Scattershooting on a Wednesday night while wondering if Babcock’s next stop will be Seattle . . .

Scattershooting


When Roy MacGregor writes, I read. Such was the case with the superb essayist’s piece on the Don Cherry situation. As we have come to expect from MacGregor, it is terrific. . . . At one point, he writes that Cherry was fired “for a last straw no one could fit into the overstuffed barn that holds all the previous last straws.” . . . It doesn’t get any better, and it’s right here.


ICYMI, here’s how the annual junior hugfest between CHL teams and a touring Russian side ended last Thursday in Prince Albert. The Russians won the game, but had to go to a shootout to get it done. That outcome left the series — the Russians play two games against teams from the QMJHL, OHL and WHL — all even. . . . Guess what? . . . Yes, they went to another shootout. The WHL won that one on a goal by F Nolan Foote of the Kelowna Rockets to win the series. . . . Seriously!

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BTW, the CHL’s broadcast partner, Rogers Sportsnet, put that final game on one of its channels, something called 360. When that game began, Sportsnet was showing an NHL game — New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning — on four other channels. ICYMI, the Lightning opened up a 4-0 first-period lead en route to a 9-3 victory.

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Tyler Yaremchuk was part of the TSN1260 broadcast crew in Edmonton on Friday when the Alberta Golden Bears skated to a 4-2 victory over the visiting Regina Cougars. . . . After the game, he tweeted: “50 straight wins for the Bears over Regina.” . . . Think about that for a moment or two . . . 50 in a row! Yikes!!! Now that’s a streak. . . . Dustin Nielson, the play-by-play voice on that broadcast team, tells me that the Golden Bears last lost to the Cougars in 2009. “Also haven’t lost at home to them since 1996,” he added. . . . Connor Hood, writing on the U of A’s website, pointed out that the streak “dates back to March 13, 2009, and includes 43 conference games, two playoff games and five non-conference games.” . . . On Saturday night, the Golden Bears ran that streak to 51 games with a 9-0 victory.



Running back Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants had one yard rushing on 13 carries in a recent loss to the New York Jets. . . . Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times broke that down a bit more: “To put that in perspective, that’s 2.9 per attempt — inches, not yards. Or . . . at that rate, just 117 more carries and he’d have a first down!”



By now, you may have seen video of Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers working the referees in the hopes they would give his father, Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, a technical foul on Nov. 13. Officials did just that, and then they ejected him. . . . Later, on Twitter, Austin wrote: “Welp . . . Thanksgiving is going to be weird . . .”


Hey, Kamloops, I got gas in Burnaby on Saturday night for $1.24.9. That’s only five cents more than I paid in our town on Friday night.

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On the way to the Lower Mainland on Saturday morning, I collapsed a hundred times, if not more. Actually, we ran into snow, sleet, ice pellets and rain, lots of rain. . . . So what’s with all the drivers who can’t be bothered to turn on their headlights to that their taillights are on?



Mike Babcock now has been fired by two hockey teams — the Toronto Maple Leafs and the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors. The big difference is that the Warriors didn’t owe him about $23 million when they did the deed. . . .

Jack Todd has been writing about Don Cherry for a long time. So you knew that something was coming after Rogers Sportsnet fired Cherry. Todd’s column is right here.


Bucks
Cranbrook’s Western Financial Place now is the official home of the Cranbrook Bucks, a BCHL team that will begin play next season. Their sign was installed just the other day. The Bucks put their sign directly into the frame that once held a sign indicating the facility was home to the WHL’s Kootenay Ice, a franchise that now calls Winnipeg home. (Photo: Darren Cottingham)


Patti Dawn Swansson, aka The River City Renegade, hits the nail on the head right here: “Really annoying people: The 7-Eleven Guy and Matthew McConaughey. I think a perfect commercial would be the 7-Eleven Guy spilling a strawberry Slurpee on the posh seats of McConaughey’s fancy-schmancy Lincoln.” . . . There’s more right here.



JUST NOTES: Would someone at ESPN please tell Randy Moss that he is speaking into a microphone so he doesn’t need to yell at us. Thank you. . . . Gotta think the World Curling Federation will be making a rule change in the not-too-distant future after a ruling caused Norway’s men to forfeit a game to England during the European championships in Helsingborg, Sweden on Sunday. It seems Norway subbed in a curler who didn’t use the broom of the player he was replacing. Yes, that’s against the rules. There’s more right here. . . .

Going by the part of the WHL website that lists disciplinary actions, Adam Foote, the Kelowna Rockets’ head coach, hasn’t yet been fined for not doing a post-game media interview after a 5-2 loss to the Blazers in Kamloops on Nov. 11. The WHL has a rule that states a coach must be available to media 15 minutes after a game. Conspiracy theorists, have at it. . . . The NHL announced on Tuesday that the season-ending award it gives to its top GM will be named after the late Jim Gregory. There isn’t an award named for Sam Pollock, Glen Sather or Bill Torrey, each of whom put together dominant teams. Of course, the NHL doesn’t have any individual awards named in honour of Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux, either. . . . Hey, TSN, I realize that Toronto is the centre of your universe. I get that. So when the Maple Leafs fire Mike Babcock, your world stops. Yes, I get that, too. But you’ve got five channels so why cut off PTI before the episode is over just to show what’s available elsewhere? Why not show the viewer — me — some respect?

Scattershooting on a Wednesday night while wondering from where Hogan and his Heroes got their clothes . . .

Scattershooting

Sorry for all the hockey content in this episode of Scattershooting, but, hey, stuff happens. And, no, don’t be looking for any Don Cherry content here. I don’t know about you, but I am Cherryed out. . . .



ICYMI, Don Nachbaur, a former WHL player and head coach, is back in the coaching game. He had Andrej Podkonicky, also a former WHL player, now are co-head coaches of HKM Zvolen, a Slovakian team in the Extraliga. . . . Podkonicky and Michal Kobezda had been coaching the club; Kobezda remains as an assistant coach. . . . Nachbaur, who spent seven seasons as head coach of the Spokane Chiefs after also working with the Tri-City Americans and Seattle Thunderbirds, was an assistant with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings for 2017-18, but was dismissed 13 games into last season when head coach John Stevens was fired. . . . Podkonicky played two seasons (1996-98) with the Portland Winterhawks.


If you’re a WHL fan, you should know that the 2019-20 WHL Guide is available for download at whl.ca. . . . Just go to the tab slugged The WHL and click on WHL Guide and Record Book.


SpiderMan


When the Vancouver Canucks entertained the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night, there was at least one celebrity in the stands. . . . Yes, Bill Murray had his 50/50 numbers; no, he didn’t seem to win. He also appeared to be wearing a Chicago Blackhawks sweater, which wasn’t a surprise as he is from Evanston, Ill.


Yes, Monday night’s NFL game between the visiting Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers — who, by the way, don’t play in San Francisco — was messy and sloppy and all of those things. But, hey, was it exciting, or what? . . . If you weren’t aware, the 49ers visit the Seahawks on Dec. 29. Happy New Year a few days early!


In his story after the host Kamloops Blazers beat the Kelowna Rockets, 5-2, on Monday, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week included this: “Rockets’ head coach Adam Foote refused a post-game interview request from KTW.”

Included in the WHL Guide is this, under Media Access to Players and other Team Personnel: “A member of the coaching staff of each team must be available to the media for interviews within 15 minutes following the game.”

Hmm, gotta wonder if the WHL will stick a hand into Foote’s wallet for this indiscretion?

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That loss on Monday was the Rockets’ fourth straight. The Rockets, the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament, have allowed 25 goals in those four losses. That also was Kelowna’s 10th loss in 19 games this season. As well, veteran F Kyle Topping, 20, has had surgery to repair a broken ankle suffered during a 1-0 victory over the Royals in Victoria on Oct. 30, so he won’t play for a long time.

We now are left to wait and see how much of the winery the Rockets will sell in an attempt to bolster their roster for the tournament.

The Swift Current Broncos and Regina Pats sold their farms in order to make title runs in 2017-18 when both played in the Memorial Cup tournament, the Broncos as WHL champions and the Pats as the host team.

They since have fallen on hard times. Last season, they combined for 24 victories in 136 games and neither team made the playoffs. This season, they have totalled five victories — yes, five — in 33 games and, again, aren’t likely to appear in the playoffs.

The Rockets’ management, it would seem, has some big decisions ahead of it.

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When the WHL’s board of governors awarded the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament to Kelowna, it also heard presentations from the Kamloops Blazers and Lethbridge Hurricanes. The Blazers are 13-6-0 and riding high atop the B.C. Division; the Hurricanes are 13-5-3 and second in the Central Division, one point out of first.

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This was ugly . . . big-time nasty . . . and it drew an eight-game suspension from the WHL early Wednesday evening.

(I would have started at 20 games, but then I was in the building the night that Brad Hornung was injured, so I’m a little sensitive about hits like this.)

That’s F Pavel Novak of the visiting Kelowna Rockets drilling Kamloops Blazers F Kyrell Sopotyk from behind during a Monday afternoon game. Sopotyk (shoulder) is expected to sit for up to two months.

The Blazers will open a six-game East Division trek against the Brandon Wheat Kings on Dec. 6 and Sopotyk, who is from Aberdeen, Sask., won’t make the trip.

That means he has been robbed of the opportunity to play in front of family and friends in his home province — Aberdeen is a few slapshots northeast of Saskatoon. He’s 18 so, due to the way the WHL works its schedule, will have to wait until the 2021-22 season for the next opportunity, in his 20-year-old season.

When the Blazers wrap up their East Division trip on Dec. 14, against the Prince Albert Raiders, Sopotyk will have missed 14 games.



I can’t remember anything like what is about to happen in the CFL’s West Division final in Regina on Sunday. I mean, the Saskatchewan Roughriders acquired quarterback Zach Collaros for the 2018 season, then signed him over the off-season thinking he would be their guy. But he got mugged three plays into this season and, once recovered from the concussion, was traded to the Toronto Argonauts. Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers lost their starter, Matt Nichols, and dealt for Collaros. On Sunday, then, Collaros will lead the Bombers into Regina with a berth in the Grey Cup on the line. . . . Wait, there’s more. . . . Cody Fajardo, who took over the Roughriders when Collaros was hurt, went on to have a fabulous season. But now there’s this problem with an oblique muscle, meaning Fajardo may not be able play on Sunday, which would give Isaac Harker his second career CFL start. . . . A year ago, you may recall, the Roughriders and Bombers played a West Division semifinal in Winnipeg. Collaros was concussed and wasn’t able to start for the Roughriders, who, after days of intrigue, trotted out Brandon Bridge. . . . The Blue Bombers won that one, 23-18.


Superman


In case you missed it, and I did, Team WHL played a touring Russian side in Saskatoon on Wednesday night. It was Game 5 of the annual CIBC-sponsored funfest. While the first four games — two each versus the QMJHL and OHL — got great exposure from the CHL’s broadcast partner, Rogers Sportsnet, last night’s game started on something called OLN and then was joined in progress on some Sportsnet channels. . . . I wanted to watch, but I couldn’t find OLN and, no, I don’t stream. . . . But, hey, it was the Toronto Maple Leafs at New York Islanders on five channels on my setup, with the Ottawa Senators at New Jersey Devils on another. Oh, and two channels had on something called Gotta See It, leading eventually into the Dallas Stars at Calgary Flames. . . . And by the time the WHL/Russian game was joined in progress, I had moved on to a couple of PVR’d episodes of Hogan’s Heroes. (Was a men’s wear store part of Stalag 13? If not, how is it that Hogan and Co. always seem to be wearing such well-fitting clothes?) . . . Anyway, I seem to recall a dearth of CHL playoff games on Sportsnet last spring and there was no sign of the outdoor game last month between the Calgary Hitmen and host Regina Pats. . . . Seriously, CHL, if this is the best your broadcast partner is able to do for you, it might be time to move on.

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BTW, I went to Google hoping to find out something about OLN. This is from Wikipedia: “OLN is a Canadian English-language Category A specialty channel. OLN primarily broadcasts factual-based adventure-related programming and reality television series primarily aimed at male audiences.”


You have to love the big story in Major League Baseball these days about the Houston Astros and cheating. Only in baseball is their ‘honest’ cheating — having a runner on second base stealing an opponent’s signs — and ‘dishonest’ cheating — doing it with a camera from centre field and banging a garbage can in a tunnel to let the hitter know that he’s about to see an off-speed pitch. . . . And we won’t even get into the fact that the Astros are investigating themselves on this one.


Gotta run. Time to dig into Ken Dryden’s latest work . . . Scotty: A Hockey Life Like No Other. You’re right. I couldn’t wait until Christmas.


DogVoice

Scattershooting on a Thursday evening while wondering if Regina is Queen City of Distracted Driving . . .

Scattershooting


A note from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “A pride of lions ate three poachers who broke into a South African game reserve to hunt rhinoceroses, Newsweek reported. This partial score just in: Lions 3, Raiders 0.”

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Here’s another report from Perry: “Heretofore doughy Phil Mickelson, via Twitter, after his sister posted a beach photo in which the golfer looks absolutely ripped: ‘FYI, those weird bumps on the side of my stomach we’ve never seen before, Doc called them obliques and said it’s nothing to worry about.’ ”



Las Vegas bookies have had the most early NFL action on the Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns. That resulted in this from Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe: “There’s a reason they’ve been able to afford to build all those amazing resorts.”


Department of Pet Peeves — A couple of submissions from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon: 1. “People who refer to something as ‘very unique’ or ‘rather unique.’ Unique doesn’t take modifiers easily; something is either ‘unique’ or it is not. . . . 2. Imply’ and ‘infer’ aren’t synonyms and cannot be used interchangeably.


ParallelParking


Congrats to old friend Jim Swanson and the Victoria HarbourCats, who have led baseball’s West Coast League in attendance for a sixth straight season. The HarbourCats had 27 home games in 2019, and drew 62,400 fans for an average of 2,311 per game. Throw in five non-league games, an exhibition game and three playoff games and the total is 79,737. . . . Swanson, a long-time newspaper man before his life-long love affair with baseball took him to Victoria, is the HarbourCats’ managing partner and general manager.


It is embarrassing the way Canada’s two sports networks treat MLB fans . . .

On Monday night, TSN scheduled a doubleheader, with the second game to have started three hours after the first one began. Unfortunately for fans, both were ESPN games and ESPN telecasts never end in less than three hours. . . . Of course, TSN does have a bunch of channels — five of them in my house — so when the first game runs late you are free to wonder why the second game doesn’t start on another channel, like maybe the one that was showing Sports Centre? . . . Sorry, but I didn’t hang around for Yankees and Mariners, the second game, on Monday night. Instead, it was over to the Diamondbacks and Giants with Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper, two broadcasters who get it right.

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One night later, it was Sportsnet’s turn. On this night, Yankees and Mariners were joined in progress at 8:05 p.m. PT, about an hour after the game had started. . . . There are eight Sportsnet channels on my package — the World Poker Tour was on two of them, Highlights of the Night was on one and Sportsnet Central was on five. . . . No sense treating baseball fans with a modicum of respect and putting the Yankees and Mariners on one of those eight channels at 7 p.m. PT. . . . On top of all that, Sportsnet showed Yankees-Mariners highlights before joining the game in progress at 8:05 p.m., with the New Yorkers leading, 5-0, in the top of the third. . . . Hey, Sporstnet, thanks for the poke in the eye. . . . Hey, Sportsnet, I went back to Twins at White Sox, then to Diamondbacks at Giants.


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ICYMI, Sportsnet dumped Nick Kypreos, John Shannon and Doug MacLean from its NHL coverage this week. Don’t worry, though, because Don Cherry still is there, as is Brian Burke. . . . Daren Millard, who was shown the door by Sportsnet last August, was named to the Vegas Golden Knights’ TV team on Thursday.


ICYMI Part 2 . . . Stu MacGregor, who lost his job as the Kamloops Blazers’ general manager after the WHL’s 2018-19 season, now is the Victoria Royals’ western senior regional scout. Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner, dumped MacGregor in a major reshuffling of deck chairs, and added him to the scouting staff of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, his other toy, er, team. . . . MacGregor lasted one season with the Stars before moving on down the road.


Another WHL note . . . Each August, Alan Caldwell compiles, or attempts to compile, training camp rosters, puts them on spreadsheets, and makes them available to fans. On top of that, he adds and deletes as teams make player moves. . . . After the Kelowna Rockets informed him earlier this week that they wouldn’t be making a roster available, someone in the Little Apple took photos of a roster— it included last names only — that was posted in the arena and got them to Caldwell. He then was able to put together the Rockets roster that is right here. . . . The surprising thing about all of this is that there was someone in the arena in Kelowna who apparently isn’t part of Bruce Hamilton’s choir.

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Why would a WHL team choose not to release a training camp roster? Other than shortsightedness, who knows? . . . There was a time, more than 20 years ago, when WHL teams sometimes had players in camp under assumed names — hello, Bob Bell! hey there, Connor McRae! — supposedly to allow said players to try to protect their NCAA eligibility. Those days are over, though, so who knows what they’re afraid of in Kelowna? . . . It is interesting, though, that the WHL has established standards for the arenas in which its teams play — resulting in some cities having to purchase and install new boards, glass and score clocks with video boards — but doesn’t have any standards for something as simple as the releasing of training camp rosters.


Hey, Regina . . . Do the math: 910 x $280 is a lot of dough. My wife, Dorothy, had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013. She is getting ready to take part in her sixth Kidney Walk. Had each of you donated $100 to support her — you can do so right here — you would have saved yourself a lot of money and gotten an income tax receipt. . . . BTW, when did Reginans become wealthy enough to throw away money in this fashion? . . . I wonder if Regina’s distracted drivers are aware that there isn’t a prize for No. 1,000?


Ex-WHLer charged after incident at Kelowna beach. . . . Pilon takes over as Red Wings’ coach. . . . Storm is writing quite a story in OHL


MacBeth

F Jozef Balej (Portland, 1999-2002) has signed a one-year extension with Freiburg (Germany, DEL2). He had five goals and two assists in eight regular-season games, then had seven goals and eight assists in 14 games in playdowns (relegation playoffs). He started the season with Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga). The team captain, he had three goals and eight assists in 31 games. . . .

F Cody Sylvester (Calgary 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with Bad Nauheim (Germany, DEL2). This season, he had 24 goals and 34 assists in 46 games. An alternate captain, he was second on the team goals, assists and points. . . .

F Dustin Sylvester (Kootenay, 2004-10) announced his retirement through the Bad Nauheim (Germany, DEL2) press release that announced his brother Cody’s contract extension. In 52 games this season, Dustin, an alternate captain, had 26 goals and 45 assists. He led the team in goals, assists and points; he was third in the league’s scoring race. . . .

F Jannik Hansen (Portland, 2005-06) announced his retirement in an interview with Danish TV2. This season, with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL), he had seven goals and 11 assists in 45 games. . . .

G Marek Langhamer (Medicine Hat, 2012-15) has signed a two-year contract extension with Amur Khabarovsk (Russia, KHL). This season, in 19 games, he was 9-8-2, 1.98, .929, with three shutouts and an assist. . . . He started the season with Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga), going 5-3-0, 2.38, .916 in eight games. . . .

F Liam Jeffries (Kootenay, 2006-07) has signed a one-season extension with the Perth Thunder (Australia, AIHL). Last season, he was pointless in two games. This is Jeffries’ eighth season with Perth.


ThisThat

Giffen Nyren, a defenceman who played four seasons in the WHL, faces charges of assault and willfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer after a man grabbed a baby from a mother in a Kelowna park on Sunday afternoon. . . . The child was wrestled from the man, who ultimately ran, removed his clothes and jumped into Okanagan Lake. . . . Nyren, 30, is from Calgary. He played from 2006-10 with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Kamloops Blazers and Calgary Hitmen. He was part of a Calgary team that won the WHL’s 2010 championship and appeared in the Memorial Cup in Brandon. . . . He began this season playing professionally in France, and finished it with the Lacombe Generals of Allan Cup Hockey West. He is one of nine defencemen listed on the Generals’ roster on their website, but he didn’t play in any of their games as they won the Allan Cup in Lacombe last month. . . . There is more on this story right here.


At some point, the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs signed a player and promised to pay him ohl$10,000 for each season he play with them. The unidentified player spent four seasons there, but, in the end, the IceDogs didn’t pay him. The player sent an email to David Branch, the OHL commissioner, and the stuff has hit the fan since then. . . . Rick Westhead of TSN reported Monday that “an Ontario Superior Court judge has agreed to unseal documents related to an investigation into player recruiting violations by the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs.” . . . Unless the OHL chooses to appeal, those documents will be unsealed on Friday. . . . Westhead’s story is right here.


Rich Pilon, a former WHL and NHL defenceman, is the new head coach of the SJHL’s WeyburnWeyburn Red Wings. The team made it official on Monday. . . . Pilon, 51, played two seasons (1986-88) with the Prince Albert Raiders, then went on to a 14-year pro career that included 631 regular-season NHL games, most of those with the New York Islanders. . . . He has coached minor hockey teams in Saskatoon, and has worked with the city’s two midget AAA teams. . . . Pilon takes over from Kyle Haines, an assistant coach who stepped in as interim head coach after the Red Wings fired Wes Rudy in December. . . . Austin Arvay of discoverweyburn.com has more right here.


F Bowden Singleton, who will turn 15 on May 15, has committed to the U of North Dakota and the Fighting Hawks for 2022-23. From Calgary, he played this season with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team, putting up 42 goals and 24 assists in 29 games. . . . He is rated as a first-round pick for Thursday’s WHL bantam draft. . . . Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald has more right here as NCAA teams rush to add commitments before the recruiting rules change. . . .

F Dylan Godbout, who is to turn 15 on Sunday, has committed to the U of Wisconsin and says he will join the Badgers for the 2022-23 season. . . . From Woodbury, Minn., Godbout had four goals and eight assists in 12 games with a bantam team, and added two goals and an assist in seven high school games. . . .

D Carson Brisson, 15, has committed to the U of Denver and the Pioneers for the 2022-23 season. . . . Brisson, from Leduc, Alta., had 18 goals and 19 assists with the bantam AAA Leduc Oil Kings this season. . . . 

D Max Burkholder, 15, has committed to Colorado College and the Tigers for 2022-23. From Chaska, Minn., he had three goals and seven assists in 14 games with a bantam team this season. . . . The Portland Winterhawks selected him in the 10th round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.


In the OHL, the Guelph Storm completed their comeback on Monday night as they beat the Spirit, 3-2, in Saginaw in Game 7 of their semifinal series. The Storm had trailed the series, 3-1, before winning three straight games. . . . In the second round, Guelph lost the first three games to London, then came back to beat the Knights in Game 7. . . . The Storm will meet the Ottawa 67’s in the final, starting Thursday in Ottawa. The 67’s are 12-0 in these playoffs.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The WHL’s championship final is to open on Friday night with the Prince Albert Raiders playing host to the Vancouver Giants. The series winner will take home the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . This is the Raiders’ first appearance in the final since 1985 when they won the title and went on to win the Memorial Cup. . . . Saskatchewan hasn’t been home to a Memorial Cup champion since the Swift Current Broncos won in Saskatoon in 1989. . . . The Giants are in the final for the first time since 2007 when they lost Game 7 to the Medicine Hat Tigers, then won the Memorial Cup as the host team. . . .

Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, has been in the WHL final on two other occasions, with the Kamloops Blazers (1999, lost to the Calgary Hitmen) and Kelowna Rockets (2003, won championship). In 2004, the Rockets, with Habscheid their head coach, won the Memorial Cup as host team. . . .

Michael Dyck, in his first season as the Giants’ head coach, was in the WHL’s 2008 final as the head coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. They were swept by the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Last season, Dyck was the head coach of the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes, who played at the Telus Cup. Two years ago, Dyck guided the minor midget Hurricanes to a league championship. In 2016, he was the head coach of the bantam AAA Lethbridge Golden Hawks, who won their league title.


Tweetoftheday

Did Chiefs take out WHL’s top team? . . . High Noon arrives for Blades vs. Raiders. . . . P.A. moves into conference final


MacBeth

F Clarke Breitkreuz (Regina. Prince George, 2008-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with Lausitzer Füchse Weißwasser (Germany, DEL2). This season, he had 18 goals and 15 assists in 41 games. . . .

F Chris Francis (Portland, 2006-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with Saale Bulls Halle (Germany, Oberliga). In 26 games, he had 21 goals and 38 assists. He actually started the season with the Tulsa Oilers (ECHL), recording one goal and one assist in 10 games.


ThisThat

It seems that the Spokane Chiefs are of the opinion that they eliminated the WHL’s best team when they ousted the Everett Silvertips from the playoffs on Saturday night.

The Chiefs beat the visiting Silvertips, 2-1, in Game 5 on Saturday to win the Western SpokaneChiefsConference semifinal, 4-1, and advance to the conference final against the Vancouver Giants. That series is to open in Langley, B.C., with games on Friday and Saturday nights.

“We just took down the top team in the league, without even a Game 6 or 7,” Spokane goaltender Bailey Brkin, who just may be the biggest individual story of these playoffs, told Kevin Dudley of the Spokane Spokesman-Review. “I’m just so proud of the boys for pulling it out.”

Dan Lambert, the Chiefs’ head coach, told Dudley that Everett is “the top team in the league. The reason for that is the way they compete and outwork (teams). . . .”

Don’t tell the Chiefs, but the regular-season standings — never mind the second round of the playoffs — would seem to indicate that the Silvertips weren’t the best team in the league.

The Prince Albert Raiders finished atop the overall standings, at 54-10-4. Because of the unbalanced schedule — it is terribly unbalanced due to the WHL being spread over four provinces and two states — comparing teams in different conferences really is an apples-and-oranges thing.

But the Giants topped the Western Conference, at 48-15-5. They were 11 points behind the Raiders and two in front of the Silvertips.

The Chiefs? The finished 40-21-7, good for eighth place in the overall standings, 12 points behind the Silvertips and 14 behind the Giants, their next opponent.


We may have solved a couple of mysteries left over from Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinal between the Spokane Chiefs and Everett Silvertips.

You will recall that Spokane D Filip Kral was suspended for one game for “game misconduct versus Everett on April 12,” according to the WHL. Kral was given a game misconduct at 19:28 of third period of a game that the host Chiefs went on to win, 4-1. There were rumblings that Kral was ejected from the game while seated on the Chiefs’ bench.

Well, a follower of the Chiefs who is a reader of this blog informed Taking Note on Saturday night that “Kral squirted water from the bench and I guess it hit the linesman’s leg.” The source spoke with Kral while he was serving his suspension by missing Game 5 in Spokane on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, the WHL also fined the Chiefs $500 “for warm up violations.”

While the WHL didn’t offer any specifics, including which game it was, the same Chiefs follower tells Taking Note that a violation may have occurred prior to Game 4 when Spokane F Luke Toporowski “shot a puck into Everett’s net just before the horn sounded to end” the warmup. “I saw him do it and thought that wasn’t allowed,” the source told Taking Note.

So . . . while all of this is speculation, it just may have solved a couple of mysteries. A tip of the Taking Note fedora to the observant and interested Chiefs follower who took the time to write.


Going into these playoffs, many of the hockey whisperers were of the opinion that the Spokane Chiefs may have had a goaltending problem. Not that they didn’t have any goaltending, but that their play in that department may have been lacking when compared to some other teams.

Well, Bailey Brkin is in the process of shooting that theory to smithereens.

A 19-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., Brkin was 27-11-3, 2.75, .914 in the regular season, and now is 8-2, 2.26, .931 in the playoffs. He is preparing to lead the Chiefs into the Western Conference final, having beaten the Portland Winterhawks (Shane Farkas, Joel Hofer) and Everett Silvertips (Dustin Wolf) in the first two rounds.

It could be that the whisperers still haven’t forgotten Brkin’s numbers from the 23 appearances he made with the Kootenay Ice last season — 7-12-2, 4.51, .874.

His time with the Ice ended on Jan. 8, 2018, when the Chiefs acquired him for — get this! — an eighth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft.

The Ice, of course, hasn’t been a good team for a few seasons now, so it’s likely that Brkin found Spokane to be a breath of fresh air.

Considering Brkin’s numbers this season, you would have to say the feeling is mutual.


When the Spokane Chiefs and Vancouver open the Western Conference final on Friday in VancouverLangley, B.C., Giants F Jadon Joseph will be appearing in his third consecutive conference final. . . . In each of the previous two seasons, Joseph was with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Two years ago, they lost to the Regina Pats in six games. Last season, the Hurricanes again were ousted in six games, this time by the Swift Current Broncos. . . . In 2017, Joseph, a 19-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., had two goals and an assist in 20 playoff games. Last spring, he put up three goals and nine assists in 16 games. . . . The Hurricanes dealt him to Regina this season, and the Giants acquired him from the Pats on Jan. 4, giving up a second-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft and a sixth-rounder in 2020. . . . In the regular season, Joseph had 10 goals and 18 assists in 32 games with the Giants. In the playoffs, he has six goals and two assists in 10 games. . . . Most importantly, as far as the Giants are concerned, is that he joined them having already appeared in 36 playoff games.


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NOTES:  The WHL’s conference semifinals are over, with nary a one of the four series going to seven games. . . . Two of them were sweeps — the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Calgary Hitmen, and the Vancouver Giants dumped the Victoria Royals — while one went five games and another six. . . . The Spokane Chiefs took out the Everett Silvertips in five; the Prince Albert Raiders beat the Blades, 6-3, in Saskatoon on Sunday to win that series in six games. . . .

The WHL now goes dark until Friday night when the conference finals are scheduled to open, with the Oil Kings in Prince Albert, and the Chiefs meeting the Giants in Langley, B.C. . . .

When Prince Albert beat the host Blades, 6-3, on Sunday, it marked the 66th playoff victory for Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid. That moves him into a tie for ninth place with Ken Hitchcock on the WHL’s all-time list, one victory behind Willie Desjardins and Don Nachbaur. . . . Who’s No. 1? Don Hay, of course. Hay has recorded 108 playoff victories as a head coach, seven more than Ken Hodge. . . .

Habscheid also has moved to ninth place on the WHL’s list of combined coaching victories. He now has 575 regular-season and playoff victories, four behind Brent Sutter. . . . Hay also is No. 1 here, at 858, with Hodge second, at 843.

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SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Dante Hannoun scored three times to lead the Prince Albert Raiders to a 6-3 victory PrinceAlbertover the Blades in Saskatoon. . . . The Raiders won the Eastern Conference semifinal, 4-2, and will meet the Edmonton Oil Kings in the final. That series is to open with games in Prince Albert on Friday and Saturday nights. . . . The Raiders are into the conference final for the first time since 2005. . . . F Parker Kelly (4) put the Raiders out front, 1-0, at 10:28 of the first period. . . . Saskatoon F Ryan Hughes (1) tied it at 16:45. . . . The Raiders took a two-goal lead on second-period goals from Hannoun (7), at 5:08, and F Aliaksei Protas (4), on a PP, at 8:18. . . . Hughes (2) halved the Saskatoon deficit, on a PP, at 15:24. . . . Hannoun (8) restored the two-goal lead, at 3:33. . . . F Sean Montgomery (7) upped the Raiders’ lead to 5-2, on a PP, at 5:27. . . . F Tristen Robins (3) scored for the Blades 29 second later. . . . Hannoun (9) completed his hat trick with an empty-netter at 19:58. . . .

The Raiders acquired Hannoun, along with fourth- and eighth-round picks in the 2019 bantam draft, from the Victoria Royals on Jan. 3, for F Carson Miller, F Kody McDonald and a third-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. . . . In 28 regular-season games with the Raiders, Hannoun, 20, had 10 goals and 21 assists. In 10 playoff games, he has a WHL-leading nine goals. He is tied for the points lead with F Davis Koch of the Vancouver Giants, each with 14. . . . Prince Albert was 2-3 on the PP; Saskatoon was 2-4. . . . F Noah Gregor and F Brett Leason each had two assists for the winners. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 19 shots for the Raiders, seven fewer than Saskatoon’s Nolan Maier. . . . The Raiders scratched F Cole Fonstad for a second straight game and had F Cole Nagy, an AP, dressed for this one. . . . The Raiders were without F Justin Nachbaur, who served the first of a two-game suspension. He also will sit out the first game of the Eastern Conference final on Friday.


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Scattershooting on a Sunday: Boxberger tops . . . Will you pay for Phil vs. Tiger? . . . Regina has had quite a year

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“When I heard the Leafs had signed Hayley Wickenheiser,” writes Cam Hutchinson of the Saskatoon Express, “my first thought was, ‘She doesn’t play defence, does she?’ ”


No, I’m not a fan of MLB’s players’ weekend in which players are outfitted in (in some cases) horrid-looking uniforms and allowed to put nicknames on the namebars. But Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Brad Boxberger gets full marks for having fun with it.


“Semi-retired Chris Berman could return to ESPN in a reduced role on ‘SportsCenter’ and NFL-related programming, the New York Post reported,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “In other words, Berman might be . . . nah, too easy.”


RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com had this take: “Chris Berman reportedly may return to ESPN, but only in a reduced role. So he . . . won’t . . . go . . . all . . . the . . . way!”


Perry, again: “Corey Bellemore, winner of this year’s Beer Mile World Classic in Vancouver, B.C., was disqualified when race officials ruled he didn’t consume enough beer during the race’s four mandatory brew stops. It’s believed to be the first time in sports history in which a runner was stripped of his title for failing to fail a drug test.”



One more from Currie: “A golfer reportedly had a finger bitten off at the knuckle in a fight at a Massachusetts club. You can read about it in Golf Digits — er — Digest.”


I can agree with Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun on these items from his Sunday column: “Is there anything more ridiculous than the French Open banning Serena Williams’ tennis outfit? . . . Might be in the minority on this, but I wouldn’t pay 10 cents to watch Tiger Woods play Phil Mickelson head-to-head on pay-per-view.”


I have a feeling Simmons would agree with me when I say that there is something wrong about junior hockey teams playing games in August.


After Puerto Rico beat Canada, 9-4, eliminating the team from Whalley, B.C., at the Little League World Series, Vancouver comedian Torben Rolfsen noted: “Donald Trump said, ‘See, I told you Puerto Rico had power.’ ”



After Carmelo Anthony signed a one-year contract with the Houston Rockets, Janice Hough (aka The Left Coast Sports Babe) wrote: “This is great news for the Warriors, Lakers and Spurs.”


One more from Hough, who is at LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Due to rule technicalities, Robinson Cano, returning from a 90-game PED suspension, is ineligible for any playoff games, while  Roberto Osuna, returning from a  75-game domestic violence suspension, is eligible. If Cano had only beaten his girlfriend instead of taking PEDs he could play in the postseason. Is this really how MLB wants to compete with the NFL?”


After Caesar’s Palace Sports Book in Vegas revealed that it had taken more bets on the Cleveland Browns to win the AFC North than the other three division teams combined, Hough commented: “Beam me up, Scotty.”




Over the past four-plus years, former NBA star Kobe Bryant has invested US$6 million in BodyArmor, the producer of a sports drink. Sources have told ESPN that Bryant’s investment now is worth about US$200 million. . . . And how are your investments doing these days?


Receiver Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns has missed 56 of 96 NFL games, mainly due to drug-related suspensions. As old friend Jack Finarelli, who can be found at SportsCurmudgeon.com, noted: “To say that Gordon has had an ‘unorthodox career’ to date would be akin to saying that Frank Sinatra ‘could sing a little.’ ”


I will assume that you are familiar with the look on the face of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick prior to the postgame interview. Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle describing it: “The dude at your gym waiting impatiently for you to get your wimpy ass off the bench-press machine.”


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It seems I got my minor midget and major midget Thompson Blazers hockey teams mixed up in this space on Saturday night. . . . The minor midget Blazers are a first-year team and will have Neil Pilon and Darryl Sydor on board as assistant coaches, alongside head coach Chris Murray, who is a former WHL/NHL skater. . . . Meanwhile, Carter Cochrane is the first-year head coach of the major midget Blazers. Mitchell Barker has returned as an assistant coach and is joined by James Friedel and Devin Gannon. . . . Apologies to all involved for the confusion.


The Moose Jaw Warriors played their annual Black-White game on Sunday at Mosaic Place to bring an end to their training camp. A tip of the fedora to the Warriors for keeping alive the memory of Ethan Brown.

If you aren’t aware of Ethan Williams, you should click right here.


Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, will celebrate the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk. If you would like to support her with a donation, you are able to do so right here.


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Hay “surprised” by Kamloops move . . . TWU goalie writing neat story . . . Sydor gets back into coaching game

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In case there is any lingering doubt, Don Hay has told veteran Portland sports journalist Dwight Jaynes of NBC Sports Northwest that he got caught up in a changing of the guard in Kamloops.

Hay, who has more regular-season and playoff victories than any WHL coach in history, Portlandjoined the Portland Winterhawks as an assistant coach on Monday, having spent the previous four seasons as head coach of the Kamloops Blazers.

“That’s our business. Things happen,” Hay told Jaynes of his ouster in Kamloops. “They wanted to make some changes, and that’s their right. It surprised me. You just have to make the best of it.”

Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner, announced on May 10 that Hay had retired. A news release issued by the team read that “Hay has announced his retired from coaching the Blazers and will remain with the hockey club in an advisory role.”

At the same news conference, which Hay didn’t attend, Gaglardi revealed that general manager Stu MacGregor had been reassigned to the scouting staff of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, a team also owned by Gaglardi, and that the contracts of assistant coach Mike Needham and director of player personnel Matt Recchi wouldn’t be renewed.

Hay won three Memorial Cups with the Blazers — he as an assistant coach in 1992, and was the head coach in 1994 and 1995. He returned to the Blazers during the summer of 2014 after working for 10 seasons as the head coach of the Vancouver Giants. He helped them to the 2007 Memorial Cup championship.

As for landing in Portland, Hay told Jaynes that “it just came out of the blue.”

Hay said he was “contemplating retiring” when he got a phone call from Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ vice-president, general manager and head coach. “Mike and I go back a long ways. We’ve both gone different ways but we’ve always kept in touch.”

Hay added that he is looking forward to working with Johnston and the Winterhawks, who will be a younger team this season.

“I love learning and trying to get better and working with kids,” Hay said. “I think this is a great situation to go to. . . . Their organization has done a great job here over the years . . . one of the elite franchises of the Western Hockey League.”

That complete interview is right here.


Here’s a neat hockey story . . .

Silas Matthys is a 26-year-old goaltender from Wollerau, Switzerland, who, for the past four years has been one of the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League’s best players while TWUattending Trinity Western U in Langley, B.C.

Matthys played for HC Sierre in the NL B, Switzerland’s second tier pro league, in 2012-13. Unfortunately, the team folded late in the summer of 2013, leaving Matthys without anywhere to play.

Classes at TWU were 10 days from starting. His father, Christian, a goalie coach, had worked with the Hockey Ministries International camps in Winnipeg. Christian got in touch with an HMI staff member, who steered him to Barret Kropf, who had taken over the Spartans and needed a goaltender.

Matthys “knew no English and was bad his first three starts,” Kropf told Taking Note. “Then got hot in the second half and never looked back.”

In five seasons, starting in 2013-14, Matthys went 4.05, .893; 2.50, .930; 2.58, .925; 2.08, .930; and 2.26, .923.

In 2013-14, he was named a playoff all-star and the BCIHL’s playoff MVP. The next season, he had the league’s best save percentage (.930), was named to the first all-star team, was honoured as top goaltender and the league’s MVP. In 2015-16, he had the BCIHL’s top save percentage (.925) and was a second-team all-star. In 2016-17, he was a second-team all-star and a playoff all-star.

Then came last season when the 5-foot-11, 165-pounder had the best save percentage (.923) for a third time, was a first-team all-star and a playoff all-star, and was named the BCIHL’s top goaltender. He also helped the Spartans to the league title by going 1.50, .949 in four playoff games.

“He graduated with honours, too,” Kropf said. “He’s an incredible leader.”

Earlier this summer, Matthys got his reward — a contract with Ambri-Piotta of NL A, Switzerland’s top pro league. With G Connor Hughes out with a knee injury, Matthys signed a deal that runs through mid-September.

Matthys then was loaned to the Ticino Rockets of the NL B to allow him to get some playing time.


Bernadine and Toby Boulet were in Humboldt on Thursday where they accepted the HumboldtBroncosAngel’s Legacy Humanitarian Award, from the Angel’s Legacy Project, “on behalf of their son, 21-year-old Logan, who was among the 16 people who died when the Humboldt Broncos team bus collided with a semi trailer on April 6,” writes Andrea Hill of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. . . . The proceedings included an amazing flyover by the Snowbirds. . . . By now, you’re aware that Logan Boulet is a Canadian hero. Right? . . . Hill’s story is right here.


Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, will celebrate the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk. If you would like to support her with a donation, you are able to do so right here.


The Kamloops-based minor midget Thompson Blazers have added a pair of former WHL players as assistant coaches. Neil Pilon and Darryl Sydor will be thompsonblazershelping out Chris Murray, the head coach of the first-year team. . . . Pilon, 51, is from Ashcroft, B.C. He played four-plus seasons (1983-88) in the WHL — nine games with the Kamloops Jr. Oilers, 52 with the Kamloops Blazers, 131 with the Moose Jaw Warriors and 71 with the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Sydor played four seasons (1988-92) with the Kamloops Blazers and now is a co-owner of the franchise. He went on to play 1,291 regular-season and 155 playoff games in the NHL, while playing on two Stanley Cup-winners. He also served as an NHL assistant coach with the Minnesota Wild and was with the St. Louis Blues last season. . . . “It was just time to take a step back,” Sydor told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV in Kamloops earlier this month. “I’ve been (coaching) for only eight years, but playing the game of hockey a lot longer. It’s time to give back to the family, give back to myself, and just take a step back.”

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