Scattershooting on a Saturday night while the hockey world mourns . . .

Scattershooting2

Matt Swaby, who spent four seasons playing in the WHL, was killed in what family members say was a farming accident on Friday. . . . Swaby, 34, was a native of Prince Albert. . . . A defenceman, he spent three seasons (2004-07) with the Tri-City Americans and one (2007-08) with the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The Oil Kings were an expansion team that season and management chose to acquire Swaby to serve as their captain in what was his 20-year-old season. . . . AJ Jakubec, who was the Oil Kings’ play-by-play voice back then, tweeted: “Heartbreaking. The perfect captain for an expansion team. Humble, hard-working guy with a great sense of humour. Loved this guy.” . . . Swaby went on to play three seasons with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies. . . . He is survived by his wife Carla and their three boys — Thomas, 6; Blake, 4 and Kody, 2.


THE COACHING GAME:

Shaun Clouston moved into the Top 10 on Saturday night. Clouston, the general manager and head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, posted his 467th regular-Kamloopsseason coaching victory and that moved him into 10th place on the WHL’s all-time list. He did in style, too, as the Blazers (17-2-0) won, 3-2, in Everett, handing the Silvertips (16-1-2) their first regulation-time loss of the season. Kamloops G Dylan Garand (14-2-2, 1.76, .935) came up with 41 stops. . . . Everett actually has lost two in a row now, having dropped a 4-3 OT decision to the host Victoria Royals on Friday. . . . Clouston’s 467th victory moved him past Peter Anholt and Jack Shupe and into sole possession of 10th spot on the all-time list that is led by Don Day (750). . . . Clouston has 76 victories with the Blazers after putting up 375 with the Medicine Hat Tigers and 16 with the Tri-City Americans. He won’t be moving up the ladder again anytime soon because the next man on the list, Pat Ginnell, is at 518. . . . BTW, the Blazers went 4-0-0 on a swing into the U.S. Division, winning twice in Kent, Wash., and beating the Winterhawks, 4-3, in Portland on Friday night. . . .

Marc Habscheid, the winningest active head coach in the WHL these days, put up No. 561 on Saturday night, his Prince Albert Raiders beating the Wheat RaidersKings, 2-1, in Brandon. It would seem that he didn’t get fined — at least, there isn’t anything noted on the WHL’s discipline page — after getting tossed for whispering Christmas greetings to the on-ice officials prior to the start of the third period of a 4-1 loss to the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors on Wednesday. . . . BTW, after D Kaiden Guhle scored twice in the Raiders’ 2-1 victory over the host Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday night, Habscheid told Jason Kerr of the Prince Albert Daily Herald that Guhle “might be, for his age, the best player in the world. He’s just a special player.” Guhle, 19, was selected by the Montreal Canadiens with the 16th pick of the NHL’s 2020 draft. He has signed his first NHL contract.


Tacos


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “A pro golfer can still make a decent buck, if he’s willing to travel. While Phil Mickelson pocketed $2.16 million for winning the PGA Championship and Jon Rahm $2.25 mil for winning the U.S. Open, Collin Morikawa just cashed a check for $2.97 million for winning some tourney in Dubai. Now you know why gas prices are so high.”


Headline at The Onion (@TheOnion): World Chess Championship Forced To Use Salt Shaker After Losing Bishop



Ken Campbell, at Hockey Unfiltered (and he is correct): “Love the New Jersey Devils third sweater. Love it. And even though it has ‘Jersey’ emblazoned across the front, it’s a sweater, not a jersey. Always has been, always will be.”


With eight players on the COVID-19 protocol list, the NHL finally stepped in and nhl2halted the New York Islanders’ season, at least for now. The Isles were to have played the New York Rangers today and then visited the Flyers in Philadelphia on Tuesday. Those games have been postponed. The Islanders next are scheduled to play on Thursday against the visiting San Jose Sharks. . . . The final straw for the NHL came Saturday when F Casey Cizikas went on the list. He became player No. 8, joining F Josh Bailey, F Kieffer Bellows, D Zdeno Chara, D Andy Greene, F Ross Johnston, F Anders Lee and D Adam Pelech. . . . Earlier, the Ottawa Senators had three games postponed as they went through a stretch in which 10 players and a coach were impacted. The Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins also have been down this road, but their schedules were left intact.


JUST NOTES: If you’ve been watching NHL games of late, I think you will agree that the crackdown on cross-checking has come to an end. . . . We shouldn’t expect anything different from a league in which one player (F Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers) gets fined $5,000 for throwing a glove at another player (super-pest Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins). As Larry Brooks of the New York Post points out that’s the same amount that “Tom Wilson was (fined) for punching Pavel Buchnevich in the head while he was laying face down on the ice.” . . .

The Thursday afternoon NFL game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the host Dallas Cowboys drew 38.531 million viewers to CBS (TV and streaming), the highest total for a regular-season game since 1990. Just in case you were wondering why neither the NBA nor the NHL played any games on what was American Thanksgiving. . . .

You may have heard that the City of St. Louis will get US$790 million from the NFL and Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke to settle a lawsuit stemming from the team’s departure  in 2016. If you were wondering about how much the lawyers get, well, according to the aforementioned Scott Ostler, it seems the firm that represented St. Louis gets a cool 35 per cent, or $276 million.


Mom


The two Canadian sports networks — TSN and Rogers Sportsnet — are so large that I have 14 of their channels available in my home. On Saturday afternoon, TSN’s six channels featured Canadian Olympic curling trials (2), Spanish Primera Division soccer (2), U.S. college football (Penn State at Michigan State) and an AHL game between the Cleveland Monsters and Toronto Marlies. Meanwhile, Sportsnet was showing Bundesliga on five channels, poker on two and rasslin’ on another. . . . You know what they weren’t showing? Canadian university football. . . . Look, they can be excused for not showing the eastern semifinal because USports has a problem that it chooses not to address. The AUS entry gets an automatic semifinal berth and often gets routed, which is what happened to the St. Francis Xavier X-Men on Saturday when they went to London, Ont., and got whipped, 61-6, by the host Mustangs in the Mitchell Bowl. It was 51-3 at the half. . . . Later, in the game that should have been televised nationally, the Saskatchewan Huskies took the lead for the first time with five seconds left in the fourth quarter and beat the host Montreal Carabins, 14-10, to claim the Uteck Bowl. . . . The Huskies will face Western in the Vanier Cup in Quebec City on Dec. 4. . . . The Vanier Cup will be televised . . . by CBC.



Does Wilt Chamberlain get the credit he’s due for being a great, great NBA player? Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors enjoyed his 220th career 30-point game on Friday night, in a 118-103 victory over the visiting Portland Trail Blazers. That is third on the Warriors’ all-time list. Next up is Rick Barry at 223. Chamberlain is No. 1, at 369. Yes, as prolific a scorer as Curry is, he still is 149 behind Chamberlain.


Hey, Luke, well done! Have to admit I had a lump in my throat and it wasn’t a sugar cube.


Fantasy


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders announced Thursday that Adam Manah, their general manager and head coach, had “departed his position . . . effective immediately.” Adam Sergerie has taken over as the GM, with Jeff Woywitka now the head coach. Manah had been with the Crusaders since signing on as associate coach in 2015. He took over as head coach in 2016. The Crusaders were 9-15-1 — they had lost four in a row — at the time of the announcement, good for seventh place in the eight-team Viterra AJHL North.


Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “Amari Cooper is just the latest chowderhead in sports to help cost his team a game by being unvaccinated. While being paid $21 million a year by Jerry Jones. What a guy. Cooper, that is.”

——

Lupica, again: “You know who’s going to end up with settlement money from the NFL one of these days? Jon Gruden. They’re either going to have to pay him, or they’re going to have to release all of the emails relating to the Washington Football Team.”


Lumber


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.


Airbags

Smoke too much for Lions . . . Twins hit seven homers and lose . . . KHL’s 2021-22 season has started

Having lived just east of Kamloops — in Campbell Creek — since the spring of 2000, we have lived through smoky skies in past years. But we haven’t lived through anything like we are seeing these days, and there isn’t an end in sight.

How bad is it?

Where we live, visibility has been down to about one km for two or three days now. We have air-conditioning, thankfully, but it brings some smoke into the house, and our air-purifier has been working overtime. It signals air quality with a light that is blue (for clean), purple or red. We are seeing red rather frequently these days.

One map I saw on Tuesday showed eight fires burning within 20 or 30 km of Kamloops. The one that is sending so much of this smoke in the direction of Campbell Creek is the White Rock Lake fire, which is burning to the south of here. As of Wednesday evening, it was believed to be somewhere around 20,000 hectares in size (that’s 49,422 acres). It has shown extreme behaviour, preventing firefighters from really getting at it, and heavy smoke has prevented accurate mapping and a sustained air attack. As well, the plus-30 C temperatures and winds aren’t helping.

Meanwhile, the CFL’s B.C. Lions have been training in Kamloops, but they cut their stay short and headed for Surrey on Wednesday.

Here’s J.J. Adams in the Vancouver Province:

“The CFL team has cut short its training camp in Kamloops after cancelling practice for the second straight day because of air quality concerns. There are four separate large fires burning near the Interior city, blanketing the area with a layer of smoke that’s made it impossible to practise.”

The Lions open the season against the host Saskatchewan Roughriders on Aug. 6. The Roughriders are welcoming all fans, including the unvaccinated, to that game.


A couple of headlines, both from Wednesday:

CBC News — COVID-19 spreading faster in Alberta than during peak of 3rd wave.

CBC News — Alberta to remove most COVID-19 isolation, testing requirements by mid-August.



QB Lamar Jackson of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday before the team’s first practice session of training camp. . . . From Jason La Confora of CBS Sports: “Jackson . . . has declined to offer his vaccination status in the past, but (head coach John) Harbaugh indicated he has taken multiple tests in the past week — many of them negative — which, given the NFL’s testing protocols, is indicative of a player who has not been vaccinated. Those players, when testing positive, are precluded from practicing for 10 days, which takes Baltimore up to the week of its first preseason game, Aug. 14 against New Orleans.” . . . Jackson also missed time last season after a positive test. At that time, he struggled with some of the symptoms.


Taco


ICYMI, Geoff Molson, the Montreal Canadiens’ owner, president and CEO, threw some gasoline on the blaze that was started when his team made F Logan Mailloux its first-round selection in the NHL draft on Friday.

Molson released an open letter that was posted on the team’s website, then held Canadiensa Zoom call for invited media members. Interestingly, the English-speaking Montreal Gazette was among those outlets not invited to participate.

“I understand that you expect more from us and we let you down,” Molson wrote. “The Montreal Canadiens are more than a hockey team. Logan’s actions do not reflect the values of our organization and I apologize for the pain this selection has caused.”

Except that the Canadiens made this kid their first-round selection after he tried to withdraw his name from the draft after being charged with invasion of privacy and defamation in a sex-related case in Sweden and paying a fine of about $1,700.

Molson chose to make his statement and hold the Zoom call as NHL teams were handing out bushels of cash to free-agent players. You don’t suppose that the Canadiens picked Wednesday afternoon knowing (hoping?) that their effort would got lost in all the transactions, do you? You know, like governments so often dump the bad news on us late on Friday afternoons?

Anyway . . . Molson needs to realize that despite what he says publicly this is what the Canadiens now stand for, and this does reflect the values of his organization.

Ken Campbell of Hockey Unfiltered says that it’s time for the Canadiens to stop with the lip service and for them to renounce the pick. That piece is right here.


Fishing


The Minnesota Twins are having an abysmal season. How abysmal, you ask? . . . On Wednesday, the Twins entertained the Detroit Tigers. The Twins hit seven home runs; the Tigers didn’t hit any. . . . The Twins lost, 17-14. . . . That is the first time in MLB history that one team has outhomered the other team by seven and lost. . . . LHP J.A. Happ started for the Twins. He didn’t give up any homers — he has allowed 21 in 98 innings — but was touched for nine earned runs on 10 hits and four walks in three innings. The Twins are paying him $8 million on a one-year contract. . . . Each of the Detroit players who went to the plate in Wednesday’s game had at least one hit, one run and one RBI. According to ESPN Stats & Info, that’s the first time that has happened since the then-California Angels did it on Sept. 14, 1978.


No one brightened up a scouts/media room at a WHL game more than Charlie Hodge. . . . And, oh boy, did he love Nanaimo bars. . . . Oh, he also could tell a story or two. . . . Yes, we miss him.


You will recall that the Washington Senators pulled SS Trea Turner during the first inning of a Tuesday night game with the Phillies in Philadelphia because of a positive test. Well, Wednesday’s game didn’t even get to the first inning. It was postponed with the Nationals now having at least 12 positive tests, four of them players. . . . The majority reportedly were fully vaccinated, with a number of them having been given the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. . . . They will try to get in a doubleheader today (Thursday). Presumably, the Nationals will be bringing in a few players.


Don’t look now but the 2021-22 hockey season hit the ice on Wednesday; at KHLleast it did in the KHL where Admiral Vladivostok scored a 4-3 shootout victory over Dinamo Minsk in an exhibition game. . . . It was return to the KHL for the winners, who sat out last season after, as Andy Potts wrote at en.khl,ru, “local authorities diverted funds away from the sport to help fight the pandemic.” . . . D Sergei Sapego, who played two seasons in the WHL, made his debut with Dinamo Minsk. Sapego started his WHL stint with three games with the Tri-City Americans to start the 2017-18 season. He finished that season by playing 41 games with the Prince Albert Raiders, whom he helped to a WHL title in the spring of 2019.


The Guardian — ‘Disinfo kills’: protesters demand Facebook act to stop vaccine falsehoods.

The Washington Post — Analysis: People are more anti-vaccine if they get their covid news from Facebook than from Fox News, data shows.


The NCAA has granted eligibility to F Austen Swankler, who had 18 goals and 27 assists in 59 games with the OHL’s Erie Otters in 2019-20, and has committed to the Bowling Green U Falcons. With the OHL not playing in 2020-21 because of the pandemic, Swankler sat out. . . . Swankler, from North Huntington, Penn., will turn 20 on Aug. 21. . . . USCHO.com reported that “according to a CCHA news release, Swankler and his family applied directly to the NCAA for eligibility prior to expressing interest to the Falcons.”


Lawsuit


The Victoria Royals have signed Austria G Sebastian Wraneschitz to a WHL Royalscontract. The Royals selected his rights in the CHL’s 2021 import draft. . . . Wraneschitz, 19, played for the Vienna Capitals in the ICE Hockey League in 2020-21. In the pro league, he was 5-7-0, 3.18, .886 in 12 games. He also played for Austria at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton, going 0-3-0, 7.45, .892 in three appearances. . . . The Royals had one import — Swiss F Keanu Derungs — on the roster that finished the 2021 development season. . . . They also have one goaltender who is eligible to return remaining on that roster — Connor Martin, who will turn 19 on Dec. 17.



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.


JUST NOTES: Ashley Chase is the new director of operations and play-by-play voice of the NAHL’s St. Cloud Norsemen. From the team’s news release: “Chase becomes the first female team play-by-play broadcaster across junior hockey in the United States, including the North American Hockey League (NAHL).”


Call

Blazers, city mourn Moores’ death . . . Rockets extend head coach . . . Silvertips grab Finn with second pick


The Kamloops Blazers and, indeed, the City of Kamloops were stunned KamloopsWednesday by the death of Don Moores, the WHL franchise’s president, chief operating officer and alternate governor. . . . Moores, 65, died at the Kamloops Golf and Country Club. He collapsed on the third hole — he had started on the back nine, so was playing his 12th hole of the day — at around noon. According to Environment Canada, the temperature in Kamloops at noon was 39.1C with a humidex of 42C. . . . Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV in Kamloops reported that Moores died of a heart attack. . . . Alec Hubert, the golf club’s general manager, told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week that he and others got to the third hole with cold water and medical equipment. “We went out there and did the best we could,” Hubert said. . . . He added that Moore had stopped at the clubhouse after nine holes and “grabbed a sandwich” and that all appeared to be fine. . . . A native of Kamloops, Moores played for the WHL’s Kamloops Chiefs (1973-76) and later was an assistant coach with the Blazers (1985-90). . . . Moores was introduced as the club president on June 30, 2016, exactly five years prior to his death. . . . As word of Moore’s death spread, the hockey world and fans flooded social media with messages of condolences for Moores’ family and for the Blazers. . . . Hastings’ complete story is right here. . . . Moores’ death leaves a huge hole atop the Blazers’ organizational tree. The team also is operating without a general manager as Matt Bardsley’s final day was Wednesday after he guided the club through the CHL’s import draft. Bardsley announced on May 25 that he was resigning after three years as GM, even though he had three years left on his contract, in order to move his wife and two children back to the U.S. to be closer to family.


The WHL’s Kelowna Rockets have signed head coach Kris Mallette to a multi-Rocketsyear contract extension. The news release announcing the signing didn’t indicate the length of the extension. . . . Mallette, 42, joined the Rockets as an assistant coach prior to the 2014-15 season. . . . He was named head coach on March 2, 2020, after a short stint as the interim head coach following the firing of Adam Foote. Because of the pandemic, Mallette has on 25 games as a head coach under his belt, going 15-7-3. . . . He is a former WHL defenceman, having played with the Rockets and Moose Jaw Warriors (1997-2000).



The Everett Silvertips were the first WHL team to make a selection in the CHL Everettimport draft on Wednesday and they took F Niko Huuhtanen of Finland second overall. Huuhtanen turned 18 on Saturday. . . . A 6-foot-1, 200-pound right winger, he played for Tappara’s U20 team in Finland last season, putting up 20 goals and 14 assists in 37 games. He also played at the IIHF U-18 World championship, scoring two goals and adding three assists in seven games. . . . Huuhtanen is eligible for the NHL’s 2021 draft. NHL Central Scouting rated him 49th among European skaters. . . . Interestingly, Huuhtanen signed a two-year contract with Tappara on May 19. That deal runs through 2022-23. Tappara plays in Liiga, the country’s top pro league. . . . In an Everett news release, Dennis Williams, the Silvertips’ interim general manager and head coach, said: “We’re excited to have him, and he’s excited to become a Silvertip.” . . . The news release didn’t mention Huuhtanen’s contractual status with Tappara. . . . You are able to find the complete import draft right here.


Parents


The NHL’s Arizona Coyotes are expected to introduce Andre Tourigny as their new head coach today (Thursday). . . . Tourigny had been the head coach and vice-president of hockey operations with the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s for the past four seasons. The move also means that Hockey Canada will have to find a new head coach for the country’s national junior team. Tourigny had been the team’s head coach for two years, including this year. He also is an assistant coach with Canada’s world championship team. . . . The Coyotes parted company with head coach Rick Tocchet after their 2020-21 season came to an end.



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.


JUST NOTES: The OHL’s Owen Sound Attack has signed Greg Walters, 50, to a two-year contract as head coach. He spent the previous two seasons as head coach of the Oshawa Generals. In Owen Sound, Walters takes over from Alan Letting, who left the team in June and later was named head coach of the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. . . . Jerry Keefe is the new head coach of the Northeastern U Huskies. Keefe had been an assistant coach with the Huskies for the past 10 seasons. He takes over from Jim Madigan, who had been the head coach since 2011-12 and recently was named the school’s athletic director.


Dog

Winterhawks land rights to high-end goaltender . . . Cougars, Broncos swap goalies . . . MJHL’s Neepawa franchise rebrands


Jesper Wallstedt of Sweden is NHL Central Scouting’s No. 1-ranked PortlandAlternateinternational goaltender going into the 2021 NHL draft. The Portland Winterhawks acquired his WHL rights on Monday, giving the Moose Jaw Warriors a sixth-round selection in the 2023 WHL draft. . . . Joshua Critzer of pnwhockeytalk.com reported that the Winterhawks also sent “several conditional selections” to the Warriors. . . . Critzer’s piece is right here. . . .

The Winterhawks have two other import players on their roster — D Jonas Brøndberg and Swiss F Simon Knak, 19. However, Brøndberg, a Dane, is 20 and the Winterhawks may not want to make room for a two-spotter — a 20-year-old import — on their roster. . . . Knak, who captained Switzerland’s team at the 2021 World junior tournament in Edmonton, began the 2020-21 season on loan to HC Davos of the Swiss National League, so might be thinking of staying home, although that may depend on whether he gets selected in the NHL’s 2021 draft, something that didn’t happen in 2020. . . . Brøndberg opened the 2020-21 season on loan to the Aalborg Pirates of Metal Ligaen, Denmark’s top league. . . .

Wallstedt, who won’t turn 19 until Nov. 14, is from Vasteras, Sweden. In 2020-21, he played in 22 regular-season games with Lulea in the SHL, Sweden’s highest pro league, putting up 11 victories and going 2.23, .908, with two shutouts. . . . The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Wallstedt also played for Sweden at the 2021 World junior championship in Edmonton. He got into two games (2.40, .923). . . The Warriors had selected him in the 2019 CHL import draft. . . . The Winterhawks have two other goaltenders on their roster — Dante Giannuzzi, the starter in 2020-21, who turns 19 on Sept. 3, and backup Brock Gould, who will turn 20 on Dec. 11. They also have signed G Lochlan Gordon, 18, who was a third-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft.


JFK


The WHL rights to two other goaltenders also were swapped on Monday, as the Prince George Cougars dealt Jacob Herman, 18, to the Swift Current Broncos for Jordan Fairlie, also 18. The deal is a homecoming of sorts for both players, both of whom actually are late-2002s. . . . Fairlie is from Fort St. John, B.C., while Herman is from Swift Current. . . . Fairlie, who will turn 19 on Nov. 5, got into one game with the Broncos in 2019-20 (0-1-0, 13.50, .700). In 2020-21, he played seven games (5-2-0, 2.16, .907) with the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings. . . . Herman will turn 19 on Oct. 23. He played two games (0-2-0, 6.00, .831) with the Cougars in 2019-20. In 2020-21, he went 1-0-1, 4.20, .874 in three appearances with the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers.


I’m a bit late with the above tweet, but if you hustle over to the Prince Albert Daily Herald’s website, who should be able to find the already-published stories in this series.


The MJHL’s Neepawa franchise, which had been known as the Natives, NeepawaTitansannounced on Monday that it has changed its nickname to Titans. . . . Ken Pearson, the Titans’ general manager and head coach, played for the Natives in the 1990s and said the previous nickname had been around since the 1960s. The franchise has been part of the MJHL since 1989. . . . In a news release, Pearson explained the new nickname: “A Titan is known as one that stands out for greatness of achievement and we feel our community is full of Titans in every facet of life. Neepawa is known as the ‘Land of Plenty’ and we feel Neepawa is a Titan in the agriculture, lumber, pork production and brewing industries. . . . The colours chosen reflect a field of canola on the horizon, the silver and black pay tribute to the classic look of junior hockey clubs of the ’90s.”


Marlin Vanrobaeys, a forward who was a key contributor to the MJHL’s Selkirk Steelers when they won the 1974 Centennial Cup, has died. He was 66. . . . Vanrobaeys, who was a fun-lover with a great sense of humour, also was known for his hair. I was with the Winnipeg Tribune and covered the Steelers when they were a dominant MJHL franchise in the mid-1970s. One spring day, Gordie Howe and the WHA’s Houston Aeros were in Winnipeg for a game with the Jets and found themselves in the Winnipeg Arena at the same time as the Steelers. Spotting Vanrobaeys, Howe took one look at him and asked: “Hey, did you get your finger stuck in a light socket?” . . . Well, Vanrobaeys and Co. thought that was just the greatest thing ever. . . . The Steelers won the national junior A championship with a 1-0 victory over the Smiths Falls Bears in the seventh game of the final. . . . In the photo in the above tweet, Vanrobaeys is in the front row, second from right, quite identifiable from the hair-do.


The BCHL announced on Monday that it plans to open its 2021-22 regular season on Oct. 8, which is about a month later than what used to be normal. . . . The league played games in a pod format in its 2020-21 season. Prior to that, it had a four-division format, something that now has been changed to two conferences, each with nine teams. . . . The Interior Conference will include the Cranbrook Bucks, an expansion franchise for 2020-21 that took part in the pod season but has yet to play a home game. . . . The 2021-22 season also calls for the return of the Wenatchee, Wash., Wild, which sat out 2020-21 because of the U.S.-Canada border being closed to non-essential travel.


Garbage


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.


JUST NOTES: William Sadonick-Carriere, the Brandon Wheat Kings’ athletic therapist for the past two seasons, is leaving to join the Manitoba Moose, the Winnipeg Jets’ AHL affiliate. He actually had been working with the Moose before joining the Wheat Kings for the 2019-20 season. . . . Former NHLer Ian Laperriere has been named head coach of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers announced last month that head coach Scott Gordon and assistant coach Kerry Huffman were out. Laperriere has been an assistant coach with the Flyers for the past eight seasons. . . . The Lake Tahoe Lakers, who are preparing for their first season in the USPHL’s Premier level, have signed Dan Bogdan as their first head coach. He was an assistant coach with the NAHL’s Maine Nordiques in 2020-21.


Princess

Lisowsky, Robins help Blades get back on track . . . Ripplinger moves up in Moose Jaw . . . Nevill, former WHL scout, dies at 81



F Brandon Lisowsky broke a 3-3 tie in the third period to help the Saskatoon BladesBlades to a 5-3 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders in Regina. . . . Lisowsky’s fifth goal of the season came  at 12:50 and F Caiden Daley (6) added the empty-netter. . . . The Raiders (4-8-2) had erased a 3-1 deficit on PP goals from F Reece Vitelli (4) at 14:23 of the second and F Dallyn Peekeekoot (2) at 16:01. . . . Peekeekoot added two assists to his goal. . . . F Tristen Robins had a goal, his eighth, and three assists for the Blades (10-2-2), who had lost three in a row (0-2-1). . . . Saskatoon is 3-0-0 against Prince Albert in the Regina hub.


The Frozen Four, which ends Saturday with the NCAA declaring a men’s hockey champion, played its semifinals on Thursday in Pittsburgh. . . . The UMass-Amherst Minutemen got past the defending-champion U of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, 3-2 in OT, in the nightcap. . . . F Garrett Wait got the winner at 14:30 of the first extra period . . . UMass had a 13-2 edge in shots in OT after being outshot 36-15 in regulation. . . . The Bulldogs were without Ryan Fanti, their sophomore starting goaltender due to COVID-19 protocols. Freshman Zach Stejskal got the start. . . . The Minutemen were without starting G Filip Lindberg, third-stringer Henry Graham and F Carson Gicewicz, their leading goal scorer. Equipment manager Zac Steigmeyer was added to the roster and backed up senior Matt Murray. . . . After Thursday’s game, UMass revealed that Lindberg, Graham and Gicewicz have cleared protocols and will rejoin the team today. If they test negative today and Saturday morning, they will be good for the final. . . .

In the first semifinal, F Nolan Walker broke a 4-4 tie with 53.2 seconds left in the third period to give the St. Cloud State Huskies a 5-4 victory over the Minnesota State Mavericks. . . . For more on the Frozen Four, visit collegehockeynews.com.


Mars


Jason Ripplinger is the new general manager of the Moose Jaw Warriors. MooseJawRipplinger, 45, joined the Warriors prior to the 2017-18 season as assistant general manager. . . . Prior to that, he spent 16 seasons with the Vancouver Giants, first as a scout and then as director of player personnel. . . . In Moose Jaw, he takes over from Alan Millar, who has left the Warriors to join Hockey Canada as director of player personnel for the Program of Excellence.


Former NHL coach Dave Allison is expected to be named general manager and head coach of the Fort Frances Lakers of the seven-team junior A Superior International Junior Hockey League. Allison, a 61-year-old native of Fort Frances, has been coaching since 1986. . . . He spent part of the 1995-96 season as head coach of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, having replaced Rick Bowness in midseason. . . . In recent years, Allison spent four seasons (2014-18) as head coach of the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers and two seasons in Europe. He started this season as head coach of DVTK Jegesmedvek in Slovakia, but was replaced in January. . . . In Fort Frances, Allison replaces Bernie Lynch, who was fired on Jan. 2 due to what the team said was “a clear breach of applicable codes of conduct.”


Bob Nevill, once a scout with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels, has died in Brandon. He was 81. . . . He was a well-known figure on Brandon’s sporting scene, having been an assistant coach with Brandon U’s basketball teams and later a basketball official. He also coached high school football in Brandon with the Crocus Plains Plainsmen. . . . Nevill’s son, Rhett, played 32 games on defence with the Rebels in 1998-99.



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

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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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


DUI

The strain of loving a critically ill child . . . Bedard scores twice in WHL debut, but Pats lose . . . BCHL prepping to play games

Ferris2
That’s Elmo from Sesame Street keeping Ferris company in her hospital bed in Vancouver. Ferris’s mother, Lindsey, says her daughter often crosses her legs in this fashion. (Photo: Lindsey Backmeyer/Facebook)

If you’re a parent with a young child, you will have known the helpless feeling that takes over when your youngster is ill. Still, you know that the illness will be gone in a day or two and your child will be back to running and playing and generally creating havoc.

But what if your child was four years of age and had been ill, seriously ill, for most of that time? What does that do to your emotional state and to that of others in your family? What about your family’s financial status when there have been numerous trips to Vancouver, along with a number of lengthy stays?

That is the situation in which Lindsey and Pat Backmeyer find themselves. Ferris, their four-year-old daughter, was diagnosed with Mainzer-Saldino Syndrome shortly after birth and has been on dialysis — peritoneal dialysis (PD) or hemo-dialysis — for most of her life. She now is in B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver after having undergone a kidney transplant a week ago. Unfortunately, the kidney began bleeding into Ferris’s abdomen and had to be removed a few hours later.

Ferris was moved from the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit on Thursday but still has a long road ahead of her.

Lindsey is a respiratory therapist at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops and hasn’t been shy about telling Ferris’s story, even if it means baring her own soul. It’s hard to read Lindsey’s writings without your gut tightening, your heart breaking and your eyes tearing up.

“We have felt an overwhelming cocoon of support by my work family . . since the beginning,” Lindsey wrote earlier this week after Alexa McMillan, a co-worker, issued a plea for financial help to the Kamloops business community. “They protect me, provide for me and my family and have provided endless emotional support.”

As someone who works in the healthcare field, Lindsey has “a pretty solid understanding of critical care medicine and the reality is Ferris has been critically ill for a huge part of her life.

“I’ve spent four years assessing her and caring for her and very few people actually know what it’s taking to keep our ship afloat. My immediate family, closest friends, home nurses and then my work people probably understand best.

“I’ve worked on the other side of what I witnessed Saturday. It was like the hardest night shift ever, where you just did all the things working on your patient for hours except I so rarely see people survive that. I’ve been scared for Ferris’s life before and every time I’ve had a work person by my side . . . through the night. Saturday night was no exception.”

Her training and understanding of all that she and her family — including daughters Tavia, 9, and Ksenia, 7 — have been through has Lindsey knowing full well what’s happening to them from an emotional standpoint, but also financially.

“I have ridiculous trauma to overcome,” Lindsey explained. “My work family would also attest that I’ve worked really hard to keep it all going. If we aren’t here or she’s not admitted, I’ve been at work. Lots of times it’s the very next day. The reality is Ferris’s life has been financially devastating and I really just want to be able to maintain the quality of life we’ve had. For my big girls and for Ferris.

“Even if we get to make our way home . . . I know now this will never be over.”

While the Backmeyers do have a home in Kamloops, they have been in a rental in Vancouver since the last week of December. Pat has been doing a lot of commuting as he attends Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, with plans to become a registered nurse.

The whole family, including Lindsey’s mother, Leslie, thought they were on their way back to Kamloops last weekend, but then the call came saying that a kidney was available and transplant surgery had been scheduled.

“Living in limbo is pretty accurate,” Lindsey wrote, “or like a marathon that you never get to finish but always have to run. Feels like we are on a runaway train. It’s bumpy and scary and makes you nauseous and every once in awhile we get allowed off and create life and memories and then the train comes and we have no choice but to get back on.

“If and when we get to go home I need to give myself a bit of time before coming back. I never have done that before. Ever.”

In her plea to local businesses, McMillan asked that they contact her or donate to a GoFundMe page that has been set up to benefit the Backmeyers. That page is right here.



The WHL’s Regina hub swung into game action with two games on Friday. The Pats dropped a 6-3 decision to the Prince Albert Raiders in the second game, with highly touted Regina F Connor Bedard, 15, scoring his first two goals at 5:01 and 5:49 of the second period. . . . In the earlier game, the Moose Jaw Warriors got past the Brandon Wheat Kings, 4-3, in OT. . . .

Meanwhile, the Portland Winterhawks announced that their final 11 home games of this developmental season will be played at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland. Their first home game, on March 21, is to be played at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash. . . .

As first reported by Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post earlier this week, Shaun and Gavin Semple of the Brandt Group of Companies now own all of the Regina Pats. They had owned 50 per cent and now have purchased the other half from Todd Lumbard and Anthony Marquart. The move was unanimously approved by the WHL’s board of governors on Friday. Shaun Semple has replaced Marquart as the franchise’s governor. Lumbard, a former goaltender with the Pats and Brandon Wheat Kings, had been the team president; he remains with the organization as an advisor.


Menu


The BCHL has received the all-clear for the return of game play from provincial government and health officials. The league plans to set up pods in five league centres — Chilliwack, Coquitlam, Penticton, Port Alberni and Vernon — with three or four teams in each place. The abbreviated season will begin the first week of April and the hope is that each team will play 18 or 20 games before it ends. . . . The Wenatchee, Wash., Wild opted out of this season because the U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential travel. That leaves the BCHL with 17 teams that could being play in April, although the league has given teams a couple of days to make that decision. . . .

Meanwhile, the AJHL had 13 of its 15 teams back playing games on Friday for the first time since Nov. 21. The final all-clear came earlier in the day when it announced that its third round of testing featured 389 players and staff, and no positives. . . . The Canmore Eagles and Lloydminster Bobcats are the only two teams not playing, both having opted out. . . . On Friday, five games were played in five different venues with all teams playing in their home arenas.


Deadspin has put together a brief slideshow that provides some first-person information on a handful of high-profile athletes who have contracted COVID-19 and their experiences. It’s right here and well worth a look.

One slide features Demi Washington, a Vanderbilt basketball player. Washington, 19, had a mild case, but wasn’t allowed to return to play until she had a cardiac MRI. That test uncovered acute myocarditis.

“It’s horrifying to think that, without that MRI, I would have gone back out there and played and something could have gone wrong,” she wrote for The Athletic. “I could have passed out on the court. I could have died. I saw what happened to Keyontae Johnson and it terrified me. After he collapsed, he was ultimately diagnosed with acute myocarditis — just like me. I wonder how many other athletes are playing with it right now and have no idea.”


Quarantine


The Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball team had its season come to an end on Thursday with the news that one player tested positive. That knocked the Blue Devils (13-11) out of the ACC tournament and may have taken away any chance they had of qualifying for March Madness. The last time Duke was in the NCAA tournament was 1995. . . . “If they do get an invitation, it will be a basketball equivalent of a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award,’ Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, wrote on Friday. “This year’s Duke squad is not nearly as powerful as the ones that fans have come to expect for most of the Mike Krzyzewski Era in Durham.” . . . On Friday came word that No. 16 Virginia had to pull out of the ACC tournament because of a positive test, thus forfeiting a semi-final game to Georgia Tech. Virginia no doubt will get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Virginia won the title in 2019; there was no tournament a year ago. . . . Also on Friday, No. 11 Kansas withdrew from the Big 12 tournament after a positive test. The Jayhawks were to play No. 13 Texas in a semifinal game, so the Longhorns now are into the final. . . . Florida International and North Carolina A&T are among smaller schools that have had to withdraw from tournaments. . . . The 2021 tournament is scheduled to begin on Friday in Indianapolis. . . . The Sports Curmudgeon has more on the tournament right here.


You will recall that Clarkson shut down its men’s hockey program for this season earlier in the week and there was speculation that the move was virus-related. College Hockey News reported via Twitter on Thursday that it “was a school decision based not on positive COVID tests — but on a party attended by most of the team that broke the school’s COVID safety protocols.”

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College Hockey News also reported that the Bentley Falcons (5-11-0) had withdrawn from the Atlantic hockey tournament. One week earlier, Holy Cross pulled out before the first round began. . . . Bentley had beaten Air Force to move into a second-round best-of-three series against American International, which now gets a bye into the semifinals. . . . From CHN: “For its part, AIC hasn’t played since January, due to its own COVID-19 issues and that of other league teams. By the team of the semifinals, the Yellowjackets will have gone almost seven weeks without a game. Bentley missed most of January with COVID issues, though played most of February.”


Once again, thanks for asking how things are going in B.C., as government and health officials work on loosening some restrictions . . .

Robyn Crawford, CKNW/Global BC — 648 new cases; no new deaths; 255 in hosp, 67 in ICU; 5,070 active; 9,155 in isolation; 79 new variant cases (total at 717).

CBC News — Alberta is reporting 425 new cases of COVID-19 and 2 additional deaths. And 365 more people have recovered from coronavirus.

CBC News — Number of new COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan climbs again with 176. That pushes the province’s 7-day average up to 134; 3 additional deaths have also been recorded.

CBC News — Manitoba announces 104 new cases of COVID-19, the 1st time the number has been above 100 since February 18. The province’s 7-day average now rises to 74. Health authorities also say there has been 1 additional death.


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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.



JUST NOTES: Former WHL F Ryan Hollweg is the new head coach of the U18 AAA Vancouver North West Hawks. Hollweg, 37, played 233 games with the Medicine Hat Tigers over five seasons (1999-2004) before going on to a pro career that included 228 NHL games. He finished up playing (2012-18) with HC Plzen in the Czech Extraliga. Hollweg was the North West Hawks’ associate coach for two seasons (2018-20) under Chris Shaw.


Wreath

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