Bedard almost fills Saddledome; Pats escape with shootout victory . . . Sydor, Ernst spark Blazers . . . Raiders enjoying B.C. tour

——

BEDARD
CONNOR BEDARD

THE BEDARD REPORT — F Connor Bedard ran his point streak to 35 games on Wednesday night as his Regina Pats got past the Calgary Hitmen, 6-5 in a shootout. . . . He also scored the only goal of the shootout but, of course, goals scored in the circus don’t count in individual statistics. . . . Bedard was blanked in his first game of the season but has at least one point in each game since then. He leads the WHL in goals (44), assists (46) and points (90). . . . Bedard has a 21-point lead over F Zach Benson of the Winnipeg Ice, a five-goal edge on F Kai Uchacz of the Red Deer Rebels, and a two-assist lead on Regina D Stanislav Svozil. . . . Bedard also has scored 22 goals in an 11-game goal streak. . . . Since returning from the World Junior Championship, where he lit up the junior hockey world, Bedard has 20 points, including 13 goals, in seven games.

——

The Travellin’ Bedards put 17,223 fans into the Saddledome in Calgary and entertained them with that 6-5 shootout victory over the Hitmen. . . . The game was televised nationally by TSN. . . . Hey, were you not entertained? . . . The Saddledome’s capacity is listed as 19,289, so despite what you may have seen on social media or heart on TV, the game wasn’t sold out. . . . The announced attendance was more than 2,000 fans away from the WHL’s single-game attendance record for an indoor game; there were 19,305 fans on hand as the Hitmen beat the Kootenay Ice, 6-1, on March 16, 2008, in the Saddledome. . . . The Travellin’ Berards had played in front of a single-game franchise record 7,287 fans in Red Deer on Tuesday night as they dropped a 6-5 OT decision to the Rebels. . . . Next up? They’ll meet the Hurricanes in Lethbridge on Friday night — the 5,900-seat Enmax Centre is expected to be sold out — and then entertain about 7,000 fans as they meet the Tigers in Medicine Hat on Sunday.


CandyCanes


WEDNESDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:

The Regina Pats moved into sole possession of seventh place in the Eastern Conference with a 6-5 shootout victory over the Hitmen in Calgary. . . . The Pats (23-21-3) now are four points behind the Hitmen (23-17-7) and two ahead of the Swift Current Broncos (22-20-3). . . . The Pats and Hitmen combined for six third-period goals. . . . Calgary went into the period with a 3-1 lead, but the Pats tied in goals by D Tanner Brown (4), at 1:07, and F Alexander Suzdalev (26), at 7:37. . . . F Sean Tschigerl (16) got Calgary back into the lead, at 9:17, only to have F Braxton Whitehead (6) pulled Regina even, at 10:21. . . . Calgary went back in front on F London Hoilett’s 10th goal, at 12:00. . . . Whitehead’s seventh goal, at 19:26, forced extra time. . . . Regina F Connor Bedard won it with the only goal of the shootout. . . . Calgary has lost four in a row but has points in three of those games (0-1-3). . . . Todd Saelhof of Postmedia was at the game and his report is right here. . . .

F Dylan Sydor scored twice to help the host Kamloops Blazers to a 5-1 victory over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Sydor, 19, has eight goals in 44 games this season. He is the son of former Blazers D Darryl Sydor, who is one of the Blazers’ four minority owners. . . . Kamloops got 45 stops from G Dylan Ernst, 25 of them in the third period. . . . F Logan Stankoven had a goal (26) and an assist as he ran his point streak to 30 games. Stankoven, with 67 points in 30 games, has at least a point in every game in which he has played this season. . . . Portland F Chaz Lucius, with 15 points in his first six games with the Winterhawks, was scratched with an undisclosed injury. . . . The announced attendance of 5,389 was the Blazers’ third-largest crowd this season. . . . Kamloops (28-10-6) has a 20-point lead atop the B.C. Division. . . . The Winterhawks (34-9-3) lead the Western Conference by one point over the Seattle Thunderbirds (34-8-2). . . .

The Lethbridge Hurricanes scored the game’s first three goals and went on to a 4-1 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Lethbridge ran its winning streak to four. . . . F Hayden Smith (10) and F Blake Swetlikoff (9) scored first-period goals and that was all Lethbridge would need as G Bryan Thomson stopped 35 shots. . . . The Hurricanes (27-16-5) closed to within four points of the third-place Warriors (30-16-3) in the Eastern Conference. . . .

The Tri-City Americans scored five times in eight PP opportunities as they beat the Swift Current Broncos, 6-1, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . The Americans scored four PP goals — three of them in the first period — to take a 4-0 lead early in the second period. . . . F Jake Sloan (17) and F Ethan Ernst (27) each scored twice. . . . Sloan also had an assist, while F Reese Belton had three helpers. . . . Tri-City G Tomas Suchanek, who now has won 11 straight decisions, stopped 30 shots. . . . The Americans (24-16-5) are comfortably in fourth in the Western Conference. . . . The Broncos (22-21-3) are eighth in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the Medicine Hat Tigers (19-21-8). . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders continued their romp through the B.C. Division with a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . The Raiders are 3-0-0 in B.C., including a 4-1 victory over the Prince George Cougars and a 6-3 triumph over the Victoria Royals. . . . The Raiders’ tour continues Friday night in Kamloops. . . . F Keaton Sorensen (17) snapped a 1-1 tie at 6:14 of the second period and D Landon Kosior (14) added insurance at 5:32 of the third period. . . . Prince Albert outshot the hosts, 43-24, including 18-3 in the second and 14-4 in the third. . . . The Raiders (19-25-3) are making a late push for a playoff spot; they are 11th in the Eastern Conference, six points out of a playoff spot. . . . The Giants (18-22-6) are tied for seventh with the Prince George Cougars (19-21-4) in the Western Conference. . . .

The host Winnipeg Ice erased a 2-0 second-period deficit with four goals, the first two 17 seconds apart, as they skated to a 5-3 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Winnipeg, which has won four straight, held a 48-29 edge in shots, including 39-18 through two periods. . . . F Zach Benson (27) and F Connor McClennon (26) scored two each for the winners. . . . Benson’s first, at 11:17 of the second period, tied the score, 2-2, and McClennon’s first game the Ice a 3-2 lead at 14:21. . . . Benson also had an assist, and now has 69 points in 42 games this season. . . . He finished last season with 63 points, including 25 goals, in 58 games. . . . The Ice (36-6-1) leads the Eastern Conference by three points over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Saskatoon (30-12-4) is third, one point ahead of the Moose Jaw Warriors.


The Saginaw Spirit was one of four OHL teams that officially have submitted bids in the hopes of playing host to OHLthe 2024 Memorial Cup tournament. . . . The Spirit, Kingston Frontenacs, Niagara IceDogs, who play out of St. Catharines, and Soo Greyhounds all submitted bids by the deadline. . . . The Spirit, of course, plays out of the Michigan city of Saginaw. The Memorial Cup last was played in an American city in 1998 when the four-team tournament was held in Spokane and won by the Portland Winter Hawks. . . . The 2023 tournament is to be played in Kamloops.


Spackle


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.


Physical

Two WHLers end Friday in hospital . . . Bedard, Stankoven burning it up . . . Rebels move to top of conference


Four quick anecdotes from back in the day . . .

The New Westminster Bruins beat the Portland Winter Hawks, 12-9, at Queen’s Park Arena on Nov. 5, 1978.

Hey, Ken Hodge, what happened?

“We had some bad bounces,” Portland’s head coach said. “The winning goal hit a knot in the boards behind the net and bounced out in front while our goalie as looking the other way. What can you do about that?
Knot much.

——

When you’re talking about the best defencemen in WHL history, Kevin McCarthy has to be in the discussion. He was a tremendous player while spending four seasons (1973-77) with his hometown Winnipeg Clubs/Monarchs.

During his career, McCarthy knew what it was like to have to face the big, bad New Westminster Bruins in their home den, Queen’s Park Arena.

By the early 1980s, McCarthy was in the NHL. And it was while with the Vancouver Canucks that he and some teammates were mugged by a gang of youths near Chicago’s O’Hare International? Airport.

“One guy started it by suckering Jere (Gillis),” McCarthy said. “I thought I was back in Queen’s Park Arena.”

——

Who invented the goalie stick with a curved blade?

Well, there have been times when former WHL goaltender/coach Doug Sauter laid claim to having been first.

As he told New Westminster coach Ernie McLean while both were with the Bruins: “The curved blade makes it easier to fish the pucks out of the net.”

——

The Brandon Wheat Kings lost just five games out of 72 during the regular season of 1978-79. At some point during that season, someone from the U of Manitoba’s athletic department said something about its men’s hockey team being the second-best team in the province.

To which Brandon coach Dunc McCallum responded: “Where does that leave the Jets?”


Craft


Much has been made of F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats and the fact that he is riding a 32-game point streak, having been blanked in only the his first game of the season. But what about F Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers, who has at least a point in every game in which he has played this season. . . . On Friday night, Stankoven had two goals and an assist in a 7-4 victory over the Royals in Victoria to run his point streak to 28 games. . . . Stankoven and the Blazers will complete a doubleheader in Victoria tonight. He has 64 points, including 25 goals, in 28 games. . . . Bedard and Pats were idle on Friday and won’t play tonight, either. They are to entertain the Medicine Hat Tigers before a sold-out crowd on Sunday afternoon. . . . Bedard goes into the game leading the WHL in goals (39), assists (42) and points (81). . . .Stankoven is third in the points derby.


Two WHL players were receiving medical attention as Friday turned into Saturday. . . .

Saskatoon lost F Justin Lies at 5:29 of the second period during a game in Red SaskatoonDeer after what Les Lazaruk, the Blades’ veteran play-by-play man, said was a “high hit” from Red Deer F Carson Birnie. . . . Birnie was given an interference major and game misconduct. . . . The Blades tweeted that Lies “was taken off the ice on a stretcher following a hit in tonight’s game and will receive medical attention.” . . . After the game, the Blades tweeted that Lies was “stable and awaiting observation at Red Deer Hospital. He’s alert, in good spirits and thanks everyone for their concern and well wishes.” . . . Lies, 19, is from Flin Flon. He played three seasons with the Vancouver Giants before being acquired by the Blades prior this season. He has seven goals and 13 assists in 42 games this season. . . . The Blades were losing 1-0 when Lies was injured; they surrendered three more goals before the period ended as they dropped a 5-1 decision. . . .

Meanwhile, in Kennewick, Wash., F Parker Bell of the Tri-City Americans left Tri-Cityafter what one observer said was a “blind-side hit to the head” by F Andrew Petruk at 1:13 of the third period of a game with the Everett Silvertips. Petruk was ejected following the play that happened as Tri-City F Jalen Luypen scored for a 2-0 lead. Bell picked up an assist on the goal. . . . The Americans tweeted: “Parker Bell is being assessed by medical personnel. We will provide updates when we can.” . . . Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager, told Taking Note that Bell was “at hospital” and that “all signs (are) positive . . . but he will be out for a while.” . . . Bell, 19, is from Campbell River, B.C. This season, his fourth with the Americans, he has 21 goals and 30 assists in 40 games. . . . Tri-City won the game, 2-1.


FRIDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:

F Blake Swetlikoff broke a 1-1 tie at 10:44 of the third period as the Hurricanes got past the Winnipeg Ice, 2-1, in Lethbridge. . . . Swetlikoff won it with his eighth goal, his third in nine games with the Hurricanes since being acquired from the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Winnipeg F Connor McClennon (23) had tied the game 33 seconds into the third period. . . . F Hayden Smith (6) had a goal and an assists for the winners. . . . With G Daniel Hauser scratched, the Ice had Noah Stenvig backing up starter Mason Beaupit. Stenvig, who turned 17 on Jan. 16, plays for the U18 team at the Delta Hockey Academy. From Campbell River, B.C. he was an eighth-round pick in the 2021 WHL draft. . . . The Ice also had D Chase Bambrick, 16, in their lineup after bringing him in from the U18AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes. He was an eighth-round pick in the 2021 WHL draft. . . .

The host Moose Jaw Warriors scored the game’s last five goals, four of them in the third period, to beat the Brandon Wheat Kings, 5-1 . . . F Harper Lolacher (11) and F Ryder Korczak (20) each scored twice for the winners. . . . Korczak, who had 25 goals in 68 games last season, got his 19th and 20th goals in his 28th game this season. . . . The Warriors took two of the game’s three minor penalties, one of which was for too many men. . . . Moose Jaw (29-15-3) moved past the Blades (28-11-4) into third place in the Eastern Conference. Saskatoon has four games in hand. . . .

F Chaz Lucius scored twice and added an assist as the host Portland Winterhawks skated to a 6-3 victory over the Swift Current Broncos, who were opening a U.S. Division swing. . . . Lucius, who starred for Team USA at the World Junior Championship, has four straight multi-point games — three goals and seven assists — since joining the Winterhawks. . . . The Broncos took a 2-1 lead into the middle of the second period but the Winterhawks scored three times before the period ended. . . . F James Stefan had two goals (17) and two assists for the winners, who finished the game by scoring two empty-netters. . . .

G Kolby Hay stopped 43 shots to lead the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 3-0 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . Hay, an 18-year-old from Monte Creek, B.C., recorded his first career shutout. It was a reward of sorts for what has been a rough season. After going 16-4-1, 3.11, .885 with the WHL champions last season, he is 5-24-2, 4.26, .886 this season. . . . The Oil Kings scored three unassisted goals — from F Gavin Hodnett (8), F Dawson Seitz (2) and F Noah Boyko (12). . . . Calgary was 0-for-7 on the PP. . . . The start of the game was delayed 30 minutes by inclement weather. . . .

F Kai Uchacz scored two goals to help the host Red Deer Rebels to a 5-1 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . The victory lifted the Rebels (32-9-4) into first place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the Winnipeg Ice (33-6-1). Winnipeg holds five games in hand. . . . Uchacz, who has 37 goals, had Red Deer’s first and fifth goals as it built a 5-0 lead. He also had an assist. . . . F Frantisek Formanek had three assists. . . . The Rebels, nursing a 1-0 lead, broke it open with three goals in 2:13 just past the midway mark of the second period. . . .

The Kamloops Blazers jumped out to a 3-0 lead — they scored at even strength, on a PP and while shorthanded — en route to a 7-4 victory over the Royals in Victoria. . . . F Matthew Seminoff (16) scored the Blazers’ first two goals and later added two assists. . . . F Fraser Minten (22) also scored twice for the visitors and also had an assist. . . . D Olen Zellweger had three assists for Kamloops. He has four goals and eight assists in six games since moving over from Everett at the trade deadline. . . . The Blazers (27-9-6) lead the B.C. Division by 16 points over the Prince George Cougars. . . . The Blazers and Royals will complete their doubleheader tonight in Victoria. . . .

The Tri-City Americans scored the game’s first two goals and went on to a 2-1 victory over the Everett Silvertips in Kennewick, Wash. . . . D Lukas Dragicevic (11), at 16:06 of the second period, and F Jalen Luypen (5), at 1:13 of the third, scored for Tri-City. . . . F Caden Zaplitny (9) got the Silvertips to within one at 8:09 of the third. . . . The Americans (21-16-5) moved into fourth place in the Western Conference, two points ahead of the Silvertips (22-21-1). . . .

F Jared Davidson scored twice and added an assist as his Seattle Thunderbirds dumped the host Spokane Chiefs, 7-2. . . . Davidson now has 25 goals. . . . F Luca Ciona added a goal, his 19th, and three assists for Seattle, with F Kyle Crnkovic scoring his 23rd goal and earning two helpers. . . . F Chase Bertholet (22) scored both Spokane goals. . . . Seattle (33-7-2) continues to lead the Western Conference by one point over the Portland Winterhawks (32-8-3). . . . Portland and Seattle will clash tonight in Kent, Wash. . . .

The Vancouver Giants erased an early 1-0 deficit as they beat the Kelowna Rockets, 3-1, in Langley, B.C. . . . D Tyler Thorpe (2) tied the game at 4:50 of the second period and F Jaden Lipinski (15) pulled the Giants ahead at 14:41. Both goals came via the PP as Vancouver went 2-for-6. . . . The Rockets were 0-for-5. . . . The victory allowed the Giants (18-20-6) to pull into a sixth-place tie with the idle Prince George Cougars (19-20-4) in the Western Conference. They now are 11 points ahead of the Rockets (14-26-3) and Victoria Royals (13-28-5). . . . The Giants and Rockets will do it again tonight, this time in Kelowna.


The U of Calgary Dinos beat the Mount Royal Cougars, 4-2, on Friday night in Calgary, running their winning streak to 18 games. That’s a new Canada West record, breaking the record of 17 that was set by the Alberta Golden Bears in 1978-79. . . . The game was played before 11,083 fans at the Scotiabank Saddledome as part of the annual Crowchild Classic.


Bacon


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.


Twitter

Bedard keeps adding to legend, has 11 points in two games . . . Lambert scores in Seattle debut . . . Rebels complete sweep of Oil Kings

Like Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill, the legend of Connor Bedard continues to grow.

On Friday night in Regina, Bedard ran his two-game total to 11 points as the ReginaPats beat the Saskatoon Blades, 7-4.

On Sunday, in his first game back after helping Canada win gold at the World Junior Championship, Bedard had four goals and two assists as the Pats beat the visiting Calgary Hitmen, 6-2.

Last night, he struck for three goals — his sixth WHL hat trick — and two assists to lead Regina past Saskatoon.

Bedard, the No. 1-ranked North American skater on NHL Central Scouting’s rating that were released Friday, also went over 200 career points. He now has 203 points — 87 goals and 106 assists — in 107 career regular-season games.

Keep in mind that he won’t turn 18 until July 17.

(Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post was at Friday’s game and filed this story.)

This season, Bedard has 75 points, 34 of them goals, in 30 games. He is tied for the WHL lead in goals, with F Kai Uchacz of the Red Deer Rebels, and leads the league in assists and points. All this despite having missed 11 games while with the Canadian national junior team.

Oh, he also ran his point streak to 29 games. He actually was blanked in his first game of the season, but has at least a point in every game since then.

With 11 points in his two most-recent games, Bedard now will prepare to face the Portland Winterhawks in Regina tonight.


You would like to think that referee Kyle Rehman — yes, a product of the WHL’s officiating ranks — ended up on whatever kind of carpet the NHL has for its officials after his decision to flat-out ignore a sucker-punch to the head during a game on Thursday night.

Look, the Vancouver Canucks bring enough on themselves without getting stiffed by the stripes.

In this one, the Canucks were visiting the Tampa Bay Lightning. The home team had a 5-3 lead late in the third period. But the Canucks closed to within one at 17:52 while on a PP and with their goaltender on the bench.

Then, during a stoppage with 41 seconds remaining in the period, there was a gathering at the Tampa Bay net. After play had been halted, Lightning defenceman Mikhail Sergachev clearly drilled an unsuspecting Vancouver F Connor Garland on the chin. Tampa Bay players were upset that Garland had tried to poke free a puck being held by G Andrei Vasilevskiy.

If you watch the video, you will see Rehman enter from the left. He was right there and didn’t make a call. Thus, the Canucks didn’t get a PP and ended up losing, 5-4.

On Friday, Sergachev, in the first season of an eight-year, US$68-million, was fined $5,000, the maximum allowable under the CBA.

As for Rehman, well, the NHL — a league that pretends to be serious about eliminating head shots from its games — isn’t at all transparent when it comes to its officials so we may never know if he was disciplined.


Santa


John Matisz has taken a look at the trade deadlines that the three major junior hockey leagues recently manoeuvred their way through. There is lots here, including the WHL not allowing teams to trade draft picks that are more than four years away. . . . Give the piece a read right here.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

The SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars still haven’t been beaten in regulation time. They ran their record to 33-0-3 with a 6-1 victory over the host Weyburn Red Wings on Friday night, after beating the Notre Dame Hounds 9-6 in Wilcox, Sask., on Thursday. The North Stars are to meet the Bruins in Estevan tonight.


NoSee


FRIDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:

F Brad Lambert scored in his debut with Seattle and was named the game’s first star as the Thunderbirds skated to a 3-2 victory over the Raiders in Prince Albert. Lambert, who had been with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, was assigned to Seattle by the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. He started on the right side with LW Reid Schaefer and C Jared Davidson. . . . In Moose Jaw, G Connor Ungar won his 20th game this season by stopping 42 shots to lead the Warriors to a 4-2 victory over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Seattle is 3-2-0 on an East Division trip that winds up tonight in Saskatoon. . . . Portland is 2-3-0 on its eastern swing and will wrap it up tonight in Regina. . . .

D Stanislav Svozil returned to Regina’s lineup and had four assists in a 7-4 victory over the visiting Saskatoon Blades. He was playing his first game after having captained Czechia to a silver medal at the World Junior Championship. . . . G Rhett Stoesser blocked 34 shots to lead the host Red Deer Rebels to a 4-1 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings. The season series is over now, and Red Deer won all nine games. . . . Andrew Peard, the Oil Kings’ radio voice, notes that F Loick Daigle, 20, who was claimed off CHL waivers this week, became the first Quebec born-and-raised player to play for the team in modern franchise history. Daigle scored Edmonton’s lone goal. . . .

F Tyson Laventure’s 13th goal of the season, just 47 seconds into OT, gave the Lethbridge Hurricanes a 4-3 victory over the visiting Prince George Cougars. F Blake Swetlikoff, who was acquired from Spokane prior to the trade deadline, had four assists. . . . F Carter MacAdams had a goal (7) and an assist in his game with Calgary after coming over from Prince George at the deadline and the Hitmen beat the visiting Swift Current Broncos, 6-3. The Broncos had three Wards — D Mason Ward, D Sam Ward and F Matt Ward in their lineup. “With all three of them in the lineup tonight, I may have to go strictly with first names for the Wards,” tweeted Craig Beauchemin, the Broncos’ radio voice. . . .

D Olen Zellweger (12) and F Ryan Hofer (24), both whom were acquired by Kamloops from Everett on Tuesday, scored in the first period and the Blazers went on to beat the host Silvertips, 6-3. . . . Everett got two goals (26) and an assist from F Jackson Berezowski, who had four goals and two assists in a 9-3 victory over host Spokane on Wednesday. . . . G Braden Holt turned aside 29 shots to lead the host Victoria Royals to a 4-0 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. Holt is 4-0-1, 1.57, .951 since coming over from Everett on Dec. 27. . . . F Robin Sapoušek, an 18-year-old Czech, made his WHL debut with the Royals. . . .

F Hunter St. Martin had a goal (3) and two late assists as the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers beat the Brandon Wheat Kings, 4-3. F Dallon Mellon (10) tied the game at 12:45 of the third period and F Cayden Lindstrom (10) got the winner at 16:59. . . . F Chase Bertholet scored twice (18), one on the PP and the other while shorthanded, to help the Spokane Chiefs to a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. F Ty Thorpe, the Giants’ new captain, scored twice (23). He was named captain after F Zach Ostapchuk was dealt to the Winnipeg Ice.


Canary


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.


Wednesday

Will this trade deadline change WHL’s direction? . . . Johnston sheds light on Wiesblatt situation . . . Berezowski sparks Everett explosion

We are going to have to wait a few seasons to find out, but it could be that the WHL entered into a new era in the past few days.

There always have been buyers and sellers at the trade deadline, with the top WHLteams buying and the bottom ones selling. But never have we seen the buyers so willing to part with rather large packages of draft picks.

If this is to continue, it could set up a cycle that the WHL hasn’t experienced.

For years, the theory has been that major junior hockey is cyclical — a team scouted and drafted well, made the odd trade, mostly to add depth, and would be a championship contender every three or four years. Then another rebuild would being. At least, that was the theory.

A few years ago, the word ‘rebuild’ was replaced by ‘reload.’ It was then that some of the trades started to get bigger and involved better and better players.

But it wasn’t until this trade deadline that the league saw trades involving eight and nine draft picks. There was a time when teams treated draft picks like nuggets of gold rather than confetti.

Those days appear to have left us, at least for a few teams.

It will be worth watching now to see if the teams that traded away voluminous draft picks this year will be moving out players to recoup draft picks at the next deadline.

And then will it be rinse and repeat . . . rinse and repeat.

The thing to remember, too, is that when the WHL playoffs come to an end only one team will be holding the Ed Chynoweth Cup.

As well, one of the Kamloops Blazers or Seattle Thunderbirds, two of this deadline’s biggest spenders, won’t even get out of the Western Division come playoff time.


In a conversation with Joshua Critzer (@jjcritzer) of @pnwhockeytalk, Mike Johnston, the vice-president, general manager and head coach of the Portland PortlandWinterhawks, weighed in with some thoughts on what went down at the trade deadline and in which direction things may be moving:

“It is concerning, but every organization has the right to build their organization how they want to build it. They have to take the risks if they will win or lose and then rebuild. Certainly, that has never been our philosophy on how we do it. We try to be a contender every year, but not unload and not load up.

“What happened (in 2017-18) when Swift Current traded a lot of their young guys, the league put in the rule that you couldn’t trade 16-year-olds, so this year you are starting to see the effect of that rule. You can’t trade a signed 16-year-old now, so what else are other teams going to ask for? They are gong to ask for a lot of picks since you can’t acquire a good, young guy.

“I agree with not trading 16-year-olds, but I hope it doesn’t get to the point where in order to be a playoff team, or (have) a chance to win the league, you have to give up a lot of first-round picks. I hope it doesn’t move too far in that direction.”

——

You will recall that the Winterhawks acquired the rights to F Ozzy Wiesblatt from the Prince Albert Raiders just before Tuesday’s deadline. Portland gave up three conditional WHL draft picks in the exchange.

Critzer asked Johnston about the chances of Wiesblatt, a first-round draft pick of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, who is with their AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda, reporting to Portland:

“It was presented to us to obtain his rights, and I thought it made sense for the risk. Whether we get him or not, that will be determined by (the Sharks). He can’t play another game in the American League or the deal is done.

It isn’t a number of games but rather a Jan. 10 deadline. That is the deadline for all of hockey except the NHL players. So if a player is playing in the NHL like Seattle traded for Dylan Guenther, he can be sent back later. If (Wiesblatt) plays beyond Jan. 10 in the American League, he can’t be sent back to our league.”

While the Winterhawks were beating the Blades, 3-1, in Saskatoon on Wednesday night, Wiesblatt was scratched by the Barracuda. Wiesblatt has a goal and four assists in 17 games with the Barracuda, but he now has sat out three straight games. The Barracuda is next scheduled to play on Saturday and Sunday against the visiting Abbotsford Canucks.

Wiesblatt is a 20-year-old, but the Winterhawks are only carrying two — G Dante Giannuzzi and F Robbie Fromm-Delorme — so have room for him.


The OHL deal in which F Shane Wright, who had just captained Team Canada to OHLgold at the World Junior Championship in Halifax, moved from the Kingston Frontenacs to the Windsor Spitfires may well be a sign of things to come to the WHL. . . . The Spitfires surrendered two players, five draft picks and two conditional picks in that exchange. The interesting thing is that not one of those seven draft picks originated with Windsor.


Here is part of what Ken Campbell of Hockey Unfiltered wrote about the trade deadlines that passed us by on Tuesday:

“. . . one thing is for sure, the numbers are crazy. With the trade deadlines having expired in all three of Canada’s major junior hockey leagues, the sheer number of deals and players involved is staggering. And while the days of a teenager showing up at the rink for practice and being told to pack his hockey bag and jump on a bus to Sault Ste. Marie are long gone, the reality is players who opt to chase their NHL dreams through junior hockey are exposing themselves to the possibility that they’ll be traded at some point in their careers.

“It should be pointed out that all three junior leagues are far more sensitive to players’ needs now than they’ve ever been, with the exception of the need to make minimum wage, of course. A good number of deals that happen in major junior hockey these days are either at the request of the player or are done to give him a better opportunity for playing time elsewhere. First-round picks generally have no-trade clauses, which essentially means they have control over their destination. Players in high school cannot be dealt without their approval. And there are a good number of junior executives who will simply not trade a player to another team without his consent, whether he has a no-trade clause or not.

“But even with those restrictions, GMs in junior hockey are wheeling and dealing at a level that would put a used car salesman to shame.”

According to Campbell, 108 players have changed teams in the OHL since Sept. 5, either by waivers or trades. There also were 217 draft picks on the move. In the same stretch, the WHL had 97 players moved and the QMJHL had 80.

Campbell continued: “Trades have been part of junior hockey for decades, so this is nothing new. And while players are no longer uprooted from school and compromising their academic careers, they are required to adapt to a whole new set of teammates and billet families when they get traded. And the fact that it happens to literally hundreds of players in the Canadian Hockey League every season should be a concern.”

You are able to check out Campbell’s work at kencampbell.substack.com. A subscription is well worth it, too.


BlueWhale


If you visited this site looking for trade rumours involving junior hockey players, well, I’m sorry but you came to the wrong place.

Yes, there was a time back in the day when I trafficked in such rumours, but that bad habit came to an end more than a few years ago.

Let me tell you about it . . .

If was early in the WHL’s 2007-08 regular season when two teams cut a two-player deal. I was the sports editor at the late Kamloops Daily News and had learned about the trade well after the next day’s paper had been put to bed.

So I drove home and, assuming that both players had been made aware of the deal, sat down at my computer and posted a short story on my blog. If memory serves all these years later it was about 1 a.m.

Shortly after hitting the publish button, the phone rang.

Yes, it was one of the players who was involved in the trade.

“Is it true?” he asked.

I knew then that he hadn’t been told about the deal.

I assured him that it was.

“Are you sure?” he said, and by now it was apparent that he was in tears.

He had been selected in the WHL draft by the team that now was trading him away. He would go on to be a first-round NHL draft pick and go on to play a few seasons in the big league.

But this was the first time he had been traded.

He was sobbing as he hung up the phone.

I remember taking a long time to fall asleep that night, the sound of his weeping walking through my mind. It was then that it really hit home . . . these are young men, the vast majority of them teenagers and away from home, and while junior hockey operators might treat them like chattel, I decided then that I no longer would fall into that trap.

And that’s why you won’t find any such rumours or speculation on this site.

——

And then there’s the other side of junior hockey trade deadlines. . . . Here are three tweets on that subject. . . .

“WHL and CJHL trade deadline tomorrow. Understand teams trying to get better.  But trades impact a lot of people … players, teammates, families, billet families.”

“So hard — just hope the teams have someone the kids can talk to . . . some have been friends — family members and teammates for 3+ years.”

“January 10th . . . awful day for players . . . very mentally draining for them . .  same for billet families that love the billet kids as (if) they are family . . . it sucks!”


Here’s Elliotte Friedman in his latest 32 Thoughts: “No issues with (Connor) Bedard staying in WHL Regina, even if they aren’t a huge postseason favourite. If that’s his wish, that’s his wish. Depending on how the Pats do in the playoffs, curious to see if he plays at the World Championship.”

The IIHF’s 2023 World Championship is scheduled for May 12-28 in Tampere, Finland, and Riga, Latvia. 


Facebook


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

The Tri-City Americans have added former WHL goaltender Ty Rimmer to their staff as the goaltending coach. Rimmer, who played with the Brandon Wheat Kings, Prince George Cougars, Tri-City and the Lethbridge Hurricanes, 2009-13, replaces Eli Wilson who, according to the Americans, “has professional responsibilities that necessitate he move on.” According to Kelowna’s website, Wilson remains on staff as the Rockets’ goaltending coach. . . . The Americans also have brought Vanessa Hettinger on board as power-skating coach.


WEDNESDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS: F Nico Myatovic (15) scored at 3:26 of OT to give the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds a 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Ice in the only regular-season meeting between two of the biggest buyers leading up to the trade deadline. . . . The Kamloops Blazers, one of the other big spenders, got a goal (19) and four assists from F Logan Stankoven and a goal (21) and three assists from F Caedan Bankier in a 6-3 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. D Olen Zellweger, acquired from the Everett Silvertips on Sunday, scored an empty-netter for Kamloops. F Ryan Hofer, who moved to Kamloops with Zellweger, sat out a one-game suspension. . . .

F Jackson Berezowski (24) struck four times and added an assist as the Everett Silvertips beat the Chiefs, 9-3, in Spokane. . . . F Blake Swetlikoff scored his second goal in as many games since being acquired from the Chiefs to help the host Lethbridge Hurricanes to a 5-3 victory over the Swift Current Broncos, whose seven-game winning streak was snapped. . . . F Kai Uchacz scored his WHL-leading 34th goal in the first period then added the winning in a shootout as the Rebels beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 4-3, in Red Deer. . . . F Braeden Jockims, playing in his hometown, scored his first WHL goal in his second game and it stood up as the winner as the Portland Winterhawks beat the Blades, 3-1, in Saskatoon.


Password


THINKING OUT LOUD: If someone were to add up the number of major junior, junior A and junior B hockey players who changed teams in the past two weeks, I’m betting the number would be somewhere around 500. . . . Hey, Clay Matthews, if I haven’t bought that Tide stuff by now, I won’t be making the leap. So you can leave my TV screen any day now. . . . The value of SS Carlos Correa’s contract went from US$350 million (San Francisco Giants) to $315 million (New York Mets) to $200 million (Minnesota Twins). Such a sad, sad story.


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.


TVcords

Hurricanes grab Swetlikoff from Chiefs . . . Rebels, Cougars swap forwards . . . Wallace now a Blazers Legend

The Lethbridge Hurricanes let the WHL’s other Eastern Conference teams know LethbridgeThursday that they are serious about this season by acquiring F Blake Swetlikoff from the Spokane Chiefs. . . . In the exchange, the rebuilding Chiefs (7-24-3) picked up the rights to F Jack Lackas and two draft picks — a second-rounder in 2026 and a fifth in 2025. . . . Swetlikoff, a 19-year-old from Regina, was a third-round selection in the 2018 WHL draft. He has 19 points, 14 of them assists, in 34 games with Spokane this season. . . . In 128 career regular-season games, he has 22 goals and 39 assists. . . . “We feel that (Swetlikoff) will help our top nine,” Lethbridge general manager Peter Anholt said in a news release. “It was a steep price for us to pay, but our team deserved to be added to with the way we’ve played this season.” . . . Swetlikoff is expected to make his Lethbridge debut on Saturday against the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The Hurricanes (21-15-1) are sixth in the 12-team conference, having won six of their past 10 games. They are one point behind the Calgary Hitmen (20-11-4) and three in arrears of the Moose Jaw Warriors (23-13-0). . . . Lackas, who turned 16 on Dec. 26, is from Las Vegas. Lethbridge selected him in the WHL’s 2021 U.S. draft, but he is unsigned. Lackas is playing with the U16 AAA Phoenix Jr. Coyotes this season.

——

The Red Deer Rebels and Prince George Cougars swapped a pair of 17-year-old RedDeerforwards on Thursday. Ryker Singer is on his way to Red Deer, with Arjun Bawa moving to Prince George. The Cougars also got second- and seventh-round picks in the WHL’s 2023 draft in the exchange. . . . Singer, the 20th player chosen in the WHL’s 2020 draft, has three goals and six assists in 34 games this season. He is from Paradise Hills, Alta. . . . “He’s got speed, skill and good hands, and he’s a smart player,” Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ owner and general manager, told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com. “It’s a trade for both teams (where) we wanted to add more speed to our team with skill, and they wanted a player who has some size.” . . . Bawa, from Richmond, B.C., had two goals and three assists in 34 games this season. Red Deer took him in the PrinceGeorgesecond round of the 2020 draft. . . . “Arjun . . . is a big physical player (who) will fit well with our forward core,” offered Mark Lamb, the Cougars’ general manager and head coach, in a news release. . . . The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Bawa is the son of Robin Bawa, a former WHLer (Kamloops Jr. Oilers, Kamloops Blazers, New Westminster Bruins, 1982-87) who went on to play 61 NHL games. He was the first player of Indian descent to play in the NHL. . . . The Rebels are scheduled to play the Raiders in Prince Albert tonight, while the Cougars are at home to the Everett Silvertips.

——

The WHL’s trade deadline arrives on Jan. 10. Here are the trade numbers since Oct. 25:

No. of trades — 27.

No. of players traded — 43.

No. of WHL draft picks traded — 47.

No. of WHL conditional draft picks traded — 9.

Teams involved in trades — 8: Edmonton; 6: Victoria; 4: Kamloops, Lethbridge, Prince George, Seattle, Winnipeg; 3: Regina, Spokane; 2: Everett, Kelowna, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Red Deer; 1: Brandon, Saskatoon, Swift Current, Tri-City; 0: Calgary, Medicine Hat, Portland, Vancouver.

Why did I start with Oct. 25? Because that was the day that the Seattle Thunderbirds acquired D Luke Prokop from the Edmonton Oil Kings, signalling to me that the countdown to deadline day had started.


One of my favourite sports columns every year comes from the keyboard of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gene Collier. His 39th annual Trite Trophy column, in which he examines a whole lot of trite phrases from the sporting press, is right here.

It includes a whole lot of stuff like this awesome paragraph:

“And Just To Put A Button On this tribute to minor annoyances, ‘False start, offense’ is redundant. All false starts are on the offense. It’s like saying 7 a.m. in the morning, which people do Time and Time Again, even though all 7 a.m.’s are in the morning.”

Ahh, yes, one of my pet peeves . . . tonight’s game will begin at 7 p.m.

Along with the first annual golf tournament, which actually is the inaugural golf tournament.

Anyway . . . give Collier’s piece a read. I just know that you’ll enjoy it.


Mute


THINKING OUT LOUD: Is there a way to take two spoonfuls of adult cough syrup without getting it on the bottle and ending up with at least one sticky hand? . . . It’s a good thing Canada won the World Junior Championship in Halifax on Thursday night because the last thing Hockey Canada needs on its plate is another investigation. Just imagine the outcry had Canada, which led 2-0 with seven minutes remaining in the third period, lost the final to Czechia. I mean, early on in the tournament there were folks questioning Canada’s goaltending development record. . . . No, your favourite WHL team isn’t going to end up getting F Connor Bedard from the Regina Pats before next week’s trade deadline. Perhaps the Pats, with the likes of Bedard, F Tanner Howe and D Stan Svozil on their roster, should be buyers. What say you, John Paddock? . . . BTW, the Pats had F Cole Temple, the fifth overall pick in the WHL’s 2022 draft, in their lineup for their past two games. From Brandon, he is the son of former Wheat Kings F Jeff Temple. As well, Cole’s grandfather, Ted, one of hockey’s really good guys, played goal for the Wheat Kings (1967-69). . . . If you are so inclined, please think about clicking on the DONATE button over there on the right. Thank you!


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

G Jesse Sanche was backing up Dylan Ernst on Wednesday night when the Kamloops Blazers dropped a 3-2 OT decision to the visiting Everett Silvertips. Sanche, 16, is from Kelowna and was a second-round pick in the WHL’s 2021 draft, but has yet to play in a WHL game. He was on the bench because I’m guessing that Czech G Michael Schnattinger, 18, was placed on waivers following the acquisition on Tuesday of G Matthew Kieper, 18, from the Regina Pats. Kieper hadn’t yet arrived in Kamloops, thus Sanche got a prime seat for the game. . . .

During that Wednesday game, the Blazers elevated Greg (Spike) Wallace to legendary status as they put his name on one of their Legends banners and lifted it into the arena rafters. On March 7, 2012, the WHL presented Wallace with a Distinguished Service Award. The following morning, the Blazers announced that Wallace was leaving the team “by mutual agreement . . . to pursue other initiatives. The Blazers and Spike have agreed that now would be an appropriate time for (him) to . . . pursue new opportunities.” . . . Wallace had been part of the Blazers since 1984, serving as trainer and equipment manager, then later as community liaison. He was a part of three Memorial Cup champions and five WHL titles. . . . Former Blazers players Jerome Iginla and Darryl Sydor, now two of five owners of the franchise, were on hand to salute Wallace on Wednesday night.


Vultures


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.


ATMfees

Crusaders, Rebels loving their bus drivers . . . Red Deer, Winnipeg set for Manitoba doubleheader . . . Winterhawks, Chiefs share 15 goals

Players and personnel with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders are crediting their bus driver with keeping them out of harm’s way when they were involved SherwoodParkin a multi-vehicle accident on Saturday afternoon.

The Crusaders had played in Olds on Friday night and were en route to Blackfalds for a Saturday night date with the Bulldogs.

The Crusaders didn’t make it as they ended up among numerous vehicles involved in accidents on No. 2 Highway south of Edmonton.

Things were fine until visibly turned sour south of Ponoka and the road iced up.

“We rolled up on a massive pile-up where our bus driver just told everyone to hold on,” Evan McFeeters, the Crusaders’ associate general manager and head coach, told Adam Lachacz of CTV News Edmonton. “He did an incredible job of keeping us safe and upright, weaving through the mayhem in front of us.

“We saw it all . . . cars doing 360s smashing into each other, semis jackknifing, but our bus driver is the hero of the day for us.

“Keeping us upright when we hit the ditch and avoiding collisions along the way till we finally came to a stop.”

(Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to learn the bus driver’s name, just that his first name is Robert. So, Robert, well done!)

There weren’t any injuries to anyone on the Crusaders’ bus.

Eventually, school buses were sent from Ponoka and the team ended up spending the night in the Ponoka Centennial Centre. They returned to Sherwood Park on a different bus on Sunday afternoon.

Lachacz’s complete story is right here.


Inclement weather resulting in horrendous driving conditions prevented two WHL teams from getting home following Saturday night games. . . . The Saskatoon Blades beat the host Brandon Wheat Kings, 4-1, and then headed for home along the Trans-Canada Highway. They got as far as Moosomin, before pulling in for the night. The Blades finally arrived home on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

At the same time, the Swift Current Broncos, who had beaten the Pats, 5-2, in Regina, chose not to even try to get home after the game, hunkering down in a local hotel instead.


Boss


The junior B Castlegar Rebels of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey CastlegarLeague were in the middle of it all, too, because driving conditions in B.C.’s Interior have been horrendous for a few days now. After playing in Kamloops on Friday night and 100 Mile House on Saturday night, the Rebels arrived home on Sunday and tweeted: “Special thanks to our bus driver Craig Luke for his great work in snowy road conditions.”


How poor were driving conditions in the Regina area. Kevin Gallant made the 45-minute drive from Regina to Moose Jaw for the Saturday night game between the Warriors and Red Deer Rebels. His son, Matthew, is a sophomore defenceman with the Warriors.

When Kevin arrived home after the game, here’s what he wrote on Facebook:

“Made it home, drove 40 kilometres an hour sometimes 30 kilometres an hour. About a 90-minute drive. . . . I will never do another drive like that again, not used to it. Got behind a vehicle and did the slow drive, sometimes no visibility, looked like a few cars in ditch.”

Been there, done that! But I only did it once. When I was with the Regina Leader-Post, I once headed for Moose Jaw for a Saturday night game. Things were fine on the way there. But it was ugly going back with snow and more snow and wind and more wind. I was fortunate to tuck in behind a big rig and follow the taillights all the way to Regina.

Yes, that was a lesson learned.


Bass


Meanwhile, in Kamloops and area, we had a dump of snow late Thursday and into Friday. But it didn’t stick around too long. Then it snowed some more and, yes, there is more in the forecast. People here like to giggle about what goes on in Vancouver on the odd occasion when it snows there. But, truth be told, things are no better in Kamloops on the occasion of that first snowfall. The Sahali and Aberdeen areas have some steep hills that always seem to turn messy when things get slippery. And this time it wasn’t any different. Then, of course, there is the Coquihalla Highway that always seems to end up being shut down a time or three in one or both directions. Such has been the case for the past two or three days, and we now are left to see what Monday brings.

This weekend, however, seems to have brought some ugliness with it.

There is a twitter account — Kamscan (@Kamscan) — whose operator monitors road conditions. On Sunday, the account featured these tweets:

“And the entitled are showing their colours . . . just passed a plow truck on the right and gave the operator the finger.”

“Operator was mentioning vehicles were right on his ass. Guess some can lose the time and deductible on their windshields.”

“And a second one just passed him and probably touched the tip of the plow.”

“Yesterday a plow operator had stuff thrown at him as he was passing a trucker who had hit the ditch.”


ProduceBag


The WHL has eight mid-week games on its upcoming schedule and two stand WHLout among all the rest. Those two games will feature the Red Deer Rebels in Winnipeg to face the Ice on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. . . . The Rebels are on a franchise-record 15-game winning streak. Yes, they have won their first 15 games — the WHL record of 22 is held by the 1967-68 Estevan Bruins. . . . Meanwhile, all the Ice, which has won 10 straight, has done is go 15-1-0, despite opening with 13 consecutive road games. . . . Red Deer’s freshman goaltenders have some pretty fine numbers — Rhett Stoesser is 5-0-0, 1.40, .934, while Kyle Kelsey is 10-0-0, 1.80, .935. . . . Veteran Daniel Hauser of the Ice goes into the doubleheader at 11-0-0, 2.35, .920. His running mate, freshman Dawson Cowan, is 3-1-0, 2.52, .901.


SUNDAY IN THE WHL:

The Portland Winterhawks opened an early 4-0 lead — thanks to three PP goals — and then had to go to a shootout to beat the visiting Spokane Chiefs, 8-7. . . . PortlandF Jack O’Brien’s second goal of the game gave Portland that 4-0 lead at 13:28 of the first period. . . . Spokane F Ty Cheveldayoff tied it, 7-7, at 19:25 of the third period. It was his third goal of the game and seventh of the season. It also was the second multi-goal game of his 92-game WHL career; he had a two-goal outing last season. . . . Portland got shootout goals from F Marcus Nguyen and D Luca Cagnoni, with F Raegan Wiles counting for Spokane. . . . F Gabe Klassen had a goal and three assists for Portland. . . . The Chiefs got two goals and two assists from Wiles and a goal and three helpers from F Blake Swetlikoff. . . . The Winterhawks (11-1-2) moved into sole possession of first place in the Western Conference, two points ahead of the Everett Silvertips (11-5-0). Portland has points in six straight games (4-0-2). . . . The Chiefs (3-10-1) have lost eight in a row (0-7-1).


THINKING OUT LOUD — If you were watching the CFL game from Vancouver on Sunday, were you wondering how much pride Dave Dickenson, the Calgary Stampeders’ head coach, had to swallow before getting QB Bo Levi Mitchell into the game? And if Dickenson was going to send him in to open the fourth quarter, why didn’t he make the change at halftime? . . . One other thing about Mitchell: How do you think he’ll look in Saskatchewan Roughriders’ colours? . . . The Boston Bruins tried to right a wrong on Sunday night. We are left to wonder how long it will be before the stink goes away and they are able to patch the giant hole that has been left in their credibility. . . . The Prince George Cougars (9-7-0) have won three in a row and woke up Sunday morning atop the B.C. Division. They will visit the Kelowna Rockets on Wednesday, then head home for a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader with the Vancouver Giants. Have to wonder if this early success will create some interest in Cougartown?


Call


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.


Fish

With pandemic ongoing, the WHL’s attendance not pretty picture . . . Oil Kings win 12th straight game . . . BCHL reinstates one Nanaimo coach


Just about the time the Portland Winterhawks and the Royals were facing off in Victoria on Tuesday night, a photo showing part of the crowd was posted on Twitter.

Shortly after it surfaced, a friend sent me a message: “Is Victoria only allowed 15 per cent capacity?”

After the game, with the Royals having announced attendance as 2,070, the WHLfriend sent another note: “Oh my goodness! Is the league as we know it dying in front of us?”

That likely is a bit of an overstatement, but there has to be more than a little concern in WHL circles, especially when the Winnipeg Ice, which plays in a city of more than 800,000 people, announces a crowd of 1,030 as it did on Tuesday night.

No, there aren’t any attendance restrictions in Manitoba sporting facilities these days. The Ice plays in the Wayne Fleming Arena on the campus of the U of Manitoba. The arena’s capacity once was said to be 1,400, but the Ice said in a Feb. 2 news release that the U of M “has confirmed the capacity . . . is 2,000 persons.”

The Ice, of course, played out of Cranbrook through the 2018-19 season, after which owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell packed up and moved to the Manitoba capital.

You may recall Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, visiting Cranbrook in January 2019 and telling people: “The WHL appreciates the support we have received from the City of Cranbrook, the corporate community, and, in particular, hockey fans in the East Kootenay region. However, after many years of monitoring the operations of the Kootenay Ice, it is evident this franchise is not viable in the market moving forward. It is a difficult decision, but given low attendance trends and the support required to operate a WHL Club, it is necessary to move the franchise to a market where it can be sustainable on a long-term basis.”

In 2018-19, its last season in Cranbrook, the Ice’s average announced attendance was 2,214. (BTW, the BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks, in their first season after moving into the Ice’s former home, are drawing 2,199 fans per game, according to hockeydb.)

Announced attendances at Wednesday night’s five WHL games: 2,426 . . . 1,837 . . . 2,035 . . . 2,824 . . . 2,056.

Granted, this has been a tough season thanks to the pandemic and various mandates and restrictions, but according to figures compiled by the WHL the Ice is averaging 1,500 fans through 23 home games. Only the Swift Current Broncos, playing in a city of about 17,000 people, are playing in front of fewer fans — 1,392 through 27 games.

Those same WHL figures show that the 22 teams have an average announced attendance of 3,047 through 586 games. In 2019-20, the season that the pandemic brought to a premature end in March, the average was 4,154 for 694 games. In 2018-19, the last complete season, teams average 4,361 fans for 748 games.

This season, the WHL has three teams averaging more than 4,000 fans per game. There are 13 teams under 3,000.

With attendance numbers where they are and with so many costs on the rise — both for the teams and for the ticket-buying public — one has to think there will be some head-scratching and soul-searching going on in the WHL’s Calgary office and a whole lot of team offices once this season is over . . . if there isn’t already.


Plastic


WEDNESDAY NIGHT IN THE WHL: F Josh Williams, who reached the 100-goal career mark, and F Justin Sourdif each scored twice as the Edmonton Oil Kings ran their winning streak to 12 games by beating the Tigers, 7-3, in Medicine Hat. Williams has 32 goals; Sourdif has 18. F Hayden Wheddon, playing his first WHL game, scored for Edmonton in the second period. Wheddon, from Stonewall, Man., was a ninth-round pick in the WHL’s 2020 draft. . . . Williams has scored 79 goals with the Oil Kings, after starting his career with 21 for the Tigers. . . .

In Saskatoon, F Brandon Lisowsky scored twice, including his 30th goal of the season at 4:30 of OT, as the Blades beat the Lethbridge Hurricanes, 4-3. F Trae Wilke, who is from Saskatoon, scored his first WHL goal in his first game with the Hurricanes. He was a second-round pick in the WHL’s 2021 draft. Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was there and his report is right here. . . . Saskatoon has points in seven straight (5-0-2). . . . The Hurricanes are 2-3-0 while on a seven-game road swing with the Canadian men’s curling championship in their home building. . . .

F Nolan Ritchie scored at 1:11 of OT to give the host Brandon Wheat Kings a 2-1 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. Ritchie, who is from Brandon, has 26 goals. . . . The Wheat Kings are sixth in the Eastern Conference, 11 points ahead of Lethbridge and 13 up on Calgary. . . . The Hitmen hold down the last playoff spot, one point ahead of the Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos. . . .

F Blake Swetlikoff scored his ninth goal and added two assists to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 5-2 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . Matthew Hutchison became the fourth 15-year-old goaltender in Giants’ franchise history to start a game — after Ryan Kubic (2013), Payton Lee (2012) and Tyson Sexsmith (2005). Hutchison, from Nanaimo, stopped 28 shots. He was a third-round pick in the WHL’s 2021 draft. . . . G Jesper Vikman, the Giants’ starter, is on the sidelines with an undisclosed injury. . . . Spokane moved into a tie with the idle Prince George Cougars for seventh in the Western Conference, two points behind the Giants. . . .

In Victoria, F Cross Hanas had two goals, giving him 22, and two assists to help the Portland Winterhawks to a 5-2 victory over the Royals. Victoria had beaten the Winterhawks, 5-3, on Tuesday night. Last night, the Royals’ second goal came from Danish F Marcus Almquist, who got his first WHL goal in his 29th game. . . . The Winterhawks are third in the Western Conference, one point behind the Kamloops Blazers and Everett Silvertips. . . . The Royals are ninth, three points out of a playoff spot.



The BCHL has reinstated Colin Birkas, the Nanaimo Clippers’ associate  general Nanaimomanager/associate coach, who was suspended early in February while the league had an unidentified independent investigator review what it said were “allegations of Code of Conduct breaches.” . . . On Wednesday, the league said that while it is reinstating Birkas, “the investigation has been partly completed but is still ongoing.” . . . At the same time, the BCHL said that Darren Naylor, the Clippers’ vice-president, general manager, head coach and director of hockey operations, “will continue on administrative leave until May 31, 2022.” . . . While Naylor and Birkas were sidelined, the Clippers brought in long-time junior coach Bob Beatty to work with assistant coach Ken McPhalen. . . . At the time of the suspensions, Clippers Hockey Limited Partnership, Naylor and Birkas filed a civil claim, arguing, according to CHEK News, “that the league acted ‘erroneously and in a high-handed manner’ in issuing the suspensions when no allegations have been proven, irreparably damaging the coaches’ reputations and putting the team’s season in jeopardy because there are no alternate coaches to take over.” . . . A B.C. Supreme Court judge issued a temporary injunction that would have allowed Naylor and Birkas to continue coaching; however, the team ended up putting the two on administrative leave just prior to what would have been their first game after the league had taken action. . . . With seven games remaining in their regular-season schedule, the Clippers are 29-16-2 and in third place in the nine-team Coastal Conference.



JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The QMJHL has unveiled its playoff format, with games to begin on May 5 with the final running from June 4 through June 15, depending how many games are needed. The first three rounds will feature best-of-five series with the championship final a best-of-seven series. There is a news release right here.


Today is World Kidney Day. . . . My wife, Dorothy, who underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, is preparing to take part in her ninth kidney walk, albeit virtually, on June 5. She has been involved in every walk since she had her transplant. If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do that right here.


Bedtime


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.


Driving

Latest on minimum-wage lawsuit front. . . . Battles of B.C., Saskatchewan open tonight. . . . Other two series begin Saturday

ThisThat

There was news on the minimum-wage battleground between former major junior players and the OHL on Thursday.

“The Ontario Hockey League will be forced to defend allegations of conspiracy, ohlnegligence and breach of contract after a three-judge panel in Ontario reinstated those claims against the league in its legal battle against former players over minimum wage,” writes Rick Westhead of TSN. “The judgment, released late Wednesday by three Ontario Divisional Court judges, comes after an Ontario Superior Court judge dismissed those claims against the OHL in April, 2017. Lawyers for the former players appealed that decision.

“The judges on Wednesday also rejected an OHL appeal that asked for the case to be stripped of class-action status. As a class action, current and former players going back to the 2012-13 season automatically become plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Players will now have the option to opt out of the litigation.

“The judges also ordered the OHL to immediately pay roughly $500,000 worth of legal fees to the plaintiffs, in addition to another $700,000 in legal fees that must be paid if the OHL loses the lawsuit.”

Westhead’s complete story is right here.


F Nick Henry and F Jake Leschyshyn, both of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, have moved on Lethbridgeto pro teams. . . . Henry, who will turn 20 on July 4, has joined the Colorado Eagles, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, while Leschyshyn now is with the Chicago Wolves, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. . . . Henry, a fourth-round pick in the NHL’s 2017 draft, has signed with the Avalanche. He had 29 goals and 65 assists in 69 games this season. . . . Leschyshyn, who turned 20 on March 10, was a second-round pick by Vegas in the NHL’s 2017 draft. He has signed an NHL contract. This season, he had 40 goals and 41 assists in 68 games. . . . The Hurricanes acquired Henry and Leschyshyn from the Regina Pats in an early-season trade.


The Spokane Chiefs have signed F Blake Swetlikoff to a WHL contract. The 15-year-old from Regina was a third-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft after putting up 32 goals and 40 assists in 31 games with the bantam AA Regina Monarchs. . . . This season, he had 10 goals and 19 assists in 40 games for the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians.


Whenever someone writes a WHL-related newspaper column that includes a mention of Bobby (The Brain) Heeney, well, you just know it has to be a good read. Ed Willes of Postmedia has that column right here and, while it’s more to do with Michael Dyck and Jamie Heard of the Vancouver Giants, there is a mention of Heeney. Oh, and Kelly Handy, a football player who once played for the Regina Pats, gets a mention too. Enjoy!


The junior B Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League made it official on Thursday . . . Dean Maynard is their general manager and head coach. Maynard had been interim head coach since the firing of Mark Chase in January. . . . Maynard will be joined by assistant coaches Brandon Watson and David Gordon, while Tyler Liebel is on board doing work on skills instruction player development and video. Mitch Fritz will be involved with player selection and development.



The SJHL’s Melville Millionaires have signed Kyle Adams to a two-year contract as general manager and head coach. Adams signed on as an assistant coach prior to this season, then was named interim GM and head coach following the firing of Devin Windle on Nov. 29.


EdChynowethCup

The WHL playoffs resume tonight with second-round series beginning on two fronts. . . . The other two series will open on Saturday night. . . . In each instance, if the outcome of the season series means anything, these all should be short series. . . . But, hey, it’s the playoffs and it’s junior hockey. . . .

The Battle of Saskatchewan opens in Prince Albert as the Raiders meet the Saskatoon Blades. . . . The Raiders (54-10-4) won the Scotty Munro Trophy as the WHL’s regular-season champions. . . . The Blades were second to the Raiders in the East Division at 45-15-8. . . . Prince Albert was 6-2-0 in the season series; Saskatoon was 2-5-1. . . . They have only met twice since the trade deadline. The Blades won, 3-2, at home on March 15; the Raiders on, 3-1 in Prince Albert the next night. . . . Saskatoon is in the playoffs for the first time since the spring of 2013. . . . The first three games of this series will be televised by Sportsnet, with host Rob Faulds, play caller RJ Broadhead and analyst Sam Cosentino. . . .

Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, played for the Blades back in the day. This season, he recorded his 500th regular-season coaching victory. He also understands that he is in the entertainment business as much as he is in the hockey business. That’s one of the reasons he says things like this:

“They embellish. That’s what they do. They led the league in drawing minors. It’s known around (the league) that they do that. Hopefully, that stops because it’s not a good thing. You look at a guy like Kirby Dach. He’s a good player. I met the young man at the Prospects game. A great kid, awesome kid and really great player. He doesn’t need to embellish. He’s better than that. He’s a good enough player. He doesn’t need to that.”

That was Habscheid chatting with Darren Zary of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. The complete story is right here.

——

The Battle of B.C. begins in Langley, B.C., with the Vancouver Giants playing host to the Victoria Royals. . . . Vancouver (48-15-5) finished atop the Western Conference. . . . Victoria (34-30-4) was second in the B.C. Division, 29 points behind the Giants. . . . Vancouver won the season series, 6-2-2; Victoria was 4-4-2. . . . They played each other four times after the trade deadline. Vancouver won at home, 3-2 and 4-0, on Jan. 13 and Feb. 22. Victoria won, 5-4 in a shootout, at home on Feb. 23, then lost 2-1 on Feb. 24. Yes, they played each other three times in as many days. . . .

——

The Battle of Alberta will open on Saturday with the Calgary Hitmen in Edmonton to meet the Oil Kings. . . . Edmonton (42-18-8) finished atop the Central Division, with Calgary (36-26-6) 14 points in arrears. . . . The Oil Kings won the season series, 7-0-1; the Hitmen were 1-6-1. . . . They have met four times since the trade deadline, with Edmonton winning all four of them — 3-2 and 6-1 in Edmonton, 5-1 and 3-1 in Calgary. . . . Edmonton G Dylan Myskiw went 6-0-0, 2.00, .935 in six games against Calgary. . . . Steve Hamilton, Calgary’s head coach, was fired by the Oil Kings after last season. He spent eight seasons in Edmonton, the last four as head coach.

——

The Battle of Washington also gets started on Saturday as the Everett Silvertips play host to the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Everett (47-16-5) finished second in the Western Conference and first in the U.S. Division, 12 points ahead of Spokane (40-21-7). . . . Everett won the season series, 6-0-2; Spokane was 2-5-1. . . . However, they have played only once since the Jan. 10 trade deadline. The Silvertips skated to a 3-1 victory in Spokane on March 5. . . . If the Chiefs are to win, they are going to have to solve Everett G Dustin Wolf, who went 6-0-1, 1.75, .929 against them.

——

NOTES: F Logan Barlage of the Lethbridge Hurricanes has been given a two-game suspension after taking a slashing major and game misconduct at the end of a first-round playoff game against the visiting Calgary Hitmen on Tuesday. Barlage slashed Calgary F Carson Focht right off a faceoff as the Hitmen closed out a 4-2 victory in Game 7. Barlage will have to sit out the first two games of the 2019-20 regular season. . . .

Focht, who scored twice in Calgary’s Game 7 victory, fell to the ice after the slash, clutching an arm. We won’t know whether he is injured until lineups are posted prior to Game 1 in Edmonton on Saturday. . . .

D Bowen Byram, who missed a couple of Vancouver practices this week, is expected to be in the Giants’ lineup tonight for Game 1 with the visiting Victoria Royals.


Tweetoftheday

%d bloggers like this: