Visiting the time capsule and discovering the time Jim Harrison was in goal for the Estevan Bruins and a whole lot more . . .


It is time to let your imagination run wild for a few minutes. OK?

Just imagine that NHL teams only carried one goaltender. And let’s imagine that one team’s goaltender was injured during a pre-game warmup, played the first two periods, but then couldn’t continue.

If that team was the Pittsburgh Penguins, would Sidney Crosby go in goal for the third period? If it was the Edmonton Oilers, would it be Connor McDavid?

Because that’s exactly what happened with the Estevan Bruins during a game in 1967-68, the second season of what is now the WHL.

I had never heard this story from the annals of WHL history until stumbling on it while doing some research on Saturday.

I was looking for a goaltender, any goaltender, who might have started his WHL career by going 20-plus games without a regulation-time loss.

The Bruins — Scotty Munro was the general manager and Ernie (Punch) McLean the coach — had opened the 1967-68 season with a 22-game winning streak, so I started there.

Gord Kopp was Estevan’s goaltender — teams only carried one goaltender — so he had opened the season with 22 straight victories.

GordKopp
Gord Kopp, during a brief stint with the EHL’s Charlotte Checkers.

Unfortunately, WHL statistics from the early seasons are embarrassingly scarce. So I was relying on newspapers.com where a subscriber is able to access a whole lot of newspapers, including the Brandon Sun, Edmonton Journal and Regina Leader-Post.

Through these newspapers, I was able to ascertain that the Bruins won their 22nd straight game on Dec. 10, 1967, beating the host Swift Current Broncos, 9-6.

However, Kopp was injured in the warmup, suffering a broken nose and a bad facial cut. I think it’s safe to assume that Kopp took a puck to the face. I don’t know whether he wore a mask with the Bruins, although I did find a photo of him wearing one of those form-fitting Fibreglas masks from a time in his brief minor pro career.

Anyway, he played the first two periods in Swift Current before apparently deciding that he couldn’t continue.

This is where things get interesting because it was F Jim Harrison, perhaps the Bruins’ best player, who donned the pads and played the third period. Not only that, but Harrison had scored three goals through 40 minutes. While I wasn’t able to find out how many saves he made in the third, the Bruins did hold period leads of 5-3 and 7-3. So the Broncos outscored the visitors 3-2 with Harrison in goal.

(Harrison finished that season with 75 points, including 32 goals, in 46 games. F Gregg Sheppard led the team with 81 points, 35 of them goals, in 58 games.)

But when is the last time a WHL player — or any junior player for that matter — had a hat trick and played goal in the same game?

Still, the Bruins came out of that game boasting a 22-0-0 record.

And then came Dec. 12, 1967, and a game in Saskatoon against the Blades.

“You have to concede the Bruins win No. 23 tonight when they take on the Blades in Saskatoon,” wrote Ron Campbell in that day’s Regina Leader-Post.

With Kopp unavailable, the Bruins brought in Ed Dyck, who had turned 17 on Oct. 29, from the junior B North Battleford Beaver-Bruins. With Dyck in goal, the Bruins dropped a 4-3 decision to the Blades before 1,410 fans.

Estevan took a 2-0 lead on first-period goals from Harrison and D Dale Hoganson, but F Orest Kindrachuk got the Blades to within one before the period ended. F Ron Fairbrother pulled Saskatoon into a 2-2 tie with the only goal of the second period, then gave his guys a 3-2 lead at 5:46 of the third.

F Greg Polis scored for Estevan at 6:18, only to have F Jim Nicholls score what proved to be the winner, at 10:59, as the Blades improved to 7-12-3.

“Those Blades played a whale of game,” Munro told Jack Cook of the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. “We were bound to lose one eventually, and I’m glad we didn’t give it away. Blades were good enough to take it tonight.”

BTW, Cook reported that “there was no shortage of professional scouts at the game with five NHL clubs represented by nine men . . . including Dennis Ball, Danny Summers, Lorne Davis, Metro Prystai, Johnny Walker, Bud Quinn and Rudy Migay.”)

Cook also wrote: “Young Dyck, playing in his first junior A game, was remarkably calm and had little chance on the four shots that beat him.”

Dyck played four straight games with the Bruins. He beat the Oil Kings, 5-3, in Edmonton on Dec. 13, then dropped a 2-1 decision to the Buffaloes in Calgary the next night. (The Buffaloes had been 0-17-2 in their previous 19 outings.) On Dec. 16, Dyck beat the visiting Buffaloes, 7-4.

Dyck would go on to a couple of stellar seasons with the Calgary Centennials, and would spend three seasons in the NHL and one in the WHA.

Kopp returned for a Dec. 17 game against the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings, and stopped 23 shots in a 5-0 victory for his 23rd straight triumph.

However, Kopp’s run ended four nights later with a 4-1 loss in Brandon. The Wheat Kings outshot the Bruins, 28-20 in that one, as Brandon head coach Elliott Chorley chose to use only six forwards and four defencemen for most of the game. Yes, it was a different game in those days.

Chorley had Larry Romanchych between Jack Wells and Bob Young, although Young was injured early on and Gerald Canart slid into that spot. The other forward unit featured Jack Borotsik between Ray Brownlee and Bob Clyne, who scored twice. The defence pairings had Bill Mikkelson with Mark Kennedy, and Jack Criel with Jim Wilton.

At that point, the Bruins were 25-3, with Kopp at 23-1 and Dyck at 2-2.

In the end, however, it turned out that Kopp didn’t start his WHL career in 1967-68. As I learned with more digging, Kopp played some in 1966-67 when Prince George native Pete Neukomm was the Bruins’ starter. (Kopp actually lost his final appearance of 1966-67, 3-2, to the visiting Regina Pats.)

All told, Kopp got into 103 games with Estevan over the 1967-68 (55) and 1968-69 (48) seasons. In 1967-68, he played in 55 of the team’s 60 regular-season games, with a 2.76 GAA, .902 save percentage and six shutouts. He was 3.33 and .900 without a shutout in 1968-69. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any statistics from 1966-67.

——

All of this was necessary because the WHL wasn’t able to confirm whether G WinnipegIceDaniel Hauser of the Winnipeg Ice had set a record or was near a record when he went into Saturday’s game in Saskatoon with a career mark of 22-0-2.

Hauser, who turned 18 on Jan. 29, was 7-0-1 with Winnipeg in the development season of 2021. This season, he was 13-0-1 before the Blades beat the Ice, 7-2, on Saturday night.

It would seem that Hauser does indeed hold the record for longest unbeaten streak by a goaltender to begin his WHL career, at 22-0-2. Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun pointed out that Scott Olson, a native of Bloomington, Minn., who spent parts of three seasons (1977-80) with the Wheat Kings, started his career on a 15-0-3 run. We will assume, unless we hear differently, that Olson held the record before Hauser’s arrival.

The 5-foot-11, 160-pound Hauser, from Chestermere, Alta., was a sixth-round selection by Winnipeg in the WHL’s 2019 draft.

——

When you go down a rabbit hole like I did in chasing Gord Kopp and the Estevan Bruins, you stumble on things like this . . .

The Bruins beat the visiting Weyburn Red Wings, 5-1, for their 20th straight victory on Dec. 5. The next day, The Leader-Post reported: “The Bruins moved one step closer to the all-time junior hockey win streak mark set at 25 by the now-defunct Portage Terriers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League in 1942.”

Of course, the Bruins didn’t quite get there.


glass


Tweet of the week — Sunaya Sapurji (@sunayas), after Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers repeated the nonsense about the validity of U.S. President Joe Biden’s election victory in a Friday interview with ESPN: “Has anyone gone from ‘He could host Jeopardy!’ to ‘Legit horse paste conspiracy loon’ faster than Aaron Rodgers!?!”


John Stockton, the NBA Hall of Fame guard who starred at Gonzaga, has had his season tickets suspended by the school because he refuses to wear a mask at men’s basketball games. In an interview, Stockton, a devout anti-vaxxer, told Theo Lawson of the Spokane Spokesman-Review: “I think it’s highly recorded now, there’s 150 I believe now, it’s over 100 professional athletes dead — professional athletes — the prime of their life, dropping dead that are vaccinated, right on the pitch, right on the field, right on the court.” . . . Lawson also wrote: “During the interview, Stockton asserted that more than 100 professional athletes have died of vaccination. He also said tens of thousands of people – perhaps millions – have died from vaccines.” . . . Yes, we are in this for a long time yet.


Ducks


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “Robot umpires — or ABS, the Automated Ball and Strike System — will be used in Triple-A games this season, Major League Baseball announced. So now players will be subjected to a whole different kind of annoying robocalls.”

——

A reminder from Perry: “Only 22 days till pitchers and catchers don’t report.”


The Fredonia State Blue Devils are an NCAA Division III team that plays out of the State University of New York in Fredonia. . . . And here’s a goalie goal from the Blue Devils’ Logan Dyck, a 22-year-old from Calgary . . .


Headline at fark.com: Seahawks uninstall Norton.



Fishing


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.


Abducted

$catter$hooting on a $unday night while wondering why the NHL didn’t $crub the re$t of the Canuck$’ $ea$on . . .

Scattershooting2

It’s hard to restrain the enthusiasm for the Vancouver Canucks after watching Canuckstheir 3-2 OT victory over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday night. . . . But based on that one game Travis Green should be the favourite for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s coach of the year. . . . Oh, and maybe the Canucks’ ownership might see fit to sign him to a contact before he chooses free agency after this season. . . . If you aren’t aware, Green was one of the 20-plus folks in the Canucks organization who tested positive for COVID-19 — and that doesn’t include numerous family members. Green also was quite ill. . . . If you are wondering what he went through, Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet has that story right here.

Full marks to Canucks G Braden Holtby for his performance on Sunday. He was solid all night, but it was his early play that allowed the Canucks to get their legs underneath them and gave them time to come to the realization that, yes, they could still play this game at a high level. . . . Kudos, too, to D Tyler Myers. His season to date has been so-so, but he was a minute-eater in this one, especially after D Alex Edler was tossed with a kneeing major. Myers also made a terrific play to get F Bo Horvat started towards the play that resulted in the game-winner. . . . It’s the Canucks and Maple Leafs from Vancouver again on Tuesday night. It should be just as interesting as was Sunday’s game. . . . Vancouver assistant coach Newell Brown was missing on Sunday because of COVID-19.


Dorothy . . . Kamloops Kidney Walk . . . June 6, virtually . . . Join her team with a donation right here. You’ll be glad you did!



Old friend Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times dug up this nugget — “Stumpycricket blogger Jack Mendel, to News.com.au, on cricket officials wanting to change the term ‘wickets’ to ‘outs’ to attract new fans: ‘Utterly, utterly nonsensical semantic bollocks . . . It almost feels like they are trying to de-cricket cricket.’ ”

It could be said that’s what MLB is trying to do by allowing each team to start extra innings with a runner on second base — trying to de-baseball baseball.


A statue of the late Fred Sasakamoose, the first hockey player with treaty status to play in the NHL, is being commissioned and is likely to be placed near the entrance to Saskatoon’s SaskTel Centre. . . . COVID-19 claimed Sasakamoose in hospital on Nov. 24. . . . His story — Call Me Indian: From the Trauma of Residential School to Becoming the NHL’s First Treaty Indigenous Player — is to be released to book stores on May 18.


Fraser Downs, a harness racing track in Cloverdale, B.C., closed its door after Friday night’s races. According to Harness Racing BC, it simply couldn’t make ends meet without receiving money from the casino that it isn’t allowed to operate in these pandemic times. The closure put 135 people out of work.


——

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle attended an Oakland A’s home game the other night. Afterwards, he wrote: At the A’s ballpark, I interviewed one of those cardboard fans, the only one that was not smiling. Said the fan, “I wasn’t cut out for this.”


Apple


The Minnesota Twins had Saturday and Sunday games against the host Los Angeles Angels postponed because of positive tests, and now their Monday series-opener in Oakland against the A’s also has been postponed. The reason? MLB says it’s “to allow for continued testing and contact tracing involving members of the Twins organization.” The Twins have had at least three players and one staffer test positive.

——

A quick note from Janice Hough, aka the Left Coast Sports Babe: “Minnesota Twins’ shortstop Andrelton Simmons declined a COVID-19 vaccine last week, and Wednesday tested positive. Another reminder there is no correlation between athletic ability and intelligence.”



Seattle University informed students this week that it now has a requirement that “all SU students —undergraduate, graduate and professional — be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and report it to the university prior to arriving on campus in the fall. Additional details will be provided in the coming weeks, but students will be required to register their vaccination status once completed.”


The pitching mound in the six-team independent Atlantic League will be moved back one foot, to 61 feet, six inches, for the second half of the season. It’s an experiment being conducted at the behest of MLB, which badly wants to see fewer strikeouts and more balls in play.

Here’s former starting pitcher Mike Krukow, now a broadcaster with the San Francisco Giants in conversation with Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle:

“I’m really not sure what to think about it. Nobody does — you can’t know until you try it. This could have a big effect on breaking pitches, which are the hardest to command. Just in general, though, the players’ union could prevent all this with a widespread emphasis on situational hitting — using the whole field, a style that worked so well for years and really keeps the fans interested. Now we have to change the rules because players can’t make the adjustment? To me, that’s insulting.”

He’s right.

The complete column is right here.


If MLB really wanted fewer strikeouts and more balls in play, it could start by putting the New York Yankees’ season on hold. If you haven’t noticed, the Yankees can’t hit and can’t catch the ball. Manager Aaron Boone is lucky that George Steinbrenner no longer is with us, because he would have brought back Billy Martin by now. Yes, I know that Martin no longer is with us. The Boss still would have made the change.


D Bill Mikkelson of the 1974-75 Washington Capitals finished at minus-82, the worst plus-minus in NHL history, on a team that wound up 8-67-5. As he told TSN: “We had a good team. We were just in the wrong league.”


The QMJHL’s regular season is over, with playoffs of some sort set to begin on qmjhlnewTuesday. . . . The 18 teams in the league played between 27 and 43 games. . . . The Acadie-Bathurst Titan, Moncton Wildcats and Saint John Sea Dogs, the league’s three New Brunswick-based teams, open a nine-game round-robin tournament on Tuesday. There aren’t any playoffs for the other Maritimes teams because of travel restrictions. . . . The round-robin is scheduled to end on May 2, with the winner meeting the Charlottetown Islanders in the Maritimes Division final. The Islanders finished with the QMJHL’s best record (35-5-0). . . . The Maritimes winner and three Quebec-based teams that emerge from their series will meet in a bubble event to decide the championship.


Wolves


In the WHL on Sunday . . .

D Braden Schneider came out of the penalty box to score the winner in OT as the BrandonBrandon Wheat Kings got past the Winnipeg Ice, 5-4, in Regina. . . . F Peyton Krebs (10) had given the Ice a 4-3 lead, on a PP, at 15:23 of the third period. . . . F Ridly Greig, who was in the penalty box when Krebs scored, tied it at 18:34. . . . Schneider took a headshot minor at 19:49 of the third period, then scored the winner, his fourth goal this season, at 1:56 of OT. . . . F Nolan Ritchie (8) and F Marcus Sekundiak (2) scored first-period goals for Brandon, with F Jakin Smallwood (11) counting for Winnipeg at 19:35. . . . F Owen Pederson (11) got the Ice into a tie at 4:08 of the second. . . . D Neithan Salame (3) put the Wheat Kings back out front at 13:31. . . . Ice F Connor McClennon tied it at 8:16 of third period with his 13th goal. He also had two assists as he ran his point streak to 12 games. He has nine goals and 11 assists over that stretch. . . . Brandon (15-3-2) has won four in a row; it went 4-0-0 against Winnipeg in this shortened season. . . . The Ice now is 13-5-1. . . . Winnipeg was 3-for-8 on the PP; Brandon was 1-for-4. . . . F Ben McCartney drew four assists for the Wheaties. . . . Krebs added three assists to his goal and now is on an 18-game point streak. He was blanked in the season’s first game and now leads the Regina hub with 35 points, 25 of them assists. . . .

F Drew Englot’s first goal of the season broke a 3-3 tie as the Regina Pats beat Patsthe Prince Albert Raiders, 4-3. The game was played in the Regina hub, but the Pats were the visiting team. . . . Englot scored his first goal, on the PP, in 19 games at 17:59 of the second period. . . . The Pats (7-9-3) had lost three in a row. . . . The Raiders (7-9-3) had been 3-0-1 in their past four outings. . . . F Cole Dubinsky and F Carter Chorney (3) gave Regina a 2-0 lead before F Tyson Laventure got the Raiders on the board at 9:03 of the second period. . . . Dubinsky (4) upped Regina’s lead to 3-1 just 48 seconds later. . . . Laventure scored his fourth goal of the season at 14:28 and D Tre Fouquette (1) tied it at 15:50. . . . Laventure has four goals and three assists this season, all against the Pats. . . . Fouquette, a fourth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft, also added an assist in just his second WHL game. . . . The Raiders lost F Justin Nachbaur in the first period with a headshot major and game misconduct for a hit on F Braxton Whitehead. . . .

The host Everett Silvertips scored three third-period goals as they skated to a Everett6-2 victory over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . F Ethan Regnier completed his first WHL three-goal game at 15:33 of the third period. He’s got six goals. . . . Regnier and F Jalen Price (1) gave Everett a 2-0 lead with second-period goals. . . . Everett F Brendan Hunchak, who turned 18 on April 10, earned the primary assist on Price’s goal for his first career point in his eighth game. He is the son of former WHL coach Dave Hunchak. . . . F Seth Jarvis (7) got Portland on the board at 11:42 of the second, but Regnier got that one back at 16:23. . . . D Ryan McCleary (2) pulled the Winterhawks to within one at 19:36. . . . The Silvertips put it away with third-period scores from F Hunter Campbell (5), F Ryan Hofer (3) and Regnier. . . . G Dustin Wolf earned the victory with 37 stops. . . . Everett is 11-3-0 after its second straight win. . . . Portland (6-5-3) had points in each of its previous three games (2-0-1). . . .

G Trent Miner stopped 27 shots and F Tristen Nielsen scored three times as the VancouverVancouver Giants beat the host Kamloops Blazers, 4-0. . . . Miner leads the WHL with four shutouts. He blocked 30 shots in a 4-0 victory over the Blazers on April 5. . . . The Giants (7-3-0) have put up five shutouts in their 10 games. . . . Nielsen enjoyed his second natural hat-trick of the season as he gave the Giants a 4-0 lead with the game’s last three goals. . . . F Zack Ostapchuk (3) got the game’s first goal at 3:34 of the first period. . . . Nielsen, who has 11 goals in 10 games, scored at 11:01 of the first period and 9:20 and 18:07 of the second. . . . The Blazers (7-2-0) had won their previous three games. . . .

F Carter Souch scored twice and added an assist to help the Edmonton Oil Kings Edmontonto a 5-3 victory over the Hurricanes in Lethbridge. . . . Souch, who has four goals, opened the scoring at 9:23 of the first period. . . . F Josh Williams (9) made it 2-0 at 17:24. . . . F Dino Kambeitz, who had sat out the Hurricanes’ last two games, scored his fourth goal 40 seconds into the second period. . . . The Oil Kings came back with goals from F Caleb Reimer (2) and Souch at 1:44 and 2:15 for a 4-1 lead. . . . F Carson Latimer (5), who also had two assists, had Edmonton’s other goal, while F Logan Barlage (5) and F Noah Boyko (9) finished Lethbridge’s scoring. . . . Edmonton F Jake Neighbours ran his point streak to 15 games with one assist. He’s got 26 points, 20 of them assists, during his tear. . . . The Oil Kings now are 14-1-1. . . . The Hurricanes are 7-8-2. . . . On Saturday, Lethbridge went into Edmonton and won 6-5 in a shootout after losing 4-0 to the visiting Oil Kings on Thursday.


Manitoba


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.


Editor

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