WHL’s second round set to begin . . . It’s Rebels at Oil Kings tonight . . . Bardsley takes over in Spokane

WHLplayoffs2022After taking a couple of nights off, the WHL playoffs resume tonight (Thursday) as the second round gets started with an Eastern Conference matchup — the Red Deer Rebels visiting the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . No, I’m not going to make predictions but I will tell you that the teams met 10 times this season — the Oil Kings were 5-3-2, while the Rebels were 5-5-0. . . . Edmonton had a 34-29 edge in goals scored. . . . Over 68 games, the Oil Kings finished 50-14-4, which left them 10 points ahead of the Rebels (45-19-4). . . . If you’re looking for a harbinger, perhaps this is it — they evenly split their last four regular-season meetings, all of which came in April, with each team winning once at home and once on the road. Edmonton outscored Red Deer, 16-15, in those four games. . . . Does that signal a close series? . . . The Oil Kings are coming off a sweep of the No. 7 Lethbridge Hurricanes, while the Rebels took six games to shake off the No. 6 Brandon Wheat Kings. . . .

The other Eastern Conference semifinal is to open Friday night in Winnipeg with the Ice playing host to the Winnipeg Warriors. . . . They met seven times in the regular season, with Winnipeg going 5-1-1 and Winnipeg 2-5-0. . . . There was a large discrepancy in offence with the Ice holding a 37-16 edge. . . . Winnipeg had the WHL’s best regular-season record (53-10-5) and wound up 20 points ahead of the Warriors (37-24-7). . . . They met three times late in the regular season, with Winnipeg winning, 4-0 and 8-1, on March 16 and 29. The last time they played each other, on April 2, the host Warriors won, 3-1. . . . In the first round, the Ice took care of the No. 8 Prince Albert Raiders in five games, while the Warriors did the same to the No. 5 Saskatoon Blades. . . .

Meanwhile, one Western Conference semifinal opens Friday night, with the other swinging into action on Saturday. . . .

The Vancouver Giants, fresh off perhaps the biggest upset in WHL playoff history, are to be in Kamloops to face the Blazers on Friday night. . . . The Blazers are the highest seed in the Western Conference now. They went in as the second seed, but the top-seeded Everett Silvertips were ousted by the No. 8 Giants. . . . Kamloops finished the regular season at 48-17-3, 46 points ahead of Vancouver (24-39-5). . . . The Blazers, who swept the No. 7 Spokane Chiefs while outscoring them, 23-3, dominated the regular-season series, going 10-1-1 — Vancouver was 2-9-1 — and outscoring the Giants, 50-24. . . . These teams have met four times since Feb. 1 with Kamloops winning three of them — 3-2, 4-3 (OT) and 5-2 — while losing 4-3 in OT at home. . . .

The No. 3 Portland Winterhawks and No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds are to open on Saturday night. Because the arena in Portland is busy with high school grads, this series will have a 1-2-1-1-1-1 format, meaning it is to begin in Kent, Wash., before moving to Portland for two games. . . . The Winterhawks, who swept the No. 6 Prince George Cougars, had a 47-16-5 regular-season record, leaving them five points ahead of Seattle (44-18-6). . . . The Thunderbirds took out the No. 5 Kelowna Rockets in five games. . . . Portland and Seattle met 13 times in the regular season with the Winterhawks going 9-4-0; the Thunderbirds were 4-6-3. . . . Nine of the games were decided by one or two goals with Portland outscoring Seattle, 44-36. . . .

Go ahead. Make your picks. Then let the fun begin . . .


In the OHL, the No. 7 Kitchener Rangers took out the No. 2 London Knights on Wednesday night . . .


Cables


As expected, the Spokane Chiefs have signed Matt Bardsley as their general Spokanemanager, replacing Scott Carter who announced earlier in the season that he is leaving for health and family reasons. Carter had been the GM for six seasons (2016-22). . . . Contract terms weren’t revealed, but you would be safe to say that Bardley got three years and perhaps as many as five. . . . Bardsley is only the Chiefs’ third GM since 1990. Carter had replaced Tim Speltz (1990-2016), who left to scout for the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. . . . Bardsley was the Kamloops Blazers’ general manager from 2018-21. Recently, he has been working as an amateur scout with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. . . . Bardsley, who is from Portland and spent 18 seasons in the Winterhawks’ organization, left Kamloops for family reasons in May 2021. . . . Bardsley was in Kamloops last week for the third game of the Chiefs’ first-round playoff series with the Blazers and, in fact, was spotted in the Spokane dressing room after the game. . . . The Chiefs’ news release is right here.


In case you thought the pandemic was over, it isn’t. . . . Jackson Browne was supposed to have opened for James Taylor and his All-Star Band tonight (Thursday) at the Canada Life Centre in Winnipeg. But that isn’t going to happen because a “small number of positive COVID-19 cases” were found among tour staff. . . . According to a note on the tour’s website, the decision “was made out of an abundance of caution for the touring personnel, general public and the audience in Winnipeg.” . . . The next stop on the tour is scheduled for Saturday in Calgary. If the virus approves, of course.


Marathon


Mitch

Mitch Love, a former WHL coach and player, has been named the recipient of the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s coach of the year. Love, 37, is in his first season as head coach of the Stockton Heat, an affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames. . . . Love played five seasons (2000-05) in the WHL, splitting time with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Swift Current Broncos and Everett Silvertips. He was an Everett assistant coach for six seasons before spending three seasons as the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Stockton went 45-16-7 to finish atop the Pacific Division and is awaiting a first-round playoff opponent.


JUST NOTES:

F Bear Hughes of the Spokane Chiefs will finish up this season with the AHL’s Hershey Bears after signing an amateur tryout agreement with them. Hughes, who just completed his 20-year-old season, was a fifth-round pick by the Washington Capitals in the NHL’s 2020 draft. . . .

D Olen Zellweger of the Everett Silvertips has joined the AHL’s San Diego Gulls for the remainder of the season. The Anaheim Ducks selected Zellweger, who will turn 19 on Sept. 10, in the second round of the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . .

F Ridley Greig of the Brandon Wheat Kings has joined the AHL’s Belleville Senators for their playoff run, as long or short as it may be. The Ottawa Senators grabbed Greig, 19, with the 28th overall pick in the NHL’s 2020 draft. . . .

CapFriendly reported Wednesday that F Ryder Korczak of the Moose Jaw Warriors has signed a three-year entry-level deal with the NHL’s New York Rangers. Korczak, 19, was selected by the Rangers in the third round of the 2021 draft. . . .

The BCHL’s Surrey Eagles have been purchased by brothers Ron and TJ Brar from Chuck Westgard, who had owned the team for 12 seasons. The league’s board of governors approved the sale last weekend, and it is effective immediately. . . . The Brars own Evergreen Herbs, which, according to a BCHL news release, is “a Surrey-based business that has grown into a leading provider of fresh herbs and vegetables to grocery stores across the country.” . . .

Rob DiMaio, a former WHL player, has been named assistant general manager with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. He also will serve as the general manager of their AHL affiliate, the San Diego Gulls. DiMaio was with the St. Louis Blues for the past 13 seasons, most recently as director of player personnel. He won back-to-back (1987 and 1988) Memorial Cups with the Medicine Hat Tigers and was the tournament MVP in 1988. . . .

Adam Nightingale is the new head coach of the Michigan State Spartans. For the past two seasons, he was a head coach with the U.S. National Team Development Program. He also has experience as an NHL assistant coach, most recently (2019-20) with the Detroit Red Wings. Nightingale replaces Danton Cole, the head coach for the past five seasons. . . .

The QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles have renewed the contract of head coach Chad Cassidy. He took over the Eagles’ position on Jan. 7, replacing Jake Grimes, who had resigned for personal reasons.


Therapist


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.

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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

——

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.


Cake

Restricted capacity coming to Ontario facilities; B.C. pondering it, too . . . OHL shuts down Erie Otters . . . Zimmer’s six-pack sparks Cougars

Merry Christmas . . .


The provincial government of Ontario announced on Wednesday that indoor arenas and venues with a capacity of more than 1,000 will be limited to 50 per cent capacity effective Saturday at 12:01 a.m. ET.

Those same Ontario facilities had moved to 100 per cent capacity on Oct. 8.

After the announcement, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns Covidthe NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, issued a news release that included this:

“MLSE’s venue operations team will implement an enhanced mask protocol within the venue beginning with Saturday’s Raptors game called ‘Operation Mask Up (or out)’ that requires all attendees to strictly adhere to all mask-wearing protocols or risk ejection from the building. MLSE also strongly encourages all fans to get vaccinated and closely follow all public health protocols to protect each other and our community at large.”

Unfortunately for Toronto basketball fans, the first game to feel the pinch of 50 per cent capacity will feature the visiting Golden State Warriors and all-world Steph Curry on Saturday.

——

Meanwhile, in B.C., we are bracing for more public health orders that are likely to be announced early next week.

During a late Wednesday afternoon news conference, Adrian Dix, B.C.’s minister of health, admitted that the government is considering reducing capacity for arenas and other venues.

A move back to 50 per cent capacity would impact four of the WHL’s B.C. Division teams — the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Vancouver Giants and Victoria Royals. Their arenas have been at 100 per cent capacity only since Oct. 19.

The Prince George Cougars, located in the Northern Health region, haven’t been permitted more than 50 per cent capacity in the CN Centre all season.

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The OHL’s Erie Otters suspended all operations after 13 players tested positive. OHLAccording to the OHL, all players are asymptomatic or experiencing mild symptoms. The Otters were to have met visiting the Guelph Storm on Friday and entertained the Kitchener Rangers on Saturday; both games have been postponed. . . . This comes after the Sudbury Wolves had shut things down late last month after 12 positive tests. They were scheduled to return to game action tonight (Thursday) in Barrie against the Colts. However, that game has been postponed as the Wolves continue to deal with virus-related issues. The Wolves now have had six games postponed. . . .

The OHL also postponed a game scheduled for last night (Wednesday) that would have had the Rangers in Owen Sound to meet the Attack. The OHL said the decision was made out of an abundance of caution. . . .

In the OHL, all staff, players and those eligible in billet families are fully vaccinated.

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And then there is the NHL where there were at least 53 players in protocol at the end of the day. That doesn’t include coaches and other staff members. Oh, and more positive tests are expected . . .

As of late Wednesday, the Calgary Flames had six players who WERE NOT in COVID-19 protocol — F Mikael Backlund, F Blake Coleman, F Dillon Dube, D Oliver Kylington, F Matthew Tkachuk and G Dan Vladar. The Flames added 17 people to their protocol list on Wednesday, including head coach Darryl Sutter and assistants Ryan Huska and Kirk Muller. There also are seven support staff members in protocol. . . . At that point, the Flames had 16 players, three coaches and seven staff members on the list. . . .

The Nashville Predators had six players and six other members of their travelling team in protocol. F Mikael Granlund, F Ryan Johansen, F Matt Luff, F Michael McCarron, F Philip Tomasino were on the list, along with head coach John Hynes, assistants Dan Lambert and Todd Richards, and goaltending coach Ben Vanderklok. . . . The Predators are scheduled to visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday; it could be that their AHL coaching staff — head coach Karl Taylor and assistants Scott Ford and Greg Rallo — running the Nashville bench. . . . Taylor spent one season (2013-14) as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. . . .

The Detroit Red Wings moved F Robby Fabbri and F Michael Rasmussen into protocol. The Red Wings are scheduled to meet host Carolina tonight (Thursday), but the Hurricanes have six players and a trainer in protocol. Carolina was to have played the host Minnesota Wild on Tuesday but the game was postponed. . . .

The Vancouver Canucks, who put four players on the list on Tuesday, flew to San Jose on Wednesday evening where they are scheduled to play the Sharks tonight (Thursday). Assistant coach Jason King didn’t make the trip, as he went into protocol before the flight departed. . . .

The NHL and NHLPA will try to slow the virus’s spread by going back to protocols that were used last season. . . . From Bruce Garrioch, who covers the Ottawa Senators for Postmedia: “Essentially, the league is going back to last year’s rules, which means management, staff and players will be tested daily until at least Jan. 7. With the (Ottawa) Senators on a three-game road trip that will continue Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team will essentially go into its own bubble. That means all meals will have to be eaten at the hotel and there will be no dining out or shopping during breaks in the schedule.”


Closed


The NFL said that 88 players had tested positive on Monday and Tuesday, but with players being moved on and off the COVID-19 list, there are reports that it’s likely that at least 100 players have come up positive. . . . The Washington Football Team had 18 players on its protocol list after adding eight more on Wednesday. . . . The Cleveland Browns had 18 players, half of them starters, and two coaches on the COVID-19 list by the end of the day. That included head coach Kevin Stefanski, WR Jarvis Landry and QB Baker Mayfield. . . . Still, Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, said the league isn’t considering postponing or cancelling Cleveland’s scheduled game against the visiting Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. . . .

Alvin Gentry, the interim head coach with the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, tested positive so wasn’t with his team for Wednesday’s 119-105 victory over the visiting Washington Wizards. He will need two negative tests 24 hours apart before being allowed to return. . . . The NBA had more than two dozen players in health and safety protocols on Wednesday, including 10 players from the Chicago Bulls. They were to play the Raptors in Toronto tonight (Thursday), but the game has been postponed. . . . According to the NBA, about 97 per cent of its players are vaccinated, with about 60 per cent having received a booster shot. . . .

The AHL-Toronto Marlies have one player who tested positive and four others isolating for precautionary reasons. . . . According to the team, “All players are double-vaccinated and are being closely monitored for symptoms while being tested daily.” . . . The Marlies dropped a 4-2 decision to the Syracuse Crunch on Wednesday night. . . .

The AHL-Belleville Senators were to have played against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in Allentown, Pa., on Wednesday night but it didn’t happen. The game was postponed, the AHL said, because of “protocols affecting Belleville.” . . . The Senators are scheduled to conclude a nine-day road trip against the Syracuse Crunch on Friday. . . .

Soccer’s Premier League postponed a game between visiting Watford and Burnley less than three hours before it was to start. The league postponed a third game in four days due to an outbreak on the Watford roster that left it without enough first-team players for a game.


It isn’t just the sporting world that is feeling the impact of this latest wave. The New York Time reported Wednesday: “Broadway has seen a raft of cancellations as positive Covid tests among cast and crew members have upended productions. The pandemic continues to pose a challenge to an industry struggling to get back on its feet after a lengthy and damaging shutdown.”




The New York Times, Wednesday, 2:30 p.m. PT: “Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. surpassed 800,000 on Wednesday, as the pandemic neared the end of a second year and as known virus cases in this country rose above 50 million. The death toll is the highest known of any nation.”

Carolyn Dunn, CBC Calgary, Wednesday, 5:53 p.m. PT: “By tomorrow, 30,000 Canadians (and possibly many more) will have died from COVID-19. So many families/friends robbed of a day, a month, or many years.”



Election


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: F Koehn Zimmer of the Prince George Cougars put up six points Wednesday night in a 7-3 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . The Cougars, who erased a 2-0 deficit, have won four in a row. . . . Zimmer, who WHLturned 17 on Dec. 8, finished with two goals and four assists. He now has seven goals and 12 assists in 26 games this season. He started it with nine goals and three assists in 24 games. . . .

F Ollie Josephson, the fifth-overall selection in last week’s WHL draft, was in the Red Deer Rebels’ lineup for the first time on Wednesday as they met the visiting Swift Current Broncos. Josephson was pointless and plus-1 in a 6-1 Red Deer victory. . . .

The Victoria Royals went into Kamloops having earned at least a point in 10 straight games (7-0-3), but the Blazers dropped them, 3-0, as G Dylan Ernst recorded his first WHL shutout. At one point late in the second period, Kamloops held a 29-4 edge in shots and a 2-0 lead. The Blazers ended up with a 51-9 advantage. . . . Kamloops D Viktor Persson wasn’t on the bench for the third period after taking a hit from Victoria D Wyatt Wilson at 8:49 of the second period. Wilson was given a charging major and game misconduct. . . .

In Calgary, F Jakub Demek, a Slovakian freshman, had two goals and an assist as the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Hitmen, 5-2. . . . Demek, a fourth-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL’s 2021 draft, has 13 goals and 22 assists in 28 games. . . . Oh, yes, he’s also on a 17-game point streak. . . .

F Jack Finley and D Jonas Woo made their Winnipeg debuts on Wednesday as the Ice dumped the host Saskatoon Blades, 6-0. . . . Finley, who was acquired earlier in the month from the Spokane Chiefs, had been in camp with Canada’s national junior team before being released. He had a goal, his ninth, and an assist in his first game with the Ice. . . . Woo, whose father, Larry, is an assistant coach with the Ice, was the 18th overall selection in last week’s WHL draft. He was pointless and plus-1 in his debut. . . . Darren Steinke, the travelling blogger, was at the game and his story is right here. . . .

Earlier in the day, the Ice acquired F Alessandro Segafredo, 17, from the Seattle Thunderbirds for Czech D Martin Bohm, 18, and a sixth-round pick in the WHL’s 2024 draft. . . . Both players were selected in the CHL’s 2021 import draft. . . . Mike Sawatzky (@sawa14) of the Winnipeg Free Press notes that “the Italian-born Segafredo was a teammate of current Ice D Max Streule with GCK Lions U20 in Zurich, Switzerland, last season.” . . . Segafredo is listed on Winnipeg’s injury list as being out day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, while Bohm, who last played on Nov. 14, is out month-to-month with an undisclosed injury. . . . The Seattle roster includes three imports, including British D Leon Okonkwo Prada and Slovakian D Samuel Knazko. . . . The Thunderbirds will have to trim one, via release or trade, once Bohm is healthy. . . . The Red Deer Rebels are the only WHL team carrying one import.


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.


GPS

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