A report from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “University of Miami basketball star Isaiah Wong will enter the transfer portal if his Name, Image and Likeness compensation isn’t increased, his NIL agent said. It wasn’t that long ago — OK, 2011 — when Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor traded signed memorabilia for tattoos at a local tattoo parlor, earning him a five-game NCAA suspension.”
Hey, Sportsnet, there is nothing better, when done correctly, than baseball on radio. Having one person call an entire game by himself — unless that person is named Vin Scully — isn’t doing it correctly. For goodness sake . . . don’t be so cheap. Get the play-by-play guy — who is pretty good — a story-telling partner, at least for home games. Or is this all a harbinger of more cuts to come as soon as the hockey season ends?
Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton) — Florida introduces ‘Don’t Say Science’ Bill.
The Everett Silvertips revealed on Sunday that F Jackson Berezowski has undergone surgery to repair an undisclosed injury, so won’t play again this season. Berezowski, a 46-goal scorer, was injured during a 5-1 loss to the host Portland Winterhawks on April 15. That was Everett’s second-last regular-season game and Berezowski, who left the game while favouring a shoulder, hasn’t played since then. . . . Berezowski, who turned 20 on Feb. 12, is from Yorkton, Sask. In 211 regular-season games with the Silvertips, he has 151 points, including 82 goals. . . .
The Silvertips, the Western Conference’s top seed, will be in Langley, B.C., tonight (Monday) for Game 6 of their first-round series with the No. 8 Vancouver Giants. Vancouver has won the last two games — 11-6 in Langley on Friday and 3-0 in Everett on Saturday — and holds a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven series. . . . Should Vancouver win tonight, the Giants would move on to the second round against the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers. That would leave the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks and No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds to meet in the other series. . . . Should the Silvertips win tonight, the series will return to Everett for Game 7 on Wednesday night. If Everett wins this series, the Silvertips would meet Seattle in the second round, with Kamloops playing against Portland.
SUNDAY IN THE WHL:
Ben King scores twice before 3 minute mark of 1st and adds third at halfway point of contest. 2nd hat trick of season and 14th multigoal game. Completes contest with 4 points as does Arshdeep Bains who had inverse. Both collects team leading 8 points in series. https://t.co/HRvfjqfp3v
In Brandon, F Jayden Grubbe’s goal at 7:41 of the third OT gave the No. 3 Red Deer Rebels a 5-4 victory over the No. 6 Wheat Kings. . . . The Rebels won the series, 4-2, and will meet the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings in the second round. . . . Red Deer F Ben King, the WHL’s leading regular-season goal scorer, counted twice before the game was three minutes old. . . . The Wheat Kings pulled even on goals from F Ridley Greig, at 8:41 of the first period, and F Rylen Roersma (1) at 2:16 of the second. . . . King (4) completed his hat trick at 10:07, only to have Greig (2) score, on a PP, at 15:11. . . . F Arshdeep Bains, who also had three assists, put Red Deer back out front with his third goal of the series, at 15:58. . . . Brandon F Marcus Kallionkieli (3) tied it at 2:38 and that goal took the teams into OT. . . . Grubbe won it with his second goal of the series. . . . Red Deer held a 55-50 edge in shots, including 21-18 in OT. . . . The Rebels got 46 stops from G Chase Coward, while Brandon’s Ethan Kruger turned aside 50 shots. . . .
The Rebels and Oil Kings will open with games in Edmonton on Thursday and Saturday. . . . The other conference semifinal will feature the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice versus the No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors. That series is scheduled to open with games in Winnipeg on Friday and Saturday.
A truck loaded with thousands of copies of Roget's Thesaurus spilled its load leaving New York Witnesses were stunned, startled, aghast, stupefied, confused, shocked, rattled, paralyzed, dazed, bewildered, surprised, dumbfounded, flabbergasted, confounded, astonished, and numbed. pic.twitter.com/YyhfkmOcxa
ICYMI, five New York Mets pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter in a 3-0 victory over the visiting Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night. The five threw a total of 159 pitches — the most pitches ever thrown in a nine-inning no-hitter dating back to 1988, which is as far back as pitch totals go. That’s a lot of pitches for a team to look at without getting even one hit. . . . Tyler Kepner of The New York Times pointed out that it was Father’s Day of 1964 when pitcher Jim Bunning of the Phillies needed only 90 pitches when he threw a perfect game at the host Mets. . . . Tylor Megill, who started for the Mets on Friday, was lifted after throwing 88 pitches. . . . “If Bunning’s game was a masterpiece for a museum,” Kepner wrote, “Friday’s was something more suited for the refrigerator door. Both are works of art. One is just a little less perfect.”
EV Zug won the Swiss National League championship on Sunday, beating the ZSC Lions, 3-1, in Game 7 of the championship series. Zug is the first team in league history to overcome a 0-3 deficit to win the final series. . . . Josh Holden, a star with the WHL’s Regina for four seasons (1994-98), is an assistant coach with Zug. He spent 10 seasons playing for Zug, which also won the championship last season. . . . Earlier in the playoffs, Zug had swept HC Lugano and HC Davos before losing the first three games to the Lions.
Have you ever wondered how much Shaquille O’Neal weighs. As Charles Barkley said on The Dan Patrick Show: “If he gets on the scale, it’s gonna be saving, ‘One person at a time, please.’ ”
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:
Got an update on the City of Cranbrook's lawsuit against the Kootenay/Winnipeg Ice and WHL. The City filed a notice of claim in Dec. 2020 alleging breach of contract and seeking lost revenues when the club relocated. It went unanswered…until March 2022.https://t.co/M3fhjIPNXk
The City of Cranbook filed a lawsuit claiming breach of contract in December 2020 after a WHL franchise that had been located there left for Winnipeg. Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman has discovered that the owners of the Winnipeg Ice filed a response to that lawsuit last month. . . . Of course, that response presents a different version of the facts than does Cranbrook’s lawsuit. . . . Crawley’s story is right here.
The IIHF’s 2023 World men’s hockey championship was to have been decided in St. Petersburg, Russia, from May 5-21. That won’t happen now that the IIHF announced that “out of concern for the safety and well-being of participating players, officials, media and fans, the IIHF council has decided to withdraw the hosting rights . . . from Russia . . .” . . . The decision was made during an IIHF council meeting in Zurich on Tuesday. The IIHF said it will confirm “an alternative host” during its 2022 Congress in Tampere, Finland, during the final week of the 2022 World men’s tournament. . . . From a news release: “The decision to relocate the event was taken primarily out of concern for the safety and well-being of all participating players, officials, media, and fans. As was the case with Council’s earlier decision to withdraw the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship that was to be held in Omsk and Novosibirsk, Russia, the Council expressed significant concerns over the safe freedom of movement of players and officials to, from, and within Russia.”
There were six playoff games on the ice and there weren’t any surprises as the higher seed won each of the games. . . . There are six more games on tap tonight with four teams already facing elimination. The Prince Albert Raiders, Saskatoon Blades, Kelowna Rockets and Prince George Cougars trail their best-of-seven series, 3-0, as they play on home ice again tonight. . . . Here’s how things went last night. . . .
I asked Mike Johnston about what happened with Ryan McCleary and the penalty situation because that was a mess.
First the WHL game sheet had a 2-5-10 (Instigator, Fighting, Misconduct), then switched to a game misconduct, and eventually back to a 2-5-10.
In Prince George, G Taylor Gauthier stopped 28 shots in leading the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks to a 2-0 victory over the No. 6 Cougars. . . . Portland has won the first three games of the series and can end it tonight in Prince George. . . . The Winterhawks acquired Gauthier, 20, from the Cougars during the season. His first playoff shutout came in his third appearance, all of them this season with Portland. . . . F Gabe Klassen scored both of Portland’s goals — at 2:46 and 13:36 of the second period. . . . F Riley Heidt of the Cougars took a kneeing major and game misconduct for a second-period hit on D Luca Cagnoni, who wasn’t injured on the play. . . . There was something of an oddity on the play as Portland D Ryan McCleary was shown on the online game sheet as having received a game misconduct, along with an instigating minor and a major for a fight with Heidt. McCleary apparently returned to the dressing room, took off his hockey gear, put on his suit and headed up into the stands. He later was told that he hadn’t been ejected, so went back to the dressing room, put his hockey gear back on and returned to the action. The game misconduct later disappeared from the game sheet, to be replaced by misconduct. . . . D Clay Hanus and F Aidan Litke were out of Portland’s lineup, presumably with undisclosed injuries, and didn’t even make the trek north. . . .
The shutout for @tgoats_35 was the first playoff blanking for @pdxwinterhawks since @Adin_Hill stopped 21 shots in a 3-0 win over Seattle on 3/29/15. and the first on the road since @maccarruth31 made 29 saves in a 3-0 win over Kamloops on 4/24/14.
In Kelowna, the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds struck for three third-period goals in the span of 1:32 and went on to beat the No. 5 Rockets, 5-1. . . . The Thunderbirds hold a 3-0 series lead going into tonight’s Game 4 in Kelowna. . . . F Jake Poole of the Rockets opened the scoring when he counted on a penalty shot at 18:22 of the first period. . . . F Reid Schaefer pulled Seattle even, on a PP, at 5:07 of the second. . . . Seattle’s offensive explosion began at 5:57 of the third period when D Kevin Korchinski scored for a 2-1 lead. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky notched his fourth goal of the series, on a PP, at 7:12, and Korchinski added his second goal of the game — and third of the series — at 7:29. That goal also came on a PP; it was Seattle’s 10th goal with the man advantage in the three games. The Thunderbirds are 10-for-19 on the PP in the three games. . . . The two PP goals came after Kelowna F Mark Liwiski was hit with a checking-to-the-head major at 4:00 of the third period. . . . Korchinski has three goals and six assists in the series. F Jared Davidson, who had three assists, has two goals and eight assists.
In Prince Albert, the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice scored four first-period goals and added five more in the second en route to a 10-1 victory over the No. 8 Raiders. . . . Winnipeg leads the series 3-0 and gets its first opportunity to wrap it up tonight. . . . The Ice led 2-0 at the 7:03 mark of the first period, having scored two PP goals. . . . F Mikey Milne scored three times for the Ice, completing his hat trick with a shorthanded score at 19:15 of the second period. He also had an assist. . . . F Connor McClennon had a goal and three assists. . . . Winnipeg had a 36-19 edge in shots. . . . The Ice was 3-for-5 on the PP, and now is 7-for-12 in the three games. . . . The Raiders had Ozzy Wiesblatt back in their lineup. Wiesblatt, who had 41 points in 43 regular-season games, hadn’t played since March 12. . . . Winnipeg F Matt Savoie, who was injured in Game 1 and missed Game 2, was on the ice for the pregame warmup. Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW.com tweeted that Savoie “is visibly favouring his left leg.” Savoie ended up being a scratch. . . .
In Lethbridge, the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings scored the game’s first three goals and went on to a 4-1 victory over the No. 7 Hurricanes. . . . The Oil Kings now hold a 3-0 edge and can sweep the series Thursday night in Lethbridge. . . . F Jalen Luypen had a goal and two assists for Edmonton, opening the scoring at 2:21 of the first period. . . . D Kaiden Guhle upped the lead to 2-0 at 1:56 of the second period. . . . F Carter Souch made it 3-0, on a PP, at 11:03. . . . The Hurricanes counted at 3:18 of the third period when F Yegor Klavdiev scored on a PP, but F Dylan Guenther got that one back — it was his third of the series — at 6:13. . . . G Sebastian Cossa stopped 25 shots to record the victory over Bryan Thomson, who blocked 34 shots. . . .
In Brandon, the No. 3 Red Deer Rebels got third-period goals from F Arshdeep Bains and F Ben King as they beat the No. 6 Wheat Kings, 3-1. . . . Red Deer holds a 2-1 lead now with Game 4 in Brandon tonight. They’ll be back in Red Deer for Game 5 on Friday. . . . Bains, who won the WHL scoring race, broke a 1-1 tie, on a PP, at 6:35, with King, who led the WHL in goals, adding insurance at 15:26. . . . Bains also had two assists. . . . Red Deer was 2-for-7 on the PP; Brandon was 0-for-6. . . .
In Saskatoon, F Cordel Larson scored in OT to give the No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors a 3-2 victory over the No. 5 Blades. . . . The Warriors lead the series 3-0 with Game 4 in Saskatoon tonight. . . . Saskatoon took a 1-0 lead at 3:20 of the first period when F Jayden Wiens scored. . . . The Warriors grabbed a 2-1 lead on goals from F Eric Alarie, at 18:15 of the first, and F Martin Rysavy, at 4:43 of the second. . . . The Blades forced OT at 19:15 of the third period when F Brandon Lisowsky scored with G Nolan Maier on the bench in favour of the extra skater. . . . Larson won it at 9:40 of extra time with his second goal of the series. (NOTE: The online game sheet credits F Atley Calvert with the winner, but it would seem a change is in the works.) . . . The Warriors got 27 saves from G Carl Tetachuk, while Maier blocked 34 for Saskatoon. . . . F Tristen Robins, Saskatoon’s captain, returned to the lineup after missing six games with an undisclosed injury.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The City of Revelstoke and the junior B Grizzlies of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League will play host to the 2023 Cyclone Taylor Cup tournament. The four-team event, featuring a host team and champions from the KIJHL, Pacific Junior Hockey League and Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, is scheduled for April 13-16. This will be first time the tournament will have been played in Revelstoke. . . . Mike Leone is the new general manager and head coach of the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers. He spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach in the USA Hockey National Team Development Program. Leone takes over from Pat Mikesch, who spent eight seasons with the Gamblers. He and the organization parted company after the Gamblers missed the playoffs for the fourth time in eight seasons.
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:
F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats will be on the roster when Hockey Canada announces the roster of the team that will play in the IIHF U-18 world championship in Germany later this month. . . . That means he will be reunited with David Struch, who was fired as the Pats’ head coach on Nov. 18 and will be an assistant coach with Team Canada. . . . Bedard and his Pats closed out their WHL regular season on Sunday with a 7-4 victory over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. Bedard put up five points — two goals and three assists — to finish the season with 100 points, including 51 goals, in 62 games. . . . Bedard, who will turn 17 on July 17, is the third 16-year-old in WHL history to score 50 times in one season. F Glen Goodall of the Seattle Thunderbirds scored 63 times in 1986-87, which was his third season in the WHL, while F Dan Lucas of the Victoria Cougars struck 57 times in 1974-75. . . . The U-18 tournament is to run from April 23 through May 1 in Landshut and Kaufbeuren, Germany. . . . I believe that Bedard also is eligible to play in the 2022 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup early in August in Red Deer and the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship, which is scheduled for Aug. 9-20 in Edmonton. . . . As for his future in the WHL, well, there already are rumblings in the hockey world that he could end up with the Blazers if Kamloops wins the right to play host to the 2023 Memorial Cup. Now that would be a trade for the ages!
In Regina, F Connor Bedard ended his season with a flourish, putting up five points as the Pats beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 7-4. . . . Included in Bedard’s effort were his 50th goal and 100th point of the season. He finished with 51 goals. . . . F Tanner Howe (27) snapped a 4-4 tie, on a PP, at 7:15 of the third period. Bedard followed with No. 50, on another PP, at 13:50, then got No. 51 into an empty net at 19:36. . . . Howe’s season shouldn’t be overlooked in all the Bedard hype. Howe, who turned 16 on Nov. 28, finished with 69 points, including 42 assists, in 64 games. . . . F Cole Dubinsky (20) added two goals and an assist for the winners. . . . D Denton Mateychuk (13) score twice for Moose Jaw. . . . The Warriors will meet the Saskatoon Blades in the first round of the playoffs; the Pats didn’t qualify. . . . Regina ended up tied for ninth with the Swift Current Broncos and Calgary Hitmen, each with 59 points, two shy of a playoff spot. . . .
In Calgary, F Alex Thacker’s OT goal gave the Lethbridge Hurricanes a 3-2 victory over the Hitmen. . . . Thacker’s 14th goal came just 19 seconds into extra time. . . . The Hurricanes led this one 2-0 before the first period was 12 minutes old. . . . Calgary F Riley Fiddler-Schultz (28) tied it, on a PP, at 18:27 of the second period. . . . The Hurricanes finished seventh in the Eastern Conference and will meet the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings in the opening round. . . . The Hitmen didn’t qualify.
SOME NUMBERS: F Arshdeep Bains of the Red Deer Rebels won the Bob Clarke Trophy as the WHL scoring king with 112 points. He was one of four players with at least 100 points, the others being linemate Ben King (105), F Logan Stankoven (104) of the Kamloops Blazers and F Connor Bedard (100) of the Regina Pats. . . . King led in goals (52), one more than Bedard. . . . Bains was tops in assists (69), five more than D Olen Zellweger of the Everett Silvertips. . . . King finished with 15 game-winning goals, one off the WHL record that was set by F Brian Propp of the Brandon Wheat Kings in 1978-79. . . . G Daniel Hauser of the Winnipeg Ice had the best GAA, at 2.00, while G Taylor Gauthier, who was acquired by the Portland Winterhawks from the Prince George Cougars during the season, was tops in save percentage (.928). . . . Hauser and Dylan Garand of Kamloops led in victories, each with 34. . . . Hauser had a WHL-high eight shutouts. . . .
According to numbers compiled by the WHL, the average attendance for 748 games was 3,203. That’s down from 4,154 for 694 games in 2019-20 and from 4,361 for 748 games in 2018-19. Of course, this season’s numbers are skewed because of pandemic-related restrictions in the early going.
THINKING OUT LOUD: Nothing sums up the end of the race for playoff spots in the WHL’s Western Conference like the Prince George Cougars starting Saturday in seventh place, dropping a 3-1 decision to the Rockets in Kelowna that night, and, despite the loss, moving up to sixth place in the final standings. . . . The Winnipeg Ice won the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s top regular-season team. If the Ice goes on a deep playoff run, will it play all of its home game in what is the smallest arena in the 60-team CHL? The most frequently announced attendance in the Wayne Fleming Arena is 1,621. . . . The playoffs open on Thursday with the Lethbridge Hurricanes visiting the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Because of a Paul McCartney concert in Spokane on April 28, the Chiefs and Kamloops Blazers will open with three games in Kamloops, and then have a break between Game 3 (April 25) and Game 4 (April 29). This is the first stop on the tour, so they will start setting up and staging on April 24. Perhaps the Chiefs can get Sir Paul to hang around and do the anthems before Game 4. Hey, why not? After April 28, he’s off until May 2 in Seattle.
If you’re a baseball fan, you no doubt were disappointed on Wednesday when Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts yanked left-hander Clayton Kershaw, who was throwing a perfect game through seven innings. Kershaw had thrown 80 pitches and the Dodgers held a 7-0 lead over the host Minnesota Twins at the time.
There was a whole lot of indignation on social media, with Roberts getting mostly roasted.
But the best take I saw came from Joe Posnanski, who wrote in part:
“There was no chance in the world that Clayton Kershaw was pitching nine innings on Wednesday in Minnesota. We all knew it. We might not have liked it, might have wished for something else, but I mean, when that game started, if someone had asked you, “What are the chances that Clayton Kershaw throws a nine-inning complete game today?” you would have said: Zero percent.
“Not 1%. Not 0.5%. No: 0.000000000000000%.”
Posnanski went on to point out that Kershaw “finished last season with his elbow barely intact . . . he only began throwing again in January . . . in a shortened spring training, he threw a grand total of 101 pitches . . .” Posnanski also mentioned that Kershaw hadn’t thrown a complete game in almost five years and it was “like 30 degrees with a howling wind at Target Field.”
Google is your friend if you aren’t aware of Tom House and his accomplishments in the world of baseball.
Joe Maddon, the manager of the Los Angeles Angeles, ordered up a bases-loaded walk in a Friday game.
How did that work out?
Here’s Joe Posnanski: “Here’s something funny about managing a baseball game: You could do the absolute right thing from a percentage and logic standpoint and have it blow up in your face. And you could do the dumbest thing imaginable for the dumbest reason imaginable and have it work out perfectly.”
His complete take on Maddon’s move is right here, and it’s a great read.
From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Kiara Thomas was arrested and charged with assault in Laurel, Mississippi, for punching an umpire at a 12-year-old girls softball game, WLBT-TV reported. The capper? In her mugshot, Thomas rocks a ‘Mother of the Year’ t-shirt.”
Perry, again: “LSU outfielder Gavin Dugas was hit by a pitch 13 times in his first 103 plate appearances this season. Twins scouts love him, saying he’d be a perfect for Target Field.”
The Athletic’s Chris Branch reports: “MLB commissioner Rob Manfred gifted every major leaguer a shiny new pair of Bose headphones on Opening Day as a way of saying, ‘I’m sorry for trying to withhold as much money from you as possible’ after a lockout that got particularly nasty at points. At least those pregame playlists will sound crisp now.”
One more note from Branch: “Jrue Holiday started Milwaukee’s 133-115 loss to Cleveland on (April 10), his 67th game this season, but didn’t stick around for long. Seconds after the opening tip, Holiday intentionally fouled Cavaliers guard Darius Garland, exited the game and never came back. Why? Holiday’s game total triggered a $306,000 bonus in his contract. That’s $38,250 per second of play. Not bad.”
The aforementioned Dwight Perry chimed in with: “Which pencils out to a tidy $136.8 million an hour.”
Headline at The Beaverton — Canada to distribute remaining vaccines through “Roll Up the Rim to Win” contest.
One more from The Beaverton — Study finds cycling healthiest way to get hit by a car.
Headline at TheOnion.com — Climate report finds Antarctica could support multiple golf courses by 2050.
It was just a week ago when I mentioned in this space that OF Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins was capable of having an MVP-type season if only he could stay healthy. . . . Well, he went down in the Twins’ 8-4 victory over the Red Sox in Boston on Friday afternoon. He left the game in the first inning with soreness in his right knee, and now is likely to miss at least a week.
If you’re a regular in these parts, you know that my wife, Dorothy, is with us today because of a kidney transplant. And now she is preparing to take part in the annual Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year. . . . The 2022 Kidney Walk will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to be on her team by sponsoring her, you are able to do that right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
So . . . right here, from the WHL’s own website, is an explanation of how it is to deal with a three-team tie in its final standings . . .
“In the event three (3) or more clubs finish tied in total points in WHL standings, the edge goes to the club with the most victories. Should the clubs have won the same number of games, then the higher position shall be awarded to the club having the greatest ratio when taking goals for and subtracting goals against in regular schedule play.”
What the WHL forgot to tell us is that there is another step in the procedure, as you shall see if you read on . . .
After Saturday’s games, the Prince George Cougars, Spokane Chiefs and Vancouver Giants all had 24 victories and 53 points. They were tied for sixth place in the Western Conference.
So under the above tiebreaking procedure, I had thought you would take the goals-for and goals-against for each team, subtract, and go from there. That would have put the Cougars (-63) in sixth, the Giants (-69) in seventh, and the Chiefs (-101) eighth.
But it seems that there is a step missing, one that would have provided some clarity, from that tiebreaking procedure as it is spelled out on the WHL website.
You see, in this instance, you only use that tiebreaking procedure to decide the sixth-place team. In this case, that would be the Cougars.
With the Cougars out of the way, the WHL went to a two-team tiebreaker to decide between the Giants and Chiefs. And goals-for and goals-against isn’t used for that one. Instead, because the teams finished with the same number of victories, the edge goes “to the club with the most points in games between the two during the regular season.” The Chiefs won the season series, 3-1-0, so they get seventh place.
That leaves the Giants in eighth.
(Confusing? As I write this, the standings on the WHL website have the Chiefs in sixth, followed by the Giants and then the Cougars.)
What we do know for sure is that the Royals, with 52 points, fell one point shy of that logjam. We also know that each of the first-round series will feature a U.S. team against one from B.C.
In the Eastern Conference, the Prince Albert Raiders wrapped up eighth place, and the last playoff spot, while the Swift Current Broncos, Calgary Hitmen and Regina Pats were eliminated.
There are two games remaining in the WHL’s regular season but neither one will have any bearing on playoff positions. . . . Today, the Lethbridge Hurricanes are to visit the Calgary Hitmen, with the Moose Jaw Warriors in Regina to play the Pats. . . . Here’s how things wound down last night (GR — games remaining). . . .
Everett Silvertips — Will finish atop the U.S. Division and the conference. One point ahead of Kamloops and Portland. . . . Everett will play Vancouver in the first round. Each team was 2-2-0 in the season series. . . . GR (0).
Kamloops Blazers — Won B.C. Division. . . . Also finished with one more victory than Portland, 48-47. . . . Will meet Spokane in first round. Series will have a 3-3-1 format with the first three games in Kamloops and next three in Spokane. . . . Kamloops won the season series, 3-1-0. . . . GR (0).
Portland Winterhawks — One point behind Everett, tied with Kamloops. As third seed draws Prince George in first round. Portland swept the season series, 4-0-0. . . . GR (0).
Seattle Thunderbirds — Finished fourth so have home-ice advantage against Kelowna in first round. . . . Seattle finished 3-1-0 in the season series; Kelowna was 1-2-1. . . . GR (0).
Kelowna Rockets — Finish fifth and draw Seattle in first round. . . . GR (0).
Prince George Cougars — Placed sixth through tiebreaking process. . . . Will be riding the bus to Portland to open there on Friday. . . . GR (0).
Spokane Chiefs — Slipped into seventh by sweeping weekend series in Victoria. . . . Gets Kamloops in the first round. . . . GR (0).
Vancouver Giants — Wound up eighth through the tiebreaking procedure. . . . Will open against Everett. . . . GR (0).
Victoria Royals — Not this season.
Tri-City Americans — Not this season either.
Winnipeg Ice — Wins the East Division, Eastern Conference and WHL regular-season pennants. . . . Will meet Prince Albert in first round. Winnipeg was 5-1-2 in the season series; Prince Albert was 3-4-1. . . . GR (0).
Edmonton Oil Kings — Finished second and open against Lethbridge. . . . Edmonton won the season series, 6-2-0; Lethbridge was 2-5-1. . . . GR (0).
Red Deer Rebels — Wound up third and meet Brandon in the first round. . . . Each team was 2-2-0 in the season series. . . . GR (0).
Moose Jaw Warriors — Ended up fourth and have home-ice advantage in first-round series with Saskatoon. . . . GR (1): at Regina today.
Saskatoon Blades — Will finish fifth and meet Moose Jaw in first round. . . . Saskatoon won the season series, 6-2-0; Moose Jaw was 2-5-1. . . . GR (0).
Brandon Wheat Kings — Will finish sixth and meet Red Deer in the first round. . . . GR (0).
Lethbridge Hurricanes — Will finish seventh and play Edmonton in the first round. . . . GR (1): at Calgary today.
Prince Albert — Woke up in 11th spot on Friday and clinched the conference’s eighth and final playoff spot with a victory in Swift Current on Friday and another over visiting Brandon last night. Will meet the Winnipeg Ice in the first round. . . . GR (0).
Swift Current Broncos — Will finish ninth and out of the playoffs. . . . GR (0).
Calgary Hitmen — No playoffs here either. . . . GR (1): at home to Lethbridge today.
Regina Pats — In 11th spot after losing 6-4 to the Winnipeg Ice last night. The Ice were the home team for Friday and Saturday games in Regina and swept the Pats. . . . GR (1): at home to Moose Jaw today.
Medicine Hat — Sorry. Not this time.
SATURDAY IN THE WHL:
F Keaton Sorensen and F Evan Herman each scored twice to help the host Prince Albert Raiders to a 5-1 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The victory allowed the Raiders to grab the conference’s last playoff spot. They’ll be in Winnipeg to play the Ice in a first-round opener on Friday. . . . The Raiders go into the playoffs as defending champions. They won it all in 2018-19; the pandemic took care of playoffs the past two seasons. . . . Herman, who has 28 goals, scored the game’s first two goals. . . . Sorensen has 12 goals. . . .
In Regina, the Pats’ playoff hopes ended with a 6-4 loss to the Winnipeg Ice. . . . The Ice played in Regina as the home team on Friday and Saturday nights in games moved from Winnipeg because of a Prairie blizzard that had hit the area. The Ice, with the WHL’s best record this regular season, won both games. . . . The Pats never led in this one, but got to within one, at 5-4, when F Easton Armstrong (6) scored at 8:22 of the third period. . . . Ice F Matt Savoie (35) got the empty-netter at 19:22. . . . G Daniel Hauser stopped 25 shots to earn the victory. He finished this season 34-3-1, 2.00, .914. . . . Regina F Connor Bedard had two assists. He has 95 points, including 49 goals, in 62 games. . . . Announced attendance was 1,481. . . .
In Red Deer, the Edmonton Oil Kings scored the game’s first three goals en route to a 3-2 victory over the Rebels. . . . F Jake Neighbours (17) gave the visitors a 3-0 lead at 7:53 of the second period. . . . F Arshdeep Bains, who will win the WHL scoring title, got the Rebels to within a goal at 3-2 at 11:56 of the third period. But they weren’t able to equalize. . . . Bains, who also had an assist, unofficially leads the WHL in assists (69) and points (112). . . . The teams combined to take 22 minor penalties. Edmonton was 1-for-9 on the PP; Red Deer was 1-for-8. . . . Rogan Dean, the Oil Kings’ equipment manager, worked his 1,000th game with them.
G Mason Beaupit stopped 35 shots to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 4-2 victory over the Royals in Victoria. . . . The outcome clinched a playoff spot for the Chiefs and eliminated the Royals. . . . Tied 1-1, the Chiefs scored two goals in the second half of the first period to take control. . . . The winners got a goal and an assist from each of F Ty Cheveldayoff (10) and F Cade Hayes (9). . . .
The Tri-City Americans scored the game’s first three goals and went on to beat the Everett Silvertips, 4-1, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . F Sasha Mutala, who played 266 games over five-plus seasons with the Americans, scored the game’s last goal and also had two assists. He finished with 19 goals. . . . Everett wins the U.S. Division and Western Conference pennants, with 100 points, but have fewer victories than the Kamloops Blazers and Portland Winterhawks, both of whom finished with 99 points. While Everett won 45 games, Kamloops got to 48 and Portland 47. However, Everett ended up with 10 loser points; Portland got five and Kamloops three. . . .
F Andrew Cristall scored twice and added an assist to lead the host Kelowna Rockets to a 3-1 victory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . Cristall’s second goal, his 28th of the season, gave the Rockets a 3-0 lead at 14:19 of the third period. . . . F Colton Dach drew three assists. . . . Cristall, who turned 17 on Feb. 5, finished with 69 points in 61 games. He tied the franchise record for most points by a player in his 16-year-old season. F Shane McColgan put up 69 points in 2009-10. . . .
F Logan Stankoven scored his 45th goal and added an assist to help the host Kamloops Blazers to a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . Stankoven finished with 104 points in 59 games as he led the league in points-per-game, at 1.76.
The Saskatoon Blades honoured former general manager/head coach Lorne Molleken prior to and during their 2-1 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday night. . . . I only hope the music man played ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man at least once in Lorne’s honour.
Darren Steinke, the travelling blogger, was on hand and he posted this piece right here.
Classy moment as the Flames and Coyotes line up to shake the hand of 23-year referee Brad Meier after his final game 👏 pic.twitter.com/NSaWk4XS4O
Brad Meier, a former WHL referee, worked his final game as an NHL referee on Saturday night. . . . Cory Wolfe is a former sports writer at the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, which is in Meier’s hometown. . . .
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Branden Crowe, the radio voice of the Brandon Wheat Kings for six seasons, called his final game last night. He is moving on to work for Hockey Canada. He also has been the Wheat Kings’ director of strategic marketing and social sales. According to a news release: “An interim play-by-play voice for the upcoming playoffs will be named in the coming days Long-time colour commentator Pete Gerlinger will remain on the broadcast team.” The Wheat Kings are scheduled to open a first-round playoff series against the Rebels in Red Deer on Friday.
If you’re a regular in these parts, you know that we’re big on organ donation and transplantation here, primarily because my wife, Dorothy, is with us today because of a kidney transplant. And now she is preparing to take part in the annual Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year. . . . The 2022 Kidney Walk will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . The Kidney Walk is a huge fund-raising venture for the Canadian Kidney Foundation and its provincial branches. By participating, Dorothy is able to give something back to an organization that has been such a big part of our lives. . . . If you would like to be on her team by making a donation you are able to do so right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
When the Regina Pats rolled out of bed on Wednesday morning, they were two points away from a WHL playoff berth with three games remaining, only one of them at home.
By the time they had poured the milk on their cereal, they still were two points away from the Eastern Conference’s last playoff spot with three games remaining — but now all three of those games will be played on home ice.
Oh, they won’t be the home team for two of those games, but they’ll be playing in their home facility, meaning they won’t have to ride the bus along the wind- and snow-swept Trans-Canada Highway and they’ll spend Easter weekend sleeping in their own beds.
So . . . what happened?
Well, the Pats were to have visited the Winnipeg Ice, the WHL’s best team this regular season, for games tonight and Friday. But a blizzard has engulfed much of southern Manitoba so the WHL has moved both games to Regina’s Brandt Centre on Friday and Saturday nights.
As the Pats put it in a news release, they “stepped up to assist the Ice . . .” Some assist! They get an unexpected share of two home games, no bus rides, no hotels, no road food.
Then, on Sunday, the Moose Jaw Warriors are scheduled to visit Regina.
This all comes with the Pats (26-34-5) riding along in a 10th-place tie with the Prince Albert Raiders (26-35-5), one point behind the Calgary Hitmen (25-33-8) and two in arrears of the pace-setting Swift Current Broncos (26-34-7).
For the games against Winnipeg, the Pats will be housed in their own dressing room and use their own bench, but the Ice will have last change. The teams also have come to some kind of gate-sharing arrangement, something that the Winnipeggers likely salivated at because chances are good that each of the games in Regina will draw more fans than the often announced attendance of 1,621 at the Wayne Fleming Arena on the U of Manitoba campus.
It is unfortunate that fans in Winnipeg won’t get to see Regina’s Connor Bedard and Winnipeg’s Matt Savoie, two of the WHL’s brightest lights, go head-to-head in back-to-back games. But, if you’re a follower of the WHL, you know that disappointment is no stranger to Ice fans.
If you’re wondering what kind of chance the Pats have against the Ice in these two games, well, you should know that Winnipeg (51-10-5) leads the season series, 5-0-0, and has outscored Regina, 26-9 in the process. These teams last met on April 2 with the Ice winning, 7-0, in Regina.
In fact, Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post tells us that “the Ice has won all 14 of its games against Regina since the franchise moved to Winnipeg from Cranbrook, B.C., after the 2018-19 season.”
History suggests, then, that the Pats are beaten before they even show up. On the other hand, the Ice has nothing at stake, other than to keep its players healthy, having clinched the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as regular-season champions. The Pats’ coaching staff, meanwhile, will be imploring the players not to kick this gift horse in the teeth.
Still, despite the long odds faced by the Pats, you have to think the Broncos, Hitmen and Raiders can’t be too thrilled with this development. Really, could they be at all faulted if they were furious at the way this has unfolded?
There is a lot at stake here as teams, coming of a couple of seasons of COVID-related losses and no playoff games, really want those playoff gates. Only one those four teams is going to get in and the reward will be a first-round matchup with the Ice. Still, it means at least two gates, and that can’t hurt the bottom line.
Look, the Pats are likely to get their lunch handed to them as they are clearly outmatched here. But what if the Ice chooses to rest two or three of its seven 20-plus goal scorers in each game, purely in the interests of good health, you understand? How much would that shift the odds? And, of course, as football coach/philosopher Herm Edwards once explained: “You play to win the game.”
None of this has stopped the Pats’ marketing department from declaring Friday’s game to be Guaranteed Win Night. If the Pats lose, each fan in attendance will be given a voucher for a free ticket, not for Saturday’s game but for any regular-season game next season.
The WHL’s 22 teams are into the final four days of their 68-game regular seasons. Here’s a look at where things are in terms of playoff opponents (GR — games remaining) . . .
Everett Silvertips — Hold three-point lead over Kamloops, each with two games to play. Will meet Vancouver, Spokane, Prince George or Victoria in first round. . . . Will be without Olen Zellweger, the WHL’s highest-scoring defenceman, until at least the start of the playoffs. . . . GR (2): at Portland on Friday, at Tri-City on Saturday.
Kamloops Blazers — Three points behind Everett and tied with Portland. . . . GR (2): at home to Prince George on Friday and Vancouver on Saturday.
Portland Winterhawks — Will finish second or third. Beat host Tri-City in OT on Tuesday night to move into tie with Kamloops. . . . GR (1): at home to Everett on Friday.
Seattle Thunderbirds — Will finish fourth and have home-ice advantage against Kelowna in first round. . . . GR (1): at Tri-City on Friday.
Kelowna Rockets — Will finish fifth and meet Seattle in first round. . . . GR (2): at Vancouver on Friday, at home to Prince George on Saturday.
Vancouver Giants — Have two games remaining, after dropping a 6-0 decision to visiting Seattle last night. . . . One point ahead of Spokane and Prince George. . . . GR (2): at home to Kelowna on Friday, at Kamloops on Saturday.
Prince George Cougars — Tied with Spokane for seventh with same records (23-28-5), one point behind Vancouver and one ahead of Victoria. . . . GR (2): at Kamloops on Friday, at Kelowna on Saturday.
Spokane Chiefs — Tied with Prince George. . . . GR (2): at Victoria on Friday and Saturday.
Victoria Royals — One point behind Prince George and Spokane. . . . GR (2): at home to Spokane on Friday and Saturday.
Tri-City Americans — Not this season.
Winnipeg Ice — Will finish atop the overall standings so is assured of home ice through the playoffs. First-round opponent will be Swift Current, Calgary, Regina or Prince Albert. . . . Two home games versus Regina now will be played in Regina on Friday and Saturday nights. . . . GR (2): Ice will be designated as home team for games in Regina on Friday and Saturday.
Edmonton Oil Kings — Will finish second and open against Lethbridge. . . . GR (2): at Medicine Hat on Friday, at Red Deer on Saturday.
Red Deer Rebels — Will finish third and meet Saskatoon or Brandon in the first round. . . . GR (1): at home to Edmonton on Saturday.
Moose Jaw Warriors — Won 5-2 in Brandon on Tuesday to move two points ahead of Saskatoon. . . . GR (2): at Lethbridge on Friday, at Regina on Sunday.
Saskatoon Blades — Two points behind Moose Jaw and each team has 37 victories. . . . Three points ahead of Brandon. . . . GR (1): at home to Brandon on Friday.
Brandon Wheat Kings — Three points behind Saskatoon. . . . GR (2): at Saskatoon on Friday, at Prince Albert on Saturday. . . . Depending on road conditions, Wheat Kings may not leave for Saskatoon until Friday.
Lethbridge Hurricanes — Will finish seventh and play Edmonton in the first round. . . . GR (2): at home to Moose Jaw on Friday, at Calgary on Sunday.
Swift Current Broncos — Hold down conference’s last playoff spot but have only one game remaining. . . . One point ahead of Calgary, two ahead of Regina and Prince Albert. . . . GR (1): at home to Prince Albert on Friday.
Calgary Hitmen — One point behind Swift Current, one in front of Regina and Prince Albert. . . . GR (1): at home to Lethbridge on Sunday.
Regina Pats — Tied with Prince Albert, two points behind Swift Current and one behind Calgary. . . . Three games remaining, all at home after two games scheduled for Winnipeg were moved to Regina. . . . GR (3): at home to Winnipeg on Friday and Saturday, at home to Moose Jaw on Sunday.
Prince Albert — Tied with Regina, two points behind Swift Current and one behind Calgary. . . . GR (2): at Swift Current on Friday, at home to Brandon on Saturday.
Medicine Hat — Sorry. Not this time.
WEDNESDAY IN THE WHL:
Arshdeep Bains records 2 goals, 2 assists to extend multipoint game streak to 4 and goal streak to 8, surpassing his 7 spot from December. According to Elite Prospects, becomes 5th player in franchise history to 110 points. With a game to go, record is 120 by Justin Mapletoft. https://t.co/b9gMFqBWyp
In Calgary, F Arshdeep Bains, the WHL’s leading scorer, had two goals and two assists to lead the Red Deer Rebels to an 8-3 victory over the Hitmen. . . . He now leads the league with 110 points, seven more than linemate Ben King, who had two goals, and eight up on F Logan Stankoven of the idle Kamloops Blazers. . . . Bains also leads the WHL in assists, with 68. . . . King now has 52 goals, three more than F Connor Bedard of the idle Regina Pats. . . . This was the first time the Rebels and Hitmen have played each other since Dec. 19. . . .
#WHL SEA/VAN: @SeattleTbirds crank up a 5-goal first period – 3 by Jared Davidson – and skedaddle out of Vancouver with a shutout victory. Davidson – who is one away from 40 goals, would be first since Mathew Wedman – has first in-period hat trick since Wedman, Jan. 19, 2019.
In Langley, B.C., the Seattle Thunderbirds struck for five goals in the first period en route to a 6-0 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . G Tomas Milic earned the shutout with 25 saves. It was his third this season and the fourth of his WHL career. . . . F Jared Davidson led the offence with three goals, giving him 39.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The USHL’s Chicago Steel has landed one of hockey best young prospects in F Macklin Celebrini, 15, who will be eligible for the 2024 NHL draft. He was born in Vancouver, but moved to California after his father joined the NBA’s Golden State Warriors as their director of sports medicine and performance. Macklin played one season of minor hockey in San Jose and has spent the past two seasons at Shattuck St. Mary’s. The Seattle Thunderbirds selected Macklin with the first-overall pick in the WHL’s U.S. draft on Dec. 8. . . . The SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks have named Dana Dirks as their assistant general manager. He spent this season as an assistant coach with Tad Kozun, the general manager and head coach.
If you’re a regular in these parts, you know that we’re big on organ donation and transplantation in these parts. That’s because my wife, Dorothy, is with us today because of a kidney transplant. And now she is preparing to take part in the annual Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year. . . . The 2022 Kidney Walk will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . The Kidney Walk is a huge fund-raising venture for the Canadian Kidney Foundation and its provincial branches. By participating, Dorothy is able to give something back to an organization that has been such a big part of our lives. . . . If you would like to be on her team by making a donation you are able to do so right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
As the WHL’s 2021-22 regular season winds down, let’s take a look back and wonder what one player’s final season might have been. It’s a season that shouldn’t be forgotten.
It was 1977-78. Bill Derlago of the Brandon Wheat Kings had turned 19 about a month before the season began. This would be his third full season with the Wheat Kings. In 1976-77, he had totalled 96 goals, which was a WHL record at the time, and 82 assists — 178 points — in 72 games.
Fans could only imagine what was to come.
Well, the native of Birtle, Man., didn’t disappoint, putting up 152 points, including 89 goals, in 52 games. That’s 1.17 goals and 2.92 points per game. Those are great numbers. Right?
But they could have been even better.
In early December, Derlago, playing between Brian Propp and Ray Allison, had 80 points, including 48 goals, in 26 games when he suited up with a WCHL all-star team in Regina against a touring side from what was then the Soviet Union. (The team, travelling as the Moscow Selects, won the game, 6-5. The WCHL team featured players from Brandon, the Regina Pats, Flin Flon Bombers and Medicine Hat Tigers.)
Over a 72-game season, Derlago was on pace for 218 points, including 133 goals. Rob Brown of the 1986-87 Kamloops Blazers holds the WHL record for most points in one season. He put up 212 in 63 games that season, an average of 3.37 points per game.
Had Derlago stayed healthy and maintained his pace, he would have averaged 1.85 goals and 3.03 points per game.
But it wasn’t to be.
On his second shift of that game in Regina, Derlago “lined up Boris Verigin . . . and took a run at him,” wrote Dave Senick of the Regina Leader-Post. “The Soviet went down and slipped past Derlago’s check.
“The Wheat King flew over Verigin and couldn’t get up after hitting the ice. The reason was a good one. He was taken to hospital and was diagnosed (with) possible torn knee ligaments.”
As it turned out, he had torn ligaments in his left knee.
“Sure, I’m disappointed and the records mean something to me,” Derlago told Senick. “But I’m not going to get worried. I just want to get back and play. It’s the first time I’ve had a serious injury in three years. I had my adrenaline flowing for this season.”
He did return and was able to finish up that 152-point season, but we were left to wonder what might have been.
BTW, Derlago’s 96 goals from 1976-77 stood up as the WHL single-season record until 1983-84 when Ray Ferraro, who had been acquired by the Wheat Kings from the Portland Winterhawks in the offseason, scored 108 times. That remains the WHL’s single-season record to this date.
The Vancouver Canucks selected Derlago with the fourth overall pick of the NHL’s 1978 draft. He went on to play 555 regular-season NHL games, most of them with the Toronto Maple Leafs for whom he enjoyed 35-, 34-, 40- and 31-goal seasons.
Jake Milford was the Canucks’ general manager at that time. He had been in the Wheat Kings’ front office, either as GM, head coach or both, from 1958-59 through 1963-64. McCallum had played two seasons (1958-60) with the Canucks.
And so it was that the Canucks, under Milford’s guidance, were putting the Canucks through their paces during Derlago’s first NHL training camp. That included running some sprints, something at which Derlago, who had large calves, wasn’t proficient.
When Milford called McCallum to update him on Derlago’s progress, the Canucks’ GM complained about Derlago’s poor performance on the track.
To which McCallum replied: “Jake, are you putting together a track team or a hockey team?”
It should be pointed out that Bill Derlago wasn’t the first WCHL superstar to lose a possible monstrous statistical season to injury. In 1968-69, Reggie Leach, the Riverton Rifle, finished with 46 points, including 36 goals, in 22 games with the Flin Flon Bombers, losing most of the season to a shoulder injury.
Over a 60-game schedule, which is what they played back in the day, that works out to 125 points, including 98 goals. Had Leach scored 98 goals, he would be two ahead of the 96 Derlago scored in 1976-77.
But let’s also think about Flin Flon captain Bobby Clarke, who won the scoring title that season with 137 points in 58 games. The Bombers’ second-leading scorer was Brian Marchinko, with 86 points.
Had Leach been riding shotgun with Clarke for the entire season, who knows how many points the league’s top player might have put up? One season earlier, Clarke won the scoring title with 168 points; Leach was second with 131.
Unfortunately, we’ll never know what might have been for Leach in 1968-69.
Not to overload you with Flin Flon-related chatter, but . . .
If you are having a discussion about the most intimidating hockey arena anywhere you have to have Flin Flon’s Whitney Forum at or near the top of the list. I haven’t been there in years, but I did take in the odd Bombers game back in the days of Gerry Hart, Bobby Clarke, Reggie Leach, Steve Andrascik, Wayne Hawrysh et al. Yes, it was a noisy, scary place. . . . Now there is talk that Hudbay — today, it’s Hudbay Minerals Inc.; in my time it was Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting — “is slated to shut down much of its operations nearby later this year,” Eric Westhaver wrote in the Flin Flon Reminder the other day. . . . What will that mean to the folks of Flin Flon and the Fabulous Forum? Westhaver takes a look right here at the past, the present and the future of a Canadian landmark.
Daren Millard will miss tonight’s game; he was hospitalized after a bicycle accident yesterday. He suffered significant injuries but is expected to make a full recovery.
F Justin Sourdif and F Dylan Guenther each had two goals and two assists as the host Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Red Deer Rebels, 6-4. . . . The Oil Kings clinched their fourth straight Central Division pennant and will meet the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the first round of the playoffs. They will open in Edmonton on April 21. Edmonton won the season series, 6-2-0; Lethbridge was 2-5-1. . . . Edmonton snapped a 2-2 tie and took control with three goals in a span of 4:11 early in the second period, the last two coming via the PP after Red Deer F Frantisek Formanek was hit with a kneeing major and game misconduct. . . . Guenther now has 44 goals; Sourdif has 25. . . . Sourdif, who turned 20 on March 24, went into the game with 199 points in 195 career regular-season games. His first goal, at 8:50 of the first period, was his 200th career point. The Oil Kings acquired him from the Vancouver Giants earlier in the season. He has 37 points, including 16 goals, in 25 games with Edmonton. . . . Red Deer got a goal and two assists from each of D Christoffer Sedoff (8), F Ben King and F Arshdeep Bains. King and Bains each went into the game with 199 career regular-season points. . . . King, who leads the WHL with 50 goals in his 19-year-old season, now has 202 points in 204 career games. Bains, who leads the WHL with 105 points in his 20-year-old season, has 202 points in 255 career games. . . . King is the first Red Deer player to get to 50 since F Kyle Wanvig scored 55 in 2000-01. The franchise record (58) belongs to F B.J. Young (1996-97). . . . F Jake Neighbours, the Oil Kings’ captain, had two assists in his return to the lineup. He had last played on Feb. 21. . . . Edmonton (47-14-4) will finish second in the conference, while Red Deer (44-18-4) will be third. The Rebels, though, will have to wait to find out their first-round opponent — either the Saskatoon Blades, Moose Jaw Warriors or Brandon Wheat Kings. . . .
In Winnipeg, F Chase Wheatcroft scored twice and added an assist as the Ice beat the Medicine Hat Tigers, 6-1. . . . He’s got 16 goals. . . . F Cole Muir (11) scored twice and F Jakin Smallwood (24) had a goal and two assists. . . . Winnipeg held a 44-17 edge in shots, including 22-4 in the third period. . . . G Daniel Hauser earned the victory with 16 saves. This season, he is 31-3-1, 1.97, .914. . . . Winnipeg (50-10-5) will finish atop the conference and will face the eight-place team in the first round. Four teams — the Swift Current Broncos, Calgary Hitmen, Regina Pats and Prince Albert Raiders — are within two points of each other in the scrap for the last spot. . . . The Tigers (11-51-4) have lost 10 in a row. . . .
F Nate Danielson scored the only goal of a shootout as the Brandon Wheat Kings got past the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors, 3-2. . . . Moose Jaw led this one 2-0 early in the second period on goals from F Eric Alarie (22) and F Ryder Korczak (23). . . . F Nolan Ritchie (32) got Brandon to within one at 7:22 of the second period and D Vincent Iorio (11) tied it just 2:28 later. . . . Danielson was the fifth shooter in the circus. The Wheat Kings put it away when Korczak couldn’t beat G Ethan Kruger. . . . Brandon (35-25-5) is sixth, three points behind Moose Jaw (36-23-6) and the idle Saskatoon Blades (37-26-4). . . .
The Lethbridge Hurricanes ensured themselves of a seventh-place finish with a 5-1 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . F Jett Jones, who scored twice, broke a 1-1 tie with his first goal at 1:21 of the second period. He added his 20th of the season, shorthanded, at 19:22 of the third. . . . That seventh-place finish means the Hurricanes (31-30-5) will face the Edmonton Oil Kings in the first-round of the playoffs. These two teams have never played each other in the playoffs. . . . The Hitmen (25-32-8) are tied for eighth with Swift Current, one point ahead of Regina and Prince Albert. . . . Calgary and Regina each have three games remaining, Prince Albert has two and Swift Current one. . . .
F Connor Bedard scored twice and added an assist as the host Regina Pats beat the Prince Albert Raiders, 5-3. . . . Bedard gave his guys a 2-1 lead at 6:19 of the second period, then put them ahead 4-2, on the PP, at 6:46 of the third. . . . Bedard now has 92 points, including 49 goals, in 58 games. . . . The Pats also got a shorthanded goal and two assists from F Tanner Howe, who was playing against his hometown team. Howe, who won’t turn 17 until Nov. 28, has 66 points, 26 of them goals, in 61 games. . . . F Evan Herman scored twice for the Raiders, giving him 25. . . . Regina (26-34-5) and Prince Albert (26-25-5) are tied for 10th, two points from a playoff spot.
D Ethan Samson’s third-period PP goal broke a 1-1 tie as the host Prince George Cougars scored a 2-1 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . F Marcus Almquist (5) gave the Royals a 1-0 lead at 1:27 of the first period. . . . F Jonny Hooker (16) tied it 10:06 later. . . . Samson, who has 15 goals, snapped the tie at 13:29 of the third period. He also drew an assist on Hooker’s goal. . . . G Ty Young stopped 29 shots for the Cougars, including 10 in the third period. . . . Prince George (23-38-5) is tied for sixth with the Spokane Chiefs. The Cougars have two games remaining — in Kamloops on Friday and in Kelowna on Saturday. . . . Victoria (22-38-6) is tied with the Vancouver Giants for eighth. The Royals have two games remaining with Spokane to visit on Friday and Saturday. . . .
In Kamloops, F Jaydon Dureau’s OT goal gave the Portland Winterhawks a 5-4 victory over the Blazers. . . . Andy Kemper, the Winterhawks’ historian, points out that the winning goal “was the 22nd of the season for No. 22 Dureau at 2:22 of OT.” . . . D Marek Alscher (7) had pulled Portland even, at 4-4, at 8:01 of the third period. . . . F Logan Stankoven had two goals, giving him 44, and an assist for Kamloops. His first goal, 57 seconds into the game, was his 100th point of the season. . . . Stankoven’s 102 points has him tied with F Ben King of the Red Deer Rebels for second in the WHL scoring race. They are three points behind Red Deer F Arshdeep Bains. . . . Stankoven leads the WHL in points per game, at 1.79. . . . The Blazers got three assists from F Daylan Kuefler. . . . Kamloops (47-16-3) is second in the conference. With two games to play, it is three points behind the idle Everett Silvertips (45-10-10) and two ahead of Portland (45-16-5), which also has two games remaining. . . .
F Andrew Cristall and F Colton Dach each had five points in leading the Kelowna Rockets to an 8-4 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . Cristall had two goals and three assists, with Dach scoring once and adding four helpers. . . . Cristall has 26 goals, which breaks the franchise record for goals by a 16-year-old. F Shane McColgan (2009-10) and F Nick Merkley (2013-14) had shared the record prior to the game. . . . The Rockets also got two goals and two assists from F Mark Liwiski, who has 23 goals, and two goals and an assist from F Adam Kydd. He’s got 17 goals. . . . F Zack Ostapchuk scored three times for Vancouver. His first career hat trick gave him 23 goals this season. . . . D Alex Cotton added his 15th goal and two assists for the visitors. . . . These teams will play again today in Kelowna and then will clash on Friday in Langley, B.C. . . . The Rockets (40-19-6) are fourth, two points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds and the two teams are headed for a first-round playoff clash. Each team has three games remaining, and all that remains to be decided is who will have home-ice advantage. . . . Vancouver (23-27-4) is tied with Victoria for the conference’s last playoff spot. . . .
At Kent, Wash., F Jared Davidson had a goal and three assists to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds past the Spokane Chiefs, 6-2. . . . The start of the game, scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PT, was delayed about two hours because weather conditions through the Snoqualmie Pass slowed the Chiefs’ trek. . . . Spokane, trailing 3-0 late in the second period, got to within a goal at 3-2 before third period was two minutes old but wasn’t able to equalize. . . . Davidson has 82 points, including 36 goals, in 61 games. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky added two goals for Seattle, giving him 34, with D Kevin Korchinski drawing three assists. . . . Seattle (41-18-6) is fourth, two points ahead of Kelowna. . . . Spokane (23-38-5) is tied for sixth with Prince George, one point ahead of Vancouver and Victoria.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: There is speculation that the QMJHL is seriously considering exempting 20-year-old goaltenders from the CHL rule that limits teams to three such players. That makes sense to me. I also would do away with the two-spot rule — teams are allowed three 20-year-olds and two imports — that has a 20-year-old import taking up a spot in each category. I have long thought that with teams having invested so much energy, money and time in import players they should have to declare a 20-year-old import as one or the other. . . . The BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks had their first season come to an end on Saturday when they lost, 3-2 in OT, to the visiting Prince George Spruce Kings, who won the best-of-seven series, 4-2. The announced attendance was 3,002.
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.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Logie wasn’t always happy that his sister could skate😡! Come out on April 7th to the Green Shirt Day FREE Family Skate at the ATB Centre in Lethy from 4:30pm to 6pm. Bring your skates and helmet! Maybe SMILE better than Logan!! 😀😂🤣 #LoganBouletEffect#GreenShirtDaypic.twitter.com/6cEyNwCxUu
A Facebook post from Aron Gratias, an avid hockey fan . . .
Family and friends, I need your help!!
Anyone who knows me has probably seen my passion for The Great One.
It pains me to have to write this, and very emotional to think about, a 40+ year passion, my Gretzky Collection, stolen and what’s even worse, is the majority of items were personally signed to me, for me, along with autographed pictures of my face and my families faces in them.
We had recently moved and were storing some of our household and garage items in storage containers near Shellbrook. Someone entered the yard and proceeded to cut the locks off ONE of TWO containers and selectively removed the Gretzky collection from the storage container, leaving some expensive household and garage items. Not to mention a whole other container was untouched. Very interesting!! Small group who knew!!!
19 Gretzky jerseys, autographed, every team since he was 12, large pictures, like 4’x4’, large painting, like 5’x5’, all autographed and serial numbered, autographed sticks, autographed pucks all in display cases, boxes of cards, close to 10,000, 2,200 of Gretzky alone, some autographed, and one framed Gretzky Rookie Card PSA 8, 1979 Mattel dolls still in boxes, figurines, signed family photos, plates, helmets, masks, skates, just to name a few.
Some autographed Crosby stuff, rookie card, jersey, Sakic and Thornton signed jerseys, pile of Team Canada autographed pictures, men’s and women’s, jerseys and cards. I am in some of the autographed frames pictures as well as my family so those will be hard to sell.
I have reported to the RCMP and they were out today to start the investigation. Someone will be trying to push a massive Gretzky collection so please notify the RCMP if you hear anything. If you notify me, I’m coming equipped with a lot of passion!!!
This collection was worth way more then just money to me, it was priceless and a true passion, it was never meant to be sold, it was meant to be passed down to generations and future generations and I feel bad for my children, it was theirs.
Please, please keep an eye out and pass pass this on!!
By now, I’m sure you’re tired of reading and/or hearing about the Will Smith-Chris Rock confrontation during the Academy Awards show. But even if you’ve had your fill, if you haven’t read the piece written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, you might want to take a few minutes out of your day and give it a glance. It’s the best piece I’ve seen on the subject and it’s right here.
Headline at The Beaverton: NHL refs an inspiration to millions who would love to get paid for not doing their job.
It’s true. The Detroit Red Wings have fired Al Sobotka, their longtime Zamboni driver.
Sobotka, 68, had been part of the organization for 51 years, most recently as operations manager at Little Caesars Arena.
There long has been a tradition of fans tossing octopi onto the ice during playoff games — when the Red Wings are good enough to qualify, of course. Sobotka would venture onto the ice to clean them up and invariably would twirl one over his head and incite the crowd.
While a reason for the dismissal hasn’t been made public, Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times writes: “We’re guessing thin ice.”
Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, at his curmudgeonly best as he looks at March Madness:
“I have another observation about the TV coverage of the tournament this year. We are now ‘treated’ to two in-game interviews with the head coaches during scheduled timeouts. These seemingly have replaced the ceremoniously stupid in-game interviews in the stands with players’ parents and/or coaches’ wives and/or the next-door neighbor of the assistant coach’s tax accountant. For that reason, I guess I should be appreciative and thankful, but I have a serious reservation here. . . .
“There is one – and only one – appropriate question for the sideline reporter to ask the coach in these circumstances: ‘Coach, what is it you would be telling your team in the huddle if you were not contractually obligated to be here talking to me?’ . . . That is all viewers would want to know — and it would let people know the forced nature of the oral exchange they were about to watch.”
Don’t every change, Jack. Don’t ever change!
If you haven’t already made The Sports Curmudgeon part of your day, you are able to so right here.
THINKING OUT LOUD: I’m sorry, but I giggle whenever I see that Chevrolet Silverado commercial starring a cat named Walter. Those commercials were shot on a 100,000-acre ranch in Utah using nine look-a-like cats. And it’s reported that the cats were so easy to work with that little in the way of CGI was needed. . . . It’s Canada vs. Belgium on Nov. 23 in Qatar. Game time will be 11 a.m. PT. Plan accordingly. . . . And how huge will the TV audience be in the Excited States when their men meet England at 11 a.m. PT, on Black Friday? It’ll be a holiday down there so there could a whole lot of TV viewers. Of course, it’ll be football competing with football on the telly that day, won’t it? . . . I really need someone to explain how this NHL-on-TV thing works. Watching the Vegas Golden Knights and Vancouver Canucks on Sunday. Second intermission arrives. Check the on-screen guide. The Edmonton Oilers are visiting the Anaheim Ducks. Go to check the score. Whoops! Blacked out. But the Philadelphia Flyers are up against the Rangers in New York and I can watch them. All three games were on Sportsnet channels. What I don’t understand is why I can’t watch the Canadian team in my part of Canada.
SUNDAY IN THE WHL:
The Kamloops Blazers erased a 3-1 first-period deficit and beat the Cougars, 4-3 in OT, in Prince George. . . . D Daylan Kuefler scored the winner, his 38th goal of the season, on a PP at 0:56. . . . F Jonny Hooker (15) gave the Cougars a 3-1 lead on a PP at 17:08 of the first period. . . . Kamloops tied it on second-period goals from D Ethan Brandwood (6), at 2:39, and F Reese Belton (12), at 6:46. . . . F Logan Stankoven scored his 42nd goal and added an assist for Kamloops. With 96 points in 55 games, he continues to lead the WHL in points-per-game, at 1.75. . . . The Blazers have completed their road schedule, finishing 24-10-0. . . . Kamloops (46-16-2) is second, three points behind Everett and three in front of Portland. . . . Prince George (22-37-4) is ninth, one point behind Spokane and two in arrears of Vancouver and Victoria. . . .
F Nick McCarry scored twice to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . The Chiefs had won 5-2 in Langley on Saturday night. . . . McCarry has 21 goals this season, including four in a three-game scoring streak as the Chiefs won once in Kamloops and twice in Langley. . . . G Mason Beaupit stopped 30 shots for Spokane. . . . Spokane (22-37-5) is in possession of the conference’s last playoff spot and is just one point behind Vancouver (23-35-4) and Victoria.
In Edmonton, the Red Deer Rebels scored the game’s last two goals as they beat the Oil Kings, 5-4, in OT. . . . Edmonton F Jaxsen Wiebe’s PP goal at 18:04 of the third period put his guys ahead, 4-3. . . . F Arshdeep Bains pulled the Rebels even with 9.2 seconds left in the third period. It was his 38th goal and WHL-leading 101st point of the season. He finished with a goal and two assists. . . . F Jhett Larson’s 11th goal of the season won it at 2:10 of extra time. . . . Red Deer F Ben King picked up his WHL-leading 48th goal of the season. . . . It was a weekend sweep for the Rebels, who had beaten the visiting Oil Kings, 4-3, on Saturday night. . . . Edmonton has lost three straight game for the firs time since Nov. 11-17, 2019. . . . Red Deer (43-17-4) is third, six points behind Edmonton (46-14-4), which has four games remaining and is seven points behind Winnipeg. . . .
The Calgary Hitmen held a 48-31 edge in shots as they beat the visiting Swift Current Broncos, 5-2. . . . Calgary jumped into a 2-0 lead on first-period goals by F Steel Quiring (12) and D Tyson Galloway (5), but F Josh Filmon (23) got the Broncos close at 14:49. . . . The Hitmen put it away on goals from F Zac Funk (19) at 8:58 of the second period and D Grayden Siepmann (9) at 5:30 of the third. . . . G Brayden Peters earned the victory with 29 saves, 14 fewer than Isaac Poulter of the Broncos. . . . Calgary (25-31-8) is ninth, one point behind Swift Current (26-33-7), which is three points behind Lethbridge. Prince Albert is one points behind Calgary.
Say a prayer, if you’ve got a moment, for the great Mike Bossy, maybe the most gifted goal scorer in hockey history, who is battling lung cancer. #bossystrong
The Prince Albert Raiders have had to shut down F Ozzy Wiesblatt for the remainder of this season due to an undisclosed injury. The Raiders revealed on Saturday that the decision was reached during “consultation” between their medical staff and doctors with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. . . . Wiesblatt was selected by the Sharks in the first round of the 2020 NHL draft. He finishes this season with 41 points, including 10 goals, in 43 games. . . . According to the Raiders, “Wiesblatt will head to San Jose for further evaluation to determine the appropriate next steps in his recovery.”
Philip Varney, the Seattle Thunderbirds’ athletic trainer, returned to the WHL team on Friday after being sidelined thanks to a positive COVID-19 test. “Was great being back in the rink for game day,” Varney tweeted. “Covid finally got me. Wasn’t pleasant but wasn’t awful. Very grateful for vaccines, N95s, at home rapid testing and HEPA air purifiers.” . . . At one point in mid-January, Varney had been involved with more than 20 members of the Thunderbirds’ organization, including players and staff, who had tested positive.
A tip of the fedora to the Saskatoon Blades, who were back to ‘normal’ on Saturday after a stint as the Saskatoon Bananas. If you missed it, the Blades did up an April Fool’s Day gimmick the way it’s supposed to be done. The franchise rebranded in the morning as the Bananas and went the distance with the promotion, with signage, new uniforms with the new logo, and a whole lot more. Well done! . . . Darren Steinke, the travelling’ blogger, was in attendance and has more on the Bananas right here.
SATURDAY IN THE WHL:
The Red Deer Rebels erased a 3-2 third-period deficit and beat the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings, 4-3. . . . F Justin Sourdif (22) scored shorthanded at 16:26 of the second period to give Edmonton that 3-2 lead. . . . F Kai Uchacz (13) pulled Red Deer event with a shorthanded score at 2:58 of the third and F Arshdeep Bains (37) got the winner at 12:24. . . . Edmonton was 1-for-7 on the PP; Red Deer was 0-for-5. . . . Red Deer got 32 saves from G Chase Coward as he won his 20th game. . . . The Rebels have two 20-game winners for the first time in franchise history. Coward is 20-9-2, 2.41, .909; Connor Ungar is 20-8-1, 2.28, .912. . . . The Rebels (42-17-4) are headed for a third-place finish. . . . The Oil Kings (46-14-3) have five games remaining and are eight points behind the conference-leading Winnipeg Ice. . . .
The Brandon Wheat Kings scored the game’s last two goals and hung on for a 2-1 victory over the Blades in Saskatoon. . . . F Josh Pillar (13) gave the Blades the lead at 4:25 of the first period, only to have F Landon Roberts tie it at 10:29. . . . Brandon got the eventual winner from F Nate Danielson (21), on a PP, at 2:46 of the second period. . . . The Blades were 0-for-4 on the PP with all four opportunities coming in the game’s final 3:51. . . . The Wheat Kings (32-25-5) are sixth. With six games remaining, they are five points behind the Blades (35-25-4), who have four left to play. Saskatoon is three points behind Moose Jaw. . . .
The Moose Jaw Warriors scored twice in the last 30 seconds of the third period to beat the visiting Winnipeg Ice, 3-1. . . . D Cole Jordan (2) gave Moose Jaw a lead at 14:30 of the first period. . . . Winnipeg D Tanner Brown (6) tied it at 13:43 of the second. . . . D Denton Mateychuk (11) snapped the tie at 19:38 of the third, with F Cordel Larson (10) adding insurance at 19:53. . . . G Jackson Unger stopped 37 shots to earn the victory. . . . The Warriors (36-23-5) are fourth, three points ahead of Saskatoon. . . . The Ice (49-10-5), which had won 13 straight, is headed for a first-place finish in the conference. . . .
F Justin Hall had a goal and two assists to help the Lethbridge Hurricanes to a 6-1 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat. . . . Hall has 34 goals this season. . . . Lethbridge was 3-for-3 on the PP. . . . The Hurricanes swept the season series, going 8-0-0. . . . G Bryan Thomson stopped 28 shots for Lethbridge, losing his shutout bid at 19:58 of the third period when F Ashton Ferster scored his ninth goal of the season. . . . The Tigers honoured Bob Ridley, their long-time play-by-play man, in a pre-game ceremony that included the raising of a banner with his name on it being raised into the rafters. His name joins former players Lanny McDonald and Tom Lysiak up there. Health issues have kept Ridley out of the broadcast booth this season. He is expected to return to the booth for theTigers’ final home game, on April 15. . . . Lethbridge (29-30-4) is seventh, seven points behind Brandon and three ahead of Swift Current. . . . The Tigers (11-48-4) have lost seven in a row. . . .
D Nolan Allan scored once and added three assists to lead the host Prince Albert Raiders to a 6-1 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Allan has seven goals this season. . . . The Raiders also got a goal and two assists from each of F Reece Vitelli (25) and F Evan Herman (23). . . . F Connor Bedard scored his first WHL shorthanded goal. It also was his 45th score of the season, tying the franchise record for most goals by a 16-year-old. He shares the mark with F Jeff Friesen (1992-93). . . . The announced attendance was 3,040, the Raiders’ largest crowd this season. That topped the 2,962 figure for a visit by the Pats on Feb. 18. . . . Prince Albert (26-33-5) is two points out of a playoff spot. The Raiders have four games remaining, one more than eight-place Swift Current (26-32-7). . . . Regina (24-33-5) is six points from a playoff spot with six games remaining.
F Jackson Berezowski broke a 1-1 tie at 17:30 of the second period and the Everett Silvertips went on to a 2-1 victory over the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Berezowski’s 45th goal came via the PP. . . . The Silvertips got 25 saves from G Braden Holt. . . . Everett (44-10-9) leads the conference by five points over Kamloops. . . . Tri-City (18-41-5) has four games remaining and is six points out of a playoff spot. . . .
The host Portland Winterhawks blew a 4-0 lead and then came back to defeat the Seattle Thunderbirds, 5-4. . . . F Jaydon Dureau, who has 21 goals, scored once in each period for the winners. His third goal, on a PP, broke a 4-4 tie at 12:51 of the third period. . . . Dureau’s last goal came just 1:19 after F Henrik Rybinski (20) had pulled Seattle even on a PP. . . . Portland was handed 15 of the game’s 27 minor penalties. . . . Seattle was 2-for-7 on the PP; Portland was 1-for-4. . . . Portland (43-16-5) is third, one point behind Kamloops and six behind Everett. . . . Seattle (40-18-6) now is five behind Portland. . . .
G Jari Kykkanen recorded his first WHL shutout as the host Kelowna Rockets beat the Victoria Royals, 5-0. . . . Kykkanen stopped 15 shots. . . . The Rockets held a 38-15 edge in shots. . . . A 17-year-old freshman fromLloydminster, Alta., Kykkanen is 6-2-0, 3.12, .889 this season. . . . F Colton Dach’s 25th goal, on a PP, at 4:08 of the first period stood up as the winner. . . . Kelowna (37-19-6) is fifth, six points behind Seattle with six games left to play and two in hand on the Thunderbirds. . . . Victoria (22-36-6) is tied for sixth with Vancouver. . . .
In Langley, B.C., the Spokane Chiefs scored the game’s last five goals and beat the Vancouver Giants, 5-2. . . . F Jaden Lipinski, who has eight goals, scored twice in the first period to put Vancouver out front. . . . F Chase Bertholet (22) and F Ty Cheveldayoff (9), with the first of two, got the Chiefs even in the second period. . . . F Nick McCarry (19) broke the 2-2 tie at 4:03 of the third period. . . .Spokane (21-37-5) now is tied with Prince George for eighth, which is the conference’s last playoff spot. . . . Vancouver (23-34-4) is tied for sixth with Victoria, three points ahead of Prince George and Spokane.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Earlier this week, I posted a piece here that led with some comments on announced attendance totals at WHL games this season.
Yes, some teams really are struggling at the gate, but there are a number of possible reasons, some of them pandemic related.
Anyway . . . that piece created a lot of interest and a few comments.
So now I’m asking readers to drop me a line and explain why they no longer go to games or why they don’t go to as many games as they once did. Also feel free to comment on what you think the WHL and its teams might do to increase attendance at their games.
Responses will be used for a posting here at some point in the not-too-distant future.
The OHL announced on Thursday that it has “expelled” Terry Christensen, the Flint Firebirds’ president of hockey operations, for conduct that is “prejudicial to the welfare” of the league. An investigation, sparked by an allegation that was made via the OHL’s player communications system, revealed that Christensen had make remarks that violated the league’s Harassment and Abuse/Diversity Policy. . . . “His conduct violated the league’s expectation of the appropriate conduct of a representative of an OHL Team and he has lost the privilege to participate in the League,” the league said in a statement. . . . Christensen had been with the Firebirds since May.
Meanwhile, Jeff Marek of Sportsnet tweeted Thursday morning that “the OHL is launching an independent investigation into the Niagara IceDogs over alleged offensive comments made by people in senior positions on a team group chat.”
Greg Cowan is a sports reporter with the Owen Sound Sun Times:
The Lethbridge Hurricanes fired assistant coach Jeff Hansen on Friday. Hansen, from Calgary, was in his fifth season after spending four seasons as the video coach with the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Lethbridge general manager Peter Anholt, in a news release: “Jeff is a good man and a hard worker, and this wasn’t an easy decision, but we felt it was time to make a change. We weren’t happy with the development of our defence and the accountability of our blueline.” . . . The Hurricanes’ coaching staff now comprises head coach Brent Kisio, Matt Anholt, the assistant GM/assistant coach, and video coach Ryan Aasman. According to the news release, those three will run things “for the remainder of the season.”
FRIDAY IN THE WHL:
In Brandon, the Winnipeg Ice scored three third-period goals and beat the Wheat Kings, 6-3. F Mikey Milne’s 28th goal of the season, at 2:37 of the third period, broke a 3-3 tie. . . . Through a promotion involving Heritage Co-op, fans 18 and older who purchased an adult ticket received a $10 gas card. Announced attendance was 2,880. . . . The same teams meet again tonight in Winnipeg. . . . The Ice (38-9-5) leads the East Division by 12 points over the Moose Jaw Warriors. Winnipeg, with five games in hand, trails the Eastern Conference-leading Edmonton Oil Kings by eight points. . . . The Wheat Kings (28-19-5) are a comfortable sixth in the Eastern Conference. . . .
F Braxton Whitehead broke a 3-3 tie at 15:30 of the third period as the host Regina Pats beat the Lethbridge Hurricanes, 4-3. . . . Whitehead has seven goals. . . . Regina F Connor Berard had a goal, his 35th, and an assist as he ran his point streak to 16 games. He has 33 points, including 16 goals, in what is the WHL’s longest active such streak. . . . Lethbridge is 2-3-1 on a seven-game road trip while the Canadian men’s curling championship is in their home arena. The Brier ends on Sunday. . . . Regina (21-27-4) is 11th in the Eastern Conference, but just two points shy of eighth. . . . Lethbridge (23-27-4) is seventh, two points ahead of the Prince Albert Raiders and Calgary Hitmen, who are tied for eighth. . . . From Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post: “Factoring in last season, when Bedard debuted as a 15-year-old, he has 99 points (including 47 goals) in 61 games as a WHLer. Bedard is on the verge of tying the Pats’ record for most WHL goals by a player who has yet to turn 17. Jeff Friesen had 48 goals over his first 74 games. He scored three goals in four games as a 15-year-old call-up with the 1991-92 Pats. The following season, he had 45 goals in 70 games en route to being named the CHL’s rookie of the year.” . . .
F Egor Sidorov’s 16th goal, at 2:40 of OT, give the visiting Saskatoon Blades a 3-2 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders before a sellout crowd of 2,600. . . . G Nolan Maier turned aside 49 shots for the Blades, but wasn’t selected as one of the three stars. Gee, do you think the Blades are that unpopular in P.A.? Maier now has 117 regular-season victories, three shy of the WHL career record that, according to quanthockey.com, is shared by Tyson Sexsmith (Vancouver, 2004-09) and Corey Hirsch (Kamloops, 1988-92). . . . Maier now is tied for fourth with Mac Carruth (Portland, 2009-13), two behind Jordan Papirny (Brandon, Swift Current, 2012-17). . . . F Hayden Pakkala scored twice for the Raiders, giving him nine this season. . . . The same teams will meet again tonight, this time in Saskatoon, on Nolan Maier Bobblehead Night. . . . The Blades (32-18-4) are fifth in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Raiders (22-28-4) are tied for eighth. . . .
In Swift Current, F Jalen Luypen scored twice, the second into an empty net, as the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Broncos, 3-1. He’s got 25 goals. . . . The Oil Kings have won 13 in a row. They’ll go for 14 tonight back in Swift Current. . . . Edmonton G Sebastian Cossa stopped 25 shots in posting his WHL-leading 29th victory. . . . The Oil Kings (43-11-3) lead the Eastern Conference by eight points over Winnipeg, which has five games in hand. . . . Swift Current (20-29-7) is 10th, one point out of eighth. . . .
F Jagger Firkus broke a 2-2 tie with his 31st goal, at 5:12 of the third period, and the host Moose Jaw Warriors went on to a 5-2 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. . . . The Warriors (32-19-5) are fourth in the Eastern Conference, eight points behind the Red Deer Rebels and one ahead of Saskatoon. . . . The Hitmen (20-27-8) are tied for eighth with Prince Albert, two points behind Lethbridge and one ahead of Swift Current. . . .
Ben King scores tonight's eventual game winning goal for @Rebelshockey
F Ben King had a goal, his 44th, and four assists as the Red Deer Rebels clinched a playoff spot with a 6-3 victory over the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . King leads the WHL in goals and points (85). He has one more point than linemate Arshdeep Bains, who signed with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks earlier in the day. Bains had a goal and two assists in this one. He leads the WHL with 53 assists. . . . The Rebels were 4-for-5 on the PP; King leads the WHL with 21 PP goals. . . . Red Deer (37-16-3) is third in the Eastern Conference, four points behind Winnipeg, which has four games in hand. . . . Medicine Hat (10-40-4) is in next-season country. . . .
F Tarun Fizer scored his 13th goal and added an assist to help the Victoria Royals to a 5-3 victory over the Cougars in Prince George. Fizer, who has three goals and five assists in his past three games, iced this one with an empty-netter. . . . The Cougars, who have lost seven in a row, had been 7-0-0 against the Royals this season. . . . Prince George led 2-0 before the game was seven minutes old, but surrendered the next four goals. . . . Victoria (17-33-6) closed to within one point of Prince George (19-32-3) and the Spokane Chiefs, who are tied for seventh in the Western Conference. . . .
The Kamloops Blazers got two goals from F Logan Stankoven — he’s got 33 — as they beat the visiting Kelowna Rockets, 4-2. . . . Stankoven broke a 1-1 tie at 14:27 of the first period and then added insurance at 1:53 of the third. . . . Kamloops G Dylan Garand stopped 24 shots in his first appearance since suffering a leg injury on Feb. 16. . . . F Luke Toporowski of the Blazers, a 35-goal man, didn’t return after a collision with Kelowna D Tyson Feist in the first period. . . . The same teams are to meet tonight in Kelowna. In fact, they also will play home-and-home each of the next two weekends. . . . The Blazers (40-14-2) lead the B.C. Division by 10 points over the Rockets (34-15-4). . . .
In Kent, Wash., the Seattle Thunderbirds scored two late third-period goals, both with their goaltender on the bench in favour of the extra attacker, but ended up dropping a 3-2 shootout decision to the Portland Winterhawks. . . . D Luca Cagnoni, the 14th shooter, won it with the only goal of the circus. . . . Portland nursed a 2-0 lead from the 11:18-mark of the second period. . . . Seattle F Reid Schaefer (27) scored at 17:58 of the third period and F Jared Davidson (28) tied it at 19:28. . . . Portland got 51 saves through OT from G Taylor Gauthier . . . The Thunderbirds saluted head athletic trainer Phil Varney, one of hockey’s good guys, as he worked his 1,000th game. He is in his 15th season with Seattle. . . . Seattle F Henrik Rybinski missed his fifth straight game with an undisclosed injury. . . . Seattle F Lucas Ciona, who has 32 points, including 17 goals, didn’t finish with apparent arm injury. . . . Portland (38-14-5) is third in the Western Conference, one point out of first. . . . Seattle (34-14-6) trails Portland by seven points. . . .
F Fabian Lysell’s 19th goal of the season broke a 2-2 tie at 18:08 of the third period as the Vancouver Giants beat the Tri-City Americans, 3-2, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . F Jaden Lipinski, who has five goals, scored twice for the Giants, his second forging a 2-2 tie at 17:04 of the second period. . . . F Samuel Huo, who has 24 goals, scored twice for the Americans. . . . Vancouver (21-29-3) is sixth in the Western Conference, 27 points behind Kelowna and four ahead of Spokane and Prince George. . . . Tri-City (15-34-5) is last in the conference, six points out of a playoff spot. . . .
F Niko Huuhtanen scored twice, giving him 30, and added an assist as the host Everett Silvertips dumped the Spokane Chiefs, 6-3. . . . Everett erased a 2-1 deficit with four straight goals. . . . Everett (37-9-8) is tied with Kamloops atop the Western Conference, but the Silvertips hold two games in hand. . . . Spokane (18-32-5) is tied for seventh with Prince George, four points behind Vancouver and one ahead of Victoria.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Vancouver Canucks signed F Arshdeep Bains, 21, to a three-year free-agent deal on Friday. CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) reported that the entry-level contract calls for an NHL salary of US$750,000 for 2022-23 and $775,000 each of the next two seasons. There also is a $50,000 signing bonus payable each season. His minor-league salary would be $70,000. Bains is from Surrey, B.C.; the Canucks’ AHL affiliate is just down the road in Abbotsford. . . .
The QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques added G Ève Gascon to their roster on Thursday. She had been 9-5-0 with the CÉGEP St-Laurent Patriotes in the Quebec Collegiate Hockey League (Division 1). . . . Gascon is to join the Olympiques this morning (Saturday) and could get the start against the visiting Val D’Or Foreurs later in the day. . . . The last woman to play in the QMJHL? G Charline Labonté got into 26 games (4-9-2, 5.22, .841) with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in 1999-2000 and two in 2000-01.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes Hockey Club are saddened to hear the passing of alumnus Shawn Mezei (2001-2006 seasons). Shawn will be greatly missed. Our condolences to Shawn’s family and friends during this time.
Shawn Mezei, a former WHL player, died in Lethbridge on Wednesday. He was 36. Funeral arrangements hadn’t yet been arranged as of Friday night. Mezei was a native of Taber, Alta. A defenceman, he played 116 games over five seasons with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, totalling two goals, 12 assists and 165 penalty minutes.
My wife, Dorothy, who underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, is taking part in her ninth kidney walk, albeit virtually, on June 5. She has been involved in every walk since she had her transplant. If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do that right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Hartley Miller hit another home run with his Cat Scan podcast this week. In his previous two episodes, Miller, the sports director at Vista Radio in Prince George, chatted with Rick Brodsky, a former owner of the Cougars and once the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors. This week, Miller visited with John Pateman, one of the men who purchased the Cougars from Brodsky and the organization’s president.
Pateman is one of the Cougars’ six owners, and he was quick to admit that these aren’t the best of times. He also talked about the Cougars having received government subsidies to help them through these pandemic times.
“We get an update on attendance around the league every Monday,” Pateman told Miller. “On average, it’s down about 30 per cent. There are people who aren’t vaccinated, there’s people who wearing a mask for two or three hours straight is an issue. There’s people who don’t feel comfortable coming out too much in public . . . that’s been across the league. The attendance being down that much . . . that’s the negative.
“Certainly, a lot of businesses, ourselves included . . . the federal wage subsidy . . . we received significant subsidies through that time period to help us out. The province . . . in August or so, we received significant funds there. We’re probably not losing any more money than we have the last few years. It’s obviously not good but, again, we believe we’re heading into a three- or four-year run. We’ve kind of hurt for six or seven so . . . it’s going to get better.”
According to Pateman, the Cougars have the youngest team in the WHL, but they are on pace to make the playoffs. And, as he said, a good run would certainly help the bottom line.
“We have been able to do some things on the expense side,” he explained. “If we can get into the playoffs and end up having a bit of run that makes a huge difference.”
If the playoffs were to start today, the Cougars would meet the Portland Winterhawks in the first round. Pateman also talked about what that would mean, especially with Taylor Gauthier now Portland’s starting goaltender. The Winterhawks acquired him from the Cougars earlier this season, giving up D Jonas Brøndberg, a 2023 third-round draft pick and a pair of conditional fifth-rounders. Those latter two picks just might be tied into how deep the Winterhawks get in the playoffs, so a first-round meeting with the Cougars could prove interesting.
Pateman also reaffirmed that the Cougars’ owners remain committed to making it work in Prince George.
“Certainly, that is the case,” he told Miller. “Over the next three, four years, all being well, we have a pretty good hockey team and I still think wins make a big difference. If we can get a bit of run in the playoffs at some point over the next year or two or three, I think we’ll have that fan support to at least not lose money to any great degree.
“If we can just pay the bills in the end, we’d be quite happy.”
It runs about 36 minutes, it’s well worth listening to, and it’s all right here.
The WHL announced adjustments to its regular-season schedule on Thursday, indicating that the 68-game season now is to conclude on April 17. If there is a need for tiebreakers, they will be played on April 19. The first round of playoffs is to begin on April 22. . . . The playoffs will include four rounds of best-of-seven series, with the first three rounds all in-conference. The championship final is to start on June 3 and, if seven games are needed, would end on June 14. . . . The WHL’s playoff format is explained right here. . . . The Memorial Cup, which is to be held in Saint John, N.B., is to run from June 20 through June 29. . . . The WHL also announced a number of rescheduled games all of which can be found on the schedule at whl.ca. . . . And, again, make sure you check your favourite team’s schedule for any changes that may have been made.
The International Ice Hockey Federation had news about a couple of tournaments on Thursday. . . . The 2022 World Junior Championship that got started in Red Deer and Edmonton before being cancelled due to multiple positive tests among players and on-ice officials will be held in Alberta in August. No dates were provided, but Darren Dreger of TSN tweeted that organizers are aiming for Aug. 8-19. . . . If all goes according to plan — in other words, if COVID-19 allows it — the WJC will proceed at some point after the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. It is scheduled for Red Deer early in August. The exact dates haven’t yet been announced. . . . The WJC will feature the same teams that gathered in December with all players who are on those teams still eligible. Results of the few games that were played in December have been scrubbed, so teams will start fresh.
Meanwhile, the U18 Women’s World Championship that was to have been held in Linköping and Mjölby, Sweden, in January now will be played “in June in the north of the USA,” Luc Tardif, the IIHF president, told reporters on Thursday. The 2023 event likely will be held in Sweden. . . . There is a whole lot more on these stories right here.
“Honey, are you sure it’s a good idea to let Howie stand in the passenger seat?”
Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week tweeted on Thursday that Shaun Clouston, the Kamloops Blazers’ GM/head coach, said G Dylan Garand isn’t “likely to play this weekend, but injury not expected to keep him out long term.” Garand appeared to suffer an injury to his left leg during the second period of a 6-4 victory over the visiting Victoria Royals on Wednesday night. . . . That means that G Dylan Ernst started on Friday night against the visiting Everett Silvertips, with Jesse Sanche, 15, on the bench. Sanche plays at OHA in Kelowna. . . . The Silvertips were without G Braden Holt (non-COVID illness) and had Evan May up from the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals to back up Koen MacInnes, who stopped 28 shots to beat the Blazers, 4-1. . . . Everett scored three times in 10:31 in the first period. The Silvertips got two goals from each of F Niko Huuhtanen (28) and F Jackson Berezowski (34). . . . Kamloops F Logan Stankoven had an assist to run his point streak to 18 games. . . . The Western Conference-leading Silvertips now lead the Blazers by five points. . . .
The WHL hasn’t posted a roster/injury report since Feb. 8, so there is no way of knowing how many players tested positive for COVID-19 from then through Feb. 14. The Vancouver Giants experienced some positives and had a couple of games postponed during that time period. . . .
F Adam Kydd’s 10th goal of the season gave Kelowna a 3-1 lead and stood up as the winner as the Rockets beat the Cougars, 3-2, in Prince George. He’s got 14 points, including six goals, in 14 games since coming over from the Calgary Hitmen. On the season, Kydd, 19, has 33 points in 44 games. . . . In Kent, Wash., the Seattle Thunderbirds scored the game’s last three goals and beat the Spokane Chiefs, 3-1. F Matthew Rempe’s 12th goal, at 2:38 of the second period, broke a 1-1 tie. . . .
F Mathew Ward scored three times — it was his first WHL hat trick — and added an assist to lead the host Swift Current Broncos to a 7-2 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. He’s got 46 points, including 18 goals, in 44 games. Ward, 18, now has 68 career points in 68 regular-season games. . . . F Connor Bedard drew the lone assist on F Cole Carrier’s game-tying goal at 15:29 of the third period and then won it with this 30th goal of the season 24 seconds into OT as the Regina Pats beat the Raiders, 5-4, in Prince Albert. Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was on hand and filed this piece right here. . . .
F Nate Danielson scored three times, giving him 18 this season, and F Ridly Greig put up three assists in his hometown as the Brandon Wheat Kings beat the host Lethbridge Hurricanes, 5-2. The Wheat Kings wrapped it up with two empty-net goals. . . . In Red Deer, F Arshdeep Bains scored two goals — he’s got 25 — and added to assists as the Rebels beat the Saskatoon Blades, 5-3. Bains broke a 3-3 tie with his second goal at 9:12 of the third period. . . .
F Zach Benson scored the game’s last two goals as the Winnipeg Ice beat the Hitmen, 3-1, in Calgary. Benson, who has 16 goals, scored at 2:00 and 17:52 of the third period. . . . F Robbie Fromm-Delorme had three third-period goals to spark the Portland Winterhawks to a 6-2 victory over the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. Fromm-Delorme, who has eight goals and 11 assists in 18 games, completed his hat trick with an empty-netter at 18:06 of the third period. His first career multi-goal game came in his 157th game. Fromm-Delorme has missed 30 games this season; he was playing just his second game since returning from an injury. . . . In Langley, B.C., the Victoria Royals got a goal and two assists from F Tarun Fizer, their captain, as they snapped a 17-game losing skid with a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants. The Royals broke a 1-1 tie with three goals in 2:57, scoring at 19:27 of the first period and 2:09 and 2:24 of the second. The Royals are 13-29-5, with seven of the victories coming over the Giants.
With two coaches suspended pending an independent investigation, the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers have added veteran coach Bob Beatty to their staff. Beatty was behind the bench Friday night, along with assistant Ken McPhalen, as the Clippers dropped a 5-0 decision to the visiting Chilliwack Chiefs. . . . Darren Naylor, Nanaimo’s vice-president, general manager, head coach and director of hockey operations, and Colin Birkas, the associate GM and associate coach, were suspended by the BCHL for what the league has said are alleged “Code of Conduct breaches.” . . . Beatty spent 17 seasons coaching (1996-2013) in the SJHL and then was in the BCHL for four seasons with the Cowichan Valley Capitals. He was at Shawnigan Lake School for two seasons (2017-19) before joining the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons prior to the 2019-20 season. He left the Oil Barons on Jan. 14, 2020. Most recently, he has been scouting for the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires.
Nellie Fox struck out 216 times over 19 major league seasons from 1947 to 1965, a span of 10,351 plate appearances.
If you missed it — if you blinked you likely did — MLB and the MLBPA met again on Thursday. This negotiating session lasted all of 15 minutes. . . . Before the owners locked out the players, pitchers and catchers were to have begun reporting three days ago. . . . There isn’t much doubt now but that Opening Day is in jeopardy and there are those who suggest — wait for it! — that the entire season is in danger of not happening. . . . Oh wait! Owners and players say they are prepared to meet every day next week. Don’t hold your breath for a deal. . . . On Friday, it was announced that they already have flushed away the first week of spring training games. . . .
I saw a graphic on Thursday that showed the entire coaching staff of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. Head coach Doug Pederson has a staff of 23 assistant coaches. Yes, 23! . . . When I first had anything to do with covering the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the late, great Tribune in the mid-1970s, I believe head coach Bud Riley had four assistants one season and three the next. . . . And then, on Friday, I happened upon a list showing the Miami Dolphins’ coaching staff. Head coach Mike McDaniel has 26 assistants. Yes, 26! . . .
Derek Taylor, the radio voice of the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders, revealed on Thursday that he won’t be back for a third season at CKRM. Speculation has him ending up in Winnipeg, where the Blue Bombers will have a new play-by-play voice on CJOB following the retirement of Bob Irving, or back at TSN, where he was before moving to Regina. Hmmm! I’m thinking TSN. . . .
It would seem more obvious than ever that the rest of the curling world has caught up with Canada, at least it has if we can go by the results from the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. I don’t know what it means but it sure is interesting to see just how many Canadians are coaching Olympic curling teams from other countries. . . .
Here’s how Jesse Campigotto of CBC Sports’ The Buzzer summed it up: “So, has the rest of the world ‘caught up’ to Canada in curling? In terms of depth, no. This country still produces roughly half of the top 10 men’s and women’s teams. But you can only send one to the big international tournaments. And it’s becoming clear that, here, the players wearing the maple leaf are no longer exceptional. At best, they’re first among equals. Often, they’re simply among equals.”
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here: