The Travellin’ Bedards will play in Saskatoon on March 19 and the Blades announced Wednesday that they will be setting a single-game attendance record that evening. . . . The record for now is 12,588 from Feb. 9, 2013, when the Blades beat the Lethbridge Hurricanes, 5-2. . . . As of Wednesday afternoon, tickets sales for the March 19 game had exceeded the record. . . . The Pats will provide the opposition for the Blades’ final home game of this season, too, on March 24, and more than 11,500 tickets already have been sold for that one. . . . The reason, of course, is Regina F Connor Bedard, who almost certainly will be the No. 1 selection in the NHL’s 2023 draft. . . . “Connor is an incredible player (who) comes along once every generation,” Colin Priestner, the Blades’ president and general manager, said in a news release. “As a league, we’re extremely fortunate Connor chose the WHL as his path because his star power has brought thousands of new fans to come see our product from across the country, and he’s been an outstanding ambassador for our game.”
It’s worth noting that the Blades and Pats could wind up as first-round opponents when the playoffs get here. And the Blades again are selling a $99 playoff pass. As the news release states: “This will guarantee your seat through the entire postseason, meaning you could enjoy as many as 16 playoff games for under $100!”
The Pats have made only one visit to Saskatoon to this point in the season; the Blades posted a 5-2 victory on Nov. 13 before 7,868 fans. That, to date, is the Blades’ largest home crowd this season.
Perhaps during the March 24 the Blades could thank Bedard for making all this possible by presenting him with a lifetime pass.
Two forwards with the Kamloops Blazers signed three-year entry-level NHL contracts on Wednesday. . . .
F Ryan Hofer signed with the Washington Capitals, who selected him in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2022 draft. He was with the Everett Silvertips at the time. His contract carries an AAV of US$851,666.67 in the NHL and $82,500 in the AHL. . . . There also is an annual signing bonus of $80,000, $80,000 and $70,000. . . . Hofer, 20, is from Winnipeg. He has 13 goals and nine assists in 22 games with the Blazers since being acquired from Everett. He had 23 goals and 13 assists in 36 games before being traded. In 142 career regular-season games, he has 67 goals and 58 assists. . . .
F Caedan Bankier signed with the Minnesota Wild, which selected him in the third round of the NHL’s 2021 draft. Bankier, who turned 20 on Jan. 26, had 62 points, including 30 goals, in 44 games with the Blazers this season. . . . His contract carries an AAV of US$867,500 in the NHL with an $80,000 salary in the minors. There also is an annual $92,500 signing bonus. . . . From White Rock, B.C., he has 165 points, 69 of them goals, in 189 career regular-season games with the Blazers. . . . Bankier also played for the gold medal-winning Canadian team at the 2023 World Junior Championship. . . .
There now are five players on the Blazers’ roster who have signed NHL contracts, the others being F Fraser Minten (Toronto Maple Leafs), F Logan Stankoven (Dallas Stars) and D Olen Zellweger (Anaheim Ducks).
Of all that I witnessed during more than 40 years of writing about sports the few seconds in time during which F Brad Hornung of the Regina Pats was injured is the only one that really, really stayed with me. Even now, all these years later, whenever I see a player get hit from behind and take a tumble into the boards, I cringe. . . . And, yes, there still is far too much checking from behind in the game of hockey. . . . We lost Brad more than a year ago — on Feb. 8, 2022. In the end, just to show that life really can be cruel, cancer took him from us. . . . He was five days from turning 53 when he died, meaning he spent almost 35 years as a quadriplegic. Courage, thy name was Brad Hornung.
If the WHL playoffs started today:
Winnipeg (1) vs. Swift Current (8)
Red Deer (2) vs. Medicine Hat (7)
Saskatoon (3) vs. Regina (6)
Moose Jaw (4) vs. Lethbridge (5)
Seattle (1) vs. Kelowna (8)
Kamloops (2) vs. Vancouver (7)
Portland (3) vs. Tri-City (6)
Prince George (4) vs. Everett (5)
WEDNESDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:
The Medicine Hat Tigers erased an early 2-0 deficit and beat the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers, 6-4. . . . The Ice had an 11-game winning streak come to an end. . . . This was the Tigers’ second victory over one of the WHL’s top teams in recent times. They beat the visiting Kamloops Blazers, 7-3, on Friday. . . . Last night, the Tigers got two goals and two assists from F Oasiz Wiesblatt (24). His first goal tied the score, 2-2, at 14:22 of the first period. His second, at 8:03 of the third period, stood up as the winner. . . . F Cru Hanas, a 17-year-old from Highland Village, Texas, scored his first goal for the Tigers, breaking a 3-3 tie. It came in his 39th career game. . . . D Reid Andresen (7) had a goal and two assists for Medicine Hat. . . . The Ice got a goal (32) and two assists from F Matt Savoie and three assists from D Ben Zloty. . . . G Evan May earned the victory with 40 saves. May, an 18-year-old freshman from Nanaimo, B.C., got his fourth victory in his 17th appearance of the season. . . . Medicine Hat (25-24-9) is seventh in the Eastern Conference, two points behind the Regina Pats and two ahead of the Swift Current Broncos. . . . Winnipeg (48-8-1) will finish atop the East Division and the Eastern Conference. . . .
F Rylen Roersma scored three times to lead the Brandon Wheat Kings to a 7-3 victory over the Warriors in Moose Jaw. . . . Roersma, who has 15 goals, notched his first hat trick in his 139th regular-season game, all with the Wheat Kings. . . . F Jagger Firkus scored twice for Moose Jaw, giving him 31 goals. He gave his guys a 1-0 lead at 1:04 of the first period, but Brandon erased the deficit with three goals, two from Roersma, in 4:28 before the period ended. . . . F Tony Wilson had a goal (7) and two assists for Brandon. His first career three-point game came in his 114th game. . . . Brandon F Ben Thornton had a goal (2) and an assist as he returned to the lineup for the first time since Oct. 14 when he was stretchered off the ice during a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. He spent two nights in hospital and then recovered at home in Chilliwack. He was left with concussion-related issues (headache and dizziness) and also had a hip injury. . . . Brandon (23-26-8) had lost three in a row (0-2-1). It now is three points from a playoff spot. . . . Moose Jaw (35-21-3) has lost two straight. It is fourth in the Eastern Conference, five points ahead of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . .
D Mazden Leslie scored three goals to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 6-2 victory over the Cougars in Prince George. . . . The Cougars had beaten the visiting Giants, 6-0, on Tuesday night. . . . Last night, Leslie enjoyed the third multi-goal game of his career in his 138th game; the first two — both two-goal outings — came in the first and sixth games he played in his freshman season (2020-21). . . . Leslie’s second goal broke a 2-2 tie at 2:30 of the third period. His third goal, No 11 for the season, made it 5-2 at 11:04. . . . F Skyler Bruce (11) had a goal and two assists for the winners. . . . D Hudson Thornton (18) had both Prince George goals. . . . The Giants lost F Kyle Bochek to a cross-checking major and game misconduct at 10:02 of the second period. He served a three-game suspension last month after taking a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct, and a four-game suspension in October for a charging major and game misconduct. . . . Vancouver (22-28-7) had lost its previous three games (0-2-1). It is seventh in the Western Conference, two points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Prince George (29-24-4) had a five-game winning streak end. It is fourth in the conference, one point ahead of the Everett Silvertips and Tri-City Americans. . . .
F Egor Sidorov and F Brandon Lisowsky each scored twice and added an assist to spark the host Saskatoon Blades to a 5-2 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . The Blades outshot the visitors 13-0 in the first period and came out of it with a 1-0 lead on Sidorov’s first goal. . . . Saskatoon ended with a 38-10 edge in shots. . . . Sidorov’s 35th goal made it 2-0 at 1:21 of the second period. . . . Lisowsky’s two goals — he’s got 31 — gave the Blades 3-1 and 4-1 leads late in the second and early in the third. . . . F Trevor Wong earned three assists for Saskatoon. . . . The Blades were 3-for-9 on the PP; the Rebels were 0-for-2. . . . A brouhaha at 7:59 of the third period resulted in 87 penalty minutes being handed out, including five majors and six game misconducts. The WHL’s Dept. of Discipline is certain to spend the morning looking at the video. . . . Saskatoon (39-13-5) has points in seven straight (6-0-1). . . . Red Deer (38-17-4) has lost two in a row. . . . So here’s the deal: The Blades have three more points — 83-80 — than do the Rebels. But Saskatoon, which also has two games in hand, is second in the East Division, while Red Deer is atop the Central Division. So it is looking like the Rebels will be the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed and the Blades No. 3 for the first round of the playoffs.
F Andrew Cristall and F Carson Golder each scored three times to lead the Kelowna Rockets to a 7-4 victory over the visiting Spokane Chiefs. . . . F Chase Bertholet (24) pulled the Chiefs to within a goal, at 3-2, at 2:51 of the third period. . . . The Rockets then struck three times in 4:43 to take control. Golder, who has 28 goals, scored the first two of those goals to complete his second hat trick this season. . . . Golder, 20, was a defenceman prior to this season. He went into this season with three goals in 100 regular-season games, split between the Victoria Royals and Edmonton Oil Kings. This season, he has 28 goals in 57 games; with Kelowna, he has 20 goals in 33 games. . . . Golder also had an assist. . . . The Rockets got three assists from each of D Elias Carmichael and F Gabriel Szturc. . . . Cristall had 75 points, 33 of them goals, in 43 games. He had a four-goal game earlier in the season. . . . The Rockets got 41 saves from G Jari Kykkanen. . . . Kelowna (23-31-3) is eighth in the Western Conference, 12 points ahead of the Victoria Royals, who have nine games remaining. . . . Spokane (13-37-7) had points in each of its previous three games (2-0-1).
Casey Lee, who played five seasons in the WHL, has died. The native of Kindersley, Sask., was 37. . . . Lee was killed early Sunday morning in a single-vehicle accident in Calgary. . . . Lee played with the Kamloops Blazers and Kootenay Ice (2001-06). He totalled 127 points, including 40 goals, in 285 regular-season games. In 32 playoff games, he added a goal and three assists. . . . There is an obituary 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
Toll free: 1-877-922-9822
Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney
Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre
Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9
604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182
Or, for more information, visit right here.