MacLeod: OHL must dump body-checking to play . . . Armada at 18 positives . . . Titans unable to shake virus


Well, that was an interesting day in the world of major junior hockey and I’m not referring to the NHL draft.

First, it was revealed that the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada now has 18 positives tests in its organization.

Then, Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, reiterated something that she told Rick Westhead of TSN last week: ohlIf the OHL wants to play this season, it will have to ban bodychecking and fighting.

In addressing the subject on Wednesday, MacLeod told reporters: ”It would be safe to say that body contact, unless it’s incremental, will not be permitted as a result of COVID-19. That would pose a challenge in terms of how they amend their play.”

MacLeod also said that the 20-team OHL, while it is in “constant contact” with the government is it works on a reopening plan, hasn’t asked for any financial help. That is unlike the QMJHL, which has asked for a $20-million subsidy from the Quebec government.

According to The Canadian Press, “The OHL said in a statement that it will not comment on its ongoing negotiations with the Ontario government.”

The CP story is right here.

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The QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada had one player test positive on qmjhlnewMonday. On Wednesday, the team said that it now had 18 positives in its organization. . . . As a result, players and staff have gone into a two-week isolation period and all team activities have been suspended indefinitely. . . . This all comes after the QMJHL’s first weekend of regular-season play. The Armada opened by playing a doubleheader with the Sherbrooke Phoenix, which also has suspended in-person activities. It reportedly has one positive case. . . . Of course, the Armada and Quebec Remparts also are in a government-designated red zone and team sports in those areas have been shut down through the end of October. . . . Here’s Gilles Courteau, the QMJHL commissioner, from a news release: “Although our sanitary and medical protocol is very strict and rigorous, we knew that COVID-19 was highly infectious and could eventually hit certain players and team staff members. Nevertheless, we are extremely confident that the measures contained in our contingency plan, which is currently deployed, will prove to be very efficient.”



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

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The NFL’s Tennessee Titans had hoped to return to their practice facility on Wednesday after not having any positive tests on Monday or Tuesday. But two more players tested positive Wednesday, bringing the organization’s total to 22, with 20 of those having occurred since Sept. 29. . . . The Titans are scheduled to play host to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, in a clash of unbeaten teams, although that now may be in jeopardy. . . .

CB Stephen Gilmore of the New England Patriots, the NFL’s defensive player of the year last season, has tested positive. He is the third New England player to test positive. . . . The Patriots, who are to play the visiting Denver Broncos on Sunday, cancelled their Wednesday practice. . . . Patriots QB Cam Newton tested positive on Saturday. . . .

Production of the CBC-TV show Battle of the Blades is on hold because a member of the production team tested positive. This means that the season premiere that had been scheduled for Oct. 15 has been postponed. . . . The show was to be taped at the CAA Centre in Brampton, Ont. . . .

The host Colorado Rapics and LAFC were to have played an MLS match on Wednesday night. However, it was postponed after the Rapids had a staff member test positive. The Rapids now have had three players and 12 staff members test positive, and they have had three straight games postponed. . . .

Appalachian State and Georgia Southern have postponed their football game that was to have been played on Oct. 14 at Georgia Stadium. The game has been rescheduled for Dec. 12. Appalachian State now has had two straight games postponed because of 19 positive tests around the team.



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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Allow me to correct something that was posted here on Tuesday night. . . . Phil Andrews, who has been the Regina Pats’ manager of media and communications, as well as the team’s radio voice, tells me that Evan Daum will be doing “the marketing portion of my job . . . not the play-by-play/hockey communications.” . . . So if you are an aspiring play-by-play person, there’s still a chance.


JUST NOTES: A note to B.C.’s political parties — Dorothy and I already have mailed in our ballots, so you are wasting your time with the phone calls. . . . If you haven’t been watching the MLB playoffs, you should know that there’s some real emotion in the mostly empty stadiums. Wednesday night’s game between the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers looked to be a powder keg for a lot of the time. You didn’t need to be a lip-reader to understand what was happening, that’s for sure.

Lynn Lake legend takes on the ‘Hammer’ . . . Remembering a fax from Rocky . . . The virus finds the QMJHL

When I was a hockey-playing teenager in Lynn Lake, Man., Steve Andrascik was THE MAN.

Two years older than me, he played two seasons (1967-69) with the Flin Flon Andrascik.Bombers, totalling 62 goals and 62 assists in 110 games. He also earned 230 penalty minutes as he sometimes rode shotgun with Bobby Clarke and Reggie Leach. Steve was selected 11th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 12-team NHL’s 1968 draft — 24 players were selected over three rounds.

Steve would come home in the offseason and work in the mine. Competitive? Sometimes he would stop off at the fastball diamond on his way to work and pitch for one of the men’s teams . . . while wearing work boots.

Yes, he was a Lynn Lake legend.

As a pro, he played 77 games in the WHA and had stints in the CHL, SHL and AHL, finishing up with the Hershey Bears with whom, as I understand it, he was quite popular.

His NHL career consisted of one game, a playoff game in Madison Square Garden. After spending the 1971-72 season with the AHL’s Providence Reds — he had 14 goals, 10 assists and 104 penalty minutes in 74 games — the New York Rangers added him for their playoff run. On April 20, he was in their lineup for a 3-2 victory over Chicago in Game 3 of what would be a sweep of the Blackhawks.

The Rangers would lose the Stanley Cup final in six games to Bobby Orr’s Boston Bruins. Steve didn’t get in the New York lineup but he was along for the ride.

That brings us to the following tweet . . .

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The tweet referencing the bout between Steve Andrascik and Dave Schultz reminded me of a WHL-related story from a few seasons back.

This is one of those stories that really is too good to try and confirm just in case it didn’t happen. It just may be one of those stories best prefaced with “Legend has it . . .”

But, hey, here it is . . .

It was early in December of 1996 and Rocky Thompson and the Medicine Hat Tigers were preparing to head out on a three-game swing into B.C. They were scheduled to visit the Kelowna Rockets (Dec. 10), Kamloops Blazers (Dec. 11) and Prince George Cougars (Dec. 13).

Defenceman Scott Parker was the man with the Rockets, while the Blazers had forward Rob Skrlac. In Prince George, Zdeno Chara, a young 6-foot-8 defenceman from Trencin, Slovakia, was making people sit up and take notice.

Thompson, of course, knew the challenges he would face on this road trip. He was in his fourth season with the Tigers, although he would be traded to the Swift Current Broncos on Jan. 24, which was the trade deadline. Todd McLellan, the Broncos’ general manager and head coach, acquired Thompson, 19, and sniper Josh Green, 19, for F Tyler Perry, 19; F Andrew Milne, 18; D Kevin Mackie, 15; F Brett Scheffelmaier, 15; and a 1997 second-round bantam draft pick.

But that trade was yet to happen.

Preparing to head into the rugged B.C. Division, Thompson was well aware of just who would be his dance partners.

He knew all about Parker and Skrlac, both of whom were WHL veterans. But, hey, what about the new guy in Prince George?

Well, Thompson thought it would be a good idea to really test the new guy, so before heading out on the road he sent a fax to Chara via the Cougars’ office. “I’m coming for you” is all it read.

The Tigers opened the trip in Kelowna and, true to form, Thompson and Parker scrapped right off the opening faceoff. Moments before the puck was dropped, Parker skated up from the Kelowna blue line and traded shots with the Rockets’ starting right winger, which put him nose-to-nose with Thompson, who was lined up at left wing. The epic bout that followed is available on YouTube.

One night later, Thompson was back in the Tigers’ lineup in Kamloops, but as hard as Skrlac tried in the early going he wasn’t able to engage the Medicine Hat tough guy. Eventually, the referee approached Thompson and  asked if he had plans to accommodate Skrlac. Thompson told him that he had damaged a hand in the bout with Parker so wasn’t about to scrap with Skrlac.

Two nights later, Thompson picked up a roughing minor in Prince George, but there wasn’t a bout with Chara.

The best laid plans — and sent faxes — and all that . . .

BTW, the Tigers made out just fine on the trip, beating the Rockets 5-4 in OT on a goal by F Jason Chimera at 4:48 of extra time, winning 3-1 in Kamloops and earning a 2-2 OT tie (remember ties?) in Prince George.

Of course, we are referencing the same Rocky Thompson who, at the age of 43, is preparing for his first season as an associate coach with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. He spent the previous three seasons as head coach of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. He also was the head coach of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires for two seasons, helping them to the 2017 Memorial Cup title.



These are interesting times in major junior hockey, where the OHL and WHL are qmjhlnewhoping to get their regular seasons started in December. The QMJHL, meanwhile, has one weekend under its belt and has lost three teams. . . . The Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and Sherbrooke Phoenix have suspended all in-person activities. That comes after an Armada player tested positive following a weekend doubleheader between the teams. . . . At the same time, the Armada and Quebec Remparts have been shut down at least for the rest of this month as they are in a red zone as defined by the provincial government. . . . Armada staff and players are in isolation as they await further testing and results, and the outcome of contact tracing. . . . The Armada and Remparts each has eight games on their October schedules.

From a QMJHL news release:

“Following the Quebec government’s announcement to prohibit the practice of sports in the designated red zones, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is very disappointed in this decision.

“The conduct of our activities has been above reproach since the start of training camps at the end of August. The return to play protocol was approved and applauded by public health officials in Quebec and by the three Maritime-based provinces in which the league operates. It has been hailed as thorough and effective. The league would like to congratulate the players and team staffs for its flawless execution.

“Over the course of the next few days, we will share with Quebec public health officials additional measures which will render the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada’s and Quebec Remparts’ bubbles even more secure. We hope that these new directives will be well-received by Quebec’s health agency. The QMJHL is convinced that these additional measures will go above and beyond what is required to protect our players, staffs and officials and enable all of our teams to continue playing.”


That’s Kelly Olynyk at the left of the photo in the following tweet. He and his Miami Heat are scheduled to play Game 4 of the NBA final tonight in Orlando. The Los Angeles Lakers lead the best-of-seven series, 2-1.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

F Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers tested positive on Monday. According to the Oilers, he is “in voluntary self-quarantine at his home. He will continue to be monitored and will follow all associated health protocols. He is feeling well and is experiencing mild symptoms.” . . .

Kevin Sumlin, the head coach of the Arizona football team, has tested positive. He is in self-isolation while contact tracing is conducted. His team is scheduled to begin practising on Friday, with its first game scheduled for Nov. 7 against host Utah. . . . “My family and I have been aggressive in our efforts to remain safe and healthy throughout the past seven months,” Sumlin said in a statement. “My positive test result, while a shock, is a stark reminder of how we must all remain vigilant in our focus on hand washing, physical distancing and face coverings.” . . . At least four FBS coaches have tested positive since July, the others being Florida State’s Mike Norvell, Jason Candle of Toledo and Blake Anderson of Arkansas State. . . .

Bobby Bowden, who spent 34 years as the head coach of the Florida State football team, has tested positive. Jim Henry of the Tallahassee Democrat reported that Bowden, who will turn 91 next month, “tested positive following his release from (a Tallahassee) hospital last weekend while being treated for an unrelated leg infection.” . . . He had been released from hospital on Thursday and was informed on Saturday that he had tested positive. . . . Bowden retired in 2009 after 44 seasons as a football coach.


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.


Maier, Blades put up another shutout. . . . ‘Sudden Death’ Byram does it again. . . . Rockets, T-Birds stretch leads on Blazers


ThisThat

Upon further review . . .

In response to a piece that appeared here yesterday about the WHL record for most whlvictories by one team in a 68-game regular season, a reader responds:

“While there was obviously no shootout in 1971-72, teams did play a 10-minute sudden-death overtime to break tie games. The vast majority of overtime games were decided as there were only 10 ties in the entire season.

“It appears that Calgary had 46 regulation victories in 1971-72, the same number that Prince Albert has this season. Overtime games were far fewer in those days, of course, when double-digit game scores were a regular thing.”

The Calgary Centennials finished the 1971-72 season with a record of 49-16-3. This season, the Prince Albert Raiders, who have five games remaining, are 50-9-4, with three OT victories and one in a shootout.

So . . . let’s just say that the 1980-81 Victoria Cougars hold the single-season record for most victories (60) and leave it at that.


F Alec Reid of the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada died on Sunday morning of qmjhlcomplications related to epilepsy. He was 18.

A freshman in the QMJHL, he had two goals and three assists in 26 games with the Drummondville Voltigeurs to start the season, then was pointless in 11 games with the Armada following a January trade.

From a QMJHL news release:

“Reid had been closely monitored by a doctor and a neurologist due to epilepsy for quite some time. Over the course of the past few weeks, the Armada had been working in close collaboration with his physicians because of recent epilepsy seizures. Due to concerns over his condition, Reid hadn’t played since February 19, 2019.”


While you’re here, feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right. Thank you, in advance.


SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

G Nolan Maier put up his second straight shutout as the Saskatoon Blades beat the Red SaskatoonDeer Rebels, 1-0. . . . Saskatoon (41-14-8) has won four in a row. It will finish second in the East Division. . . . Red Deer (31-25-6) had points in each of its previous three games (2-0-1). It remains in possession of the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, one point behind the Medicine Hat Tigers and two ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Maier stopped 17 shots in recording his fourth shutout of the season and sixth of his career. On Friday, Maier made 19 saves in a 4-0 victory over the Pats in Regina. . . . This season, Maier is 33-10-6, 2.66, .909. . . . The Blades held a 33-17 edge in shots, including 10-0 in the third period. . . . F Cyle McNabb (7) scored the game’s lone goal, at 6:37 of the second period. . . . Saskatoon was 0-4 on the PP; Red Deer was 0-3. . . . The Rebels got 32 saves from G Ethan Anders.


F Carson Focht struck for three goals to lead the Calgary Hitmen to a 6-2 victory over the Calgaryvisiting Kootenay Ice. . . . Calgary (35-22-6) has points in six straight (5-0-1). It is third in the Central Division, four points behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes and six behind the Edmonton Oil Kings. The Hitmen have five games remaining, with three of them against the Oil Kings. . . . Kootenay (12-41-10) has lost two in a row. . . . On Friday, in Cranbrook, B.C., the Hitmen beat the Ice, 5-2. . . . On Sunday, Focht opened the scoring, on a PP, at 2:16 of the first period. . . . The Ice tied it at 10:19 when F Connor McClennon (12) scored on a PP. . . . The Hitmen took control with the next three goals. . . . F Ryder Korczak (8) counted, on a PP, at 18:07, before second-period goals from F Josh Prokop, at 5:17, and Focht, at 8:19. . . . D Martin Bodak (11) scored for the visitors at 10:14. . . . Calgary iced it with third-period goals from Prokop (9), at 4:28, and Focht (23), shorthanded, at 16:03. . . . Calgary was 2-4 on the PP; Kootenay was 1-8. . . . The Hitmen got 36 saves from G Carl Stankowski. . . . Focht has been on a tear of late, with 16 points, including seven goals, on a six-game point streak. He had a four-goal game on Feb. 27 as the Hitmen beat the visiting Swift Current Broncos, 9-3. He now has 58 points in 63 games. . . . Calgary went 3-0-0 in playing three times in fewer than 48 hours over the weekend. The Ice went 1-2-0 in doing the same thing.


D Bowen Byram scored in OT for the fifth time this season, this one giving the Vancouver VancouverGiants a 5-4 victory over the Kamloops Blazers in Langley, B.C. . . . Vancouver (44-14-4) has points in six straight (5-0-1). It is tied with the Everett Silvertips, who also are 44-14-4, atop the Western Conference. . . . Kamloops (23-31-7) has lost three in a row (0-2-1). . . . Things couldn’t have gone much worse for the Blazers this weekend as they try to catch either the Kelowna Rockets or Seattle Thunderbirds for a playoff spot. On Saturday, the Blazers lost, 5-4 in regulation to the visiting Giants, while the Thunderbirds and Rockets both lost in OT, so picked up loser points. Last night, with the Blazers getting a loser point, Kelowna and Seattle both posted regulation-time victories. . . . The Blazers are fourth in the B.C. Division, now seven points behind the Rockets. Kamloops also is seven points behind Seattle, which holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . The Giants and Blazers will play again in Kamloops on Wednesday. . . . On Sunday, F Milos Roman gave the Giants a 1-0 lead at 9:39 of the first period. . . . The Blazers promptly took a 2-1 lead on goals from F Jerzy Orchard (1), at 10:33, and F Brodi Stuart, on a PP, at 19:00. . . . The Giants went up 3-2 as F Tristen Nielsen (13) scored, at 1:56 of the second period, and D Dylan Plouffe (6) counted, on a PP, at 3:28 of the third. . . . Stuart (19), who is from Langley, tied it, on a PP, at 7:42. . . . Roman (27) put the Giants ahead, again, at 17:02, on a PP. . . . The Blazers forced OT when F Jermaine Loewen (24) scored at 18:01. . . . Byram won it 29 seconds into extra time. . . . Byram’s 24th goal of the season tied the franchise’s single-season record for goals by a defenceman that was set by Kevin Connauton in 2009-10. . . . Byram, who also had two assists, now has 66 points in 62 games. Eight of his goals have been game-winners. . . . Byram’s fifth OT winner of the season tied the WHL record that was set by F Eric Fehr of the Brandon Wheat Kings in 2004-05 and equalled by Kamloops F Deven Sideroff in 2016-17. . . . Roman added two assists to his brace of goals, giving him the third four-point game of his career. On Friday night, he had a goal and three assists in a 7-4 victory over the visiting Kelowna Rockets. Roman now has 56 points in 56 games this season. . . . The Blazers got three assists from F Luke Zazula. . . . The Giants got 22 stops from G David Tendeck, four fewer than the Blazers’ Dylan Garand. . . . Vancouver was 2-3 on the PP; Kamloops was 2-4. . . . D Jackson Caller was out of Kamloops’ lineup after needing some dental work after being struck in the face by a puck on Saturday night. . . . Both teams were playing their third game in fewer than 48 hours — the Giants went 3-0-0; the Blazers finished 0-2-1.


F Dallon Wilton broke a 3-3 tie at 14:13 of the third period to give the host Kelowna KelownaRocketsRockets a 4-3 victory over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Kelowna (27-30-6) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). . . . Portland (38-19-6) is headed to a second-place finish in the U.S. Division. With Portland’s loss, the Everett Silvertips clinched first place in the division for the seventh time in the franchise’s 16-season history. . . . On Saturday, the Winterhawks beat the host Rockets, 2-1, in OT. . . . Kelowna held a 2-0 first-period lead on goals by F Ted Brennan (2), at 6:00, and F Leif Mattson (22), at 7:13. . . . F Josh Patterson (22) got the Winterhawks to within a goal at 12:39 of the second. . . . Kelowna went up 3-1 at 1:53 of the third period on a PP goal by D Lassi Thomson (17). . . . Portland tied it on PP goals from F Jake Gricius (24), at 7:26, and D Brendan De Jong (7), at 13:58. . . . Wilton won it with his fourth goal of the season. . . . Portland outshot Kelowna, 30-19, including 13-7 in the first period. . . . Kelowna G Roman Basran stopped 27 shots, 12 more than Portland’s Shane Farkas. . . . Portland was 2-4 on the PP; Kelowna was 1-2. . . . Kelowna lost F Mark Liwiski to a boarding major and game misconduct at 2:07 of the third period. . . . The Winterhawks were without F Cody Glass again, but had De Jong back in the lineup. . . . Kelowna went 1-1-1 in playing three times in fewer than 48 hours. Portland did the same thing and was 1-2-0.


F Matthew Wedman scored twice and added an assist, while F Noah Philp drew three Seattleassists, leading the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 6-3 victory over the Tri-City Americans in Kent, Wash. . . . Seattle (26-28-8) has points in five straight (3-0-2). . . . Tri-City (33-25-4) has lost five in a row (0-4-1). . . . F Sasha Mutala (18) gave the Americans a 1-0 lead at 4:07 of the first period. . . . Seattle scored the game’s next three goals. . . . Wedman got it started, on a PP, at 13:20. . . . F Andrej Kukuca (25) broke the tie, at 4:22 of the second period, and F Brecon Wood (3) made it 3-1 at 7:56. . . . The Americans got to within a goal when F Krystof Hrabik (18) scored, on a PP, at 13:17. . . . The Thunderbirds responded with three more goals, from Wedman (37), on a PP, at 17:07; F Graeme Bryks (1), at 2:58 of the third period; and F Henri Rybinski (7), just seven seconds later. . . . Tri-City’s final goal came from F Parker AuCoin (38), on a PP, at 7:30. . . . Tri-City was 2-6 on the PP; Seattle was 2-7. . . . Seattle went 2-0-1 in playing three times in fewer than 48 hours on the weekend. Tri-City did the same thing and went 0-2-1.


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