Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering about the (mis-)state of NHL officiating . . .

Scattershooting2


Had you suggested to me in January that I would have two shots of Pfizer in me by now, I would have told you that you were nuts. But that’s the case. I got Pfizer’d for a second time on Saturday, 10 days after Dorothy got her second dose. . . . We got all four of our shots at the Tournament Capital Centre in Kamloops and, let me tell you, the operation there was running like a a well-oiled machine. On Saturday afternoon, I had a 2:15 appointment. I walked in the door at 2 o’clock. Got my shot at 2:06. Was on my way out the door at 2:21.

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On the way home, I made one stop, ducking into a small grocery store to get some plastic utensils. You know . . . just in case.


Here are a few notes of interest from Tyler Kepner of The New York Times, from a piece on the website on Tuesday: “In the 2016 season, there were 3,294 more hits than strikeouts in the majors. By 2018, strikeouts had narrowly overtaken hits. And if the 2021 numbers continue at the current rates, there will be about 5,200 more strikeouts than hits this season.” . . . Yes, MLB has a problem.


It was with some interest that I noticed Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, WHL2was given a three-year contract extension by the board of governors the other day, and that the pooh-bahs had voted unanimously in favour of it. He has been in his office for 21 years, which is as long as Ed Chynoweth ruled the league, albeit in two separate stints. Interestingly, I don’t ever recall Chynoweth having unanimous support when it came time for a new deal. . . . In fact, I can remember one time, in March of 1976, when Chynoweth actually offered up his resignation. “It isn’t a play for money,” he said. “It is simply that there is too much hassle. It is starting to bother me that all my friends in Saskatoon are going to the airport to take flights out for winter holidays. I go to the airport and fly to Flin Flon.” . . . No, his offer wasn’t accepted.


Time out. My ears are ringing. I just gotta answer this one. It might be an incoming call from Bill Gates. Be right back . . . Ahh, it was only another coal train — or maybe it was an oil train — on the CP mainline across the river.


Wed


First it was Dominique Ducharme, the Montreal Canadiens’ interim head coach, nhl2testing positive for COVID-19, while every other team member has come up negative. . . . And then word came on Sunday that Kelly McCrimmon, the general manager of the Vegas Golden Knights, also has tested positive and is in self-isolation in Montreal. Apparently, no other team member has tested positive. . . . How does it happen that only one person in a team situation like this tests positive? Or is this all of this just an example of COVID-19’s quirky sense of humour? . . . BTW, that fourth Wheat Kings goaltender in the tweet at the top of this post is actually D Ryan Pulock, now of the New York Islanders. He made a game-saving stop on Saturday as the Islanders beat the Tampa Bay Lightning. . . . When McCrimmon was running the Wheat Kings, he drafted Pulock and helped turn him into the player he is today. McCrimmon, of course, also has had a thing or two to do with putting together the Golden Knights. What this means is that McCrimmon could end up having something to do with two teams reaching the NHL final.


A lot will be said and written about Kevin Durant’s airball at the conclusion of Saturday night’s Milwaukee Bucks’ OT victory over the New Jersey Nets. But not enough will be said and written about the defence provided by Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday on the play. He was on Durant like you’re supposed to be and he did it within the rules. . . . BTW, Durant played all 53 minutes. He was 0-for-6 from the field in the OT period. Might his legs have left him?

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It was Herb Brooks who told his 1980 U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team that “the legs feed the wolf.” That might well have been proven on Saturday night when the Nets didn’t eat.


In mentioning here last week that the WHL’s board of governors had scrubbed Vancouverinter-conference play at least for 2021-22, I suggested that it likely was done in an effort to cut costs because teams haven’t had any revenue coming since mid-March of 2019. . . . Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the Vancouver Giants, doesn’t see it that way. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia wrote: “Toigo balked at the idea that cost-cutting was the main factor in the league’s decision to do away with these road trips for a season. He says that it’s more about extended travel coming out of these COVID-19 times.” . . . Ewen then quoted Toigo as saying: “I think you want to do what you know you can count on being able to do. I think it’s logistical more than anything. We’re going to do more games with the U.S. teams. There’s good teams in the U.S. The more you see them, the more intense the games get, and the better the rivalries get.”


A NBA-related note from Janice Hough, aka the Left Coast Sports Babe: “A Twitter pal said ‘John Stockton’s stupidity has jinxed the Jazz.’ Hey, as good an explanation as any how a No. 1 seed with a 22-point lead against the Kawhi-less Clippers could not only blow a lead but lose by 12.” . . . She added: “For those who missed it, Stockton appeared in an anti-vaccine video.”


Sharks


Things I wonder about at 3 in the morning . . . How is the WHL going to deal with league and team officials, on-ice officials and players in regards to vaccinations in the lead-up to and during the 2021-22 season? . . . What if the Toronto Blue Jays had a bullpen? . . . How is construction on that new arena that is to house the Winnipeg Ice coming along? Will it be done in time for the 2021-22 season? . . . What’s happening with the lease-related lawsuit the City of Cranbrook filed against the WHL and the Ice’s owners in January? . . . Is it time for the NHL to go back to having one referee on the ice? Or maybe games  should play without any as they seemed to be doing for much of Sunday’s game between Vegas and host Montreal. Either way, the two-man system just doesn’t seem to be doing the job, does it? . . . More than two months have passed us by since the BCHL confirmed that it was leaving the umbrella of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. When will it let the world in on its plans for the immediate future?


Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton): Man gets away with murder after eyewitness turns out to be NHL referee.


On Thursday, Brazil’s health ministry said there had been 66 positive tests among people involved with the Copa America soccer tournament. By Friday, that number had grown to 82. . . . Gee, maybe it wasn’t a good idea to move the tournament into one of the world’s hotspots? . . . Don’t forget that tournament organizers had said that it would be “the safest sporting event in the world.”

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Soccer’s World Cup is to be decided in Qatar in 2022 and the country’s government has announced that spectators will have to have been vaccinated in order to be admitted to venues. . . . To date, Qatar has experienced 220,800 positive tests and 585 deaths. . . . The World Cup is scheduled to open on Nov. 21, 2022.


Look, everyone knows that baseball is full of enough numbers to choke a calculator. But this from Dan Shulman, the sometimes voice of the Toronto Blue Jays, about blew me away: “On the heels of (Saturday’s) nine-pitch AB, how about this — Bo Bichette has fouled off 278 pitches this season, more than anyone in baseball . . .” So that got me to wondering if there’s a post-season award for that?


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.


Confucius

Konowalchuk returns to coaching game . . . President Piper leaving Winterhawks . . . QMJHL rocked by sexual assault investigation

The WHL’s only head-coaching vacancy was filled on Tuesday when the Red RedDeerDeer Rebels announced they had hired Steve Konowalchuk to replace Brent Sutter, who remains the franchise’s owner, president and general manager. . . . Sutter stepped aside on April 11. At the time, assistant coaches Alex Colville and Brad Flynn, along with assistant GM Shaun Sutter, took over the coaching duties. After the season, the Rebels chose not to renew the contracts of Flynn and goaltender coach Kraymer Barnstable. . . . Konowalchuk, 48, spent six seasons as the head coach the Seattle Thunderbirds and guided them to the WHL championship in 2016-17. He followed that with one season as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. He has spent the past three seasons scouting for the New York Rangers. . . .

“I enjoyed that, but there was always a part of me that wondered which path to follow — to stay on the management side or the coaching side,” Konowalchuk told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com. “I guess there are pros and cons to both.”

Konowalchuk added: “I saw a while back that Red Deer was looking for a coach and that got me thinking. With the reputation the organization has and with all Brent’s done in the game, it was intriguing for me because I want to be in a place where I can grow as a coach.

“You always want to go to a place where you can learn, just like when I was with the Rangers I was learning about scouting and management. I know when I was coaching in Seattle that Red Deer was always considered to be one of the teams that had a chance to win all the time.”

Meachem’s complete story is right here.


Doug Piper, the president of the Portland Winterhawks, has left PortlandAlternatethe organization after being an integral part of it since 2008. The Winterhawks, who have been under new ownership since Jan. 1, announced his resignation on Tuesday morning. . . . Bill Gallacher purchased the Winterhawks early in the 2008-09 season, with the team coming off 17- and 11-victory seasons. Piper provided a steady hand atop the organization as it rebuilt. From a news release: “During Doug’s tenure, the team consistently sat atop the WHL in wins, attendance, sponsorship sales and overall revenues. In the decade from 2010 to 2020 the Winterhawks had more wins than any other team in the Canadian Hockey League. In addition, during the past 13 years, the team won the WHL Championship in 2013, two Scotty Munro Memorial Trophies, and four Western Conference titles.” . . . Of late, Piper has been leading the Winterhawks’ side of the conversation that is likely to lead to the official dumping of the franchise’s longtime Indian head logo. . . . Joshua Critzer (@jjcritzer) of pnwhockeytalk.com added via Twitter that “Kelly Robinett is no longer with the organization full time.” Robinett, who has been with the Winterhawks for more than 20 years, has been the senior vice-president of operations and marketing. . . . The Winterhawks now are owned by Winterhawks Sports Group, which is controlled by investment banker Michael Kramer and Kerry Preete, a retired Monsanto executive.


Two players from the Victoriaville Tigres were arrested on Tuesday as part of a qmjhlnewsexual assault investigation involving a party on Saturday following the team’s victory in the final game of the QMJHL’s championship final. . . . Felix Seguin of Le Journal de Montreal reported that the party was held “at the Entourage sur-le-Lac hotel located in Lac-Beauport. This is where the team that had just won its first QMJHL title in 19 years was housed.” . . . As of Tuesday evening, formal charges hadn’t been filed. . . . Gilles Courteau, the QMJHL’s longtime commissioner, said the league will hold its own internal investigation into the situation.


The 12-team SJHL announced on Tuesday that it plans on opening its 2021-22 regular season on Sept. 24. . . . The SJHL’s 2020-21 season was limited to 29 games because of the pandemic. Five teams played six games each, with one getting in only two. . . . Its 2021-22 regular season is scheduled to conclude on March 4, with the playoffs getting started on March 11. . . . There is a complete news release right here.

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Facebook


As much as we would like to think the worst of the pandemic is behind us, there always are little reminders that it’s still hanging around. . . . On Tuesday, the Falkland, B.C., Stampede announced that it was cancelling the 2021 rodeo. It had already lost the 2020 Stampede to the pandemic, and had postponed the 2021 rodeo to Aug. 27-29. But the Falkland Community Association, which runs the popular event, has decided to cancel it. . . . The Stampede, which was first held in 1919, usually is held on the Victoria Day long weekend. . . .

Also on Tuesday, Lacrosse Canada announced the cancellation of the 2021 Minto Cup, the junior A national championship. “This decision,” reads a news release, “follows Lacrosse Canada’s announcement last month of the cancellation of 10 national championships.” . . . Lacrosse Canada pointed out that “this is not a cancellation of the lacrosse season in Canada.” The B.C. junior A league, the Rocky Mountain league and the Ontario junior A league all are “planning modified seasons in accordance with their provincial health and safety regulations.”


Books


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: Castan Sommer, who left his job as an assistant coach with the Seattle Thunderbirds last week, has joined the College of the Holy Cross Crusaders in Worcester, Mass., as an assistant coach. He had been with Seattle through four seasons. Sommer attended Holy Cross and played there while his father, Roy Sommer, was the head coach of the AHL’s Worcester Sharks. . . . The 2021 U-18 Hlinka Gretzky Cup is scheduled for Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia, Aug. 2-7, but it’ll be played without a Canadian entry. Instead, Bernd Freimueller (@bfreimueller) reports that Germany will get into the tournament. The 2020 tournament was to have been played in Edmonton and Red Deer, but was cancelled by the pandemic. . . . Randy Hansch, a former WHL player, executive and scout, has joined the amateur scouting staff of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes. He scouted for the Buffalo Sabres from 2018-20. Hansch was a WHL goaltender (Victoria Cougars, Kamloops Blazers, 1982-86). He later spent 10 seasons as the Blazers’ director of player personnel. He also spent 11 seasons (2007-18) with the Edmonton Oil Kings, the last five as general manager.


Bears

Winterhawks land rights to high-end goaltender . . . Cougars, Broncos swap goalies . . . MJHL’s Neepawa franchise rebrands


Jesper Wallstedt of Sweden is NHL Central Scouting’s No. 1-ranked PortlandAlternateinternational goaltender going into the 2021 NHL draft. The Portland Winterhawks acquired his WHL rights on Monday, giving the Moose Jaw Warriors a sixth-round selection in the 2023 WHL draft. . . . Joshua Critzer of pnwhockeytalk.com reported that the Winterhawks also sent “several conditional selections” to the Warriors. . . . Critzer’s piece is right here. . . .

The Winterhawks have two other import players on their roster — D Jonas Brøndberg and Swiss F Simon Knak, 19. However, Brøndberg, a Dane, is 20 and the Winterhawks may not want to make room for a two-spotter — a 20-year-old import — on their roster. . . . Knak, who captained Switzerland’s team at the 2021 World junior tournament in Edmonton, began the 2020-21 season on loan to HC Davos of the Swiss National League, so might be thinking of staying home, although that may depend on whether he gets selected in the NHL’s 2021 draft, something that didn’t happen in 2020. . . . Brøndberg opened the 2020-21 season on loan to the Aalborg Pirates of Metal Ligaen, Denmark’s top league. . . .

Wallstedt, who won’t turn 19 until Nov. 14, is from Vasteras, Sweden. In 2020-21, he played in 22 regular-season games with Lulea in the SHL, Sweden’s highest pro league, putting up 11 victories and going 2.23, .908, with two shutouts. . . . The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Wallstedt also played for Sweden at the 2021 World junior championship in Edmonton. He got into two games (2.40, .923). . . The Warriors had selected him in the 2019 CHL import draft. . . . The Winterhawks have two other goaltenders on their roster — Dante Giannuzzi, the starter in 2020-21, who turns 19 on Sept. 3, and backup Brock Gould, who will turn 20 on Dec. 11. They also have signed G Lochlan Gordon, 18, who was a third-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft.


JFK


The WHL rights to two other goaltenders also were swapped on Monday, as the Prince George Cougars dealt Jacob Herman, 18, to the Swift Current Broncos for Jordan Fairlie, also 18. The deal is a homecoming of sorts for both players, both of whom actually are late-2002s. . . . Fairlie is from Fort St. John, B.C., while Herman is from Swift Current. . . . Fairlie, who will turn 19 on Nov. 5, got into one game with the Broncos in 2019-20 (0-1-0, 13.50, .700). In 2020-21, he played seven games (5-2-0, 2.16, .907) with the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings. . . . Herman will turn 19 on Oct. 23. He played two games (0-2-0, 6.00, .831) with the Cougars in 2019-20. In 2020-21, he went 1-0-1, 4.20, .874 in three appearances with the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers.


I’m a bit late with the above tweet, but if you hustle over to the Prince Albert Daily Herald’s website, who should be able to find the already-published stories in this series.


The MJHL’s Neepawa franchise, which had been known as the Natives, NeepawaTitansannounced on Monday that it has changed its nickname to Titans. . . . Ken Pearson, the Titans’ general manager and head coach, played for the Natives in the 1990s and said the previous nickname had been around since the 1960s. The franchise has been part of the MJHL since 1989. . . . In a news release, Pearson explained the new nickname: “A Titan is known as one that stands out for greatness of achievement and we feel our community is full of Titans in every facet of life. Neepawa is known as the ‘Land of Plenty’ and we feel Neepawa is a Titan in the agriculture, lumber, pork production and brewing industries. . . . The colours chosen reflect a field of canola on the horizon, the silver and black pay tribute to the classic look of junior hockey clubs of the ’90s.”


Marlin Vanrobaeys, a forward who was a key contributor to the MJHL’s Selkirk Steelers when they won the 1974 Centennial Cup, has died. He was 66. . . . Vanrobaeys, who was a fun-lover with a great sense of humour, also was known for his hair. I was with the Winnipeg Tribune and covered the Steelers when they were a dominant MJHL franchise in the mid-1970s. One spring day, Gordie Howe and the WHA’s Houston Aeros were in Winnipeg for a game with the Jets and found themselves in the Winnipeg Arena at the same time as the Steelers. Spotting Vanrobaeys, Howe took one look at him and asked: “Hey, did you get your finger stuck in a light socket?” . . . Well, Vanrobaeys and Co. thought that was just the greatest thing ever. . . . The Steelers won the national junior A championship with a 1-0 victory over the Smiths Falls Bears in the seventh game of the final. . . . In the photo in the above tweet, Vanrobaeys is in the front row, second from right, quite identifiable from the hair-do.


The BCHL announced on Monday that it plans to open its 2021-22 regular season on Oct. 8, which is about a month later than what used to be normal. . . . The league played games in a pod format in its 2020-21 season. Prior to that, it had a four-division format, something that now has been changed to two conferences, each with nine teams. . . . The Interior Conference will include the Cranbrook Bucks, an expansion franchise for 2020-21 that took part in the pod season but has yet to play a home game. . . . The 2021-22 season also calls for the return of the Wenatchee, Wash., Wild, which sat out 2020-21 because of the U.S.-Canada border being closed to non-essential travel.


Garbage


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: William Sadonick-Carriere, the Brandon Wheat Kings’ athletic therapist for the past two seasons, is leaving to join the Manitoba Moose, the Winnipeg Jets’ AHL affiliate. He actually had been working with the Moose before joining the Wheat Kings for the 2019-20 season. . . . Former NHLer Ian Laperriere has been named head coach of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers announced last month that head coach Scott Gordon and assistant coach Kerry Huffman were out. Laperriere has been an assistant coach with the Flyers for the past eight seasons. . . . The Lake Tahoe Lakers, who are preparing for their first season in the USPHL’s Premier level, have signed Dan Bogdan as their first head coach. He was an assistant coach with the NAHL’s Maine Nordiques in 2020-21.


Princess

Rossi: “Every day I woke up . . . I was so glad I woke up” . . . Canada has Wright stuff in routing Sweden . . . WHL’s Americans cleared to return


The Minnesota Wild selected Austrian F Marco Rossi with the ninth overall Wildselection of the NHL’s 2020 draft. He began the 2020-21 season with the Swiss League’s ZSC Lions, which is where he was when he contracted COVID-19 in November. . . . He later was cleared to play for Austria in the World Junior Championship in Edmonton, where he got into four games. . . . “The doctors told me if I played one more game in the World Junior Championship, this could have ended completely different,” Rossi told Michael Russo of The Athletic. “I’m thankful to God that he supported me. . . . I’m just happy that I’m still alive.” . . . After the WJC, Rossi had planned to take part in Minnesota’s training camp, but he didn’t get through the cardiac screening part of his medical — he was found to have myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart that can come from COVID-19. So he was sent home to Austria. . . . “Every time before I went to sleep, I was so scared that I won’t wake up anymore,” Rossi told Russo. “Every night, before sleep, I was really sad and always crying because I was scared of that. I told my parents, ‘Could you sleep right next to my bed and be here ’til I fall asleep?’ And every day I woke up in the morning, I was so glad that I woke up. It was really hard.” . . . Rossi, who is 19 years of age, is believed to be on the road to recovery, but he still hasn’t been given clearance to resume training. . . . If you have a subscription to The Athletic, you are able to find Russo’s story there.


Canada opened the IIHF U18 World Championship in Plano, Texas, with a U18resounding 12-1 victory over Sweden in Group A on Tuesday night. Andrew Podnieks of iihf.com reports that “it was the most lopsided loss at the U18 in Sweden’s history. Canada had beaten Sweden, 8-1, in 2003.” . . . Canada took control with four first-period goals, then added four more in the second. . . . Canada, which got three goals from F Shane Wright, its captain, plays again Wednesday, this time against Latvia (TSN, 6 p.m. PT). . . . In other Tuesday games, Finland beat Russia, 4-3, and Team USA beat Germany, 5-3, in Group B. In Group A, Belarus dumped Switzerland, 7-1. . . . In Wednesday’s only other game, Czech Republic and Finland will meet in a Group B assignment.


Phone



The WHL’s Tri-City Americans were back on the ice on Monday and have been Americanscleared to return to game action after experience two positive tests in their group. The first positive test was discovered on April 16, with another one popping up while everyone was in isolation. . . . All individuals tested negative in the last go-round so the team was cleared to get back into game action. Their first game back is scheduled for Wednesday against the host Spokane Chiefs. . . . The WHL won’t be rescheduling the five Americans games that were impacted. That means that if there aren’t any further disruptions, the Portland Winterhawks are the only U.S. Division team that will play 24 games. the Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds will each get in 23; the Chiefs 21; and the Americans 19.

Meanwhile, there were four games played last night, with two teams completing their developmental seasons in the Regina hub . . .

The Winnipeg Ice scored the game’s first three goals and went on to a 6-4 Winnipegvictory over the Regina Pats in the Regina hub. . . . The Ice (18-5-1) finished its season with points in seven straight (6-0-1). . . . The Pats (9-12-3) lost their last two games. . . . Winnipeg got started with first-period goals from F James Form (3) and D Mike Ladyman (3), with F Conor Geekie (9) making it 3-0 at 2:50 of the second period. . . . F Zack Smith scored while shorthanded for Regina at 15:55, but the Ice iced it with the game’s next two goals — from F Michael Milne, on a PP, at 17:28 of the second and F Zach Benson (10), at 1:22 of the third. . . . F Carter Messier (5) scored for Regina at 6:12, with Milne (6), who also had an assist, getting his second goal at 9:47 for a 6-2 lead. . . . Smith completed his first career three-goal game with two PP goals, at 17:11 and 17:32. Smith, who also had one assist, finished with seven goals. . . . G Carl Stankowski of the Ice, who backstopped the Seattle Thunderbirds to a WHL title at 16, stopped 24 shots in his final WHL game. He turned 21 on March 9. . . . Ice F Peyton Krebs had one assist to run his franchise-record point streak to 23 games. He finished with 43 points and leads the Regina hub by six points over F Ben McCartney of the Brandon Wheat Kings, who has one game remaining. . . .

G Dustin Wolf stopped 37 shots to lead the visiting Everett Silvertips to a 3-2 Everettvictory over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Everett (14-3-0) has won five in a row and leads the U.S. Division by nine points over Portland (8-6-3). . . . F Jacob Wright (7) gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 2:43 of the second period, with Portland F Tyson Kozak (2) equalizing on a PP at 8:51. . . . Everett got the next two goals, with F Gage Goncalves (11) notching its first shorthanded goal this season 39 seconds into the third period and F Cole Fonstad (12) stretching the lead at 5:40. . . . F Jaydon Dureau (4) pulled Portland to within a goal at 14:40. . . . This season, Wolf is 13-2-0, 1.67, .945. . . . Associate coach Kyle Gustafson ran Portland’s bench with Mike Johnston, the general manager and head coach, in Texas watching the IIHF U18 World championship. . . .

F Josh Pillar scored twice and G Dylan Garand stopped 38 shots to lead the KamloopsKamloops Blazers to a 2-1 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . Kamloops (12-2-0) has won five straight. . . . Vancouver (9-6-0) has lost three in a row. . . . D Tanner Brown (1) gave the Giants a 1-0 lead at 13:25 of the second period. . . . Pillar tied the score at 14:36, then snapped the tie with his seventh goal, on a PP, at 7:38 of the third. . . . Kamloops was 1-for-3 on the PP; Vancouver was 0-for-6. . . . The Giants held 11-2 and 14-9 shot advantages in the first two periods respectively, but could only get one behind Garand, who now is 10-2-0, 2.16, .918. . . . Vancouver got 21 stops from G Trent Miner, who is 6-5-0, 1.61, .935. . . .

In Kelowna, the Rockets scored three times in the second period as they skated Rocketsto a 4-1 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . The Rockets, designated as the visitors for this one, are 6-2-0 and have won three straight. . . . The Royals (1-13-1) have lost 10 in a row. . . . Kelowna opened a 3-0 lead on a goal by F David Kope (3) just 26 seconds in and second-period scores by F Mark Liwiski (6), on a PP, and F Scott Cousins (1). . . . Cousins, an undrafted skater who turned 17 on Jan. 6, scored his first WHL goal in his sixth game. . . . D Matthew Smith (1) got Victoria on the board, on a PP, at 14:09 of the second period, but F Trevor Wong (6) got that one back, on a PP, at 15:36. . . . Kelowna D Tyson Feist (2) got the empty-netter. . . . Kope added two assists for a three-point outing. . . . The Rockets gave G Nicholas Cristiano, 16, his first WHL start, while the Royals did the same with Keegan Maddocks, 18. Both are from Langley, B.C. . . . Cristiano finished with 31 saves, one more than Maddocks. . . . Kelowna was 2-for-5 on the PP; Victoria was 1-for-9.


The AJHL announced its latest set of games on Tuesday, shortly after revealing that it had shut down the Whitecourt Wolverines and Bonnyville Pontiacs for 14 days. That move came after there was a positive test in the Wolverines’ cohort. They had played Saturday and Sunday in Bonnyville. . . . On Sunday, the AJHL suspended all Okotoks Oilers team activities for 14 days because of a positive test, and that came two days after the same thing occurred with the Drumheller Dragons. . . .

Meanwhile, the BCHL announced that its season will conclude without playoffs. It is playing in cohorts in five pods and the schedule is to wrap up on May 11. From a news release: “Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions in the province and the challenges that changing cohorts would have presented, the league determined it was not feasible to conduct a postseason.”


Suez


Please don’t forget that my wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. Go ahead, make her day!

——

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.


Texting

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

Canucks’ sked remains unsettled . . . BCHL’s Clippers put on hold . . . Shutouts gone wild in WHL


One day after F J.T. Miller said he and his Vancouver Canucks teammates needed more time to recover from a COVID-19 outbreak before returning to game Canucksaction, the NHL scrubbed at least one of their upcoming games.

The Canucks, who haven’t played since March 24, have been in the middle of the outbreak since March 30.

They were scheduled to play host to the Edmonton Oilers tonight (Friday) and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. The NHL acted Thursday to postpone the game against Edmonton, and more changes could be announced today.

Including tonight’s game, the Canucks have had nine games postponed.

The Canucks had at least 21 players test positive, along with four members of the coaching staff, including head coach Travis Green. After once having 19 players on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, only three players were there on Thursday — F Nils Hoglander, D Nate Schmidt and F Jake Virtanen.

On Wednesday evening, the Canucks had indicated that their Thursday morning practice — the first since March 31 — would be open to the media. However, Canucks PR (@CanucksPR) tweeted on Thursday at 9:08 a.m., saying that “today’s practice, originally scheduled open to media, is now a closed practice.”

Miller, who was able to escape the virus, had said on Wednesday that “it’s kind of frustrating if I’m being 100 per cent honest with you. We try to talk about the No. 1 priority is the players’ health and the families’ safety, and it’s almost impossible to achieve that with what they’ve asked us to do here on our return.”


The BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers stopped all team activities on Thursday “to allow Nanaimofor further analysis of a potential positive COVID-19 test result,” the league announced. . . . All team members, who have been tested once a week since the BCHL returned with a pod-type season, went into isolation until results are confirmed one way or the other. . . . The league said it would “provide an update once further analysis has been completed.” There wasn’t an update as of Thursday at 10 p.m. PT. . . . The Clippers were to have played the Alberni Valley Bulldogs last night, but that game was postponed. . . . The Clippers, Bulldogs, Victoria Grizzlies and Cowichan Valley Capitals have been playing in Alberni Valley under the cohort format. . . . Victoria and Cowichan Valley are scheduled to play tonight, with Nanaimo and Victoria on tap for a Saturday afternoon game, followed by the Capitals and Bulldogs that night.


Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s minister of heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries, held a news conference on Thursday morning.

Among other things, she indicated that the OHL won’t be starting up anytime soon.

With COVID-19 and variant numbers on the rise in many jurisdictions, including Ontario, she said: “The ground has shifted significantly. . . . We will not be putting young athletes at risk.”

There is a whole lot more right here from Queen’s Park Briefing.


Radio-Canada reported Thursday morning that the 2021 Canadian Grand Prix has been cancelled. It had been scheduled for June 13 in Montreal. According to Radio-Canada, “Montreal public health authorities concluded that even behind closed doors without spectators, the risk of spreading COVID-19 during the Formula One event is too high.”


Boxes


Shutouts were the order of the night in the WHL on Thursday, with three goaltenders in the spotlight . . .

D Rhett Rhinehart scored three times to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 4-1 Bladesvictory over the Pats in the Regina hub. . . . Rhinehart, who went into the game with one goal, came out of it with his first career hat-trick. Interestingly, Regina’s lone goal went in off one of Rhinehart’s skates. It was credited to F Logan Nijhoff. . . . The last Saskatoon defenceman with three goals in one regular-season game? Ryan Flaherty (@RFlahertyGlobal) tweeted that Darren Dietz had four goals in a 7-3 victory over Swift Current on Feb. 17, 2012. . . . Rhinehart scored his first two goals at 8:07 and 11:41 of the first period. . . . Nijhoff counted his ninth goal at 3:08 of the second, but Rhinehart got that one back at 18:23. . . . Saskatoon F Kyle Crnkovic (8) got the empty-netter. . . . Saskatoon had a 35-21 edge in shots, including 16-3 in the third period. . . . The Blades (14-2-2) have points in six straight (5-0-1). . . . The Pats, who are 0-3 since F Connor Bedard left to join Canada’s U18 team, are 6-9-3. . . . The Pats were without F Zack Smith, who absorbed a headshot from D Landon Kosior of the Prince Albert Raiders on Tuesday. Kosior has been suspended for three games. . . .

G Max Paddock turned aside 45 shots to earn the shutout as the Prince Albert RaidersRaiders beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 2-0. . . . The Warriors (7-10-1), who have lost three in a row, outshot the Raiders, 45-25, including 21-8 in the second period. . . . The Raiders now are 7-8-3, with points in four straight (3-0-1). . . . This was Paddock’s first shutout of the season and the eighth of his career. . . . Prince Albert’s goals came from F Michael Horon (4), at 17:41 of the first period, and F Eric Pearce (7), at 16:37 of the second. . . .

G Sebastian Cossa stopped 30 shots to help the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 4-0 Edmontonvictory over the host Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The 6-foot-6 Cossa now has won 12 straight games. He has two shutouts this season and six for his career. This season, he is 12-0-0, 1.33, .948. Yes, he is eligible for the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . F Carson Latimer (4) scored the only goal Cossa would need, at 16:55 of the first period. . . . F Jayden Henderson (1), F Jalen Luypen (11) and D Matthew Robertson (3) added third-period goals. . . . The Oil Kings (13-1-0) have won four in a row. . . . Lethbridge (6-7-2) had points in each of its previous four games (3-0-1). . . . Edmonton was 3-for-9 on the PP. . . .

G Drew Sim earned his first career shutout as the Vancouver Giants dumped the VancouverVictoria Royals, 4-0, in Kamloops. . . . Sim, who is 2-1-0, was making his fourth appearance of the season. . . . Vancouver had a 40-16 edge in shots, including 14-5 in the second period and 17-5 in the third. . . . The Giants are 6-3-0 and have posted shutouts in four of those victories. . . . The Royals (1-7-1) have lost four in a row. . . . Vancouver was 2-for-2 on the PP. . . . F Justin Sourdif (4), D Alex Kannok Leipert (3) and D Mazden Leslie (5) had second-period goals, with F Tristen Nielsen (8) scoring in the third. . . . Leslie, who turned 16 on Thursday, scored his fifth goal in eight games for the Giants. He was the 10th overall selection in the 2020 bantam draft.


Mower


F Payton Mount of the Seattle Thunderbirds, who was taken to hospital on a Seattlestretcher after a Tuesday night game against the visiting Tri-City Americans, was back with his billets on Wednesday morning. . . . According to the Thunderbirds, “All of Mount’s diagnostic tests at the hospital showed positive results and he was diagnosed with a contusion from the impact of the puck.” . . . Mount was seated on the Seattle bench near game’s end when he was struck on the neck by a puck that glanced off the back wall. . . . The Thunderbirds are next scheduled to play tonight against the visiting Everett Silvertips.


G Braden Holt of the Everett Silvertips will play for Team USA at the U18 IIHF EverettWorld championship that opens April 26 in Frisco and Plano, Texas. Holt is the only player on Team USA’s roster who isn’t out of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. . . . Holt, 17, is from Bozeman, Mont. The Silvertips selected him in the 12th round of the 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, Holt is 1-1-0, 2.75, .862. Last season, in eight games backing up Dustin Wolf, Holt was 4-2-0, 1.82, .926. . . . With Holt gone, the Silvertips are left with Wolf and Evan May, a 16-year-old from Nanaimo, as their goaltenders. An 11th-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft, May has yet to appear in a WHL game.


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.


West

Canucks getting hammered by virus; Brazilian variant discovered . . . Oil Kings d-man sets franchise record . . . AJHL shuts down a fourth team

By Friday afternoon, the Vancouver Canucks had seven players on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list and a taxi squad player identified as a close contact. There also was one unidentified coach who was confirmed nhl2as having tested positive.

A few hours later, it became apparent that things are going to get worse for a team that is headquartered in B.C., a province that is having serious issues with COVID-19. How bad is it? Well, we won’t really know until Tuesday because government and health officials don’t provide briefings or news releases on weekends, and this is the Easter weekend. The virus, however, doesn’t take weekends off and this is turning out to be a rough one for the Canucks.

Late Friday night, Darren Dreger of TSN tweeted that “as expected, additional positive cases have been determined with the Vancouver Canucks. It’s also believed a variant has been identified in some of the cases.”

TSN’s Farhan Lalji tweeted that “Brazilian P.1 variant likely in play here,” something that later was confirmed by Patrick Johnston of Postmedia.

Lalji also tweeted he was told “that in some cases team medical staff may have gone to the homes of players to administer IV treatments.”

As Johnston wrote: “That variant has been growing in number in B.C. over the past month and was recently identified as a major driver of an outbreak that originated in Whistler. Some research has shown the P.1 variant is as much as 2.5 times more transmissible than earlier strains of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.”

There have been various reports that more positive tests among the Canucks are expected to be revealed on Saturday.

F Adam Gaudette went on the COVID-19 protocol list on Tuesday, with D Travis Hamonic joining him on Wednesday. Since then, D Alex Edler, G Braden Holtby, D Quinn Hughes, F Zack MacEwen and F Antoine Roussel all have gone on the list.

The NHL has postponed four Vancouver games, and it’s likely that there will be more. The Canucks are scheduled to next play on Thursday and April 10 in Calgary against the Flames.


If you stop off here regularly, or even on occasion, and if you like what you see here, or even if you don’t, feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and help out the Taking Note coffee fund. Thank you in advance. . . . If you are one of the followers who gets my work via email, you are able to donate by going to greggdrinnan.com.


The WHL said Friday that it had eight positives from 897 tests that were administered from March 27 through Friday. . . . The Kelowna Rockets experienced seven of those positives — four players and three staff members — so all team activities have been shut down for 14 days.

The WHL also said that one of its on-ice officials, who hasn’t worked a game since March 20, tested positive on one test, but was negative on a second test.

The league added that it is “awaiting test results for the Brandon Wheat Kings, Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders and Regina Pats” and will provide an update when they become available.

Through Friday, the WHL has had nine positives from 4,991 tests.

Also on Friday, the WHL announced some schedule changes. You are able to find those changes on the WHL’s website.

Meanwhile, there were six games on Friday . . .

G Gage Alexander turned aside 31 shots to lead the Winnipeg Ice to a 3-0 victory over the Prince Albert WinnipegRaiders in Regina. . . . Alexander, 18, from Okotoks, Alta., earned his first career shutout in his 12th career appearance, five of them this season. . . . He is 3-2-0, 2.01, .926 this season. . . . The Ice (7-4-0) scored the game’s first two goals after Raiders F Dallyn Peekeekoot was tossed with a charging major. . . . F Cole Muir (4) scored at 2:51 of the second period and F Owen Pederson made it 2-0 just 35 seconds later. . . .  The Raiders are 3-6-2. . . . G Max Paddock stopped 15 shots for the Raiders in his first appearance since March 22. While Paddock was sidelined, the Raiders were down to one goaltender. That changed on Friday when they signed Max Hildebrand and had him on the bench in support of Paddock. That mean that Carter Serhyneko was given the night off. . . . Hildebrand, 16, is from Martensville, Sask. He was a 13th-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. His father, Steve, is the Saskatoon Blades’ associate general manager. . . .

G Boston Bilous stopped 29 shots as the Moose Jaw Warriors beat Saskatoon, 4-0, in Regina, handing the Blades (9-1-1) their first regulation loss of this season. . . . The Warriors (5-6-1) went into the game having lost six in a row; the Blades had won seven straight. . . . Bilous, who turned 20 on Feb. 2, has four career shutouts, one of them this season. He had been yanked from each of his previous two starts, stopping four of 10 shots in a total of 10 minutes of play. . . . D Cole Jordan (2) scored the game’s first goal at 16:31 of the first period. . . . The Warriors put it away with three third-period goals, with D Denton Mateychuk and D Lucas Brenton both scoring his first WHL goal. . . . The game was played in 2 hours 7 minutes, the quickest game this season. . . . After the game, Les Lazaruk, the Blades’ radio voice, wrote at cjwwradio.com: “To say that (Blades’) head coach Mitch Love wasn’t happy is severely understating the fact. His post-game media availability lasted for just three questions and 42 seconds in total.” . . .

F Simon Knak scored twice, including his third shorthanded goal of the season, to lead the host Portland PortlandAlternateWinterhawks to a 6-2 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . The Winterhawks lead the WHL with five shorthanded goals. . . . Portland (4-1-2) scored the game’s last five goals. . . . Knak has seven goals this seaosn. . . . F Seth Jarvis (3) had a goal and two assists for Portland. . . . F Sasha Mutala (3) scored twice for the Americans (2-4-0). His second goal, 19 seconds into the second period, gave Tri-City a 2-1 lead. . . . F Jaydon Dureau (1) tied it on a PP at 15:22 of the second and Knak gave Portland the lead at 16:28, also on a PP. . . . D Nick Cicek also had a goal and two assists for Portland. . . .

The Everett Silvertips scored two third-period goals to skate away with a 3-1 victory over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . F Payton Mount (2) gave the Thunderbirds (4-3-0) a 1-0 lead on a PP at 6:27 of the first period. . . . Everett D Gianni Fairbrother (1) tied it on a PP at 8:11 of the second period and F Jacob Wright (3) broke the tie 49 seconds into the third. . . . F Cole Fonstad (4), who also had two assists, got the empty-netter. . . . Everett improved to 6-1-0. . . .

F Lucas Svejkovsky scored the game’s last two goals to help the host Medicine Hat Tigers to a 4-1 victory Tigersover the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Goals from F Ryan Chyzowski (6) and F Corson Hopwo (8) gave the Tigers (8-3-0) a 2-0 lead after one period. . . . F Josh Prokop (5) got Calgary to within one at 14:23 of the second. . . . Svejkovsky, who has eight goals, put it away with a pair of third-period PP scores. . . . The Hitmen are 5-6-1. . . . D Carlin Dezainde made his WHL debut with the Tigers. He is a grandson of Brian Carlin, who played one season (1970-71) with the Tigers. Carlin also played three seasons (1967-70) with the Calgary Centennials. . . . According to Bob Ridley, the veteran play-by-play voice of the Tigers, Medicine Hat has added a familiar name to its coaching staff. Ridley tweeted on Friday that “alumni Derek Dorsett has joined the Tigers’ coaching staff.” Dorsett, 34, played three seasons (2004-07) with the Tigers before going on to a pro career that included 515 NHL games. A neck injury forced him into retirement. He last played in 2017-18 with the Vancouver Canucks. . . .

The Edmonton Oil Kings scored the game’s last nine goals and beat the host Red Deer Rebels, 9-2. . . . The EdmontonOil Kings’ night included four goals in 82 seconds in the third period and a power-play that was 4-for-5. . . . The Oil Kings (10-1-0) have beaten the Rebels four times in this shortened season. Go back to last season and Edmonton has beaten Red Deer 15 straight times. . . . The Rebels now are 2-7-2. . . . Edmonton got a single-game franchise-record six points, including four assists, from D Logan Dowhaniuk, and a goal and three helpers from D Matthew Robertson. . . . Dowhaniuk now holds the franchise record for most points by a defenceman in one game. . . . F Josh Williams, F Jalen Luypen, F Carter Souch and F Jake Neighbours each had a goal and two assists. . . . The online game sheet shows Dowhaniuk with five points. However, Andrew Peard, the Oil Kings’ play-by-play voice, said an assist will be added to Dowhaniuk on Neighbours’ goal. . . . Dowhaniuk, an 18-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., has a goal and nine assists in 11 games. He had six points, including five assists, in 33 games his freshman season (2018-19), then put up two goals and 10 assists in 62 games in 2019-20. . . . Edmonton was without F Scott Atkinson, its captain, with an undisclosed injury. . . . The Rebels played a lot of the game with five defenceman after Blake Gustafson left with an undisclosed injury. Red Deer already was without D Chase Leslie and D Kyle Masters, both of whom are listed as week-to-week with undisclosed injuries.


The AJHL now has four teams locked down, with the Okotoks Oilers the latest to experience a positive test. ajhlThe AJHL revealed on Friday that “as the result of a positive COVID-19 test by a member” of the Oilers, team activities had been suspended for at least 14 days. . . . That resulted in the Oilers’ games of April 2, 4 and 6 being cancelled. . . . The Oilers, who last played on Sunday when they edged the visiting Brooks Bandits, 2-1, joined the Drayton Valley Thunder, Grande Prairie Storm and Whitecourt Wolverines, who also have been shutdown because of positive tests. . . . The AJHL has yet to release a schedule of games after April 6.


The BCHL, which hadn’t played any games since Nov. 19, was back in action on Friday, with five games in bchlfive different communities. It was playing only exhibition games when things came to a halt in November. . . . Now it’s playing what it is calling a “pod season” with Friday’s games in Alberni Valley, Burnaby, Chilliwack, Penticton and Vernon. . . . On Thursday, the BCHL announced that there weren’t any positives from the first round of testing. All told, 439 players and staff were tested.


MLB announced on Friday that it had scrubbed the entire opening series between the New York Mets and Washington due to testing and contact tracing involving the Nationals. As of Friday afternoon, the Nationals had four players with positive tests, and five others and one staffer in quarantine after contact tracing. . . . The Mets and Nats were to have played in Washington on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. . . . The Mets will spend the weekend there, working out at Nationals Park, before leaving for Philadelphia on Sunday where they are scheduled to open against the Phillies on Monday. . . . The Nationals are scheduled to play host to the Atlanta Braves on Monday.


——

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.


Zoom

Are the messages mixed, or what? . . . SJHL cancels its season as BCHL unveils schedule . . . Canadiens on pause; Bruins hope to skate today

Yellow


If the past year has proven anything, it has been the inability of the politicians and health officials from the various provinces to work together. Forget about them being on the same page; they aren’t even reading from different chapters in the same book.

I would go so far as to say that this is one of the most disappointing things to come out of the pandemic.

Lockdown? Stop complaining. We have yet to see a complete lockdown, certainly not in western Canada. And it’s too late now because COVID-19 is so entrenched that a true lockdown isn’t going to keep it and its variants from multiplying. It’s just too bad that we couldn’t have been locked down months ago, just for six or eight weeks, because I really would like to know what normal would look like today had that happened.

But, of course, the embarrassingly selfish society that we have created and in which we now live couldn’t live with that kind of inconvenience for any length of time.

So we are where we are today, entirely dependent on vaccines, and we are going to need to get perhaps 70 per cent of the population inoculated before we are able to find out what the new normal will be.

In the meantime, consider the following and then try to figure out how the politicians and health officials are making their decisions . . .

Other than the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets and their AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, there aren’t any hockey games being played in Manitoba. That has been the case since late October or early November.

The province’s two WHL teams — the Brandon Wheat Kings and Winnipeg Ice — are secluded in school dorms in Regina where they are playing in that league’s developmental season with five teams from Saskatchewan.

The 12-team MJHL cancelled the remainder of its season on Feb. 12, explaining that “in the end, our advocacy efforts were not enough for Public Health to allow for a return to on-ice team training activity, even in a non-contact, professionally managed, closed to public, distanced, 100 per cent masked and extremely protected environment.”

——

Cameron MacLean, CBC News — Manitoba won’t move down to orange-level COVID-19 pandemic restrictions after spending more than four months in the red zone, the province said on Tuesday. The decision to keep the province at the highest level of restrictions during the pandemic stemmed from feedback from Manitobans, concern over rising numbers of more transmissible coronavirus variants, and the need to maintain stability in the health-care system, the province said.

680 CJOB — Another Manitoban with COVID-19 has died and the province says an additional 98 people have been infected with the virus. The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 5.3 per cent provincially and 3.9 per cent in Winnipeg.

——

Next door in Saskatchewan, the 12-team SJHL announced Tuesday that its sjhlseason is over. In a news release, the league said: “A decision by Saskatchewan Government and Health has been made on the submissions that have been before them; unfortunately the SJHL will not be allowed to return to play.”

Taylor Shire of Global Regina reported that the SJHL proposed putting seven teams into a Weyburn hub, with the other five teams having decided to opt out of continuing the season.

The WHL has seven teams playing in a Regina hub, with players staying in dorms at the U of Regina and Luther College. According to Shire, the SJHL plan called for teams to stay in two Weyburn hotels, one of which would still have been open to the public. According to Shire, SJHL president Bill Chow told him that the league “had a process in place it felt would be able to overcome the public/hockey players interaction in the partial hotel but he said SK Gov/health authority were not ok with this and the submission was not approved.”

Shire also reported that the SJHL could have “altered the proposal and submitted it again . . . which would have taken two to three more weeks.”

Instead, the SJHL held a governors’ meeting on Monday night and decided to end the uncertainty.

The SJHL, which received $1 million from the Saskatchewan government in January, last played on Nov. 23.

With COVID-19 numbers in Regina seemingly out of control, the province has announced that effective immediately “travel is not recommended in or out of the Regina area unless absolutely necessary” and that effective Sunday “event venues such as conference facilities, museums, libraries, live theatre, cinemas, bowling or any non-essential indoor locations that had limits of 30 individuals are not permitted to operate.”

——

CBC News — Saskatchewan is reporting 150 new COVID-19 cases, just below the province’s 7-day average of 158. However, the daily number has fluctuated dramatically during that time, from a low of 87 to a high of 205. . . . From CBC’s Adam Hunter: Due to increased COVID-19 transmission risk in Regina area all indoor gatherings must be household only effective immediately. As of Sunday, restaurants, bars must close to in-person dining. Non-essential indoor venues like movie houses, museums must close. . . . Restaurants to close Sunday, private gatherings banned under new Regina public health orders.

——

That brings us to Alberta, where the WHL’s five teams have been playing since Feb. 26, with the schedule now calling for six games involving four teams each weekend. One of the teams has a bye each weekend, while the other four play tripleheaders — one here, one there, one here — with no overnight trips.

The 15-team AJHL, which had two teams opt out, began play on March 12 with games on weekends. It postponed a March 20 game that was to have had the Okotoks Oilers meet the Bandits in Brooks “due to precautionary measures within the AJHL Return-to-Play Plan.” The Bandits played the Canucks in Calgary the next night.

Who knows what happened with the Oilers or Bandits, and the AJHL has things locked down when it comes to anyone mentioning COVID-19. The last AJHL insider to discuss the subject with the media now is believed to be roommates with Alexei Navalny.

——

CBC News — Alberta reports 465 new cases of COVID-19 and 3 more deaths. 197 new variants of concern cases recorded Tuesday, making it the highest daily variant case count to date. Variant cases now account for 18 per cent of all active cases in the province. . . . The province reported Tuesday that 290 people are being treated in hospital for COVID-19, 53 in intensive care beds. . . . The Alberta government will not move into the next phase of reopening, Step 3. Health Minister Tyler Shandro said on Monday that no restrictions will be eased at this time because hospitalizations are on the rise. . . . Hospitals in Alberta are preparing for a third wave of the pandemic, driven by more aggressive variants of the coronavirus. Doctor says teams are planning how to isolate those with variants.

——

In B.C., where COVID-19 numbers continue to climb, the five WHL teams are to start playing games in Kamloops and Kelowna on Friday. The Kelowna Rockets and Victoria Royals are set up in Kelowna, with the Kamloops Blazers, Prince George Cougars and Vancouver Giants holed up in Kamloops. The Blazers and Rockets are with billets; the other three teams are in hotels.

The WHL announced a positive test “within the Rockets team cohort” on March 18, but nary a word has been said since then, and Kelowna’s scheduled wasn’t impacted.

Meanwhile, as the SJHL was announcing that it was done until September, the bchlBCHL was revealing a 20-game schedule that will open on April 2 and conclude May 9. The Wenatchee, Wash., Wild is out due to the U.S.-Canada border being closed to non-essential travel, while the Langley Rivermen opted out of a return to play. That leaves 16 teams left, with each assigned to one of five pods— in Chilliwack, Coquitlam (games will be played in Burnaby), Penticton, Port Alberni and Vernon.

All three of B.C.’s junior B leagues had already announced they were done for this season.

——

CBC News — B.C. records 682 new cases of COVID-19 and 1 more death. There are 314 people in hospital with the disease — the highest total since Jan. 25 — including 83 in intensive care. . . . The latest numbers mean that the seven-day rolling average of new cases has hit 617, the highest since Dec. 20. . . . There are currently 5,409 active cases of coronavirus in the province, the highest total since Jan. 9. Public health is now monitoring 9,488 people across B.C. who are in self-isolation because of COVID-19 exposure.

Rod Mickleburgh, former Globe and Mail correspondent — BC reported more new COVID-19 cases Tuesday than the state of Washington (682 compared with 566) . . . that may be a first.

——

And as of Monday evening there had been 22,735 deaths in Canada, including 19 on Tuesday. There have been 942,325 confirmed cases, with 3,607 of those reported on Tuesday. There have been 883,280 recoveries.



The virus found the NHL’s Canadian division this week, with the Montreal nhl2Canadiens having been shut down through Sunday. They put F Joel Armia and F Jesperi Kotkaniemi on the COVID-19 list and by Sunday will have had four games postponed. They were to have played Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday against the visiting Edmonton Oilers and Sunday at home against the Ottawa Senators. . . . These are the first postponements involving Canadian teams this season. . . . The Canadiens hope to return to practice on Monday. . . . The Oilers are scheduled to play the host Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. . . .

Meanwhile, the Boston Bruins, with five players on the protocol list, hope to skate today (Wednesday). The Bruins are scheduled to meet the visiting New York Islanders on Thursday, and there should be some fans in attendance for the first time since March 7, 2020. . . . Boston hasn’t played since beating the Sabres 4-1 in Buffalo on Thursday. Forwards Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, Sean Kuraly, David Pastrnak and Craig Smith went on the protocol list the next day. . . . The Bruins were to have played the Sabres again on Saturday and the Islanders on Tuesday.


The AHL’s Utica Comets were to have played at home against the Rochester Americans tonight (Wednesday). But the game was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols, the fifth straight Utica game to meet that fate.



Vaccine


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.


Account

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after watching ‘Socks’ Bottcher win the Brier . . .

Opening Day for Major League Baseball is April 1. That also is the date when the shift or not-to-shift debate will begin anew. That argument has been ongoing, mostly quietly, during spring training, but it will heat up when the regular season begins and once again it’s strikeout or hit it out for so many hitters, when launch angle becomes more important than advancing the runner.

When the Double-A season begins, they will be experimenting with an anti-shift rule that reads: “The defensive team must have a minimum of four players on the infield, each of whom must have both feet completely in front of the outer boundary of the infield dirt.” So no more second basemen on the outfield grass.

Look, the only thing wrong with MLB games these days has to do with their length — anything more than three hours is too much. But that isn’t going away because of the number of TV commercials and you know that no one is going to do anything about that.

On Oct. 30, 1960, the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the visiting New York Yankees, 10-9, in Game 7 of the World Series on a ninth-inning home run by Bill Mazeroski. There were 10 runs scored over the last two innings. The teams combined to use nine pitchers. The game was over in two hours 36 minutes.

So, MLB, just leave the game alone. If you want more balls in play, maybe hitters — yes, even the big boppers — should trying going the other way, or, gawd forbid, try bunting a time or two.

You know, maybe be like ‘Wee’ Willie Keeler, who once said that the keys to hitting success were “keep you eye clear and hit ’em where they ain’t.”

And, please, don’t be telling me that it’s the long ball boys who get the big money. Keeler was a career .341 hitter; how much do you think an average like that would be worth in this day and age?


The Langley Rivermen have opted out of the BCHL’s return to play. In a bchlstatement released on Saturday, the Rivermen explained: “After discussions with each player, the Rivermen made the tough decision not to play. There are a variety of reasons behind the decision, including educational commitments and the mental and physical health implications of both the 14 days of isolation followed by a five-week strictly controlled season.” . . . The Wenatchee Wild aren’t involved this season because the U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential travel. . . . The BCHL is planning to have its 16 remaining teams play out of pods in Alberni Valley, Chilliwack, Coquitlam, Penticton and Vernon.



How are things going for NFL team owners? Well, it was in 1989 when Jerry Jones paid US$140 million for the Dallas Cowboys. On Monday, he signed QB Dak Prescott to a contract valued at $160 million, with a $66-million signing bonus and $126 million guaranteed. . . . Yes, business in the NFL is pretty good these days.


Are you old enough to remember when we were able to sit in the comfort of our TV rooms and watch the Toronto Blue Jays play exhibition games in Florida? . . . Hey, Blue Jays, this spring you are out of sight and out of mind. Why?



Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Vintage ‘Hey, what page are we on?’ from MLB: The Texas Rangers plan to sell every seat for their April 5 home opener. The Washington Nationals aren’t allowing any fans at all, at least as things stand now. Neither plan makes a whole lot of sense, and the Rangers’ idea is glaringly reckless.”


Drugs


“Virginia joined Duke on the sideline at the ACC basketball tournament after a positive COVID-19 test, and Kansas is similarly out of the Big 12 tourney,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “So can we just end the suspense early and proclaim the virus as this year’s national champion?”

——

Perry, again: “And, in news about free agents, the Blue Jays signed George Springer, the Phillies signed J.T. Realmuto and the Royals slammed the door on Prince Harry’s possible return.”


Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe: “Kansas and Virginia now out of their respective men’s basketball tournaments due to positive virus tests. So in this year’s March Madness brackets will there be a way to bet on COVID-19?”


The New York Islanders placed F Jean-Gabriel Pageau and D Noah Dobson on the COVID-19 protocol list on Sunday, and you have to wonder if this might be the start of something. We’ll have to wait to see if the Islanders get shut down for any length of time.


If you are a reader of fine novels, perhaps you have read one or more that were written by Carl Hiaasen, the columnist for the Miami Herald who has a fine sense of humour and, as colleague Dave Barry put it, “a comic novelist’s eye for the absurd.” Anyway, Hiaasen is moving on from the Herald and you will want to read his final column, which is right here.

The afore-mentioned Barry says farewell to his column-writing pal right here.



Magic



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: The Tim Hortons Brier wrapped up on Sunday night and you can give an Emmy to TSN’s announcing crew of Vic Rauter, Cheryl Bernard, Russ Howard, Bryan Mudryk and Cathy Gauthier. They know their audience and they deliver to that audience. Well done! . . . Brendan Bottcher’s Alberta rink won the Brier after having lost the previous three finals. And if you don’t know about Bottcher and his winning socks, well, Google is your friend. . . . With the Vancouver Canucks boasting a 5-2 record in March, you have to think the bandwagon is filling up again. They’re on the road for four this week — two with the Ottawa Senators and two with the Montreal Canadiens. . . . Meanwhile, the Darryl Sutter Revival Tour continues with his Calgary Flames at home to the Edmonton Oilers tonight and Wednesday. It could be fun. . . . But all the while you are free to wonder if the Winnipeg Jets are the best of Canada’s NHL teams.


Meet

The strain of loving a critically ill child . . . Bedard scores twice in WHL debut, but Pats lose . . . BCHL prepping to play games

Ferris2
That’s Elmo from Sesame Street keeping Ferris company in her hospital bed in Vancouver. Ferris’s mother, Lindsey, says her daughter often crosses her legs in this fashion. (Photo: Lindsey Backmeyer/Facebook)

If you’re a parent with a young child, you will have known the helpless feeling that takes over when your youngster is ill. Still, you know that the illness will be gone in a day or two and your child will be back to running and playing and generally creating havoc.

But what if your child was four years of age and had been ill, seriously ill, for most of that time? What does that do to your emotional state and to that of others in your family? What about your family’s financial status when there have been numerous trips to Vancouver, along with a number of lengthy stays?

That is the situation in which Lindsey and Pat Backmeyer find themselves. Ferris, their four-year-old daughter, was diagnosed with Mainzer-Saldino Syndrome shortly after birth and has been on dialysis — peritoneal dialysis (PD) or hemo-dialysis — for most of her life. She now is in B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver after having undergone a kidney transplant a week ago. Unfortunately, the kidney began bleeding into Ferris’s abdomen and had to be removed a few hours later.

Ferris was moved from the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit on Thursday but still has a long road ahead of her.

Lindsey is a respiratory therapist at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops and hasn’t been shy about telling Ferris’s story, even if it means baring her own soul. It’s hard to read Lindsey’s writings without your gut tightening, your heart breaking and your eyes tearing up.

“We have felt an overwhelming cocoon of support by my work family . . since the beginning,” Lindsey wrote earlier this week after Alexa McMillan, a co-worker, issued a plea for financial help to the Kamloops business community. “They protect me, provide for me and my family and have provided endless emotional support.”

As someone who works in the healthcare field, Lindsey has “a pretty solid understanding of critical care medicine and the reality is Ferris has been critically ill for a huge part of her life.

“I’ve spent four years assessing her and caring for her and very few people actually know what it’s taking to keep our ship afloat. My immediate family, closest friends, home nurses and then my work people probably understand best.

“I’ve worked on the other side of what I witnessed Saturday. It was like the hardest night shift ever, where you just did all the things working on your patient for hours except I so rarely see people survive that. I’ve been scared for Ferris’s life before and every time I’ve had a work person by my side . . . through the night. Saturday night was no exception.”

Her training and understanding of all that she and her family — including daughters Tavia, 9, and Ksenia, 7 — have been through has Lindsey knowing full well what’s happening to them from an emotional standpoint, but also financially.

“I have ridiculous trauma to overcome,” Lindsey explained. “My work family would also attest that I’ve worked really hard to keep it all going. If we aren’t here or she’s not admitted, I’ve been at work. Lots of times it’s the very next day. The reality is Ferris’s life has been financially devastating and I really just want to be able to maintain the quality of life we’ve had. For my big girls and for Ferris.

“Even if we get to make our way home . . . I know now this will never be over.”

While the Backmeyers do have a home in Kamloops, they have been in a rental in Vancouver since the last week of December. Pat has been doing a lot of commuting as he attends Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, with plans to become a registered nurse.

The whole family, including Lindsey’s mother, Leslie, thought they were on their way back to Kamloops last weekend, but then the call came saying that a kidney was available and transplant surgery had been scheduled.

“Living in limbo is pretty accurate,” Lindsey wrote, “or like a marathon that you never get to finish but always have to run. Feels like we are on a runaway train. It’s bumpy and scary and makes you nauseous and every once in awhile we get allowed off and create life and memories and then the train comes and we have no choice but to get back on.

“If and when we get to go home I need to give myself a bit of time before coming back. I never have done that before. Ever.”

In her plea to local businesses, McMillan asked that they contact her or donate to a GoFundMe page that has been set up to benefit the Backmeyers. That page is right here.



The WHL’s Regina hub swung into game action with two games on Friday. The Pats dropped a 6-3 decision to the Prince Albert Raiders in the second game, with highly touted Regina F Connor Bedard, 15, scoring his first two goals at 5:01 and 5:49 of the second period. . . . In the earlier game, the Moose Jaw Warriors got past the Brandon Wheat Kings, 4-3, in OT. . . .

Meanwhile, the Portland Winterhawks announced that their final 11 home games of this developmental season will be played at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland. Their first home game, on March 21, is to be played at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash. . . .

As first reported by Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post earlier this week, Shaun and Gavin Semple of the Brandt Group of Companies now own all of the Regina Pats. They had owned 50 per cent and now have purchased the other half from Todd Lumbard and Anthony Marquart. The move was unanimously approved by the WHL’s board of governors on Friday. Shaun Semple has replaced Marquart as the franchise’s governor. Lumbard, a former goaltender with the Pats and Brandon Wheat Kings, had been the team president; he remains with the organization as an advisor.


Menu


The BCHL has received the all-clear for the return of game play from provincial government and health officials. The league plans to set up pods in five league centres — Chilliwack, Coquitlam, Penticton, Port Alberni and Vernon — with three or four teams in each place. The abbreviated season will begin the first week of April and the hope is that each team will play 18 or 20 games before it ends. . . . The Wenatchee, Wash., Wild opted out of this season because the U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential travel. That leaves the BCHL with 17 teams that could being play in April, although the league has given teams a couple of days to make that decision. . . .

Meanwhile, the AJHL had 13 of its 15 teams back playing games on Friday for the first time since Nov. 21. The final all-clear came earlier in the day when it announced that its third round of testing featured 389 players and staff, and no positives. . . . The Canmore Eagles and Lloydminster Bobcats are the only two teams not playing, both having opted out. . . . On Friday, five games were played in five different venues with all teams playing in their home arenas.


Deadspin has put together a brief slideshow that provides some first-person information on a handful of high-profile athletes who have contracted COVID-19 and their experiences. It’s right here and well worth a look.

One slide features Demi Washington, a Vanderbilt basketball player. Washington, 19, had a mild case, but wasn’t allowed to return to play until she had a cardiac MRI. That test uncovered acute myocarditis.

“It’s horrifying to think that, without that MRI, I would have gone back out there and played and something could have gone wrong,” she wrote for The Athletic. “I could have passed out on the court. I could have died. I saw what happened to Keyontae Johnson and it terrified me. After he collapsed, he was ultimately diagnosed with acute myocarditis — just like me. I wonder how many other athletes are playing with it right now and have no idea.”


Quarantine


The Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball team had its season come to an end on Thursday with the news that one player tested positive. That knocked the Blue Devils (13-11) out of the ACC tournament and may have taken away any chance they had of qualifying for March Madness. The last time Duke was in the NCAA tournament was 1995. . . . “If they do get an invitation, it will be a basketball equivalent of a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award,’ Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, wrote on Friday. “This year’s Duke squad is not nearly as powerful as the ones that fans have come to expect for most of the Mike Krzyzewski Era in Durham.” . . . On Friday came word that No. 16 Virginia had to pull out of the ACC tournament because of a positive test, thus forfeiting a semi-final game to Georgia Tech. Virginia no doubt will get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Virginia won the title in 2019; there was no tournament a year ago. . . . Also on Friday, No. 11 Kansas withdrew from the Big 12 tournament after a positive test. The Jayhawks were to play No. 13 Texas in a semifinal game, so the Longhorns now are into the final. . . . Florida International and North Carolina A&T are among smaller schools that have had to withdraw from tournaments. . . . The 2021 tournament is scheduled to begin on Friday in Indianapolis. . . . The Sports Curmudgeon has more on the tournament right here.


You will recall that Clarkson shut down its men’s hockey program for this season earlier in the week and there was speculation that the move was virus-related. College Hockey News reported via Twitter on Thursday that it “was a school decision based not on positive COVID tests — but on a party attended by most of the team that broke the school’s COVID safety protocols.”

——

College Hockey News also reported that the Bentley Falcons (5-11-0) had withdrawn from the Atlantic hockey tournament. One week earlier, Holy Cross pulled out before the first round began. . . . Bentley had beaten Air Force to move into a second-round best-of-three series against American International, which now gets a bye into the semifinals. . . . From CHN: “For its part, AIC hasn’t played since January, due to its own COVID-19 issues and that of other league teams. By the team of the semifinals, the Yellowjackets will have gone almost seven weeks without a game. Bentley missed most of January with COVID issues, though played most of February.”


Once again, thanks for asking how things are going in B.C., as government and health officials work on loosening some restrictions . . .

Robyn Crawford, CKNW/Global BC — 648 new cases; no new deaths; 255 in hosp, 67 in ICU; 5,070 active; 9,155 in isolation; 79 new variant cases (total at 717).

CBC News — Alberta is reporting 425 new cases of COVID-19 and 2 additional deaths. And 365 more people have recovered from coronavirus.

CBC News — Number of new COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan climbs again with 176. That pushes the province’s 7-day average up to 134; 3 additional deaths have also been recorded.

CBC News — Manitoba announces 104 new cases of COVID-19, the 1st time the number has been above 100 since February 18. The province’s 7-day average now rises to 74. Health authorities also say there has been 1 additional death.


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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.



JUST NOTES: Former WHL F Ryan Hollweg is the new head coach of the U18 AAA Vancouver North West Hawks. Hollweg, 37, played 233 games with the Medicine Hat Tigers over five seasons (1999-2004) before going on to a pro career that included 228 NHL games. He finished up playing (2012-18) with HC Plzen in the Czech Extraliga. Hollweg was the North West Hawks’ associate coach for two seasons (2018-20) under Chris Shaw.


Wreath