Englot in Blazers’ lineup after penalty changed. . . . Kamloops one victory from second round . . . Everett top gun hit with two-game suspension

Nets


F Drew Englot was in the Kamloops Blazers’ starting lineup for Game 3 of their first-round series with the Spokane Chiefs on Monday night. . . . Englot had been assessed a match penalty for attempt to injure late in the Blazers’ 6-2 victory over the visiting Chiefs on Saturday night. The incident occurred during a scrum at 19:28 of the third period and included Englot hitting referee Corey Koop. Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week wrote: “Among the combatants was Blazers’ forward Drew Englot, who struck an official in the head during the rumble.” . . . Englot told Hastings: “Obviously, there was no intention. The guy hit me in the face. My hand just came up to protect myself and came down and hit him in the face. Obviously, it’s an accident, right? You don’t mean to, but stuff happens.” . . . On Monday the WHL turned the match penalty into a game misconduct, a move that allowed Englot to start Game 3 on the right side of Kamloops’ top line, alongside Luke Toporowski and Logan Stankoven. . . . Englot had one assist in the Blazers’ 5-1 victory.


The Everett Silvertips will be without F Alex Swetlikoff, who led them in points this regular season, for Games 3 and 4 of their first-round series with the Vancouver Giants. He has been hit with a two-game suspension for a check from behind on Vancouver F Payton Mount in Game 2 in Everett on Saturday. Swetlikoff was given a double minor on the play. Mount left the game, didn’t return, and wasn’t on the ice with the Giants on Monday. . . . “We’re concerned about Mount,” Vancouver head coach Michael Dyck told Steve Ewen of Postmedia. “He took a pretty heavy hit. He got his head slammed into the glass. He’s had some concussion issues. . . . It’s not about him getting back in the series. We’re concerned about his health.” . . . Swetlikoff put up 84 points, including 51 assists, in the regular season. . . . The Silvertips were without F Jackson Berezowski, who led them with 46 goals in the regular season, for Games 1 and 2. He is out with an undisclosed injury. . . . The series is tied 1-1 and will resume with Games 3 and 4 in Langley, B.C., on Wednesday and Friday. Game 6 is set for Everett on Saturday. . . . Ewen sets the stage for Game 3 right here.


Dennis


During the just-completed NBA regular season, only five players got into all 82 of their teams’ games. As Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel put it: “In the NBA, they call it ‘load management.’ In other jobs, it’s called ‘not showing up for work.’ ”


MONDAY IN THE WHL:

There was only one playoff game on Monday’s schedule, with the Spokane Chiefs in Kamloops for Game 3 of their first-round series with the Blazers. . . . There are six games on tap tonight, with five of the visiting teams holding 2-0 leads. The exception? The Red Deer Rebels go into Brandon for a game with the Wheat Kings and the series is 1-1. . . . Meanwhile, last night . . .

In Kamloops, F Logan Stankoven had a goal and two assists as the Blazers Kamloopsskated to a 5-1 victory over the Spokane Chiefs. . . .  The Blazers lead the series, 3-0, having swept all three games in Kamloops, outscoring the Chiefs, 20-3, in the process. They’ll resume hostilities in Spokane on Friday. The reason for the 3-3-1 format and the time off before Game 4? Sir Paul McCartney is in Spokane for a Thursday night concert so the building has been tied up. . . . With four goals and six assists in the three games, Stankoven has figured in half of the Blazers’ goals. He leads the playoff points derby by two points over linemate Luke Toporowski, who had a goal and an assist last night. . . . F Fraser Minten scored the eventual game-winner, giving Kamloops a 2-0 lead at 18:44 of the first period. He has a goal in each of the three games. . . . The Blazers got 25 saves from G Dylan Garand. . . .  Kamloops was 2-for-6 on the PP; Spokane was 0-for-6. . . . G Cooper Michaluk stopped 34 shots for the Chiefs. G Mason Beaupit, who left Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury, wasn’t dressed. Manny Panghli, who is from Kamloops, backed up Michaluk.


“Mike Tyson unloaded on an obnoxious airplane passenger who was harassing him, repeatedly punching the guy and bloodying his face,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “The man was identified only as ‘George’ — presumably not George Foreman.”


WifeMissing


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


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Fez

Remembering when Ginnell left the Bombers . . . Blades’ Maier king of WHL goaltenders . . . Bedard sets two Pats’ records

These days I am spending time going through more than 40 years worth of files. As pages and pages of clippings, news releases and more, most of them related to the WHL and various teams, go into the recycling bin there are memories, lots of memories involving personalities.

Like Patty Ginnell, or Paddy Ginnell, who was Pat Ginnell when he took over as head coach of the Flin Flon Bombers on June 1, 1966. Quick now . . . who did he succeed? That would be Tom Baird, who stayed on as the general manager.

The Bombers were in the SJHL at the time, but that changed when they moved FFBombersto what was then the Western Canada Junior Hockey League for its second season (1967-68). It had been the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League for its inaugural season (1966-67).

Anyway, Ginnell was 29 when he took over the Bombers. He had spent the previous three seasons playing for the IHL’s Des Moines Oak Leafs. You know that putting Ginnell behind the bench was a popular choice in Flin Flon because he had played for the Bombers when they won the 1958 Memorial Cup.

Ginnell coached the Bombers through Dec. 9, 1973, his final game a 6-3 victory over the visiting Regina Pats.

Why was that his final game?

He had purchased 40 per cent of the Victoria Cougars and was about to step in as general manager and head coach.

PatGinnell
PAT GINNELL

Ginnell told Mal Isaac of the Regina Leader-Post that he had been trying to purchase a piece of the Bombers but hadn’t met with any success.

“I’ve been manager-coach in Flin Flon for nine years,” he told Isaac, “and I don’t have a thing to show for it. I don’t even own a stick.” (If you did the math, you know that he actually was in his eighth season with the Bombers, but, hey, facts didn’t get in the way of a lot of stories back in the day.)

“It’s always been my desire to own and operate my own club and that was something I was unable to do in Flin Flon,” Ginnell continued. “Now I’ll have my own team.”

Interestingly, Ginnell’s impending move leaked with the Bombers on the road and before he was able to inform the team’s board of directors.

With the Cougars, Ginnell bought out Eric Bishop, who said he was quitting as the team’s general manager. The Cougars, who started that season with Ollie Dorohoy as their head coach, were in their third WCHL season, hadn’t made the playoffs in their first two and were struggling again.

Victoria finished that season at 22-40-6, which left it fifth in the six-team Western Division.

At some point before Ginnell bought a piece of the Cougars, he had been asked how long it would take him to turn the team into a contender. “One year minimum,” he replied.

Well, the Cougars, led by Mel Bridgman, finished the 1974-75 season atop the West Division with a 47-18-5 record but dropped a best-of-seven semifinal series to the New Westminster Bruins, 4-2.

The Bombers’ board of directors, meanwhile, accepted Ginnell’s recommendation that Mel Pearson, a teammate on the 1958 Memorial Cup-winning team, be the next GM/head coach. Pearson had spent the 1972-73 season with the WHA’s Minnesota Fighting Saints.

Pearson didn’t get to Flin Flon in time for the Bombers next game, on Dec. 13 against, yes, the Cougars. So trainer Nick Oklobdzija — he was known as Nick Alphabet — served as the interim head coach and posted one of his dozen or so career coaching victories, this one by a 10-2 score. Ginnell watched from the Whitney Forum stands as Dorohoy continued for the moment as the Cougars’ coach.

(Bruce Penton, writing in the Brandon Sun of March 7, 1974, noted that Oklobdzija “is undefeated in 12 tests as coach of the WCHL Bombers.”

“That goes back about eight or nine years,” Oklobdzija told Penton. “I’ve filled in here and there when (Ginnell) was away or suspended, or something. And we’ve never lost while I’ve coached.” The WHL’s coaching records show Oklobdzija with a 2-0-0 coaching mark.)

Pearson made his Flin Flon coaching debut on Dec. 18 with a 7-3 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. (One of Brandon’s goals came from John Paddock, now the Pats’ vice-president of hockey operations, general manager and head coach.)

Pearson, who had signed a contract taking him through 1974-75, was gone early in the 1975-76 season, fired on Oct. 29. At the time, the Bombers had two victories in 12 games.

The Bombers then hired Mickey Keating to replace Pearson, thus ending Ginnell’s connection to the Flin Flon franchise.

As an aside, my favourite Keating quote emerged late in the 1976-77 season. At one point, I wrote a few stories detailing the history of the WHL and it included this:

A nine-hour meeting in Calgary resulted in a new playoff format. Under the original format, the Flin Flon Bombers, third in the East, were 20 points ahead of Regina and all but had a playoff spot locked up. Suddenly, there was a new format and the Bombers were fighting for a spot. Oh yes, they were also on a 15-game West Coast road trip.

“In this league, you need two pieces of equipment,” said Flin Flon boss Mickey Keating. “You need a face-guard when you play some of the teams on the ice and a back protector for the committee room. I had inklings that there may be changes in the playoffs but I had confidence there were intelligent hockey men in this league. I was shown different.”

Ahh, yes, those were the days.


Cats


If you have time on your hands, you could track down the Twitter account belonging to the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs (@OHLIceDogs) and check out the ‘apology’ from the Burke brothers — Billy and Joey. And then see if you can find the screen shot of the WhatsApp chat that got them into trouble with David Branch, the OHL commissioner. . . . And after you have done all that, you are free to wonder why the Burke boys weren’t suspended for life.

Meanwhile, there is ample speculation that the IceDogs are soon to be sold to, as Ken Campbell of Hockey Unfiltered reported, “a group headed by Darren DeDobberlaer, an insurance magnate from nearby Brantford, who owns both the Brantford 99ers Jr. A team and the Brantford Bandits Jr. B team.”

Campbell also wrote: “Oh, yes, and the selling price is rumoured to be in the range of $20 million, which should disavow anyone of the notion that major junior hockey operators in Canada are mom and pop operations that require millions of dollars in tax money to meet their scholarship commitments and provincial government laws to help them skirt minimum wage requirements. Teams make money when they are strong and struggle financially when they aren’t. If the operators know what they’re doing, they can make it work. And as we’re seeing with the IceDogs, they can cash out when they sell the team.”

Campbell’s piece is right here and it’s because of reports like this that I subscribe to his site.



“The Greater Toronto Hockey League has hired a private investigator to scrutinize allegations that Jewish players with the U-13 Avenue Road Ducks and their family members were targeted with anti-Semitic slurs during games this season,” reports Rick Westhead of TSN. . . . That story is right here.

——

Meanwhile, CBC Ottawa reports that “after some Black minor hockey players in western Quebec alleged they were racially abused, a Gatineau, Que., team has suspended six of its players and the provincial governing body cancelled weekend games.” . . . That story is right here.

——

And, from Oakland, Mich., comes this from clickondetroit.com: “A 15-year-old boy is suing three players on an under 16 youth hockey team, their parents and the coach after he said he endured antisemitic bullying until he quit the team.” . . . That story is right here.


Dorothy is preparing to take part in the annual Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year. She has participated in every one since she underwent a kidney transplant at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver on Sept. 23, 2013. . . . The 2022 Kidney Walk will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . You are able to support her by making a donation right here.


Spider


FRIDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference:

G Nolan Maier became the winningest regular-season goaltender in WHL Saskatoonhistory as the host Saskatoon Blades beat the Prince Albert Raiders, 2-0. . . . Maier stopped 20 shots in posting his 121st career regular-season victory, breaking a record he had shared with Tyson Sexsmith (Vancouver Giants, 2004-09) and Corey Hirsch (Kamloops Blazers, 1988-92). . . . Hirsch tweeted: “Congrats Nolan! Your perseverance, resilience and dedication is nothing short of inspirational. Enjoy the moment; you’ve earned it!” . . . The Blades won it with two third-period goals, from F Egor Sidorov (23), at 12:17, and F Trevor Wong (16), at 18:01. . . . Maier has three shutouts his season; he holds the franchise career record, with 11. . . . Saskatoon (37-26-4) moved into fourth place, one point ahead of the idle Moose Jaw Warriors, who hold three games in hand. . . . The Raiders (26-34-5) are 10th, two points out of a playoff spot. . . .

F Jake Chiasson had two goals and two assists as the Brandon Wheat Kings Brandondoubled the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers, 6-3. . . . Chiasson, who has six goals, struck twice in the second period as Brandon took a 5-1 lead. Chiasson missed a huge chunk of the season with an injury and only began play on March 4. He now has 15 points in 16 games. . . . D Mason Ward added two goals, giving him six, and an assist for Brandon, with D Chad Nychuk getting a goal, his 21st, and two assists. Nychuk has 68 points in 60 games. . . . Brandon (34-25-5), which has won four in a row, is sixth, four points behind Moose Jaw. Each team has four games remaining. . . . Medicine Hat (11-50-4) has lost nine straight games. . . .

In Red Deer, F Ben King, who leads the WHL in goals, scored in OT to give the RedDeerRebels a 5-4 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . King, who also had two assists, scored his 49th goal of the season at 2:56 of OT. . . . King has a WHL-leading 15 game-winning goals this season. F Brian Propp of the 1978-19 Brandon Wheat Kings holds the WHL record of 16. . . . F Logan Wormald scored twice for Lethbridge, giving him 14. His second goal, at 8:33 of the third period, gave his side a 4-3 lead. . . . D Christoffer Sedoff (7) forced OT with a goal at 12:04. . . . Red Deer (44-17-4) is third, four points behind the idle Edmonton Oil Kings, who have a game in hand. . . . Lethbridge (30-30-5) is headed for a seventh-place finish. . . .

F Connor Bedard set two franchise records as his Regina Pats beat the Broncos, Regina4-2, in Swift Current. . . . Bedard scored twice to give him 47 this season. His 46th goal, a shorthanded effort, set the Pats’ record for most goals by a player in his 16-year-old season. F Jeff Friesen scored 45 times in 1992-93. . . . Bedard now has 89 point in 58 games, and that also is a Pats’ franchise record for a player in his 16-year-old WHL season. F Doug Wickenheiser finished the 1977-78 season with 88 points. . . . Regina got 37 saves from G Kelton Pyne. . . . Regina (25-34-5) is 11th and, with four games remaining, trails the eighth-place Broncos (26-34-7) by four points.

——

Western Conference:

F Matthew Seminoff scored with four seconds remaining in the third period to Kamloopsgive the Blazers a 4-3 victory over the Victoria Royals in Kamloops. . . . The goal came one second after the end of a Victoria PP opportunity. . . . F Logan Stankoven had three assists for the Blazers, including the only one on the winner. . . . Seminoff has 25 goals. . . . F Bailey Peach (36) scored twice and added an assist for Victoria, which came back to tie the score three times but wasn’t able to grab the lead. . . . Stankoven now has 99 points, leaving him three behind F Arshdeep Bains of the Red Deer Rebels, who leads the points race. . . . Stankoven, who has played 56 games, leads the WHL in points-per-game (1.77). . . .  Kamloops (47-16-2) is second, four points behind the Everett Silvertips. Each team has three games remaining. . . . Victoria (22-37-6) is tied for seventh with the Vancouver Giants, one point behind the idle Spokane Chiefs. . . .

F Alex Swetlikoff scored three times and added an assist as the host Everett EverettSilvertips dumped the Tri-City Americans, 5-2. . . . The Silvertips, who clinched the U.S. Division regular-season pennant, scored the game’s last four goals, the first two from Swetlikoff, who has 33 goals. . . . Everett was 3-for-9 on the PP; Tri-City was 0-for-2. . . . Everett had a 50-13 edge in shots. According to the online game sheet, shots were 10-0 in the third period. . . . F Jackson Berezowski had an empty-net goal and two assists for Everett. He’s got 46 goals. . . . Everett (45-10-10) leads the conference by four points over Kamloops. . . . Tri-City (18-42-7) has been eliminated from playoff contention. . . .

F Jack O’Brien had two goals to help the Portland Winterhawks to a 7-2 victory Portlandover the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . O’Brien has 13 goals. . . . F Cross Hanas scored his 25th goal and added two assists for the winners. . . . There was something of a brouhaha at 19:17 of the third period that resulted in 97 penalty minutes being handed out. . . . Portland (44-16-5) is third, three points behind Kamloops. . . . Vancouver (23-36-4) is tied for seventh with Victoria, one point behind Spokane and one ahead of the idle Prince George Cougars.


JUST NOTES: F Logan Nijhoff, the Regina Pats’ captain, has signed a two-year contract with the San Diego Gulls, the AHL affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks. Nijhoff, 20, had 20 goals and 23 assists in 52 games when the signing was announced on Thursday. He is completing his fifth season with Regina. Nijhoff attended the Ducks’ rookie camp in September. . . . The EIHL’s Cardiff Devils have fired head coach Jarrod Skalde, who was in his first season there. Assistant coaches Brodie Dupont and Neil Francis will run things through the end of the season. With four games left in the regular season, the Devils are third at 27-15-3.


War


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.


Dog

Ingram a winner in NHL debut . . . Hockey Canada reveals its vax policy for 2022 WJC . . . COVID-19 strikes at Canada West hockey

Connor Ingram, who spent three seasons (2014-17) tending goal for the WHL’s PredatorsKamloops Blazers, made his NHL debut on Sunday with the Nashville Predators. And he did it in style, turning aside 33 shots in a 5-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild. . . . The Wild went into the game as one of the NHL’s unbeaten teams, at 4-0. . . . Dean Evason, one of the Blazers’ all-time great players, is the Wild’s head coach. . . . The Predators are 2-4-0. They recalled Ingram from the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals on Oct. 16 because G David Rittich was added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. . . .“I still don’t think it’s hit me a little bit,” Ingram, 24, told reporters. “Ignorance is bliss at this point where you don’t really realize what’s going on yet, but it felt good.’’ . . . Ingram was beaten for the first time when F Nick Bjugstad beat him at 11:30 of the second period. . . . “My first shot in the Western League, my first shot in the American League both went in, so I was kind of half-expecting it to go in today, but it didn’t so that’s a nice way to start.’’ . . . The Predators next are scheduled to play on Tuesday night against the visiting San Jose Sharks. . . .

Ingram was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the third round of the NHL’s 2016 draft. He played one-plus season with the Lightning’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, and 13 games with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears before Tampa Bay dealt him to Nashville on June 14, 2019, for a seventh-round pick in the NHL’s 2021 draft. He spent 2019-20 with Milwaukee.

Last season, with the hockey world experiencing pandemic turmoil, he got into nine games with IF Björklöven of Sweden’s HockeyAllsvenskan and five with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves.

Ingram’s season ended in January when the NHL and NHLPA announced that Ingram was “voluntarily taking part in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program.” . . . At the time, he was on the Predators’ taxi squad as a mandatory third goaltender, something that was necessary under the NHL’s pandemic protocol. . . . The confidential program provides assistance to players and their families for mental health and substance abuse issues.


Hockey Canada announced its vaccination policy on Friday, something that will Canadaimpact the 2022 World Junior Championship that is scheduled for Red Deer and Edmonton, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5

From a news release:

“Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Hockey Canada and its board of directors have voted to implement a policy mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for all participants who are active in any international or national event hosted in Canada, including all on- or off-ice activities or programs hosted or controlled directly by Hockey Canada. This means that all participating players, coaches, team staff, on-ice officials, event volunteers, spectators and any other individual associated with an event who is in contact with the aforementioned group must have received the necessary doses of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the start of the event. Hockey Canada will consider exemptions based on guidance from government and public health authorities, as well as experts retained by the organization.”

The complete news release is right here.


If you thought COVID-19 was on its way out, you are sadly mistaken . . .

A Saturday night Canada West men’s hockey game between the visiting CovidSaskatchewan Huskies and Regina Cougars was postponed. According to a Canada West news release, “Positive cases of COVID-19 were confirmed within the Cougars.” The two teams had played in Saskatoon on Friday night. . . . Earlier in the week, Canada West postponed a series between the Calgary Dinos and MacEwan after positive tests were found in the Griffins’ program. . . .

The Brandon Sun reported Saturday that “at least one confirmed COVID-19 case has been detected in association with an Oct. 17 hockey game between Elton/Forrest/Rivers/Strathclair/Hamiota and Vincent Massey high school hockey teams, according to a news release from the province on Oct. 20.” . . .

The Chicago Blackhawks played Sunday afternoon without F Jujhar Khaira and D Riley Stillman, both of whom are in COVID-19 protocol. Chicago also was without assistant coach Marc Crawford for the same reason. . . . The Blackhawks lost, 6-3, to the visiting Detroit Red Wings. Chicago now is 0-5-1. . . .

Kevin Ross, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defensive backs coach, was unavailable for Sunday’s game against the visiting Chicago Bears, so injured veteran DB Richard Sherman was on the sidelines wearing a headset. Tampa Bay won, 38-3.


Oranges


While Connor Ingram was making his NHL debut on Sunday, there were two games taking place in WHL arenas . . .

In Saskatoon, the Blades scored the game’s last three goals and beat the Regina Pats, 4-1. . . . F Brandon Lisowsky (5) broke a 1-1 tie at 1:43 of the second period. . . . F Tristen Robins (4) scored for the Blades but had his run of multi-point games halted at six. . . . The Blades (6-1-1), who were 1-for-9 on the PP, have points in seven straight (6-0-1). . . . The Pats (2-7-0) have lost seven in a row. . . .

In Calgary, the Hitmen erased a 1-0 first-period deficit with three second-period goals en route to a 3-2 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . F Riley Fiddler-Schultz (2) scored the eventual winner on a PP at 16:48. . . . The Hitmen (4-3-0) have won three in a row. . . . The Wheat Kings (4-6-0) went 0-3-0 on a weekend swing into the Central Division that also included stops in Edmonton and Red Deer.

——

There were eight WHL games on Saturday . . .

In Portland, G Braden Holt blocked 22 shots to help the Everett Silvertips to a 1-0 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . Holt’s second shutout of the season — he blanked visiting Portland 4-0 on Oct. 8 — allowed the Silvertips to run their record to 6-0-0. . . . Portland is 3-4-1. . . . D Jonny Lambos’s first goal of the season won it at 17:27 of the first period. . . . Holt has three shutouts in his career. . . . Mike Johnston, Portland’s GM/head coach, was back behind the bench after a one-game absence while he travelled to Red Deer to watch some of the WHL Cup. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., the Spokane Chiefs erased a 2-1 first-period deficit with six straight goals, five of them in the second period, as they beat the Tri-City Americans, 7-2. . . . F Luke Toporowski (6) scored twice and added an assist, with F Eric Atchison drawing three assists. . . . The Chiefs improved to 3-4-1; the Americans’ fifth straight loss dropped them to 2-5-0. . . . 

In Vancouver, G Jesper Vikman turned aside 23 shots to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 2-0 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . A freshman from Stockholm whose NHL rights belong to the Vegas Golden Knights, Vikman has two shutouts in four starts. . . . F Justin Lies (2) scored the game’s first goal, at 8:26 of the second period. . . . The Giants now are 3-2-0; the Rockets are 2-2-0. . . .

In Victoria, the Prince George Cougars scored the game’s last three goals to defeat the Royals, 4-1. . . . The Cougars (4-3-0) have won four in a row, all of them against the Royals as the teams play a six-game set. . . . The Royals (1-8-0) have lost seven in a row. They will conclude this series with games in Prince George on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . F Koehn Ziemmer (2) had a goal and an assist. . . . G Campbell Arnold, 19, acquired earlier in the week from the Spokane Chiefs, stopped 30 shots for Victoria. . . . F Caleb Willms, 19, acquired earlier in the day from the Medicine Hat Tigers, was in the Royals’ lineup. He cost them a conditional sixth-round pick in the WHL’s 2024 draft. He had five goals and 10 assists in 52 games with the Tigers. . . . The Royals also acquired D Anson McMaster, 19, from the Winnipeg Ice for a conditional seventh-rounder in the 2023 draft. McMaster, who had a goal and five assists in 66 games with the Ice, also made his Victoria debut in this one. . . . On Sunday, the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints announced that they have signed F Graeme Bryks, 20, who split four-plus seasons between the Royals and Seattle Thunderbirds. As well, the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos said they have signed F Cage Newans, 18, who played 25 games over three seasons with the Royals.

In Edmonton, the Oil Kings skated to a 5-2 lead and then hung on for a 5-4 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . F Carson Latimer (4) scored twice for Edmonton, with F Jalen Luypen and F Carter Souch each earning three assists. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky scored his eighth goal of the season for the Tigers (4-4-1). . . . The Oil Kings are 6-2-1. . . .

In Lethbridge, the Hurricanes snapped a two-game losing skid with a 5-3 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Lethbridge (4-3-0) trailed 3-2 after two periods and then scored the only three goals of the third period. . . . F Alex Thacker (3) had two goals and an assist for the Hurricanes, who got three assists from F Ty Nash. . . . Thacker’s second goal, at 18:49 of the third, was the winner. . . . F Evan Herman scored his first two goals of the season for the Raiders (2-7-0). . . .

In Moose Jaw, the Winnipeg Ice erased a 4-1 deficit with four goals in the last half of third period and beat the Warriors, 5-4. . . . D Nolan Orzeck (2) tied the game at 14:03 of the third period and F Connor McClennon (8) won it at 19:15. . . . F Matt Savoie (6) scored twice for the Ice and F Mikey Milne had three assists. . . . Moose Jaw got two goals from F Brayden Yager (5). . . . The Ice (9-0-0) was 2-for-5 on the PP; the Warriors (3-5-0) didn’t receive even one opportunity. . . . The Warriors were without D Daemon Hunt, who drew a four-game suspension for a charging major and game misconduct in a game on Wednesday in Winnipeg. His hit took Winnipeg F Zach Benson out of the game; he didn’t play on Saturday. . . .

In Red Deer, F Blake Stevenson scored twice and added an assist as the Rebels dumped the Brandon Wheat Kings, 7-1. . . . Stevenson has four goals this season. . . . The Rebels (6-3-1) have won three straight. . . . The Wheat Kings (4-5-0) had lost 9-2 in Edmonton on Friday. . . . Red Deer lost D Jace Weir to a cross-checking major and game misconduct at 12:37 of the first period.


Egg


There were nine WHL games on Friday night . . .

In Medicine Hat, the Tigers erased a 2-1 second-period deficit with five goals as they skated to a 6-2 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . F Oren Shtrom (2) had a goal and two assists. . . . The game featured two Wiesblatt brothers — Oasiz with the Tigers (4-3-1) and Ozzy with the Raiders (2-6-0). . . .

In Swift Current, the Calgary Hitmen opened a 5-0 lead and went on to a 5-2 victory over the Broncos. . . . F Sean Tschigerl (4) had two goals and an assist, with Riley Fiddler-Schultz (1) scoring once and drawing two assists. . . . The Hitmen evened their record at 3-3-0, while the Broncos slipped to 2-5-2. . . .

In Regina, G Nolan Maier stopped 37 shots to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 5-2 victory over the Pats. . . . That gave the visitors at least a point in six straight (5-0-1). . . . F Tristen Robins had two assists for the Blades (5-1-1), his sixth straight multi-point game this season. That left him with 15 points, 12 of them assists, in six games. . . . The game featured only two minor penalties, both to the Pats (2-6-0), who surrendered one PP goal in their sixth straight loss. . . .

In Red Deer, the Rebels doubled the Lethbridge Hurricanes on the shot clock (42-21) and on the scoreboard, 6-3. . . . The Hurricanes (3-3-0) scored the game’s first goal at 1:00 of the opening period. The Rebels (5-3-1) led 4-1 after the period. . . . F Ben King scored his fourth goal of the season for the winners. . . . D Alex Cotton (4) scored twice for Lethbridge in his 150th game. . . .

In Edmonton, the Oil Kings scored five times in the game’s first 14:57 as they dropped the Brandon Wheat Kings, 9-2. . . . F Jared Luypen (3) had two goals and two assists, with F Carter Souch (2) scoring twice and setting up another in his 200th career game. F Dylan Guenther (2), F Jaxsen Wiebe (1) and F Logan Dowhaniuk (2) each added a goal and two assists. . . . Edmonton improved to 5-2-1, with Brandon slipping to 4-4-0. . . . The victory was the 109th for Brad Lauer as the Oil Kings’ head coach. That is second in the franchise’s history, behind only Derek Laxdal, who won 180 games during his four seasons (2010-14). . . .

In Victoria, the Prince George Cougars scored the game’s last five goals in a 5-1 victory over the Royals. . . . The Cougars (3-3-0) have won three in a row, all of them against the Royals (1-7-0). This was the third of six straight games between these teams. . . . The Royals listed seven scratches as being injured. They dressed 16 skaters, two under the maximum. . . . The Cougars got at least one point from 13 different skaters. . . . F Jonny Hooker’s fifth goal of the season stood up as the winner. . . .

In Kamloops, the Blazers scored three times in 48 seconds to take a 3-0 first-period lead as they beat the Vancouver Giants, 7-4. . . . The Blazers led 6-1 at one point before the Giants got to within two at 6-4. . . . F Logan Stankoven (5) and D Quinn Schmiemann (2) each scored twice for Kamloops (6-1-0), with F Josh Pillar (4) adding a goal and two helpers. . . . The Giants (2-2-0) got a goal, his first, and two assists from F Fabian Lysell. . . .

In Portland, F Alex Swetlikoff scored three times to lead the Everett Silvertips to a 5-2 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . Swetlikoff, who has five goals, broke a 1-1 tie with goals at 15:40 and 19:58 of the second period and completed his first career hat trick at 15:36 of the third. He has played in 116 regular-season games, five of them with Everett. . . . Swetlikoff, 20, was acquired from the Kelowna Rockets in the off-season. . . . Everett stayed unbeaten (5-0-0); Portland was left at 3-3-1. . . . With Mike Johnston on a scouting trip to Red Deer, site of the WHL Cup, associate coach Don Hay ran the Portland bench. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., G Thomas Milic stopped 19 shots to help the Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Tri-City Americans, 5-0. . . . Milic’s first shutout of this season and second of his career came in his 17th appearance over three seasons. . . . F Jordan Gustafson (3) scored twice and D Kevin Korchinski had three assists. . . .


A bus carrying the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s Miramichi Timberwolves was involved in a fatal accident on Sunday afternoon in Astle, N.B. . . . The Timberwolves were on their way to a game in Fredericton against the Red Wings when their bus and a car collided. The driver of the car died at the scene. The game was postponed. . . . According to the MJHL: “Those on the bus sustained limited injuries and grief counsellors have been brought in. Further counselling and support will be offered, as requested.”


JUST NOTES: F Jaydon Dureau signed an ATO with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch on Saturday. Dureau, 20, who played the previous three seasons with the Portland Winterhawks, then scored the game’s first goal as the Crunch dropped a 5-3 decision to the host Rochester Americans. . . . Former WHL referee Steve Kozari worked his 1,000th NHL game on Friday night as the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the host Vegas Golden Knights, 5-3. Each team presented Kozari with an autographed team sweater. . . . Ryan Gibbons, who played five seasons (2001-06) with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, was one of the linesmen on Saturday night when the Seattle Kraken played its first home game in franchise history. The Vancouver Canucks beat the Kraken, 4-2.


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.


Novel

WHL exempt from Alberta gov’t restrictions . . . AJHL has another team on virus leave . . . Rebels’ Sexsmith opens up about the season


If you’re paying attention, you already know that COVID-19 had another good day on Thursday.

In fact, you have to wonder if behind closed doors junior hockey operators are WHL2starting to wonder if the 2021-22 season is going to start anywhere close to on time, at least in Western Canada. Because — and let’s be honest here — we aren’t anywhere close to seeing the end of this.

When Alberta released its Thursday numbers, they were the worst the province has seen since the pandemic began in the early days of 2020.

So, from the Department of Better Late Than Never, the Alberta government responded with restrictions that cover various cities with particularly horrendous numbers, like Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge and Red Deer, each of them home to a WHL franchise.

Part of those restrictions included this:

“All indoor fitness activities are prohibited. This includes: all group physical activities, such as team sports, fitness classes and training sessions; all one-on-one lessons and training activities; all practices, training and games.”

But never fear WHL fans because it seems your favourite teams are exempt from these restrictions. With Red Deer playing on Thursday night, Rebels interim radio voice Troy Gillard tweeted that a “team official tells me the WHL does indeed remain exempt and games will continue as scheduled.”

Other areas under the restrictions are Airdrie, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie and Strathcona County, which includes Sherwood Park.

It would appear that the AJHL, like the WHL, is exempt from the restrictions because the Grande Prairie Storm is at home to the Sherwood Park Crusaders tonight (Friday) and Saturday, with the teams to play next weekend in Sherwood Park.


Plague


The AJHL has suspended the team activities of another team — the Calgary Canucks — after a positive COVID-19 test result was identified within the ajhlteam’s cohort. As per the league’s return-to-play protocols, the Canucks are on hold for at least 14 days. They were scheduled to play the Drayton Valley Thunder in Calgary tonight (Friday), on the road Sunday and May 7, and May 9 in Calgary, but those games all have been cancelled. . . .

On Tuesday, the AJHL halted team activities for the Whitecourt Wolverines and Bonnyville Pontiacs for 14 days because of a positive test in the Wolverines’ group. Those two teams had played each other on Saturday and Sunday. . . .

On Sunday, the Okotoks Oilers were put on hold for 14 days because of a positive test in their cohort. . . .

On April 23, the Drumheller Dragons experienced a positive test and they, too, were shut down for 14 days. . . .

On Wednesday, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons announced that they were ending their season out of an abundance of concern for the safety of players, billets and their community, which is under a local state of emergency. . . .

The league has seven teams up and running — Drayton Valley, Grande Prairie Storm, Sherwood Park Crusaders and Spruce Grove Saints in the North Division, and Brooks Bandits, Camrose Kodiaks and Olds Grizzlys in the South Division.

With seven teams and three two-team cohorts, the Spruce Grove Saints were left without a partner. That problem went away with the news regarding the Canucks. So the Saints are to play the Thunder tonight (Friday) in Spruce Grove and Saturday in Drayton Valley.

The AJHL schedule is to conclude on May 8.


File this under The Best Laid Plans: The Los Angeles Rams rented and outfitted a 9,000-square-foot beach house in Malibu from which their personnel was to set up shop and conduct the NFL draft. . . . On Thursday, general manager Les Snead announced that he has tested positive so will isolate at home and conduct the draft from there.


Retire


Mark Brennan, the Portland Winterhawks’ equipment manager, announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of this season. He has been the club’s equipment manager since 2012, after also working with, among others, the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers. When Portland’s season ends on May 11, Brennan will have worked 2,251 games. The Winterhawks’ news release is right here.

Brennan wasn’t behind a bench on Thursday night — he’ll be there tonight with Portland playing host to the Everett Silvertips — but there were three other WHL games . . .

In Lethbridge, the Medicine Hat Tigers broke a 1-1 tie with two shorthanded Tigersgoals and went on to beat the Hurricanes, 6-2. . . . Medicine Hat (13-6-1) had lost its previous three games. . . . Lethbridge is 8-11-2. . . . F Brett Kemp gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead at 6:44 of the first period, with F Jett Jones (5) getting the Hurricanes even at 12:07. . . . D Cole Clayton (9) sent the Tigers out front with the first shorthanded goal, at 3:51 of the second period, with F Nick McCarry (7) adding the second one at 10:48. . . . Medicine Hat put it away with the next three goals, too — Kemp’s second and 12th of the season, and two from F Lukas Svejkovsky, who also has 12. . . . F Ty Nash (2) got Lethbridge’s second goal on a late PP. . . .

F Cael Zimmerman’s OT goal gave the visiting Calgary Hitmen a 4-3 victory Calgaryover the Red Deer Rebels. . . . The Hitmen improved to 9-7-2. . . . The Rebels (2-15-3) have lost 13 in a row (0-12-1). . . . F Josh Prokop (9) put Calgary out front, while shorthanded, at 2:39 of the first period and the teams exchanged goals through game’s end. . . . F Carter Anderson (2) got Red Deer even at 13:19, with D Jackson van de Least (3) replying for Calgary at 17:40. . . . Red Deer tied it on D Jace Weir’s second goal at 19:52. . . . F Riley Fiddler-Schultz (5) put the Hitmen back out front, 3-2, at 10:18 of the second period. . . . F Chris Douglas (6) forced OT with a Red Deer score at 12:48 of the third. . . . Zimmerman won it with his sixth goal of the season, at 4:19 of extra time. . . . Calgary F Sean Tschigel had two assists, giving him 18 points, including 10 goals, in 18 games. He went into this season with five goals and nine assists in 64 games. . . .

BTW, if you are interested in a good story about what life’s been like with the RedDeerstruggling Rebels who have been living in the arena since this season began, here’s a taste from D Joel Sexsmith:

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t really tough,” the 19-year-old told Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate. “It hasn’t been easy here. It certainly hasn’t been easy when you’re losing, too. I think the dynamic would shift if we’d been winning all the time and we haven’t been, that’s just the reality.

“We live here, we look at the rink every day and it kind of serves as a reminder that we are where we are in the standings. I think that’s really tough mentally. I would say I’m really grateful that I’m able to go through this with this group of guys. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I love this group of guys on this team.” . . . Hackett’s complete piece is right here and it’s well worth a read. . . .

F Alex Swetlikoff broke a 3-3 tie at 18:27 of the third period as the Kelowna RocketsRockets beat the visiting Vancouver Giants, 4-3. . . . The Rockets (7-2-0) have won four in a row. . . . The Giants (9-7-0) have lost four straight. . . . Swetlikoff’s fourth goal of the season stood up as the winner. . . . Kelowna D Jake Lee (2) had tied the game at 14:29 of the third. . . . Vancouver led this one 2-0 on two first-period goals from F Zack Ostapchuk, at 9:03 and 9:40. . . . Ostapchuk, who has six goals in 16 games this  season, finished last season with five in 44 games as a freshman. . . . F Dillon Hamaliuk (4) got Kelowna’s first goal, on a PP, at 13:21. . . . The Rockets tied it on F Turner McMillen’s first WHL goal, shorthanded, at 4:19 of the second. That was Kelowna’s fifth shorthanded score in nine games. . . . McMillen was a ninth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft. He played two games last season and this was No. 9 this season. . . . Vancouver went back out front when F Bryce Bader (4) scored at 7:40. . . . Watching the replay of the winning goal, it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s changed to F Mark Liwiski, who appeared to score off a Swetlikoff rebound.


Belarus (2-1-0) secured a quarter-final berth in the IIHF U18 World U18Championship in Texas on Thursday, with a 6-2 victory over Latvia (0-3-0) in Group A. . . . Sweden (2-1-0) beat Switzerland (1-2-0), 3-1, in the other Group A game. . . . In Group B, G Kaidan Mbereko stopped five shooters in the shootout as Team USA beat Czech Republic, 2-1. . . . In the other Group B game, Russia (2-0-1) skated past Germany (0-3-0), 6-1. . . . There are two games scheduled for today — Canada (2-0-0) meets Switzerland in Group A, while Finland (2-0-0) plays Germany in Group B.


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here.

——

If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Monkees

Prepping for Tiebreaker Tuesday. . . . Blazers will play in front of huge crowd. . . . Winner moves on; loser goes home

There will be more than 5,800 hockey fans in the Sandman Centre in Kamloops tonight (Tuesday) as the Blazers and Kelowna Rockets play in the WHL’s first tiebreaker game in three years.

The winner will head for Victoria to open a first-round series with the Royals on Friday night. The loser is done for this season.

A tiebreaker is held only when teams are tied for a final playoff position.

The Rockets and Blazers finished tied for third place in the B.C. Division, each at 28-32-8. Kamloops1With each team having 28 victories, the league had to go to its second tiebreaker — the season series between the teams — to determine a home for tonight’s game. The Blazers won the season series, going 6-3-1; the Rockets were 4-4-2.

These teams last met on March 8 and 9, with the Blazers winning 2-1 in a shootout at home in the first game, then posting a 2-1 victory in regulation time in the second game.

The Blazers have played 10 games in March, going 5-3-2, while outscoring the opposition, 36-31. In their past six games, they are 5-0-1, having scored 24 goals while surrendering 10.

The Rockets are 2-3-3 in March — but in four of those games they were able to score only one goal. They won’t win tonight if they score only one goal.

——

Some notes before Tiebreaker Tuesday. . . .

The Rockets are expected to start G Roman Basran, who is 4-3-1, 1.61, .942 against the Blazers this season. It’s awfully hard to knock numbers like those ones. . . .

G Dylan Ferguson, 20, hasn’t dressed since appearing to suffer a groin injury during a 5-0 loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants on March 6. He did skate with the Blazers on Monday. However, G Dylan Garand, 16, has started six games in a row since Ferguson was injured. The Blazers are 5-0-1 in those Garand starts. Two of those were against Kelowna — Garand is 2-0-0, 0.96, .964. . . .

D Lassi Thomson, Kelowna’s Finnish freshman who is terrific on the PP, suffered a KelownaRocketsconcussion when he was checked by Kamloops F Jermaine Loewen in that March 8 game and hasn’t played since. Thomson skated on Monday, but he was wearing a yellow non-contact sweater, which would seem to indicate that he won’t play tonight. . . . His return, if it were to happen, would be huge. Thomson finished the season with 17 goals and 24 assists in 63 games. Against Kamloops, he had three goals and five assists in eight-plus games. . . .

Kelowna’s Matt Barberis, a defenceman with 179 games of WHL experience, also was in a non-contact sweater yesterday. However, he has played only 20 games this season — nine with the Vancouver Giants and 11 with the Rockets — and hasn’t been in a game since Feb. 9. . . .

The Blazers may have F Logan Stankoven in their lineup after he skated with them on Monday. He won the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League scoring championship, putting up 103 points, including 49 goals, in 38 games with the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers. He was the fifth-overall selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . He had one assist from seven earlier appearances with the WHL’s Blazers. . . .

The Rockets may get F Trevor Wong into their lineup. From Vancouver, he played for the major midget Greater Vancouver Canadians, putting up 42 points, 30 of them assists, in 34 games. He was the 18th-overall selection in the 2018 bantam draft. The consensus is that he would have been taken earlier had he not indicated that he would be going to the U of Denver. Wong, 15, skated with the Rockets on Monday. . . . Wong played four earlier games with the Rockets, scoring once. . . .

F Alex Swetlikoff of the Rockets took a puck to the face during a 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C., on Friday night. That resulted in more than two dozen stitches. On Saturday, he scored Kelowna’s second goal and set up the OT winner as the Rockets beat the visiting Giants, 3-2. . . .

The Rockets will be host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup. They have missed the playoffs only once (2006-07) since moving to Kelowna from Tacoma in time for the 1995-96 season. . . . The Blazers, meanwhile, missed the playoffs last season and three of the past five seasons. . . .

F Kobe Mohr of the Blazers was on the Edmonton Oil Kings’ roster on March 22, 2016, the date of the last WHL tiebreaker game, but he didn’t get into the game. . . .

——

There have been six other tiebreakers in WHL history. The road team has won five of them. Here they are, courtesy of whl.ca . . .

2015-16: Edmonton Oil Kings 6 at Medicine Hat Tigers 4.

2013-14: Prince Albert Raiders 5 at Red Deer Rebels 3.

2008-09: Edmonton Oil Kings 2 at Prince Albert Raiders 1 (OT).

1989-90: Brandon Wheat Kings 4 at Swift Current Broncos 5.

1983-84: Calgary Wranglers 8 at Saskatoon Blades 7 (OT).

1980-81: Spokane Flyers 10 at New Westminster Bruins 9 (OT).

Jokiharju to WJC, not to Portland; Chicago assigns defenceman to Finnish team . . . Swetlikoff leaves Vipers for Rockets


ThisThat

On the seventh day of our annual Christmas countdown, with a special Christmas wish to friend Stu Walters, here are The Tenors, with Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. . . . It’s right here.


The NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks revealed on Tuesday that they have assigned D Henri Jokiharju to the Finnish national junior team, so he will play for his home country in the 2019wjcWorld Junior Championship that opens Monday in Vancouver and Victoria. . . . Jokiharju, 19, has 11 assists in 32 games with the Blackhawks while averaging 20 minutes of playing time. . . . He played the past two seasons with the Portland Winterhawks and is eligible to be assigned there by Chicago after the WJC. . . . However, it sounds as though Portland fans shouldn’t get too excited. Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ general manager and head coach, told Taking Note on Tuesday that “from what I understand there is no chance that would happen.” . . . Last season, Jokiharju had 12 goals and 59 assists in 71 regular-season games with Portland. In 2016-17, he had nine goals and 39 assists in 71 games. . . . He also played for Finland at the WJC a year ago, putting up two goals and two assists in five games.


If you feel so inclined, please click on the DONATE button over there on the right. Thanks in advance, and Merry Christmas.


And now for something completely different, it’s the Dropkick Murphys with The Season’s Upon Us, and it’s all right here. Yes, this one is a lot of fun.


The Kelowna Rockets have signed F Alex Swetlikoff, 17, to a WHL contract. The 6-foot-3 KelownaRocketsSwetlikoff, who is from Keolwna, had been playing with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers, where he had eight goals and 12 assists in 27 games. . . . Swetlikoff was a third-round pick by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the 2016 WHL bantam draft. The Thunderbirds sent Swetlikoff to the Hurricanes on May 3 for D Kirby Proctor, 17, who is with the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers and has committed to the U of Nebraska-Omaha for 2020-21. . . . The Rockets acquired Swetlikoff from Seattle on Dec. 6 for a fourth-round pick in the 2022 bantam draft. . . . Earlier Tuesday, the Canadian Junior Hockey League announced the rosters for its Top Prospects Game and Swetlikoff was on the list. That, of course, won’t happen now. . . . Swetlikoff, who had committed to the U of Denver for 2020-21, should make his WHL debut on Dec. 28 in Kamloops against the Blazers. . . . He is the second highly touted prospect to have left the Vipers after the start of this season. F Josh Prokop, who had a goal and four assists in six games, left to join the Calgary Hitmen on Sept. 26. . . . Since the start of this season, the Vipers also have lost G Max Palaga to the Everett Silvertips, F Kjell Kjemhus to the Moose Jaw Warriors and F Sebastian Streu to the Regina Pats.


Tweetoftheday

Report: Ice announcement coming Monday . . . Rockets, Hurricanes make deal . . . Søgaard, Alexeyev get WJC opportunities


ThisThat

The Winnipeg Free Press is reporting that the worst fears of Kootenay-based WHL fans will be made official on Monday.

In a story carrying the bylines of Jeff Hamilton and Mike Sawatzky, the newspaper is Kootenaynewreporting that “the owners of the Kootenay Ice are preparing to announce Monday they are moving their Western Hockey League franchise to Winnipeg in time for the 2019-20 season, league sources have told the Free Press.”

The WHL franchise will play out of the Wayne Fleming Arena on the U of Manitoba campus for likely two seasons while a new arena is being built in the Manitoba capital’s southwest corner.

The Free Press also reports that Ice owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell, who is the president and general manager, “have not commented publicly on news reports and WHL commissioner Rob Robison has not made himself available for an interview on the subject.”

The Free Press story is right here.


COUNTDOWN TO DEADLINE

(WHL trade deadline: Jan. 10, 3 p.m. MT)

Thursday’s action:

No. of trades: 1.

Players: 1.

Bantam draft picks: 1.

Conditional draft picks: 0.

——

Total deals (since Nov. 26):

No. of trades: 10.

Players: 31.

Bantam draft picks: 18.

Conditional draft picks: 4.

(Note: On Nov. 30, Kelowna traded F Jack Cowell, 19, to Kootenay for a third-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. Cowell chose not to report and the deal was voided, so isn’t included in these totals.)

——

The Kelowna Rockets have acquired the WHL rights to F Alex Swetlikoff from the Lethbridge Hurricanes for a fourth-round selection in the 2022 bantam draft.

Swetlikoff, a 17-year-old from Kelowna, has committed to the U of Denver for the 2020-21 KelownaRocketsseason. He was a third-round pick by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the 2016 bantam draft. Seattle traded his rights to Lethbridge on May 3, getting back D Kirby Proctor, who is from Okotoks, Alta. He is with the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers, and has committed to attend the U of Nebraska-Omaha for 2020-21.

This season, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Swetlikoff is playing with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers, with whom he has eight goals and 12 assists in 27 games. He will play for Canada West at the World Junior Challenge that opens this weekend in Bonnyville, Alta.

The Rockets will be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup, so you can bet that will be a major selling point as the organization works to recruit Swetlikoff.


The Medicine Hat Tigers have dropped F Dawson Heathcote from their roster. He is expected to join the junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . Heathcote, 18, is from Nanaimo. . . . Last season, as a freshman with the Tigers, he had six goals and three assists in 47 games. This season, he had two assists in 27 games. . . . Heathcote was a seventh-round pick by the Tigers in the 2015 WHL bantam draft.


Two more WHLers are on national junior team selection-camp rosters. . . . G Mads Søgaard of the Medicine Hat Tigers will attend Denmark’s selection camp, while D Alex Alexeyev will be in camp with the Russian national junior team. . . . Søgaard is to join the Danish team after the Tigers game against the visiting Kelowna Rockets on Dec. 15. Should he make the Danish team, he could miss as many as six of the Tigers’ games after the Christmas break. . . . The 2019 World Junior Championship is to open in Vancouver and Victoria on Dec. 26.


F Spencer Gerth of the Trinity Western Spartans is on the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League’s Young Stars’ roster that will play against Kazakhstan’s national junior team on Dec. 17. . . . Gerth, 20, played the previous three seasons in the WHL, with the Everett Silvertips and Victoria Royals. . . . This season, he has two goals and five assists in 11 games. . . .  The Young Stars will be part of a College Hockey Showcase that also is to include U of Victoria, with the three games at the Langley Events Centre. . . . Kazakhstan is scheduled to meet the Victoria on Dec. 11 and Trinity Western on Dec. 13, then will play the Young Stars on Dec. 17. All three games are to start at 7 p.m., and will be streamed at hockeytv.com. . . . Kazakhstan opens the 2019 World Junior Championship against Finland in Victoria on Dec. 27.

As part of the Kazakhstan visit, organizers are holding Hockey Day in Langley on Dec. 10. From a news release: “The Kazakhstan . . . team will be partnering with BC Hockey to host a Hockey Day in Langley event that will allow local minor hockey teams and academies an opportunity to meet the Kazakhstan team and take part in a skills competition. Coaches will also have a chance to meet and learn from some international-level coaches.” . . . For more info, email Barret Kropf at barret.kropf@twu.ca.



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