Hey, Kelowna, have you heard? Blazers want 2023 Memorial Cup . . . Thunderbirds’ home getting new scoreboard . . . QMJHL to retire Lafleur’s number


You will recall that the Kelowna Rockets were to have played host to the 2020 Memorial Cup. However, the virus had other ideas and the four-team tournament was cancelled. Later, the 2021 event, which was to have been played in an OHL centre, also was cancelled. The 2022 tournament belongs to the QMJHL with a host city yet to be declared.

That brings us to the 2023 Memorial Cup, with the rights belonging to the WHL. KamloopsOne would think that it might be a fait accompli to return hosting rights to Kelowna. In fact, Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ owner and general manager, has agreed to another two-year stint as the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors. So you might think things are in place for the Rockets to get another chance to be the host team.

Not so fast, my friends.

Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the Kamloops Blazers, has let it be known that his franchise is interested . . . very interested.

“If that’s the right thing to do, then that could be the right thing to do,” Gaglardi, who also owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars, told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week. “I haven’t been involved in any formal conversation around that, but if that happens, we’ll deal with it as it comes. Just because you have the market size and ability financially to host a Memorial Cup, I don’t think is enough, so if Kelowna is going to want the Cup again in 2023, they’re going to need to have a competitive team, and so we’ll see if they do.”

Don’t forget that Gaglardi wasn’t happy with the decision to award the 2020 Memorial Cup to Kelowna. No, not at all!

Here’s what he told Hastings in February 2020: “Yeah, it was our turn. It should have been ours. It was the wrong thing. The league did the wrong thing. It’s the 25th anniversary (of the Blazers’ 1995 Memorial Cup victory, right in Kamloops), we were judged to have probably the best team of the host bids and it was our turn. We put together a heck of an offer and we didn’t win. Yeah, I’m sour, for sure. I’m disappointed.”

The bidding for the 2020 tournament also included the community-owned Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Hastings’ latest story on Gaglardi and the Memorial Cup is right here.


Toeprints


The accesso ShoWare Center, the Kent, Wash., home of the WHL’s Seattle SeattleThunderbirds, lost US$1.14 million in 2020, a year in which it was only open for the first two months. . . . Steve Hunter of the Kent Reporter writes that “the 6,200-seat arena had expenses of $2.45 million and revenue of $1.3 million, according to the ShoWare Center income statement released last week by SMG, which operates the $84.5 million facility.” . . . All told, the facility had 58 events cancelled. It also has lost $162,635 in the first quarter of 2021. . . . Still, Hunter reports, the arena will have a new $500,000 scoreboard in place when the Thunderbirds open the 2021-22 season in October. . . . Hunter’s story is right here.


The UBC Thunderbirds revealed the names of four members of their newest recruiting class on Tuesday, and each of them is a former WHL player. . . . F Scott Atkinson played the past four seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings and is coming off two seasons as the team’s captain. . . . F Liam Kindree split four-plus WHL seasons between the Kelowna Rockets and Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . F Chris Douglas spent his entire WHL career, all four-plus seasons of it, with the Red Deer Rebels. . . . G Ethan Anders played the past four seasons with the Rebels. . . . The Thunderbirds’ head coach is Sven Butenschon, a former WHLer (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1993-96). He has been UBC’s head coach since 2016-17. . . . UBC’s news release is right here.


Hockey Canada has announced the sites for three 2022 championship Canadatournaments, each of which was cancelled for 2020 and 2021. . . . The Esso Cup, the women’s U18 club championship, is scheduled for the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert, April 17-23. . . . The Telus Cup, the U18 men’s club championship, is to be played in Cape Breton, N.S., at Sydney’s Membertou Sport and Wellness Centre, April 18-24. . . . The Centennial Cup, the national junior A men’s championship, is scheduled for Estevan’s Affinity Place, May 20-29. . . . Previously announced sites and dates for 2021 championships: National women’s U18, Dawson Creek, B.C., Oct. 31 through Nov. 6; Para Hockey Cup, Bridgewater, N.S., Dec. 5-11; and World Junior A Challenge, Cornwall, Ont., Dec. 12-18.


It wasn’t a good day for the lacrosse world as the Major Series Lacrosse (MSL) in Ontario and B.C.’s Western Lacrosse Association (WLA) cancelled their 2021 seasons, including the Mann Cup senior men’s box lacrosse championship. . . . Both organizations had been forced by the pandemic to cancel their 2020 regular seasons and the national championship, too. The Peterborough Lakers are the last team to win the Mann Cup, in 2019. . . . A news release is right here.


OT


Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity.

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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

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Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Lafleur

JUST NOTES: The QMJHL announced Tuesday that it is taking No. 4 out of use across the league in honour of Guy Lafleur. He played two seasons (1969-71) with the Quebec Remparts, putting up 233 goals and 146 assists in 118 regular-season games. He helped the Remparts to the 1971 Memorial Cup championship, the first won by a QMJHL team. This will be the second number to have been taken out of circulation by the QMJHL, which retired Sidney Crosby’s No. 87 in September 2019. . . . Tim Green is the new head coach of the Augustana Vikings men’s hockey team that plays in the Alberta Colleges Athletics Conference. Green, the 14th-overall selection in the WHL’s 1996 bantam draft by Tri-City, split four seasons (1998-2002) between the Americans and Lethbridge Hurricanes. He also spent two seasons as a player with the Vikings. He grew up in Camrose, which is home to Augustana, and played minor hockey there. He also played with the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. He has coached minor hockey in Camrose and with Hockey Alberta. Green takes over from Blaine Gusdal, the Vikings’ head coach for the previous 13 seasons.


Stupid

Canucks to return on Sunday vs. Leafs . . . Wheat Kings get new GM . . . BCIHL may add some Heat

OK. We think that the Vancouver Canucks’ schedule has been settled on . . . at least for now.

The Canucks, who last played on March 24 and have been in the midst of a CanucksCOVID-19 outbreak since March 30, are to play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday and Tuesday nights. Earlier in the week, the schedule called for the Edmonton Oilers to visit Vancouver on Friday with the Maple Leafs there on Saturday.

The schedule, as it now sits, has the Canucks concluding their 56-game season by playing 19 games in 32 nights. They actually began the season by playing 19 times in 34 nights.

F Bo Horvat, the Canucks’ captain, addressed the media on Friday and provided some insight into what the club has been through.

“I’ve had the flu before,” he said, “and this doesn’t hit you like a normal flu. It’s not something you want to get, it’s not something you want your family go through either. I can’t stress enough to follow the protocols.”

Horvat also said that he had passed the virus on to his wife, Holly, and that “it hit her a little harder than it hit me.”

“I’m one of the lucky ones,” he said. “My symptoms were fairly mild . . . I’m not going to lie. It was tough to know my family got it from me.”

At the same time, Jim Benning, the Canucks’ general manager, confirmed that the team had been hit by the P.1 variant that originated in Brazil. It is more aggressive than the original virus, which explains why the Canucks, as a group, had so much more illness than any of the other teams that have been hit this season.

Benning also said that the Canucks have three or four players who may not be ready to return on Sunday, while head coach Travis Green, who also tested positive, has yet to return to the practice ice. The team is hopeful that he will be on the ice today.

Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet has more right here.

And there’s a story right here from Karen Larsen of CBC News.


Before Kelly McCrimmon left to join the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, he had been the Brandon Wheat Kings’ general manager since 1989, or for 27 seasons.

With Friday’s announcement that Darren Ritchie is leaving, the club promoted BrandonDoug Gasper, making him its third general manager since McCrimmon’s departure.

Grant Armstrong, who had been the Victoria Royals’ assistant GM, player personnel, succeeded McCrimmon as Brandon’s GM on Aug. 23, 2016.

The Wheat Kings announced on May 7, 2019, that they wouldn’t be renewing Armstrong’s contract.

On July 12, 2019, Ritchie was promoted to general manager. He will be leaving after the completion of this season to join the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs as an amateur scout. He spent 14 seasons with Brandon, moving up from assistant coach (2007-16) to director of scouting (2016-19) and then into the GM’s office.

Gasper, a familiar face in WHL circles, joined the Wheat Kings as assistant GM on Aug. 15, 2019. From Rosetown, Sask., he had been scouting for the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks before joining the Wheat Kings. He also spent six seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors, including a stint as their director of scouting (2015-17). Gasper also has scouted for the Prince Albert Raiders.

Ritchie will work for Toronto out of Brandon; Gasper will be relocating to Brandon from Saskatoon at some point in May.

The Wheat Kings’ news release is right here.

McCrimmon sold the franchise in September to the Brandon-based J&G Group of Companies, headed up by Jared Jacobson, the president and CEO.


The BCHL announced Friday that the Nanaimo Clippers “have been cleared to Nanaimoresume team activities.” The organization had been shut down Thursday to allow for further analysis of a COVID-19 test. It was found to be a negative, so the shackles have been removed. . . . The Clippers are scheduled to play the Victoria Grizzlies this afternoon in Port Alberni. Nanaimo’s Thursday night game against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs had been postponed because of the COVID-19 scare. . . . In that cohort on Friday night, Victoria beat the Cowichan Valley Capitals, 10-0.


The B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League is exploring adding an expansion franchise in Kelowna — the UBCO Heat, which would call UBC’s Okanagan campus home. . . . The Heat has put together a committee that, according to its Facebook page, “now is recruiting marketing staff and potential student-athletes to help build a new team for the BCIHL in Kelowna.” . . . The BCIHL is down to three active teams, with the Trinity Western Spartans moving to USport’s Canada West conference and Selkirk College having cancelled its hockey program. . . . You know that expansion will be on the agenda when the BCIHL holds is annual general meeting virtually on May 18 and 19.


Donuts


It would appear that Mark Rassell, a former WHLer, is thinking about a new career! A native of Calgary, he played four seasons (2014-18) with the Medicine Hat Tigers, then spent two seasons at the U of New Brunswick. . . . He doesn’t mention here whether he knows how to drive a bus, though.


The Kelowna Rockets are scheduled to return to game action tonight in Kamloops against the Prince George Cougars. The Rockets have played only two games in this developmental season, having been sidelined since March 28 because of a COVID-19 outbreak. While the original schedule had the Rockets playing 24 games, the one now on the WHL website has them with 13 games remaining. . . .

Meanwhile, there were four games played on Friday night . . .

F Owen Pederson broke a 3-3 tie at 10:27 of the third period and F Michael Milne Winnipegadded another at 12:30 as the Winnipeg Ice beat the Swift Current Broncos, 5-4, in Regina. . . . Pederson, who has 10 goals, and Milne, who has three, each scored twice in this one. . . . D Owen Williams (4) got the Broncos’ last goal at 15:57 of the third. . . . While the Ice improved to 13-5-0, the Broncos (3-14-1) have lost seven in a row. . . . Winnipeg F Peyton Krebs had his point streak snapped at 16 games. Krebs put up nine goals and 21 assists over that stretch. . . . Winnipeg F Connor McClennon, who had his 12th goal and an assist, ran his streak to 11 games. He has 12 goals and 15 assists in 18 games and has only been blanked twice. . . . G Daniel Hauser stopped 40 shots for Winnipeg. . . . Swift Current was presented with the only PP opportunities of the game, and went 1-for-5. . . . The Ice went into the game with a PP that was running at a 34.6 efficiency rate (27-for-78), behind only to the Medicine Hat Tigers (41.8). . . .

The Medicine Hat Tigers scored the game’s last four goals and beat the visiting TigersRed Deer Rebels, 4-2. . . . F Ben King scored both Red Deer goals, at 10:14 of the first period and 4:36 of the second. He has seven goals, and has put up four goals and five assists over his past five games. All told, he’s got seven goals and 10 assists in 15 games for a Red Deer team that now is 2-13-2 and has lost 10 in a row. . . . F Corson Hopwo (12) scored twice for the Tigers, getting them started at 13:34 of the second period and adding the insurance goal at 13:08 of the third. . . . Hopwo has goals in seven straight games. . . . F Brett Kemp (9) tied the game, at 3:29 of the third, and D Eric Van Impe (3) snapped the tie just 33 seconds later. . . . The Tigers, with points in seven straight (6-0-1), now are 10-3-1. . . . Medicine Hat was 3-for-5 with the man advantage. . . .

The Everett Silvertips scored three goals in the second half of the third period to Everettbeat the host Seattle Thunderbirds, 5-3. . . . Everett, which had lost two in a row, improved to 10-3-0. . . . Seattle, which had won its previous two games, now is 7-6-0. . . . F Gage Goncalves gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 17:20 of the third period and F Cole Fonstad made it 2-0 just 50 seconds later. . . . Seattle F Henry Rybinski (4) scored in his third straight game, getting his guys on the board at 10:03 of the second period. . . . F Jared Davidson (5) put Seattle out front with goals at 13:48 of the second and 9:25 of the third. Davidson also assisted on Rybinski’s goal. . . . The Silvertips tied it on F Jacob Wright’s fifth goal, at 10:15. . . . Goncalves, who has 10 goals, broke the tie at 11:17 and Fonstad, now with 10 goals, got the empty-netter. He also had an assist. . . . Goncalves also had two assists. He has 19 points in 13 games. . . . Everett G Dustin Wolf stopped 34 shots. He’s 9-2-0, 1.81, .938. . . . Seattle dressed 17 skaters, one under the maximum, with F Payton Mount sitting out this one. He was taken to hospital following a game on Tuesday after being struck on the head by a puck that glanced off the wall behind the Seattle bench. He was checked over and released on Wednesday morning. . . .

In Kelowna, F Jonny Hooker broke a 2-2 tie at 18:08 of the second period and PGthe Prince George Cougars went on to a 5-2 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . Victoria (1-8-1), which has lost five straight, led 1-0 after one period on a PP goal by F Brayden Tracey (6). . . . D Majid Kaddoura (1) pulled the Cougars even at 2:09 of the second period and D Keaton Dowhaniuk (1) gave them the lead just 1:14 later. . . . Dowhaniuk, the third overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft, scored his first WHL goal. . . . F Trentyn Crane, a fifth-round pick in 2018, got the Royals into a tie at 11:40 with his first WHL score. . . . Hooker broke the tie, and F Kuren Gronick (2) and F Tyson Upper (1) added insurance in the last minute of the period. . . . Prince George (4-3-2) outshot Victoria, 41-21, and had a 39-16 edge in the face-off circle.


Carpenter


My wife, Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant more than seven years ago, will take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk on June 6. Unfortunately, it will be a virtual walk for a second straight year, but that won’t keep her from fund-raising on behalf of the Kidney Foundation. If you would like to help her out, you are able to make a donation right here.

——

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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Gaelan Patterson is leaving the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves to take over as director of hockey operations for the Nanaimo Minor Hockey Association. Patterson, 30, who played four seasons (2006-10) with the Saskatoon Blades, joined the Ice Wolves prior to the 2018-19 season. From La Ronge, he had been the Ice Wolves’ associate GM/associate head coach. . . . Blaine Gusdal won’t be returning for a 14th season as the head coach of the U of Alberta-Augustana Vikings. The school made the announcement on March 31. Gusdal, 53, is from Erickson, Man. He played two WHL seasons (1984-86), splitting time between the Prince Albert Raiders (one game), Moose Jaw Warriors (59) and Saskatoon Blades (34).


Brunch

Saanich jr. B team to change logo, nickname . . . Hockey problems down under . . . U.S. conferences, schools start reacting to pandemic

Owners of the Saanich Junior Braves, who play in the junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, are changing the team’s nickname and logo. . . . In a news release, owners Edward Geric and Norm Kelly said: “The Saanich Junior Braves name is not respectful to our First Nations and does not reflect the value relationships we hold with local First Nations communities or with our First Nations players. We have decided to rename the team and have started a process to develop a name that upholds our core values.” . . . The nickname and logo have been in use since 1967. . . . The team is open to feedback and questions at SaanichJrBHockey@gmail.com.


The City of Red Deer decided Wednesday to give Westerner Park as much as $2 million to allow it to operate until November. The hope is that things will have gotten better by then, in terms of the pandemic, meaning the park will be able to play host to events including WHL games. The Centrium, home to the Red Deer Rebels, is part of Westerner Park. . . . Lana Michelin of the Red Deer Advocate has a terrific story right here that explains the situation.


The Grand Slam of Curling, which is owned and televised by Sportsnet, has dropped four events from its next season, which leaves it with two competitions on its schedule. . . . The season was to have started in Sarnia, Ont., Oct. 20-25. Also gone are events in Grande Prairie (Nov. 3-8) and Chestermere, Alta. (Dec. 8-13), and Las Vegas (Jan. 12-17). . . . Now the season is to open in Toronto (April 13-18), with the final event in Olds, Alta., April 27 through May 2.


The Augustana Vikings, who play out of the U of Alberta’s Camrose campus, won’t be playing hockey this season, but they’ll be back for 2021-22. And that’s great news! . . . In February, it seemed that the program was kaput due to financial reasons, but the U of A and Vikings’ alumni got together and came up with a plan. . . . Robert Tychowski of Postmedia has more right here.


Testing


The Melbourne Mustangs of the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) revealed Wednesday that their season is over. The AIHL season was to have opened on April 18. . . . Melbourne was put into a six-week lockdown earlier in the week. . . . The Mustangs wrote on their Facebook page: “It is with much sadness that we today announce the cancellation of the 2020 season. We were holding onto the slim chance we might get to see a modified competition, but the current situation in Victoria makes this all but impossible. Thank you to our tireless supporters. Rest assured we will be back next year stronger than ever.” . . . On Thursday, the AIHL responded with this: “We’ve got an active Return To Play (RTP) committee which continues to closely follow COVID-19 updates. While the current outbreak and border closures are making it increasingly unlikely, the RTP committee remains hopeful of having a substantially condensed 2020 schedule when the situation improves in Melbourne.” . . . Interestingly, the Melbourne Ice, the second AIHL team in that city, has yet to comment on its immediate future. . . .

New Zealand’s dream of having teams compete for IIHF championships has been set back at least a year. The country’s ice hockey federation has withdrawn its teams from the men’s U-20 World Championship Division III in Mexico, and has taken its women’s team out of the U18 Women’s World Championship Division II Group B in Turkey. . . . From a news release: “The NZIHF Management Committee met and discussed the two team’s attendance at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships and after reviewing the situation, unanimously agreed that putting forward teams for these age groups to compete in the 2021 World Championships was not possible due to the ongoing effects of COVID-19 in New Zealand and internationally.”


Michelle Lujan Grisham, the governor of New Mexico, has decided that contact sports at the high school level won’t be allowed this fall. That includes football and soccer, with some non-contact sports, like cross-country and volleyball, under review. . . .

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The Ivy League has cancelled all sports, including football and hockey, through Dec. 31 due to the pandemic. It is the first NCAA Division I conference to cancel fall sports. . . . The Ivy schools are Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton and Yale. . . . The Ivy League includes six schools with hockey teams — Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton and Yale. Without those teams, the ECAC is down to six teams, but Colgate, RPI and Union are expected to follow the Ivy League’s lead because they won’t have all students on campus in the fall. . . . From an Associated Press story by Doug Feinberg and Jimmy Golen: “Ivy League schools are spread across seven Northeastern states that, as of mid-July, have seen some success at controlling the COVID-19 outbreak. But most of those states still ban large gatherings; under the Massachusetts reopening plan, Harvard would not be allowed to have fans in the stands until a vaccine is developed.” . . .

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On Thursday, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) announced that its Olympic sports will be kept from competition until at least Sept. 1. That covers men’s a women’s cross-country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer and men’s and women’s volleyball. . . .

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The National Junior College Athletic Association, the second-largest collegiate athletic association in the U.S., recommended Thursday that its members move a majority of its competitions to the spring. . . . From a statement: “Individual NJCAA regions will discuss the recommended changes prior to the NJCAA board of regents’ meeting on Monday, July 13, where an official plan of action will be decided.” . . . The NJCAA encompasses 525 schools in 24 regions of the U.S. . . .

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Meanwhile, the Big 10 issued a news release on Thursday that included this: “We are facing uncertain and unprecedented times, and the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, game officials, and others associated with our sports programs and campuses remain our No. 1 priority. To that end, the Big Ten Conference announced today that if the Conference is able to participate in fall sports (men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball) based on medical advice, it will move to Conference-only schedules in those sports. Details for these sports will be released at a later date, while decisions on sports not listed above will continue to be evaluated. By limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions, the Conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic.” . . . There is a mighty big “IF” in the second sentence of that statement. . . .

There is a look right here at all the non-conference football games that the Big 10’s decision killed . . .

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Stanford announced Wednesday that it will be cutting 11 of its 36 varsity sports once the 2020-21 season is over. Men’s and women’s fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men’s volleyball and wrestling will be going by the wayside. . . . In making the decision, the school cited the pandemic and the cost of operating a total of 36 varsity sports. . . . “These 11 programs consist of more than 240 incredible student-athletes and 22 dedicated coaches,” read a statement released by the school. “They were built by more than 4,000 alumni whose contributions led to 20 national championships, 27 Olympic medals, and an untold number of academic and professional achievements. Each of the individuals associated with these programs will forever have a place in Stanford’s history.”


The MLS is Back tournament lost another team on Thursday as Nashville SC pulled out have having nine players test positive. FC Dallas had been taken out of the tournament prior to its start after 10 players and a coach tested positive. . . . Nashville had one p[layer test positive when the team arrived in Orlando, Fla., on July 1, then had eight more come up positive after the arrival.



Bob Tasca, who drives the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang Funny Car, will miss this weekend’s E3 Spark Plugs Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Why? You guess it. Tasca, 44, tested positive for the coronavirus. . . . He caught the virus at a family gathering on Father’s Day, as did seven other family members. . . . Tasca shares his experience right here.