When the Portland Winterhawks visited the Silvertips in Everett on Friday at least one fan was in the Angel of the Winds Arena for the first time.
This individual is a long-time WHL fan and a season-ticket holder who rarely misses a game. After being in Everett for what he said was his first game “in many years” outside his home city, he sent me some of his thoughts . . .
“Wasn’t sure what to expect, but what a great experience it was compared to what I’m used to. . . . Angel of the Winds Arena is a great facility . . . it feels like a smaller version of an NHL arena with two levels, and a nice concourse to walk around in. The concourse is open at one end so you can see the ice from that part of it, too. The lower level is only 12 rows deep, but close to the ice all the way around so fans are right on top of the action. Not to mention it has more concessions than I could count — you couldn’t walk more than about 50 feet without coming to another place to buy food or drinks . . . lots of variety and no long lineups.
“The announced attendance was about 6,800 and unlike other cities that number wasn’t inflated by too much . . . definitely well over 6,000 in the building, eyeballing the empty seats.
“I showed up at the rink at about 5:50 (10 minutes before the doors opened to non-season ticket holders). There already were numerous season-ticket holders going into the building, and by 6 p.m. the line for the general public to get in was over a block long.”
That, he added, was quite a contract to his home team’s games this season “where at 6 p.m. there might be a dozen or two people there.”
In Everett, he wrote, “not long after 6 p.m., the team store was packed with a lineup of about 20 people for the cash register.” That, too, was “a big contrast” to his home team’s games.
“The crowd had a real energy to it, too. It was a pretty young crowd (lots of people in their 20s, 30s and 40s, which is a great thing to see). Lots of Silvertips jerseys in the crowd, something I’m not used to seeing. . . . Anything that happened in the game got a reaction — whenever the Silvertips took the puck away from Portland, cleared it out of their zone, or started a rush up the ice out of their own zone, the crowd was making noise.”
That, he wrote, was “a welcome change” from crowds in his home arena “that for the most part sit on their hands the whole game other than when a goal is scored. And when Everett scores the entire crowd is on its feet.
“I’ve seen NHL games in a number of cities, and some crowds are just different — at a Rangers game, for example, there’s just a very different energy you feel compared to an L.A. Kings or Anaheim Ducks game and that’s the distinction I’d draw between Everett and (my home arena), a crowd where people were there to be part of the game rather than just sit and watch.
“It was just a fantastic experience, and none of it felt manufactured. There wasn’t anything on the scoreboard telling fans to make noise or anything. Even the fan contests during the intermission were fun and different than I’d seen before.
“If I were involved with running a WHL team I’d be sending my marketing team to Everett to learn something.”
When I wrote about the WHL and attendance last month, this fan told me that he was thinking about perhaps switching from a full season-ticket to a half. He changed his mind after his Everett experience.
“Attending that one game probably did more to bring back my enthusiasm for WHL hockey after the lost COVID season than an entire season of attending (my team’s) games,” he wrote.
Dorothy is preparing to take part in the annual Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year. She has participated in every one since she underwent a kidney transplant at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver on Sept. 23, 2013. . . . The 2022 Kidney Walk will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . The Kidney Walk is a huge fund-raising venture for the Canadian Kidney Foundation and its provincial branches. By participating, Dorothy is able to give something back to an organization that has been such a big part of our lives. . . . If you would like to be on her team by making a donation you are able to do so right here.
If you haven’t noticed, the honeymoon appears to be over in Vancouver where the vultures are starting to circle. . . . There was this from Jeff Paterson on the Sekeres and Price podcast this week: “Bruce has to wear some of this, too. The shine is coming off of this team with 3 wins in 13 games at crunch time. 1 win in their last 8 at home. Bruce always wants to flush this thing about slow starts.” . . . Carol Schram of Forbes Sports tweeted: “It’s crunch time. The Canucks season could depend on 3 games in the next 9 days against Vegas, starting Sunday. Bruce Boudreau’s future may also hang in the balance.” . . . The Canucks lost that Sunday game, and they are in Vegas tonight in the opener of a doubleheader there. . . . Just a short time ago, Boudreau could do no wrong, but that doesn’t seem to be the case these days. . . . Where the fans in Vancouver used to chant “Bruce, there it is!,” now it seems that “Bruce, there it isn’t” would be more topical. And the whisperers are wondering: “Where is Paul Maurice?” . . . Gee, maybe the Canucks’ problems haven’t had a whole lot to do with coaching.
Back in the day, if a player tried to skill it up in the NBA this might happen . . .
TUESDAY IN THE WHL:
Saskatoon’s Nolan Maier tied the WHL record for career goaltending victories as the Blades beat the Tigers, 4-0, in Medicine Hat. . . . Maier, 20, has 120 victories in his five seasons with the Blades, including 29 this season. He now shares the mark with Tyson Sexsmith (Medicine Hat, Vancouver Giants, 2004-09) and Corey Hirsch (Kamloops Blazers, 1988-92). . . . Maier’s second shutout of this season was the 11th of his career. . . . The Blades are to meet the Hurricanes in Lethbridge tonight. . . . Don’t forget that Maier played only 17 games in the 2021 development season when he earned 12 victories, so only the pandemic kept him from smashing this record. . . . D Ryan Nolan drew three assists. . . . The Blades (26-25-4), with three games remaining, are two points behind the fourth-place Moose Jaw Warriors, who have four to play. . . . The Tigers (11-49-4) have lost eight in a row. . . .
F Jake Chiasson and F Nolan Ritchie each had a goal and two assists as their Brandon Wheat Kings beat the visiting Regina Pats, 5-4. . . . Chiasson, who has four goals, tied it 2-2 at 16:46 of the second period and Ritchie, with 31 goals, broke the tie at 19:40. . . . D Mason Ward (4) upped the lead to 4-2 at 1:23 of the third period and the Pats never could equalize. . . . Regina got three goals from F Logan Nijhoff, whose first WHL hat trick left him with 20 goals. . . . Brandon (33-25-5) is sixth, five points behind Saskatoon. The Wheat Kings appear headed to a first-round matchup with the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Regina (24-34-5) is six points from a playoff spot with five games remaining.
In Prince George, D Tyson Feist scored at 1:02 of OT to give the Kelowna Rockets a 1-0 victory over the Cougars. . . . He’s got 15 goals this season. . . . Kelowna G Talyn Boyko blocked 21 shots for his second shutout of the season. . . . The Cougars got 35 saves from G Ty Young. . . . They’ll play again tonight in Prince George. . . . The Rockets (38-19-6) are fifth, four points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . The Cougars (22-37-5) are tied for the conference’s last playoff spot with the Spokane Chiefs, one point behind the Vancouver Giants and Victoria Royals.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Mark Bomersback is the new general manager of the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm. Bomersback, 39, was the Storm’s GM from 2017-20, before stepping down. From a news release: “Mark was an elite player in the AJHL, his 394 career points still stands as the all-time record. Upon finishing his junior career Mark moved on to Ferris State University in the NCAA. Mark’s professional hockey career saw him play in the East Coast and American Hockey Leagues before finishing his career in Europe, including a season in the KHL.” Mike Vandekamp was the Storm’s general manager/head coach for the past two seasons, but they parted company at the conclusion of their season. A new head coach has yet to be hired. . . . Billy Keane has joined the Pilot Mound, Man., Hockey Academy as the male U18 head coach and the academy’s assistant general manager. He spent the previous two seasons as the general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard. His contract wasn’t renewed when their season ended. . . .
Brandon Switzer is the new general manager and head coach of the junior B Creston Valley Thunder Cats of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Switzer, from Brandon, had been the club’s associate coach and assistant GM since June 26. He takes over from Bill Rotheisler, who had filled both positions for the past two seasons. . . . The NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins have signed F Lukas Svejkovsky, 20, of the Seattle Thunderbirds to a three-year entry-level contract that is to begin next season. It carries an annual average value of $859,167 at the NHL level — salaries of $750,000, $775,000 and $775,000 with a $92,000 signing bonus each year. There is an $80,000 minor-league salary in all three years. The Penguins selected him in the fourth round of the 2020 NHL draft. . . .
The NAHL announced on Tuesday that the Wichita Falls Warriors are on the move to Oklahoma City where they will play out of the Blazers Ice Center. They will continue with the Warriors nickname. There was a time when the NAHL franchise in Wichita Falls was known as the Wildcats and was owned by Rick Brodsky, a former WHL chairman of the board and owner of the Victoria/Prince George Cougars.
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
Toll free: 1-877-922-9822
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
Or, for more information, visit right here.