tossed from Game 2 for a headshot on Winnipeg D Max Streule, who wasn’t injured on the play. . . . Winnipeg had McClennon in the lineup, but F Matt Savoie was scratched with an undisclosed injury. Neither player finished Game 2. . . . The Ice had to scratch F Owen Pederson, who drew a one-game suspension under supplemental discipline for high-sticking D Luke Prokop. Pederson was given a double minor on the play at 17:25 of the first period.


Leaving


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.


Ken Campbell at Hockey Unfiltered wrote on Monday about the impending sale of the OHL’s Niagara Falls IceDogs to Darren DeDobbelaer and speculation that Wayne Gretzky is in for five per cent. Both men are from Brantford, Ont. . . . Campbell also had this:

“DeDobbelaer also declined to comment on the purchase price, which is believed to be $18 million, which is actually 10 percent less than the $20 million owners Bill and Denise Burke were seeking for the franchise. And that makes sense, since the league had suspended GM Joey Burke and coach Billy Burke, the sons of the owners, until at least 2024 for violating the league’s harassment, abuse and diversity policy. And while the Burkes were not forced to sell, they were definitely a motivated seller, which served to bring the price down.

“(And, once again, the next time you hear these junior hockey owners complain that they have to pay their players poverty wages in order to keep the lights on — and the government of the day agrees with them by allowing them to skirt minimum-wage laws — remember that they do just fine. When their teams are competitive and enjoy long playoff runs, they make plenty of money. And as the Burkes did, they always, always cash out when they sell.)”

If you aren’t already, you should consider subscribing to Hockey Unfiltered.


Gas


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

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Zombie

Gustafson free to return to WHL . . . Memorial Cup host replaces head coach . . . Remembering Bill Hunter, the coach


The NHL’s Vancouver Canucks announced on Sunday that two of their assistant coaches — Scott Walker and Kyle Gustafson — won’t be returning to head coach Bruce Boudreau’s staff.

The move clears the way for the anticipated move of Gustafson to the WHL’s SpokaneSpokane Chiefs as head coach.

Gustafson had spent 18 seasons on the Portland Winterhawks’ coaching staff before joining the Canucks. Travis Green was Vancouver’s head coach at the time; he and Gustafson had worked together in Portland for five seasons (2008-13).

However, Green was fired on Dec. 6 and replaced by Boudreau, who has one year left on his contract and is shaping his own coaching staff.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, hired Matt Bardsley as their general manager on May 3. Bardsley is quite familiar with Gustafson, having spent 18 seasons with the Winterhawks himself, before joining the Kamloops Blazers as general manager prior to the 2017-18 season. He left after the 2020-21 season, citing a desire to be closer to family during the pandemic, and had been scouting for the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers when the Chiefs came calling following Scott Carter’s decision to leave.

While Bardsey was in Kamloops, he attempted to hire Gustafson as head coach prior to the 2018-19 season. Taking Note has reported that Bardsley offered Gustafson a four-year contract. However, the job ended up going to Serge Lajoie, who was gone after one season.

The Chiefs have been in the market for a head coach since firing Adam Maglio on Feb. 10. Associate coach Ryan Smith finished the season as interim head coach. The Chiefs tied for sixth in the Western Conference, ended up seventh after tiebreakers, and were swept from the first round by Kamloops.


The QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, who will be the host team for next month’s SJSeaDogsMemorial Cup tournament, fired head coach Gordie Dwyer on Sunday.

Yes, they did. Seriously.

Why?

Well, as Sunaya Sapurji, now with The Athletic, loves to say: “Because it’s the Q.”

And because it’s the Q, Gardiner MacDougall, who last coached a junior hockey team in 1998-99, will guide the Sea Dogs through the Memorial Cup. The plan is for him to then return to his full-time post as head coach of the U of New Brunswick Reds men’s team that plays out of Fredericton, which is about an hour northwest of Saint John. MacDougall has been the Reds’ head coach for 22 seasons, winning seven national championships.

The Sea Dogs also are bringing in Rocky Thompson as an advisor. A former WHL player and coach, Thompson spent two seasons (2015-17) as head coach of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires. They won the 2017 Memorial Cup as the host team after being bounced in the first round of the OHL playoffs.

The Sea Dogs were 47-14-4 in the regular season, good for third place in the Eastern Conference, scoring a QMJHL-leading 311 goals along the way. They lost a best-of-five first-round series to the Rimouski Oceanic.

The Sea Dogs held a 2-1 lead in that series before losing 1-0 in Game 4 — they outshot the Oceanic, 40-14 — and 4-3 in OT in Game 5.

Dwyer had been the Sea Dogs’ head coach since Aug. 4. Before signing with the Sea Dogs he had spent five seasons in Europe, coaching in the Swiss A League and the KHL.

The Sea Dogs are owned by Scott McCain, the chairman of McCain Foods.


This isn’t the first time that a major junior hockey team has fired its head coach before it was to play in the Memorial Cup tournament as the host club. In 2000, the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads dumped Bob Mongrain, replacing him with assistant coach Shawn MacKenzie.

Halifax had gone 41-20-6-5 (wins-losses-ties-OTL) in the regular season to place second, three points behind the Moncton Wildcats in the Maritimes Division. Halifax then was swept by the Rimouski Oceanic in the second round.

The Mooseheads went on to lose, 6-3, to the OHL’s Barrie Colts in the Memorial Cup semifinal. Rimouski beat Barrie, 6-2, in the final.

The WHL’s Kootenay Ice went 0-3 in the Halifax event, the first time the Memorial Cup was held in the Maritimes.


Fishing


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.


While ‘Wild’ Bill Hunter never replaced an Edmonton Oil Kings’ head coach that close to a Memorial Cup, the team’s owner and general manager was known to Edmontonstep behind the bench late in a season.

Like in 1970-71, after the Oil Kings, under head coach Harvey Roy, had gone 45-20-1 to finish atop what was then a 10-team Western Canada Hockey League.

In the first round of playoffs, the Oil Kings took out the Saskatoon Blades in five games. But when Edmonton fell behind 2-0 to the Calgary Centennials, Roy apparently asked out and Hunter took over.

Wayne Overland of the Edmonton Journal wrote in the April 10, 1971 edition: “Just as the swallows come back to Capistrano every spring, so Bill Hunter must return to the Oil Kings players’ box.

“It took a little longer this spring. But it finally happened and, as a result, Oil Kings are back in contention in their junior hockey playoff series with Calgary Centennials.”

With Hunter on the bench and Roy in the press box, the Oil Kings won 3-2 to cut Calgary’s lead in the series to 2-1.

“I felt we had about five players who weren’t performing and the best way to get it out of them was to have Bill motivate them,” Roy told Overland. “After all, he is the big boss.”

Hunter insisted the move was temporary — yeah, right! — as he said: “We’ve had some players who were taking advantage of Harvey and myself. Some of them don’t know what it is to work hart yet. I’m 50 years old and doing more yelling out there than some of those 18-year-olds. You’ve got to play this game with enthusiasm.”

The enthusiastic Oil Kings ended up winning four in a row to eliminate the Centennials, 4-2. Hunter rolled the dice in Game 6, starting Larry Hendrick, then 15, in goal, and he responded with 25 saves in a 2-1 victory in Calgary.

(BTW, tickets to the games in Edmonton could be had for $2.25 and $2.50, with student ducats $1.50 each and children’s $1.)

In the league final, the Oil Kings took out the Flin Flon Bombers in six games — Edmonton won four, lost one and there was one tie.

The Oil Kings went on to lose the Memorial Cup to the host Quebec Remparts, whose lineup included Guy Lafleur. It was a best-of-three final, with the Remparts winning, 5-1 — Lafleur had four points — and 5-2.

That was the end of Hunter’s junior hockey coaching days.

Earlier, he had taken over late in seasons for Bill Gadsby and Gerry Melnyk.

In 1967-68, after a 38-16-6 regular season, Hunter waited until two games into the playoffs before replacing Gadsby. Hunter steered the Oil Kings past Saskatoon (3-2-2) before losing to Flin Flon (4-1-1).

Two seasons later, Hunter replaced Melnyk with eight games remaining in a 35-25-0 regular season. The Oil Kings went 5-3-0 under Hunter to end that regular season, before going 8-8-2 in the playoffs. They took out the Swift Current Broncos, 4-1-0, and eliminated Calgary, 4-3-2, before being swept by Flin Flon in the championship final.


“I can’t be the only person out there who couldn’t really care less whether Don Cherry and Ron MacLean patch up their fractured relationship, can I?” writes Ken Campbell at Hockey Unfiltered. . . . No, Ken, you aren’t.



Fridge


Steve Kerr, the head coach of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, missed the last three games of his club’s playoff victory over the Memphis Grizzlies after COVIDtesting positive for COVID-19.

“It was a huge wakeup call,” he told columnist Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle. “There’s clearly a surge.”

Killion added: “The world wants to act like the pandemic has ended, but you know it hasn’t. Like clockwork, mask mandates are lifted, protocols are eased and another surge is upon us. You probably know a handful of people right now who are infected and — hopefully — isolating. If they’re vaccinated and boosted, they’re not likely to get very ill.”

The Warriors also had Rick Celebrini, their director of sports medicine, and head performance coach Carl Bergstrom test positive. Now the focus is on making sure it doesn’t spread to players.

“We’ve reinstituted all our COVID policies,” Kerr told Killion. “Internally, coaches are wearing masks. No visitors to practice. The front office is staying upstairs and not coming downstairs unless necessary. And we’ve asked everybody, don’t go out to dinner. Order in. We’re trying to do everything possible.”



Headline at fark.com — Nike to Kyrie Irving: Just do it . . . with another shoe company.


Zoom


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

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Sleeping

WHL’s conference finals all even . . . Milne, Alexander lead Ice to win . . . Roulette, Milic spark Thunderbirds

Tyson


Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was in Kamloops for Game 1 of the Western Conference final between the Blazers and Seattle Thunderbirds on Friday night.

WHLplayoffs2022Matt O’Dette, the head coach of the Thunderbirds, wasn’t there, though. It seems an undisclosed illness — sorry, no idea whether it’s an upper-body or lower-body illness — kept him at home in Kent, Wash.

And, furthermore, it seems that no one wanted to talk about it.

Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week visited the Seattle dressing room after the game and met up with assistant coach Kyle Hagel. Here’s what Hastings wrote:

“He’s just not here,” Seattle assistant coach Kyle Hagel told KTW.

Why is he not here?

“He’s just not here,” Hagel said.

Is it health related?

“He’s just not here,” parroted the T-Birds’ assistant coach.

Hastings added: “Hagel does not expect O’Dette to return for Game 2 . . .”

O’Dette wasn’t there for Game 2 on Saturday night, a game the Thunderbirds won, 4-1, to tie the Western Conference final, 1-1.

The question now becomes: Will O’Dette be back behind the Seattle bench for Game 3 in Kent, Wash., on Tuesday night?

Of course, there also are all kinds of questions concerning O’Dette’s health.  Thom Beuning, the Thunderbirds’ veteran play-by-play man, said in the third period of Friday’s broadcast that O’Dette was out because of “illness” and that he had stayed home as a precautionary measure.

You are free to wonder if O’Dette has the flu or whether his “illness” is related to COVID-19. He didn’t respond to a text on Saturday night asking if he could provide clarification about his health and/or his status for Game 3.


SATURDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference

In Winnipeg, the No. 1 Ice scored the game’s last four goals, all in the third WinnipegIceperiod, as it beat the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings, 5-1, to even the best-of-seven final, 1-1. . . . This was Edmonton’s first loss after nine straight playoff victories. . . . The Oil Kings had won, 5-4 in OT, on Friday night. . . . The next three games are scheduled to be played in Edmonton — Monday, Wednesday and Friday. . . . F Mikey Milne, who finished with three goals, got the scoring started, giving the Ice a 1-0 lead at 10:08 of the first period. . . . The Oil Kings pulled even at 18:45 when D Logan Dowhaniuk (2) scored, on a PP, at 18:45. . . . After a scoreless second period, Edmonton F Jaxsen Wiebe took a headshot major and game misconduct two minutes into the third. The Ice promptly took control with a pair of PP goals. . . . F Owen Peterson (7) struck at 3:15 and Milne made it 3-1 at 6:20. . . . Milne completed his hat trick with an empty-netter at 18:24. That was his 13th goal of these playoffs. . . . D Max Streule (1), who had been the victim of Wiebe’s high hit, completed the scoring at 19:17. . . . Winnipeg was 2-for-5 on the PP; Edmonton was 1-for-4. . . . Chances are Wiebe won’t be around for the next game or two as he almost certainly will be hearing from the WHL’s Dept. of Discipline. . . . The Ice got a big game from G Gage Alexander, who finished with 35 stops. Alexander started a game for the first time since March 5. He had come into Game 1 in relief of Daniel Hauser and stopped 18 of 19 shots. . . . G Sebastian Cossa turned aside 18 shots for the Oil Kings. . . . As per the tweets from Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press, Ice forwards Matt Savoie and Connor McClennon didn’t finish the game. Both will be evaluated Sunday before the teams heads for Edmonton. Savoie was the Ice’s leading regular-season scorer, with 90 points, while McClennon was tied for second, with 81. McClennon had a team-high 43 goals.

——

Western Conference

In Kamloops, F Conner Roulette broke a 1-1 tie early in the second period and Seattlethe Seattle Thunderbirds went on to a 4-1 victory over the Blazers, evening the best-of-seven conference final, 1-1. . . . Kamloops had put up a 5-2 victory on Friday night. . . . The series now shifts to Kent, Wash., for games on Tuesday and Wednesday, with Game 5 scheduled for Kamloops on Friday. . . . Last night, the Thunderbirds scored the game’s last four goals after F Logan Stankoven gave the Blazers a 1-0 lead with his WHL-leading 14th goal at 1:39 of the first period. . . . F Lucas Ciona (7) shot Seattle into a tie at 6:39. . . . Roulette (2) gave the visitors the lead at 5:32 of the second period. . . . F Sam Oremba (2) added some insurance at 5:25 of the third period, and F Reid Schaefer (6) iced it with the empty-netter at 17:55. . . . Seattle G Thomas Milic was the game’s first start, with 40 saves. He beat Stankoven on a late second-period breakaway with Seattle leading 2-1, then made a wonderful come-across stop on Kamloops D Viktor Persson off a Stankoven pass. In the third period, Milic stopped F Luke Toporowski on a breakaway immediately after the Thunderbirds had gone ahead 3-1. . . . The Blazers got 23 saves from G Dylan Garand. . . . The Thunderbirds were without F Henrik Rybinski, who apparently suffered an undisclosed injury in Game 1 of the series. He has 13 points, including 10 assists, in 13 playoff games. . . . Seattle also was again without head coach Matt O’Dette, who stayed home with an apparent illness. In his absence, assistant coaches Kyle Hagel and Matt Marquardt ran things for a second straight game.



JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning has signed F Jaydon Dureau of the Portland Winterhawks to a three-year entry-level contract. Dureau, who turned 21 on Jan. 20, was a fifth-round pick by the Lightning in the NHL’s 2020 draft. From White City, Sask., Dureau had 66 points, including 24 goals, in 49 regular-season games with the Winterhawks this season.


Decaf


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.

——

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

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Salad

Seattle head coach missing as WHL series opens . . . Stankoven leads way for Blazers . . . Oil Kings cool off Ice in OT

The last four teams standing in the WHL playoffs were in action Friday night as the two best-of-seven conference finals got started with the Edmonton Oil WHLplayoffs2022Kings in Winnipeg to play the Ice, and the Seattle Thunderbirds facing the Blazers in Kamloops. . . . There was intrigue in Kamloops, too, where Jon Keen, the radio voice of the Blazers, tweeted early in the first period: “Maybe I missed it . . . but no Matt O’Dette on the T-Birds bench for Game 1.” O’Dette is the Thunderbirds’ head coach and, although he wasn’t listed as a scratch before the game, he wasn’t working the Seattle bench. . . . So where was he? . . . It turns out that he isn’t even in Kamloops. . . . Thom Beuning, the Seattle play-by-play man, said that O’Dette was missing because of “illness” and “due to an abundance of caution he stayed back in Kent.” . . . O’Dette won’t be there for tonight’s second game, either, but the team is hoping he will be on the bench for Game 3 in Kent, Wash., on Tuesday night.

——

Eastern Conference

In Winnipeg, F Tyler Horstmann scored in OT to give the No. 2 Edmonton Oil EdmontonKings a 5-4 victory over the No. 1 Ice. . . . They’ll play the second game tonight in Winnipeg. . . . After the Ice overcame a 4-1 third-period deficit with three goals in a span of 4:36, Horstmann won it with his second playoff goal at 1:07. Horstmann took advantage of a puck-handling error by Ice G Gage Alexander that left the shooter looking at an empty net. . . . Horstmann had three goals in 27 regular-season games, none of them game-winners. In fact, this was his second winner in 92 WHL games, 85 of them regular-season assignments. He has two goals and two assists in seven games in these playoffs. . . . His OT goal improved Edmonton’s record this spring to 9-0. . . . F Mikey Milne (10) got things started at 8:34 of the first period, giving the Ice a 1-0 lead. . . . F Dylan Guenther (10) got Edmonton even at 13:08 as he ran his goal-scoring streak to nine games. Yes, he has scored at least once in each of the Oil Kings’ playoff games this spring. . . . The Oil Kings then got two second-period goals via special teams, with D Simon Kubicek (2) scoring shorthanded, at 0:47, and Guenther (11), who also had an assist, sniped on the PP, at 7:02. . . . Just 28 seconds later, F Logan Dowhaniuk scored his first playoff goal to make it 4-1. . . . D Benjamin Zloty got the Winnipeg comeback going with two third-period goals, the first, on a PP, at 6:48, and the second at 9:20. Those were his first two playoff goals, to go with 11 assists. . . . F Owen Pederson (6) got the Ice into a 4-4 tie, on a PP, at 11:24. . . . G Sebastian Cossa stopped 22 shots for Edmonton. . . . Winnipeg starter Daniel Hauser was beaten four times on 21 shots. Alexander relieved him at 7:30 of the second period and stopped 18 of the 19 shots he faced. . . . Alexander appeared in a game for the first time since suffering an undisclosed injury on March 5. . . . Winnipeg was 2-for-6 on the PP; Edmonton was 1-for-4. . . .
——

Western Conference

KamloopsIn Kamloops, F Logan Stankoven, the WHL’s leading goal scorer in these playoffs, struck three times to lead the No. 2 Blazers to a 5-2 victory over the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . The two teams will meet again tonight in Kamloops. . . . F Matthew Seminoff (4) gave the Blazers a 1-0 lead at 8:06 of the first period, only to have F Kevin Korchinski (4) get Seattle even at 10:53. . . . Seminoff (5) added a second goal at 17:55, and F Logan Stankoven (11) upped the lead to 3-1 at 18:48. . . . Stankoven (12) scored again just 57 seconds into the third period with the Blazers holding a 5-on-3 advantage. . . . Seattle got to within two, at 4-2, when F Jared Davidson (7) got a PP goal at 17:47. . . . Stankoven, who was stymied by G Thomas Milic’s right pad on a breakaway earlier in the third, completed his hat trick with his 13th goal, into an empty net, at 18:39. . . . Stankoven leads all playoff scorers in goals and points (24). . . . F Luke Toporowski had three assists for the Blazers. . . . Seattle held a 38-27 edge in shots, including 16-7 in the third period. . . . G Dylan Garand turned aside 36 shots for Kamloops, 14 more than Milic. . . . The Thunderbirds were missing head coach Matt O’Dette, who stayed in Kent, Wash., with an illness. In his absence, assistant coaches Kyle Hagel and Matt Marquardt handled the bench.

——

Jake Caughill, whose duties at the rink in Kamloops have included operating the Zamboni at Blazers games, revealed Friday on Twitter that tonight will be his last time handling that responsibility. “I’ve done over 400 games over the last 14 years,” he tweeted. “It will be a sad day for me . . . as I love driving the games. So please come to the glass and give me a wave.” There was nothing like being the press box in an empty arena after a game, just finishing up writing, and listening to Caughill break into song while resurfacing the ice. He could sing, too! . . . Caughill isn’t going anywhere; his role at the arena is changing.


Wings


The NHL’s Dallas Stars, who are owned by Kamloops Blazers majority owner nhl2Tom Gaglardi, cleaned out part of their coaching staff on Friday. Head coach Rick Bowness is out, along with assistant coaches Derek Laxdal and Todd Nelson, both of whom had ties to the WHL. . . . Laxdal, a former WHL player and coach, had been with the Dallas organization since July 3, 2014, when he signed on as head coach of the AHL’s Texas Stars. He had been an assistant coach with Dallas since the middle of the 2019-20 season. . . . Laxdal, 56, played for the Portland Winterhawks, Brandon Wheat Kings and New Westminster Bruins (1982-86) and was the Edmonton Oil Kings’ head coach for four seasons (2010-14). . . . Nelson, 53, just finished his fourth season on the Stars’ staff. Prior to that, he was the head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Detroit Red Wings’ AHL affiliate, for three seasons. . . . Nelson played four seasons (1986-90) with his hometown Prince Albert Raiders.


COVIDFrom si.com: “The Cincinnati Reds placed four players — infielder Brandon Drury, starting pitcher Tyler Mahle, outfielder Albert Almora, and reliever Joel Kuhnel — on the restricted list Friday, indicating they are unvaccinated, ahead of the club’s series versus the host Toronto Blue Jays.” . . . At the same time, the Reds activated first baseman Joey Votto off the COVID-19 list. . . .

From The New York Times: Broadway theaters will continue to require ticketholders to wear masks at least through June 30, industry leaders said Friday. The Broadway League, a trade association representing theater owners and producers, said the owners and operators of all 41 theaters had agreed to the extension of the mask policy. The decision comes at a time when New York City has declared a “high Covid alert.”


Reading


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The junior B Columbia Valley Rockies of the Kootenay  International Junior Hockey League are looking for a general manager and head coach after Briar McNaney “accepted a position at the junior A level,” according to a news release. McNaney had been with the Rockies since April 2020. This season, the Rockies, who play out of Invermere, B.C., went 30-9-2-1 before losing out in a second-round playoff series. . . .

The AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder added Sean Brown and Jeff Shantz to their front office on Friday. What will their roles be? From a Thunder news release: “Sean Brown and Jeff Shantz have been hired as the club’s new coaches and general managers, effective immediately. Sean and Jeff will share these roles, with Jeff serving as head coach.” . . . Brown, 46, was an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oil Kings for two seasons (2012-14). . . . Shantz, 48, played three seasons (1990-93) with the Regina Pats before going on to a pro career that included 642 NHL regular-season games. He has been coaching a U15 team at the Edge School in Calgary since 2017. . . .  With the Thunder, they replace Eric Thurston, who had been the GM and head coach for the past four seasons. . . .

The MJHL’s Winnipeg Freeze has signed Jay Pylypuik as its general manager and head coach. He spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the U of Calgary Dinos men’s hockey team. . . . The Freeze had announced on April 25 that Taurean White wouldn’t be returning. He had been with the team since Dec. 2. . . . The Freeze is owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment, which also owns the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice.


Turn


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.

——

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

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Celery

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