Why do some leagues rush through their playoffs? . . . Broncos dump Pats . . . Ice gets past Raiders in OT . . . Royals beat Rockets

I have long wondered why some hockey leagues play a long, grinding regular season only to get to the playoffs and seemingly rush to get them over with as kijhlquickly as possible. I mean, shouldn’t the playoffs be the highlight of your season? Shouldn’t it all be about crowning the league’s best team? If it is, why not slow things down and let the players enjoy it?

Well, it turns out I’m not alone.

“ . . . I think in terms of injuries it’s having an effect on every team,” Derek Stuart, the general manager and head coach of the junior B Kimberley Dynamiters of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, told the Kimberley Bulletin’s Paul Rodgers the other day.  said. “We play a ridiculous amount of games in a short time and guys are getting hurt. It’s something that I’ve said before has got to change, but they have injuries as well, it’s not just us.”

At the time, the Dynamiters and Nelson Leafs were tied 2-2 in a best-of-seven semifinal series. The Leafs went into Kimberley and won, 4-3 in OT, on Monday night and — you guessed it! — they played again the very next night, this time in Nelson. This one needed extra time, too, before Nelson won, 2-1, in the second OT period. Game 7, had it been needed, was to have been played tonight in Kimberley. Three games in as many nights at this stage of a season simply is silliness.

Look, I’m not picking on the KIJHL here because other leagues seem to get in a hurry like this, too. But . . . why do leagues get to this time of their seasons and force teams to play three games in three nights or even four in five?

In some instances, I’m sure the primary reason is that everything is based on the championship at the end of the season — be it provincial or national. Leagues have to be finished their playoffs in time for their champion to get to that competition.

That being the case, why can’t the leagues start their seasons earlier, or hack some games from the regular-season schedule?

They owe it to the players.

“It’s crazy,” Stuart said. “It’s absolutely insane what we’re making these young kids do, playing this many games in such a short period of time. It’s insane . . . I can’t believe that it’s actually happening.”

By that point, Rodgers reported that Kimberley had played 17 games in 30 days, with Nelson having played 20 games in 30 days.

The Dynamiters were without F Carter Spring (broken leg), F Ty Smith (broken ankle) and F Conner Furukawa (knee).


Month


Gregg Popovich, the head coach of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, has a degree in Soviet studies from the Air Force Academy. Here he is in conversation with Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle:

““Here, any sane individual is traumatized at what they’re seeing. And it’s still impossible for us, as I’m sure you agree, we can’t feel what it would be like to drive you wife and your daughter and son to the border, and say goodbye and know you’re going to go back and die, because the Russians are going to pull this bulls—t that a lot of people fall for, including some of the people in our government.

“Those are the people that really make me sick. For political and personal reasons, they’re willing to jump on a (Vladimir) Putin bandwagon. Guys like (Sen. Ted) Cruz … you could just go down the list. They’re just despicable people for even thinking about saying the things they’ve said. You’ve got the people on Fox News I won’t even name, they know what they’re saying, they’re highly intelligent people, but they’re still willing to do it. Just lickspittles of the highest order.”


World


Nine of Canada’s junior A leagues will have representatives in Estevan, Sask., in May to play for the Centennial Cup. Including the host Bruins, there will be 10 teams competing, from May 19-29. . . . “In lieu of today’s announcement,” read a news release, “it was also determined that, since each of the nine member-league champions will advance directly to compete in the Centennial Cup, the four CJHL regional championship events (Fred Page Cup, Dudley-Hewitt Cup, ANAVET Cup, Doyle Cup) won’t be held this season.” . . . Keep in mind that the BCHL pulled out of the CJHL before this season got started, so its champion won’t be in the Centennial Cup competition.


Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald reports that the Silvertips will be without D EverettRonan Seeley on a week-to-week basis. Seeley, a 19-year-old in his fourth WHL season, suffered an apparent shoulder injury on Friday during a 5-3 loss to the host Vancouver Giants. F Adam Hall of the Giants was given a minor for boarding on the play and then was suspended for three games under supplemental discipline. . . . “The good news for Seeley and Everett,” Patterson wrote, “is that (GM/head coach Dennis) Williams said he’s fully confident Seeley will be back in time for the playoffs to start, which being around April 22.” . . . Seeley, with 41 points in 48 games, and Olen Zellweger, with 67 points, including 55 assists, in 48 games, gave the Silvertips two minute-eating veteran defencemen, who are a big reason why Everett sits atop the Western Conference, two points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers and five up on the Portland Winterhawks.


SmackTV


Some news on the Kootenay Ice, just in case there are WHL fans out there who remember them . . .


TUESDAY IN THE WHL:

F Raphael Pelletier scored twice to help the host Swift Current Broncos to a 5-3 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Pelletier, who has 17 goals, broke a 3-3 tie at 17:02 of the third period. . . . Regina F Connor Bedard ran his point streak to 21 games as he scored twice to give him 43. His second goal, coming on the first penalty shot of his WHL career, tied the score 3-3 at 6:44 of the third. He also has goals in seven straight games. . . . Bedard, who also had an assist, now has 83 points in 51 games. . . . Swift Current was without G Reid Dyck, F Josh Filmon and D Owen Pickering, all of whom are in Kitchener for tonight’s Top Prospects Game. . . . With Dyck away, the Broncos had Joey Rocha, who is from Nanaimo, backing up Isaac Poulter. Rocha, who turned 17 on Jan. 22, has yet to play a WHL game. He spent this season with the U18 Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox, Sask. . . . The Broncos (24-30-7) hold down the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot, one point behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes and two ahead of the Prince Albert Raiders. The Pats (23-29-5) are 10th, four points behind the Broncos. . . .

F Jack Finley scored his 20th goal of the season with 15.3 seconds left in OT to give the Winnipeg Ice a 3-2 victory over the Raiders in Prince Albert. . . . F Vladislav Shilo (6) had pulled the Raiders even at 7:22 of the third period. . . . The Raiders got 39 saves from G Tikhon Chaika. . . . Ice G Daniel Hauser stopped 25 shots in improving his numbers to 25-2-1, 2.06, .914. . . . Winnipeg (44-9-5) is tied with the idle Edmonton Oil Kings (45-12-3) atop the Eastern Conference. The Ice holds two games in hand. . . . The Raiders (24-29-5) are ninth, two points behind Swift Current. . . .

In Victoria, F Bailey Peach’s 34th goal, at 13:43 of the third period, broke a 2-2 tie and the Royals went on to beat the Kelowna Rockets, 4-2. . . . F Riley Gannon helped the winners with his 20th goal and an assist. . . . The Royals also got a goal, his 15th, and an assist from F Tarun Fizer. . . . The Royals (20-34-6) are seventh in the Western Conference, four points behind the Vancouver Giants and three ahead of the Prince George Cougars and Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Rockets (34-17-6) are fifth, four points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . The Royals and Rockets will play again tonight in Victoria.


Safety


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.


Syrup

Let’s get Chipperfield on the 40 at 16 list . . . WJC in Edmonton has its dates . . . Mateychuk sets up six for Warriors

Hey, WHL, gotta add another name to the list of 16-year-olds in your 40-Goal Club.

That’s right. And, no, I didn’t figure it out by myself. I received an email on WHLSaturday pointing out that F Ron Chipperfield of the Brandon Wheat Kings struck 40 times in 64 games in 1970-71.

He was born in Brandon — his home actually was in Minnedosa, just up No. 10 highway — on March 28, 1954, so, yes, he was 16 for the 1970-71 season.

Could Chipper score? Hey, does a bear, well, you know . . .

He went on to play three more seasons with the Wheat Kings, scoring 59, 72 and 90 goals.

Chipperfield finished with 470 points, including 261 goals, in 252 games. Yes, he averaged more than one goal per game over a four-season career. In his final season, 1973-74, he counted for 90 of Brandon’s 305 goals. Add his 72 assists and he was in on 162 goals, or 53 per cent of them.

Amazing!

When you consider that the Wheat Kings were anything but a powerhouse in those days — they won 20, 35, 29 and 27 games during Chipperfield’s four seasons with them — his accomplishments are all the more amazing.

So let’s add Chipperfield to the list that also features Glen Goodall, Jeff Friesen, Mark Pederson, Dave Pasin and Bedard.

The WHL had Kimbi Daniels on the list when it was posted, but it turns out that he was 17 years of age when he hit the 40-goal mark. As a 16-year-old, he scored 30 goals for the 1988-89 Swift Current Broncos.


Diner


So . . . the Minnesota State Mavericks thought they had won the CCHA championship on Saturday night in Mankato, Minn. In fact, they were in their locker room celebrating what they thought was a 2-1 OT victory over the Bemidji State Beavers. However, well after the game, officials reviewed the winning goal and decided that it shouldn’t have counted. The CCHA said in a statement that “additional TV production camera angles made available to the officials provided conclusive evidence that the goal net was elevated and the puck entered underneath the frame.” . . . After the game, Don Lucia, the CCHA commissioner, told reporters: “I don’t want to end someone’s career on a goal that is not a goal.” . . . The game was restarted from 3:02 of OT, more than an hour after it had ended. The ice was resurfaced, teams had a five-minute warmup and then away they went. . . . After all that, the Mavericks got a goal from Jack McNeely at 5:11 to end it for a second time.


G Ève Gascon became the third woman to play in a QMJHL game on Saturday when her Gatineau Olympiques dropped a 5-4 OT decision to the visiting Rimouski Oceanic. . . . Gascon, 18, stopped 18 shots. . . . F Xavier Cormier scored the winner, his 20th goal of the season, at 1:10 of OT. . . . Gascon’s presence helped the Olympiques set a single-game attendance record (4,700) in their new facility — the Slush Puppie Centre. . . . Two other female goaltenders — Manon Rheaume and Charline Labonté — have played in the QMJHL, while Shannon Szabados, also a goaltender, had a taste of WHL action with the Tri-City Americans in September 2002. . . . Wayne Scanlan has more on Gascon’s day right here.


Spelling


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.


We have dates! The 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship now is scheduled for Aug. 9-20 with it all to be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton. You will recall WJC2022that the tournament actually got started in Red Deer/Edmonton on Dec. 26 but was cancelled four days later because of positive tests among players and on-ice officials. . . . All players who were eligible to play in December will be eligible for August. . . . Latvia has been added to the 10-team field, replacing the Russians, who were turfed after their dictator attacked Ukraine. . . . Group A will comprise Austria, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.S. Canada is in Group B, with Czechia, Finland, Latvia and Slovakia. . . . The tournament will start from scratch on Aug. 9, meaning results from December won’t count for anything. . . .

The IIHF also revealed on Saturday that the U18 Women’s World Championship is to be played in June in the U.S. It was to have been played in January in Sweden — Linkoping and Mjolby — but was scrubbed because of the pandemic. Dates and locations for June have yet to be announced. . . .

The men’s U18 Worlds will be held in Germany — Landshut and Kaufbeuren — from April 23 through May 1. Canada, Czechia, Germany and the U.S. will be Group A, with Group B comprising Finland, Latvia, Sweden and Switzerland. . . .

Martin Merk has more on the IIHF and various tournaments and schedule changes right here.


SATURDAY IN THE WHL:

The Moose Jaw Warriors got six assists from D Denton Mateychuk as they dropped the visiting Regina Pats, 10-4. . . . Regina had a 45-33 edge in shots. . . . The Warriors got singletons from 10 players. . . . Mateychuk has 56 points, including 47 assists, in 57 games. . . . Regina F Connor Bedard scored his 41st goal as he ran his point streak to 20 games, the longest in the WHL this season. . . .

F Briley Wood scored in the 11th round of a shootout to give the Lethbridge Hurricanes a 3-2 victory over the Rebels in Red Deer. . . . The Rebels forced OT when F Arshdeep Bains scored his 34th goal at 16:09 of the third period, via the PP. . . .

F Reece Vitelli scored twice and added an assist to lead the host Prince Albert Raiders to a 4-1 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Vitelli has 22 goals this season. . . .

G Daniel Hauser stopped 19 shots to help the Winnipeg Ice to a 5-0 victory over the Wheat Kings in Brandon. . . . Hauser has a WHL-leading seven shutouts. His other numbers this season: 24-2-1, 2.07, .913. . . . F Skyler Bruce had two goals, giving him 16, and an assist. . . . Winnipeg, which has clinched the East Division pennant, won the season series, 8-1-1. Brandon was 2-7-1.

G Isaac Poulter turned aside 19 shots as the Swift Current Broncos beat the Tigers, 2-0, in Medicine Hat. . . . F Josh Filmon’s 22nd goal, at 3:50 of the first period, stood up as the winner. . . . Poulter has four shutouts this season and five in his career. . . .

F Bailey Peach scored all three goals as the host Victoria Royals beat the Prince George Cougars, 3-0. . . . Peach, who has 33 goals, counted once in each period, the final one into an empty net. . . . The Royals got 35 saves from freshman G Tyler Palmer, who earned his third shutout of this season. . . .

F Sasha Mutala and F Parker Bell each scored twice and added an assist as the Tri-City Americans got past the Chiefs, 6-3, in Spokane. . . . Mutula  and Bell each has 16 goals. . . . Tri-City scored four of the game’s final five goals. . . . F Yannick scored two goals — he’s got 11 — and added an assist for Spokane. . . .

F Niko Huuhtanen had two goals and two assists to lead the Everett Silvertips to a 5-2 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . Huuhtanen, who has 32 goals, gave the Silvertips a 2-0 lead by scoring at 2:22 and 16:39 of the first period. . . . Everett also got three assists from D Olen Zellweger. . . . The Giants were without F Adam Hall, who was hit with a three-game suspension for a hit on Everett D Ronan Seeley at 2:17 of the second period of Friday’s game. Hall was given a minor for boarding on the play in which Seeley suffered an apparent shoulder injury. He left the game and didn’t return. Hall later scored the Giants’ second and fourth goals in the Giants’ 5-3 victory. . . . Seeley didn’t play in this one. . . .

F Logan Stankoven scored twice and Dylan Garand recorded the shutout as the Kamloops Blazers beat the visiting Kelowna Rockets, 4-0. . . . Kamloops has won eight in a row, with five of those victories over Kelowna. . . . Stankoven, who has 35 goals, opened the scoring at 2:41 of the first period and that was all the offence Garand would need. . . . He finished with 33 saves as he posted his third shutout this season and the 11th of his career. This season, Garand is 29-7-0, 2.04, .926. . . . F Fraser Minten added his 18th goal and two assists. . . . After the game, Regan Bartel, the Rockets’ radio voice, tweeted: “When you play each other four straight games, tempers flare. Coaches doing some shouting at one another late in the third.” . . . They’ll go home-and-home again next weekend, too. . . .

F Jaydon Dureau scored Portland’s first three goals as the Winterhawks skated to a 4-1 victory over the Seattle Blades in Kent, Wash. . . . Dureau, who has 17 goals, scored three times on the PP — 22 seconds into the first period for a 1-0 lead, 59 seconds into the third for a 2-0 lead and at 3:27 for a 3-1 edge. . . . Portland was 3-for-5 on the PP; Seattle was 0-for-4. . . . Seattle was able to dress only 16 skaters, two under the maximum allowed.


Scraps


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.


Couples

Winnipeg ices playoff spot . . . Raiders, Chaika blank Hurricanes . . . Royals put hurt on Winterhawks


You have to wonder if we will be seeing any new Russian or Belarusian players headed this way for the next season — or longer — because of the decision by Vladimir Putin, the Russian dictator, to invade Ukraine.

On Monday, the NHL revealed that it has suspended a Memorandum of KHLUnderstanding that it had with the KHL, the Russia-based professional league that involves a number of Putin friends and Russian oligarchs.

As Aaron Vickers of the Daily Hive reported, the move effectively ends communication between the KHL and NHL.

Frank Seravalli of Daily Face-off obtained a memo that went from the NHL to its teams, in which teams were told to “immediately cease all dealings (direct or indirect) with the KHL and KHL clubs (and all representatives of both), as well as with player agents who are based in and continue to do business in Russia.”

Meanwhile, the CHL, which oversees the 60 major junior teams in the OHL, QMJHL and WHL, met last week and one of the items on the agenda was the 2022 import draft. There was speculation that the CHL would ban Russian and Belarusian players from the draft. However, after the meeting, the CHL announced that “the date and format for the 2022 CHL import draft have yet to be determined and will be announced at a later date.”

The CHL and its leagues often operate in lockstep in a lot of ways, so it will be interesting to see the end result of the major junior deliberations, especially in light of the NHL’s decision to at least temporarily sever relationships with the KHL.

It also will be interesting to see how NHL teams deal with Russian and Belarusian players who are eligible for the 2022 draft. Considering the uncertainty surrounding those two countries at the moment, how many NHL teams will even consider drafting Russians or Belarusians? And should the CHL choose to include those players in the annual import draft, will major junior teams shy away from selecting them?

If you are wondering, there presently are six Belarussians and three Russians listed on WHL team rosters.



TUESDAY NIGHT IN THE WHL: G Daniel Hauser stopped 14 shots to earn the shutout as the host Winnipeg Ice beat the Calgary Hitmen, 2-0. Hauser has four career shutouts, all of them this season. In 32 appearances over two seasons, he is 26-2-2, 2.48, .904. . . . The Ice became the seventh WHL team to clinch a playoff spot. . . . F Evan Herman scored twice, giving him 21 goals, and G Tikhon Chaika stopped 23 shots as the Prince Albert Raiders beat the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes, 4-0, for their third straight victory. Chaika, an 18-year-old freshman from Belarus, has two shutouts this season. He is 16-15-2, 2.92, .902. . . . The Raiders (22-28-3), Calgary (20-26-7) and Swift Current Broncos (20-28-78) are tied for the Eastern Conference’s eight and final playoff spot. . . . F Bailey Peach scored his 30th goal of the season on a penalty shot and added two assists as the host Victoria Royals dumped the Portland Winterhawks, 5-3. Victoria closed to within one point of the Spokane Chiefs, who hold down the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot. The Winterhawks had won five in a row. They remain three points behind the conference-leading Kamloops Blazers and Everett Silvertips, each with 80 points.


The Swift Current Broncos have made Devan Praught the ninth head coach in the franchise’s history. Praught, a native of Summerside, P.E.I., had been the interim head coach since Oct. 14 when Dean Brockman resigned as general manager and head coach. The Broncos are 18-25-7 under Praught. . . . There is a news release right here. . . . The Broncos named Chad Leslie as their general manager on Jan. 31 when they removed the interim from his title.



The QMJHL has suspended F Lou-Félix Denis of the Shawinigan Cataractes for qmjhlnewfive games for remarks he made in the direction of Russian D Evgenii Kashnikov of the Gatineau Olympiques during a game on Sunday. The incident occurred late in the first period, referee Pascal Saint-Jacques heard the comments, and Denis was handed a game misconduct for, according to the online game sheet, “discriminatory taunts, gestures and slurs.” Denis also will have to take part in a workshop about the QMJHL’s anti-discrimination policy. . . . Denis is the third QMJHL player to have been suspended under that policy this season.

Meanwhile, the OHL investigated allegations of inappropriate comments OHLhaving been made by a member of the Sudbury Wolves towards a player with the North Bay Battalion on March 3. On Tuesday, the OHL issued a statement that read, in part: “The league has done a thorough investigation of the allegation, including speaking to players and team officials of both teams in addition to the on-ice officials, and the allegation cannot be substantiated.”

The OHL also said it “will treat any discrimination against Russian and Belarusian players as we would with all allegations in accordance with our Harassment & Abuse/Diversity Policy. Further, last week we advised all of our on-ice officials to be aware of any inappropriate conduct among players including any anti-Russian/Belarusian discrimination and are working with the Canadian Mental Health Association through our Talk Today program to ensure supports are in place for our Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian players.”


Steve Hogle isn’t going to settle the dispute between MLB and the MLBPA, but he is getting into baseball. The West Coast League’s Edmonton Riverhawks have announced that they have hired Hogle, a former president of the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades, as their first general manager. Prior to working with the Blades, he was vice-president communications and broadcast with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. Since returning to Edmonton from Saskatoon, Hogle had been working with Hockey Edmonton.


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:

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.


Peanuts

WJC beaten by ‘opponent that was not on the ice’ . . . The Earl of Kamloops strolls off into sunset . . . Royals life just Peachy in Victoria

DeerDec31
Before deciding if/when to return to writing here, I consulted with a few deer friends on Friday.

Well, it’s all over for another year. As always, we wait and wait and wait for Christmas week to get here and then, in the blink of an eye, it’s over. I was outside for a bit on New Year’s Eve afternoon and had a chance to visit with 10 close friends who were looking for dinner.


I hope you were disappointed but not surprised when the IIHF pulled the plug on the 2022 World Junior Championship on Dec. 29. Really, organizers didn’t WJC2022have any choice but to listen to their medical advisors and bring it to an end. That, of course, led to the usual choristers gnashing their teeth and whining about letting the boys play. One columnist even complained that “nobody gave the players a vote.” . . . On the day of the cancellation, there had been four positive tests among three teams. Little was made of the five or six on-ice officials who had tested positive. The following day, officials reported seven more positive tests — six players and one on-ice official — only confirming that the proper decision had been made. . . . But in watching all of this unfold, mostly via social media, on the afternoon/evening of Dec. 29, I was left to wonder how so many people came to lose the plot as COVID-19 continues its march? Whatever happened to trying to protect the vulnerable — the young, the elderly, the thousands who live among us with compromised immune systems — and the healthcare workers? Have we forgotten about the thousands of folks who haven’t been able to get health issues properly cared for because of hospitals not having staff available? . . .

I walked into a small grocery store in Kamloops on Sunday afternoon. It had been a long while since encountering anyone not masked-up, but there were three people — looked like mother, father and son about 12 — headed to the checkout without a mask in sight. Just another reminder that not everyone is on the same team; in other words, we’re in this for a while yet.

——

Here is part of what Ken Campbell of Hockey Unfiltered wrote about the decision to halt the WJC:

“It’s safe to say there was a fair bit of outcry from certain corners when the tournament was scrubbed. Some people couldn’t understand why a handful of positive tests and a few forfeits had to submarine the entire event. Well, it’s because of what Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney referred to as ‘an opponent that was not on the ice, but was bigger than all of us.’

“The Omicron variant is the most highly contagious COVID-19 variant we’ve seen by a wide margin. There is speculation that it is not as severe as the Delta and other variants, but nobody can say that with 100 percent certainty at the moment. And while the athletes are young, fit and double vaccinated and likely would not have severe outcomes, they don’t live in a vacuum. And the logistics around quarantining would have been disruptive.

“One infectious diseases specialist Hockey Unfiltered spoke with said that once even a couple of players from USA, Russia and Czechia tested positive ‘this thing is so contagious, those three teams are done. If you have a positive test on those teams, you can be sure the infection has spread well beyond the individuals who are there. I’d be shocked if that were the actual size of the outbreak.’ ”


Congratulations to Earl Seitz, the venerable sports director from CFJC-TV in Kamloops who called it a career after his New Year’s Eve sportscast. Yes, after more than 50 years in radio and TV, the Earl of Kamloops has retired. . . . Earl and I spent a lot of nights seated beside each other in the press box during Kamloops Blazers games. Yes, we solved a lot of the world’s problems during those times; in fact, it may not be a coincidence that so much has gone downhill since our press box partnership came to an end. Right, Earl!


Clock


We really don’t have any idea how many positive tests or exposures there have been involving WHL players and staff since the Christmas break. The WHLleague announced on Dec. 27 that “36 players or hockey operations staff have been added to the WHL COVID-19 protocol list as a result of displaying symptoms for COVID-19 or returning a positive test result for COVID-19 through rapid antigen testing . . .” But, the league noted, “results are pending for Kamloops and Prince George.” The league has yet to update that release. . . .

On Dec. 29, the league announced the postponement of that night’s game that was to have had the Portland Winterhawks visit the Tri-City Americans “due to goaltenders on both clubs entering COVID-19 protocols and/or sustaining injuries.” The WHL noted at the time that it would “provide further information when it is available.” However, it has yet to update either team’s situation. . . .

On Dec. 30, the league shut down the Swift Current Broncos “as a result of four players being on the COVID-19 protocol list due to exhibiting symptoms or having tested positive. . . . It is believed the exposure occurred outside the team environment.” . . .

On Jan. 1, the league shut down the Lethbridge Hurricanes “as a result of 14 players being on the COVID-19 protocol list due to exhibiting symptoms or having tested positive. . . .”

Add it all up and you’ve got 54 players and/or staff on the protocol list, plus how ever many are involved with Portland and Tri-City.

I am guessing that the Omnicron situation also had something to do with a couple of teams playing without backup goaltenders on the bench. Tri-City did it in Portland on Dec. 28 and fans who were there will tell you that G Nick Avakyan was injured at 7:41 of the second period when he was involved in a goal-mouth collision. . . . As one source told Taking Note: “Avakyan was hurting bad after he was run into.” . . . But he finished the game, one the Winterhawks won, 9-2. With G Tomas Suchanek serving a one-game suspension, the Americans didn’t have any support for Avakyan on their bench. . . . Then, prior to a New Year’s Eve game between the Seattle Thunderbirds and host Portland, Joshua Critzer, who covers the Winterhawks for pnwhockeytalk.com, tweeted: “The Winterhawks have no ‘official’ backup goalie tonight. Either a forward or a defenceman would go back to the locker room and change into the goalie gear should the need arise.” Fortunately, the need didn’t arise.


Odds


F Bailey Peach and the Victoria Royals continue to write one of this hockey season’s best stories. . . . Peach, 20, set a franchise single-game record with Royalsseven points, three of them goals, as the Royals beat the visiting Vancouver Giants, 7-3, on Thursday night. That broke the record of six points that had been held by F Ryan Peckford, who had a goal and five assists in a 9-3 victory over the visiting Saskatoon Blades on Oct. 18, 2016. . . . Peach added two goals in a 5-2 loss to the Rockets in Kelowna on New Year’s Day. That left him with 19 points, including 11 goals, in a six-game point streak. In 30 games with the Royals, he has 44 points, 20 of them goals. . . . Not bad for a guy who was claimed off waivers by the Royals after he was dropped by the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders. . . . The Royals, meanwhile, opened the season by going 1-11-2, a stretch that included five straight losses to the Prince George Cougars. Today, the Royals are 12-14-4 and are tied for seventh in the Western Conference with those same Cougars (13-17-2). . . .  Back to Peach for a moment, though. It seems his nickname is — wait for it! — Peacher. Come on, Royals. Why not something original like Ty? You know, after Ty Cobb, aka The Georgia Peach? Just asking . . .


“Santa Claus didn’t visit the Jacksonville Jaguars this year,” reported Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times on Dec. 26. “For some reason the reindeer couldn’t touch down.”

——

Perry, with another scoop: “The EasyPost Hawai’i Bowl was canceled after a virus plague swamped the Rainbow Warriors program. Perplexed bowl officials can’t decide whether to declare it a forfeit, a no-contest or COVID-19, Hawai’i 0.”


Amazon


When Baltimore played Green Bay the other day, Wink Martindale, the Ravens’ defensive co-ordinator, made sure to double- and triple-team Packers receiver Davonte Adams. As Martindale explained: “Adams is one of the top two receivers in the league, and he’s not No. 2.”


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, remembering the late John Madden and his famed bus excursions:

“Just after the 9/11 attacks, Madden left his Manhattan apartment and headed to California. He heard that the airline shutdown had stranded famed figure skater Peggy Fleming in Philadelphia, so he detoured through Philly and picked her up.

“In Nebraska, the Cruiser stopped at a store in a small town so Madden could buy some American flags for his bus. Imagine the looks on faces when John Madden and Peggy Fleming strolled into the store.”

——

Ostler also had a few of interesting New Year’s resolutions, among them: “Stay off the list of sports figures who died in 2022.” . . . “Lose 20 pounds in January. Gain ’em all back in February, just to show my body who’s boss.” . . . “Help Aaron Rodgers, Kyrie Irving, Novak Djokovic and other vaccine resisters in sports with their research, by sending them info I have gathered on alternative COVID-fighters, such as blood-letting, leeches and voodoo curses.”


News


JUST NOTES . . .

If you are in B.C., and interested in helping out minor hockey, BC Hockey wants you to know that it is operating a 50/50 draw with all proceeds staying in the province to help grassroots hockey. Jeff Harris, the executive veep of communications, tells Taking Note that “originally, we were doing this in conjunction with Hockey Canada and the WJCs, but with the tournament cancellation we had to call an audible. Luckily, our gaming license enabled us to hold one further draw, which concludes (Monday) night.” . . . So you have until tonight (Monday) at 8 to get your numbers, and you are able to do that right here. . . .

Stacy Pratt, who played three full seasons (1981-84) with the Brandon Wheat BrandonKings, was killed in a car crash on Dec. 31, according to Darryl Wolski (@2112hockey) of Brandon. Pratt was 56. . . . Pratt, from Sioux Valley, Man., played four games with Brandon in 1980-81 before becoming a regular in 1981-82. In his last season, he played alongside Ray Ferraro, who scored a WHL single-season record 104 goals. Pratt finished the season with 34 goals and 64 assists in 55 games. . . . “Stacy was my winger in Brandon,” Ferraro tweeted. “An amazing passer, a great laugh and awesome to play with.” . . .

Curtis Toneff took over as general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s MerrittMerritt Centennials following the Dec. 22 firing of Dave Chyzowski, who had been in his first season there. . . . Toneff was in his third season as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. . . . The Centennials were 1-20-1 at the time the move was made. . . . Chyzowski was back coaching for a couple of games as he worked with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips during a Dec. 28-29 sweep of the Cougars in Prince George. The Silvertips were short as head coach Dennis Williams was with Canada’s national junior team. . . .

Long-time hockey coach Bob McCammon, who spent a couple of years with the Tri-City Americans, died on Dec. 23. He was 80. . . . McCammon was the Americans’ general manager and head coach in 1992-93, added the president’s title to his portfolio for 1993-94, then resigned during the season. He also coached in the AHL, IHL and NHL during his lengthy career. . . . Patrick Johnston of Postmedia has more on McCammon right here. . . .

Bob Calvert, the father of former WHL G Jeff Calvert and a long-time member of the Moose Jaw Warriors’ board of directors, died on Dec. 22. He was 74. . . . Bob worked at the Regina Leader-Post for a while during my almost 17-year stint there, and he often dropped by my desk for a vociferous discussion on the latest goings-on in the world of hockey. . . . Jeff, now 48, played two seasons (1989-91) with the Warriors and three (1991-94) with the Tacoma Rockets before going on to spend five seasons with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies. On Dec. 29, 1992, Jeff came on in relief for the Rockets and scored a goal and added an assist as they erased a 4-0 deficit to beat the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors, 6-4. . . . Jeff’s two sons, Atley (Warriors) and Rowan (Saskatoon Blades), both play in the WHL; in fact, Rowan scored his first WHL goal in his debut for the Blades on Dec. 27. Somewhere, Grandpa Bob was smiling and chuckling. . . . An obituary can be found right here. . . .

G Curt Ridley, who played five games with the Brandon Wheat Kings in 1070-71, Ridleydied on Dec. 19. He was 70. Ridley played almost all of his junior hockey with the MJHL’s Portage Terriers before going on to a pro career that included 104 NHL games — 96 with the Vancouver Canucks, six with the Toronto Maple Leafs and two with the New York Rangers. . . . Ridley perhaps is best remember for the iconic mask he wore while with the Canucks. . . . Dave Stubbs of nhl.com has more on Ridley right here.


FinePrint


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.


Doonesbury

No Ridley, no victories for Tigers . . . Benton back with ‘Tips for two . . . WHL, Raiders backtrack on alternate sweaters


The Medicine Hat Tigers and Swift Current Broncos completed a season-Tigersopening home-and-home series on Saturday night. The Broncos won the opener, 2-0, at home on Friday, then completed the sweep with a 3-2 victory in Medicine Hat on Saturday. . . . However, you can bet that the participants recognized that something was missing. Bob Ridley, the radio voice of the Tigers, wasn’t there; he’s in Lethbridge undergoing radiation treatments. . . . Darren Steinke, who keeps track of such things, notes that Ridley has done the play-by-play on 4,021 of the 4,022 games the Tigers have played since entering the WHL for the 1970-71 season. That includes regular-season games, one tiebreaker, playoff games and Memorial Cup games. . . . And let’s not forget that Ridley drove the Tigers’ bus for a lot of those seasons. You don’t even want to think about how much coffee he drank back in those days. . . . In Ridley’s absence, Scott Roblin of CHAT in Medicine Hat is calling the games.


The Everett Silvertips will play their season-opener tonight (Sunday) when Everettthey face the Chiefs in Spokane. The Silvertips won’t play again until Friday when they hold their home-opener, this time against the Portland Winterhawks. . . . With Mike Benton, the Silvertips’ radio voice for the previous six seasons, having left to join Seattle radio station KJR, you are wondering who will be doing the play-by-play for Everett now, aren’t you? . . . Well, a little birdie has told me that Benton will handle the first two games as the Silvertips work to get a new voice into place. . . . With KJR, Benton is handling the pre-game, intermission and post-game shows for Seattle Kraken games.


The WHL issued a statement late Saturday after the Prince Albert Raiders had unveiled a third sweater that included a controversial logo from their past. Yes, this qualifies as one of those ‘Yikes, what were they thinking?’ moments. . . . Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW.com has more right here.


Meanwhile, on the ice in the WHL on Saturday . . .

If you’re on Twitter, there are some interesting noise-related comments on the thread here . . .

In Regina, the Pats scored the game’s last three goals to beat the Prince Albert Raiders, 5-2. F Sloan Stanick scored twice and added an assist for the Pats in a game that was televised nationally by CBC with Victor Findlay calling the play and Sam Cosentino providing the analysis. . . . If you’re on the Connor Bedard watch, he was interviewed during CBC’s pre-game show and again in the second intermission. Oh, he also scored the game’s last goal, his third in two games. . . . Regina had won, 3-1, in Prince Albert on Friday night. While the Pats rode the iron lung home after the game, the Raiders got some shut-eye in their own beds before heading south Saturday at 6:15 a.m. . . . Rob Vanstone has more on Saturday’s game right here. . . .

The Winnipeg Ice completed a home-and-home sweep of the Brandon Wheat Kings, winning 7-1 in the Manitoba capital. F Connor McClennon had two goals for the Ice, with D Carson Lambos adding a goal and two assists. . . . The Ice had won, 10-2, in Brandon on Friday. . . .

The visiting Swift Current Broncos opened up a 3-0 first-period lead en route to a 3-2 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . G Isaac Poulter stopped 29 shots for his second victory in two nights. . . . The Broncos had beaten the Tigers, 2-0, in Swift Current on Friday. . . .

F Tristen Robins scored the game-winner and added an assist on the insurance goal as the host Saskatoon Blades beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 4-2. . . . The Warriors had dumped the Blades, 7-1, in Moose Jaw on Friday. . . .

The host Red Deer Rebels skated to a 4-1 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings, scoring the game’s last three goals, the final two into an empty net. . . . The Rebels earned a split in their season-opening home-and-home series, having lost 4-1 in Edmonton on Friday. . . . Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate noted that Saturday’s victory was “just the second time the Rebels have beat Edmonton since December 2018, a span of 20 games.” . . .

The Seattle Thunderbirds scored the game’s last three goals, the first two early in the second period and both from F Matthew Rempe, as they beat the Winterhawks, 3-1, in Portland. . . .

F Connor Levis broke a 4-4 tie with a PP goal at 15:09 of the third period as the Kamloops Blazers beat the Cougars, 5-4, in Prince George. The Cougars had come back from 3-0 and 4-3 deficits but weren’t ever able to grab a lead. . . . D Hudson Thornton had a goal and two assists for Prince George. . . .

G Jesper Vikman, a 19-year-old from Stockholm, Sweden, stopped 16 shots in his WHL debut as the Vancouver Giants defeated the host Victoria Royals, 5-0. . . . The game wasn’t as kind to Victoria G Sebastian Wraneschitz, who is from Vienna, Austria. He gave up three goals on six shots and left 7:24 into the game. . . . Vancouver F Connor Horning scored once and added an assist in his 200th regular-season WHL game. . . . The Giants were without head coach Michael Dyck, as he served a one-game suspension after his team was involved in a “multiple-fight situation” against Prince George on Sept. 24. Associate coach Keith McCambridge took over in Dyck’s absence. . . .

In Spokane, the Tri-City Americans erased a 3-2 deficit with three third-period goals as they scored a 5-3 victory over the Chiefs. . . . F Parker Bell’s goal at 15:13 of the third period broke a 3-3 tie and stood up as the winner.


It doesn’t happen often, but a veteran of the QMJHL wars has made his way to Royalsthe WHL. F Bailey Peach, 20, has been added to the Victoria Royals’ roster and was in the lineup on Saturday night. . . . From Falmouth, N.S., he cleared QMJHL waivers after being released by the Charlottetown Islanders. He played three seasons (2017-20) plus five games last season with the Sherbrooke Phoenix before moving on to the Islanders last season. In 184 regular-season QMJHL games, he put up 40 goals and 67 assists. He added one goal and five assists in 26 playoff games. . . . Peach joins F Tarun Fizer and F Graeme Bryks as the Royals’ 20-year-olds.


G Robin Lehner of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights hit the send button on the above tweet on Saturday evening. He has more than 107,000 followers. You can bet that we are going to be hearing a lot about this over the next few days.


Helf


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.


Specials

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