Canucks getting hammered by virus; Brazilian variant discovered . . . Oil Kings d-man sets franchise record . . . AJHL shuts down a fourth team

By Friday afternoon, the Vancouver Canucks had seven players on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list and a taxi squad player identified as a close contact. There also was one unidentified coach who was confirmed nhl2as having tested positive.

A few hours later, it became apparent that things are going to get worse for a team that is headquartered in B.C., a province that is having serious issues with COVID-19. How bad is it? Well, we won’t really know until Tuesday because government and health officials don’t provide briefings or news releases on weekends, and this is the Easter weekend. The virus, however, doesn’t take weekends off and this is turning out to be a rough one for the Canucks.

Late Friday night, Darren Dreger of TSN tweeted that “as expected, additional positive cases have been determined with the Vancouver Canucks. It’s also believed a variant has been identified in some of the cases.”

TSN’s Farhan Lalji tweeted that “Brazilian P.1 variant likely in play here,” something that later was confirmed by Patrick Johnston of Postmedia.

Lalji also tweeted he was told “that in some cases team medical staff may have gone to the homes of players to administer IV treatments.”

As Johnston wrote: “That variant has been growing in number in B.C. over the past month and was recently identified as a major driver of an outbreak that originated in Whistler. Some research has shown the P.1 variant is as much as 2.5 times more transmissible than earlier strains of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.”

There have been various reports that more positive tests among the Canucks are expected to be revealed on Saturday.

F Adam Gaudette went on the COVID-19 protocol list on Tuesday, with D Travis Hamonic joining him on Wednesday. Since then, D Alex Edler, G Braden Holtby, D Quinn Hughes, F Zack MacEwen and F Antoine Roussel all have gone on the list.

The NHL has postponed four Vancouver games, and it’s likely that there will be more. The Canucks are scheduled to next play on Thursday and April 10 in Calgary against the Flames.


If you stop off here regularly, or even on occasion, and if you like what you see here, or even if you don’t, feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and help out the Taking Note coffee fund. Thank you in advance. . . . If you are one of the followers who gets my work via email, you are able to donate by going to greggdrinnan.com.


The WHL said Friday that it had eight positives from 897 tests that were administered from March 27 through Friday. . . . The Kelowna Rockets experienced seven of those positives — four players and three staff members — so all team activities have been shut down for 14 days.

The WHL also said that one of its on-ice officials, who hasn’t worked a game since March 20, tested positive on one test, but was negative on a second test.

The league added that it is “awaiting test results for the Brandon Wheat Kings, Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders and Regina Pats” and will provide an update when they become available.

Through Friday, the WHL has had nine positives from 4,991 tests.

Also on Friday, the WHL announced some schedule changes. You are able to find those changes on the WHL’s website.

Meanwhile, there were six games on Friday . . .

G Gage Alexander turned aside 31 shots to lead the Winnipeg Ice to a 3-0 victory over the Prince Albert WinnipegRaiders in Regina. . . . Alexander, 18, from Okotoks, Alta., earned his first career shutout in his 12th career appearance, five of them this season. . . . He is 3-2-0, 2.01, .926 this season. . . . The Ice (7-4-0) scored the game’s first two goals after Raiders F Dallyn Peekeekoot was tossed with a charging major. . . . F Cole Muir (4) scored at 2:51 of the second period and F Owen Pederson made it 2-0 just 35 seconds later. . . .  The Raiders are 3-6-2. . . . G Max Paddock stopped 15 shots for the Raiders in his first appearance since March 22. While Paddock was sidelined, the Raiders were down to one goaltender. That changed on Friday when they signed Max Hildebrand and had him on the bench in support of Paddock. That mean that Carter Serhyneko was given the night off. . . . Hildebrand, 16, is from Martensville, Sask. He was a 13th-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. His father, Steve, is the Saskatoon Blades’ associate general manager. . . .

G Boston Bilous stopped 29 shots as the Moose Jaw Warriors beat Saskatoon, 4-0, in Regina, handing the Blades (9-1-1) their first regulation loss of this season. . . . The Warriors (5-6-1) went into the game having lost six in a row; the Blades had won seven straight. . . . Bilous, who turned 20 on Feb. 2, has four career shutouts, one of them this season. He had been yanked from each of his previous two starts, stopping four of 10 shots in a total of 10 minutes of play. . . . D Cole Jordan (2) scored the game’s first goal at 16:31 of the first period. . . . The Warriors put it away with three third-period goals, with D Denton Mateychuk and D Lucas Brenton both scoring his first WHL goal. . . . The game was played in 2 hours 7 minutes, the quickest game this season. . . . After the game, Les Lazaruk, the Blades’ radio voice, wrote at cjwwradio.com: “To say that (Blades’) head coach Mitch Love wasn’t happy is severely understating the fact. His post-game media availability lasted for just three questions and 42 seconds in total.” . . .

F Simon Knak scored twice, including his third shorthanded goal of the season, to lead the host Portland PortlandAlternateWinterhawks to a 6-2 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . The Winterhawks lead the WHL with five shorthanded goals. . . . Portland (4-1-2) scored the game’s last five goals. . . . Knak has seven goals this seaosn. . . . F Seth Jarvis (3) had a goal and two assists for Portland. . . . F Sasha Mutala (3) scored twice for the Americans (2-4-0). His second goal, 19 seconds into the second period, gave Tri-City a 2-1 lead. . . . F Jaydon Dureau (1) tied it on a PP at 15:22 of the second and Knak gave Portland the lead at 16:28, also on a PP. . . . D Nick Cicek also had a goal and two assists for Portland. . . .

The Everett Silvertips scored two third-period goals to skate away with a 3-1 victory over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . F Payton Mount (2) gave the Thunderbirds (4-3-0) a 1-0 lead on a PP at 6:27 of the first period. . . . Everett D Gianni Fairbrother (1) tied it on a PP at 8:11 of the second period and F Jacob Wright (3) broke the tie 49 seconds into the third. . . . F Cole Fonstad (4), who also had two assists, got the empty-netter. . . . Everett improved to 6-1-0. . . .

F Lucas Svejkovsky scored the game’s last two goals to help the host Medicine Hat Tigers to a 4-1 victory Tigersover the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Goals from F Ryan Chyzowski (6) and F Corson Hopwo (8) gave the Tigers (8-3-0) a 2-0 lead after one period. . . . F Josh Prokop (5) got Calgary to within one at 14:23 of the second. . . . Svejkovsky, who has eight goals, put it away with a pair of third-period PP scores. . . . The Hitmen are 5-6-1. . . . D Carlin Dezainde made his WHL debut with the Tigers. He is a grandson of Brian Carlin, who played one season (1970-71) with the Tigers. Carlin also played three seasons (1967-70) with the Calgary Centennials. . . . According to Bob Ridley, the veteran play-by-play voice of the Tigers, Medicine Hat has added a familiar name to its coaching staff. Ridley tweeted on Friday that “alumni Derek Dorsett has joined the Tigers’ coaching staff.” Dorsett, 34, played three seasons (2004-07) with the Tigers before going on to a pro career that included 515 NHL games. A neck injury forced him into retirement. He last played in 2017-18 with the Vancouver Canucks. . . .

The Edmonton Oil Kings scored the game’s last nine goals and beat the host Red Deer Rebels, 9-2. . . . The EdmontonOil Kings’ night included four goals in 82 seconds in the third period and a power-play that was 4-for-5. . . . The Oil Kings (10-1-0) have beaten the Rebels four times in this shortened season. Go back to last season and Edmonton has beaten Red Deer 15 straight times. . . . The Rebels now are 2-7-2. . . . Edmonton got a single-game franchise-record six points, including four assists, from D Logan Dowhaniuk, and a goal and three helpers from D Matthew Robertson. . . . Dowhaniuk now holds the franchise record for most points by a defenceman in one game. . . . F Josh Williams, F Jalen Luypen, F Carter Souch and F Jake Neighbours each had a goal and two assists. . . . The online game sheet shows Dowhaniuk with five points. However, Andrew Peard, the Oil Kings’ play-by-play voice, said an assist will be added to Dowhaniuk on Neighbours’ goal. . . . Dowhaniuk, an 18-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., has a goal and nine assists in 11 games. He had six points, including five assists, in 33 games his freshman season (2018-19), then put up two goals and 10 assists in 62 games in 2019-20. . . . Edmonton was without F Scott Atkinson, its captain, with an undisclosed injury. . . . The Rebels played a lot of the game with five defenceman after Blake Gustafson left with an undisclosed injury. Red Deer already was without D Chase Leslie and D Kyle Masters, both of whom are listed as week-to-week with undisclosed injuries.


The AJHL now has four teams locked down, with the Okotoks Oilers the latest to experience a positive test. ajhlThe AJHL revealed on Friday that “as the result of a positive COVID-19 test by a member” of the Oilers, team activities had been suspended for at least 14 days. . . . That resulted in the Oilers’ games of April 2, 4 and 6 being cancelled. . . . The Oilers, who last played on Sunday when they edged the visiting Brooks Bandits, 2-1, joined the Drayton Valley Thunder, Grande Prairie Storm and Whitecourt Wolverines, who also have been shutdown because of positive tests. . . . The AJHL has yet to release a schedule of games after April 6.


The BCHL, which hadn’t played any games since Nov. 19, was back in action on Friday, with five games in bchlfive different communities. It was playing only exhibition games when things came to a halt in November. . . . Now it’s playing what it is calling a “pod season” with Friday’s games in Alberni Valley, Burnaby, Chilliwack, Penticton and Vernon. . . . On Thursday, the BCHL announced that there weren’t any positives from the first round of testing. All told, 439 players and staff were tested.


MLB announced on Friday that it had scrubbed the entire opening series between the New York Mets and Washington due to testing and contact tracing involving the Nationals. As of Friday afternoon, the Nationals had four players with positive tests, and five others and one staffer in quarantine after contact tracing. . . . The Mets and Nats were to have played in Washington on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. . . . The Mets will spend the weekend there, working out at Nationals Park, before leaving for Philadelphia on Sunday where they are scheduled to open against the Phillies on Monday. . . . The Nationals are scheduled to play host to the Atlanta Braves on Monday.


——

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.


Zoom

Ridley rocks broadcast No. 4,000; WHL’s first Ridley Award goes to broadcast legend . . . BCHL to gov’t: Let us play or we’re done

There isn’t any doubt but that the highlight of the opening weekend of WHL play occurred in Medicine Hat on Saturday night when Bob Ridley, the radio voice of the Tigers on CHAT, called his 4,000th game. . . . The hometown Tigers beat the Red Deer Rebels, 7-2, giving Ridley lots of goals to call. . . . Congratulations, Bob. The only thing missing was the fans, but had the house been packed the standing ovation would have delayed the start of the game by, oh, about an hour. . . . Ridley, 76, is the only play-by-play man the Tigers and their fans have known since they entered the league in time for the 1970-71 season. . . . Prior to Saturday’s game, the WHL introduced the Bob Ridley Award for Media Excellence and named Ridley as its first recipient. There is a news release right here. . . . I would suggest that Ridley should have been named the only recipient. I mean, how high is the bar? Don’t forget that Ridley also drove the team bus for 45 seasons. Who else has done that? . . . It’s only surprising that Ridley isn’t in the Coffee Drinkers Hall of Fame, assuming there is such an honour. . . . I used to wonder why there wasn’t a country tune about a bus-driving play-by-play man. . . . Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News has more on Ridley right here.


For quite a while during this pandemic, I would post a lot of virus-related statistics. But I stopped in recent times because it is apparent that the numbers don’t mean anything to so many people. . . . I came to the realization a few weeks ago that people had become numb or desensitized to them. Does it matter to anyone that as of Saturday at 4 p.m. PT, Canada had 30,864 active cases and had experienced 21,960 deaths? Or that, as of 9 p.m. PT, there had been 2,524,413 deaths worldwide, with the United States’ total at 524,669? . . . Perhaps you have to have a personal connection to COVID-19 before the scope of all the numbers really hits you. Maybe you have to have lost a friend to it, or maybe you need to known a kidney transplant recipient whose donor died of COVID-19. Maybe you need to have a granddaughter whose daycare was impacted by community transmission that began at a trivia night in a big city bar before you realize — really realize — what’s going on here. . . . BTW, that trivia night has been linked to at least 300 cases.

“On March 17, 2020, Ontario and Alberta declared states of emergency,” writes Brooke Taylor of CTVNews.ca. “By March 20, when B.C., Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Manitoba also declared states of emergency, Canada had a total of 215 new cases of COVID-19, with a seven-day average of 127 cases. Eleven months later, on Feb. 25, 2021, Canada added 3,094 cases with a seven-day average of 2,961.”

Taylor’s story on how Canadians have become desensitized to the numbers is right here and it’s well worth a read.


NBC News — New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, goes into lockdown after 1 new COVID-19 case found. . . . The lockdown will allow people to leave home only for essential shopping and essential work. . . . New Zealand, one of the most successful developed nations in controlling the spread of the pandemic, has seen just over 2,000 cases of the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.



Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “The (Los Angeles) Dodgers did well to re-sign 36-year-old third baseman Justin Turner, described as ‘the heart and soul of this team’ by catcher Austin Barnes and many teammates. Turner wasn’t punished for his reckless display in the World Series — yanked from Game 6 after testing positive for the coronavirus, he showed up without a mask for much of the on-field celebration — but what’s the point? That is today’s America, jam-packed with folks who ridicule the pandemic and feel they’re quite above it all.”

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One more note from Jenkins: “Heed these words from old friend Dusty Baker, who got his second vaccination shot Feb. 5: ‘I’m still pretending like I didn’t get my shots. You just can’t let your guard down, because there’s still so much about it that we don’t know.’ ”


Brush


Government and medical officials in Nova Scotia have shut down sports games in the province for four weeks. The order went into effect on Saturday. At the same time, practices are allowed for groups up to 25. The move follows the announcement of eight new cases on Thursday and 10 on Friday. . . . The 12-team Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League, which played four games on Friday night, cancelled its season as of Saturday, 8 a.m., “due to the uncertainty of the future decisions of the N.S. government.”


Meanwhile, the QMJHL’s three New Brunswick-based teams — the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, Moncton Wildcats and Saint John Sea Dogs — have received clearance from health officials to return to play on March 8. According to a QMJHL news release, the three teams “will only play against each other in March with fans in the buildings.” . . . Those teams last played in late November. Moncton has played 13 games, with the other two each having played 15.


Bob Mackin of theBreaker.news reported Saturday that the 17-team BCHL “is on the cusp of cancelling its season” if provincial officials “do not approve an amended season proposal by March 3.” . . . That, of course, would be Wednesday. . . . In a Feb. 26 letter to officials, which was obtained by theBreaker.news, Chris Hebb, the league’s commissioner, wrote: “We are simply out of time and can’t make our players and their parents wait any longer. The clock has run out.” . . . Mackin reported: “If the BCHL does not get the go-ahead by March 3 for its return-to-play plan, Hebb wrote that a motion will be prepared for team owners to vote March 4 to cancel the season.” . . . The BCHL’s return-to-play plan includes having teams play in five hub communities. . . . Mackin’s story is right here.


Danton Danielson no longer is the head coach of the U18 AAA Prince Albert Mintos. He been in the position for two seasons. In making the announcement via Twitter, Danielson said that his decision was “based on family considerations. My wife and I will be moving our family back to Saskatoon so that she can return to her job . . . and so that we can be close to our family support system.”


ICYMI, Taran Kozun, a former WHL goaltender, has joined his sixth team of this season, the ECHL’s Allen Americans. . . . Before heading to Allen, Kozun, the WHL’s top goaltender in 2014-15 with the Seattle Thunderbirds, had gotten into one game with each of the ECHL’s Kansas City Mavericks, Indy Fuel, Rapid City Rush and Orlando Solar Bears, and the SPHL’s Pensacola Ice Flyers. . . . He already has played in four games with the Americans. . . . Kozun, 26, was the goaltender of the year in Canadian university hockey in each of the previous two seasons while with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies.


Stars


——

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.


Kid

WHL’s wait is almost over; two games set for tonight . . . Second team opts out of AJHL restart . . . Beast prexy with good dope on folderoo

It was March 11. The Victoria Royals and host Kelowna Rockets were tied, 2-2, in the third period of a WHL game.

F Brayden Tracey of the Royals broke the tie, banking a shot off G Roman Basran and into the Kelowna net. The goal would give the Royals a 3-2 victory and would be the last score of the WHL’s 2019-20 season.

The last goal of the CHL’s 2019-20 season was to have been scored in Kelowna, but it should have happened in the Memorial Cup in May. That tournament, like so many other things, was cancelled.

With the world in the early stages of what has turned into a full-blown pandemic, the WHL put things on hold after March 11, a pause that will end tonight (Friday) with two games featuring four Alberta teams.

In Red Deer, the Rebels will play the Medicine Hat Tigers, while the Lethbridge Hurricanes meet the Oil Kings in Edmonton. The same teams will play again Saturday, only they will switch venues. The Calgary Hitmen, the fifth of the league’s five Alberta teams, have the bye.

In Red Deer, Troy Gillard will make his debut as the interim play-by-play voice of the Rebels, replacing Cam Moon, now the radio voice of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. Down the way from Gillard, Bob Ridley will be calling his 3,999th game as the only voice the Tigers have known.

If the excitement of tonight’s game doesn’t get to him, Ridley will do No. 4,000 in Medicine Hat on Saturday night. If you haven’t heard, he has called every game in Tigers history — except for one. It’s an oft-told story, but back in the day — way, way back — his then-boss’s wife was playing in the Canadian women’s curling championship in Saskatoon and, well, Ridley missed a Tigers game while covering curling. Yes, that’s a true story!

Meanwhile, the Oil Kings game won’t be heard on an Edmonton radio station, but will be available, with Andrew Peard on the call, on the team’s website.

(I had written here that G Lukáš Pařík of the Spokane Chiefs had scored the last goal of the season. That was in error.)

——

JUST NOTES: You may not have been aware of it, but the WHL’s trade deadline came and went on Thursday at 1 p.m. PT. For the first time in league history, there wasn’t even one trade. . . . The league released a U.S. Division schedule this week. The five American teams will open their season on March 18 with the Portland Winterhawks and Tri-City Americans meeting in Kennewick, Wash. With the Winterhawks not having clearance to play in Oregon, they will play their two March home games at the accesso ShoWare Centre in Kent, Wash. (aka the home of the Seattle Thunderbirds). The Portland home games April 2 through May 7 have TBD as the home arena. . . .

A schedule hasn’t yet been announced, but the seven-team Regina hub is expected to begin play on March 12. The hub will feature the five Saskatchewan-based teams, along with the two from Manitoba. . . . The five B.C. Division teams have yet to receive clearance to return to play from government and health officials. . . . Earlier this week, on the subject of 15-year-olds, the afore-mentioned Gillard tweeted: “So I confirmed that Alberta players are good to go since the U18AAA season here is cancelled, but Sask players are limited to 5 WHL games for now as they’ve yet to officially cancel league play in that province.” . . .

The Oil Kings have added three people to their front office — Shaun Mahe as video coach and hockey operations co-ordinator, the afore-mentioned Andrew Peard to handle hockey broadcasting and media, and Erin Klatt in charge of game-day operations. Mahe has been with the Oilers Entertainment Group for eight years, most recently in statistical analysis with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors. Peard’s duties include play-by-play, taking over from Corey Graham who somehow lost his job during recent Bell Media cuts. Klatt has been with OEG for two years, working as a hockey engagement co-ordinator. . . .

The Kamloops Blazers have added Brodi Stuart, 20, to their coaching staff. Stuart, from Langley, B.C., played three seasons with the Blazers. His WHL career came to an end when he had knee surgery on Jan. 20. In 204 regular-season games, he had 115 points, including 45 goals. . . . The Prince Albert Raiders have added Ryan McDonald as an assistant coach. He will work with the team during its time in the Regina hub. A Prince Albert native, McDonald, 33, played four plus seasons in the WHL (Regina Pats, Raiders, 2004-09). He was the head coach for the U18 AAA Warman Wildcats in 2020-21. . . .

Josh Green, the general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Freeze, has moved to the Winnipeg Ice as an assistant coach. The Ice and Freeze are owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment Inc. Green, who played five WHL seasons in the WHL (Medicine Hat, Swift Current, Portland, 1993-98), was an assistant coach with the Ice in 2019-20. . . . Ryan Guenter, who had been on the Ice’s scouting staff, also will be on the team’s coaching staff in the Regina hub. When that stint is over, he will step in as the Ice’s manager of scouting and hockey operations. . . . The Ice also has added Byron Spriggs as goaltending consultant. He has been the U of Manitoba Bisons’ goaltending coach for the past two seasons and is expected to work with both clubs. . . . Cole Hillier, a former head equipment manager with the ECHL’s Jacksonville IceMen, now is in that role with the Ice. Darcy Ewanchuk, who made the move to Winnipeg from Cranbrook with the franchise, now is on staff as a consultant.


Questions, there are questions . . .

We have been hearing for a while now that the WHL’s return to play is all about giving players development opportunities. If that’s the case, and considering the special circumstances, why not allow teams to carry five or six 20-year-olds, even if they only are allowed to dress three per game? Had the league done that, teams wouldn’t have had to cut 20-year-olds over the past few days. . . .

F Seth Jarvis of the Chicago Wolves is tied for the AHL lead in goals (6) and points (9). He has played seven games. Jarvis, who turned 19 on Feb. 1, was selected by the Carolina Hurricanes with the 13th pick of the NHL’s 2020 draft. The rules call for him to be returned to the Portland Winterhawks, but if this odd-ball season, with no fans allowed, is all about development why not leave him in the AHL? . . .

If you are a hockey fan who lives in Canada, does your NHL include only your country’s seven teams? And would you be content with a seven-team NHL and having those teams play an 84-game regular season? . . .

If you get vaccinated in the next month or six are you going to want to go back into an arena next fall not knowing how many unvaccinated people are in the same facility? Is that same thing going to be an issue in some work places? . . .

If you are paying attention to the coronavirus-related numbers in B.C., with variants showing up in schools and teachers in at least one city having marched in protest, will you be surprised if the province’s five WHL teams have to wait a while longer before getting the OK to return to play? . . .

What’s wrong with this picture? . . . On March  21, B.C. announced 76 new positives, raising the number of confirmed cases to 424. There were 27 people in hospital and 12 in intensive care. There was one new death, for a total of 10. So health officials closed all personal service establishments — remember when you couldn’t get a haircut? — and ordered all restaurants to go to takeout and delivery only. . . . On Feb. 25, B.C. reported 395 new cases — down from 559 two days earlier — for a confirmed total of 78,673, with 4,489 of those active. Ten new deaths raised the grim total to 1,348. But, hey, you can get a haircut and eat in a restaurant.


On Feb. 12, Brendan Batchelor, the play-by-play voice of the Vancouver Canucks on Sportsnet 650, revealed via Twitter that he had been “exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19” and was going into self-isolation. . . . All is well and Batchelor, whose resume includes calling Vancouver Giants games, returned to action on Thursday night as the Canucks lost, 3-0, to the visiting Edmonton Oilers.


The Lloydminster Bobcats are the second team to opt out of the AJHL’s return Bobcatsto play. According to a news release from the team, it was “denied participation . . . due to public health restrictions of the Saskatchewan government.” . . . More from that news release: “The organization exhausted all efforts to resolve barriers to meet the requirements of the Saskatchewan government. So far the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League has also been unable to meet requirements, while the Western Hockey League has been approved by forming a bubble in Regina, SK. Attempts were made to establish a bubble in Lloydminster, but the team was shut out by circumstance.” . . . While they play in the AJHL, the Bobcats’ home arena, the Centennial Civic Centre, is in Lloydminster, Sask. . . . Earlier, the Canmore Eagles announced that they were opting out of a return to play. 


For the last while we regularly have heard from junior hockey pooh-bahs about Beasthow some teams may not survive the pandemic. To date, they’re all still alive, but that’s more than can be said for the Brampton Beast, a seven-year-old ECHL franchise.

The Beast called it quits last week, another victim of COVID-19, but one that won’t show up in death totals.

Cary Kaplan, the Beast’s president, general manager and minority owner of Brampton Beast, said that the pandemic simply made the hurdles too huge to continue.

Here’s part of what he told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, and all of this will be applicable to junior hockey teams, as well . . .

“What we realized recently is that next season is compromised. Normally at this time of year, you sell a lot of season tickets, you renew your season tickets, you make group sales, you do a lot of sponsorship. There’s so much nervousness out there, we realized for the upcoming season . . . that revenues would be greatly depleted. You’re losing revenues in three distinct hockey seasons. As a business, it’s not sustainable. We came to that realization probably since Christmas, (and) for us that was just too much.”

And now we wait to see if more teams meet the same fate.

If you haven’t already seen it, Friedman’s weekly 31 Thoughts is right here.


Sauce


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The City of Toronto has cancelled outdoor events and parades through July 1. That includes Canada Day celebrations and its Pride Parade. . . .

The Prince Albert Minor Hockey Association has cancelled any games for the remainder of its 2020-21 season. The provincial government has extended restrictions until at least March 19, so the association decided it was time to move on from this season. Teams are still able to practice with eight mask-wearing, social-distancing players on the ice at a time. . . .

The San Jose Sharks had F Thomas Hertl enter COVID-19 protocol on Wednesday, so their Thursday game against the visiting Vegas Golden Knights has been postponed. The Sharks didn’t hold any practice or training sessions on Wednesday. . . . San Jose next is scheduled to play on Saturday against the visiting St. Louis Blues. . . . Also on Wednesday, the New York Rangers placed F K’Andre Miller on the COVID-19 protocol list, but they still played that night, losing 4-3 to the Flyers in Philly. . . .

Dan Ralph of The Canadian Press reports that the CFL, which didn’t play in 2020, is looking at holding training camps in May with the first exhibition game on May 23. He also writes that an 18-game regular season would open on June 10 without fans in the stands. . . . That story is right here. . . .

The 10-team Winnipeg-based Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League announced on Tuesday that it has cancelled the remainder of its 2020-21 season. “These are unprecedented times,” Kerry Lines, the league president, said in a news release, “and the events around COVID have impacted so many lives and families. Our priority as a league is to be compliant with the health orders and respect and support the decisions that are made to keep our communities safe and reduce the risk.” . . . The MMJHL last played on Oct. 29.


Warranty


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.


Kids

Seven WHL teams OK’d to play in Regina hub . . . Ridley two games from milestone . . . MJHL latest to cancel season

Now that was a big day for the WHL.

First, it announced on Friday that its five Saskatchewan-based teams and the WHL2two from Manitoba are going to play in a Regina hub situation beginning next month.

And then it revealed that there were 245 COVID-19 tests administered to four Alberta-based teams from Feb. 6 through Feb. 12, without any of them coming up positive. The Edmonton Oil Kings, Lethbridge Hurricanes, Medicine Hat Tigers and Red Deer Rebels are the teams that were tested; the news release doesn’t mention the Calgary Hitmen.

From that news release: “Using private PCR testing provided by DynaLIFE, testing was administered twice to all members of the team delegations of players and staff . . . All members of the team delegations were tested once upon arrival and a second time after a mandatory quarantine period in the club centre. As a result of no positive tests, the teams now are in a position to commence with team on-ice practices.”

While it’s been known for a while that the five Alberta teams will begin play on Feb. 26 and five U.S. Division teams are to start on March 19, the WHL also announced Friday that its Manitoba and Saskatchewan teams will open a 24-game schedule on March 12 with all games to be played in Regina. Fans won’t be allowed at any of these games.

The seven teams — Brandon Wheat Kings, Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders, Regina Pats, Saskatoon Blades, Swift Current Broncos and Winnipeg Ice — will live in dorms at the U of Regina and Luther College, with games and practices at the Brandt Centre and the Co-operators Centre, which contains six ice surfaces.

A big reason that all of this is possible is that the Saskatchewan government has given $600,000 to each of the five teams from that province, three of which are community-owned and two of which are privately owned.

All players and personnel will be tested regularly and, according to the WHL, should a team experience any positive tests it will have to shut down for at least 14 days.

The WHL news release is right here.

Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has more right here.

Randy Palmer of moosejawtoday.com has more on all of this, from a Moose Jaw Warriors perspective, right here.

As things sit right now, only the five B.C. Division teams haven’t been given the OK to return to play from health officials. . . . While the Rebels are being housed in the corporate suites in their home arena, the Centrium, the Hitmen will be at the Grey Eagle Resort on the Tsuut’ina Nation, just outside Calgary’s southwest edge, where they will practise and play their games in the Seven Chiefs Sportsplex. . . . The Hurricanes, who were on the practice ice on Friday, have been paired up and are living in apartments near Lethbridge College within easy walking distance of the Enmax Centre. . . . According to Darren Steinke, whose blog is right here, Bob Ridley will call his 4,000th game involving the Tigers on Feb. 27 when they play host to the Rebels. Ridley has called all but one of the Tigers’ games since the franchise arrived, leaving him at 3,998. The one he missed? In the spring of 1973, he was assigned to cover a curling event in Saskatoon in which his boss’s wife was competing.


Ticket


On a day when the WHL announced that its two Manitoba franchises would be mjhlmoving to Regina to begin play next month, the junior A MJHL announced that it has cancelled the remainder of its season. . . . From an MJHL news release: “After multiple discussions with public health, representatives of the provincial government, facility managers and stakeholders, the MJHL board of governors has determined that the resumption and completion of the 2020-21 regular league/playoff season is not feasible due to current conditions. It has become unrealistic to continue operating in a state of hope with so much uncertainty and no timeline provided. It is unfair to our athletes and staff, our community organizations who have been severely impacted financially and the communities/regions our organizations support and garner support from.” . . . The news release, over commissioner Kevin Saurette’s name, also said that teams “will have the option to continue to provide training and development opportunities, exhibition games, etc. . . .” based on updated orders and directives from health officials and Hockey Manitoba. . . . The MJHL hadn’t played since Nov. 12. . . . The complete news release is right here.



The Philadelphia Flyers were to have played on Thursday and Saturday nights, nhl2but both games were postponed. As of Friday, they had seven players on the COVID-19 protocol list, including F Oskar Lindblom, who was added on Friday. Being on the list, doesn’t mean that a player tested positive; it might mean that contact tracing has shown a possibility of exposure. . . . Lindblom was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of bone cancer, 14 months ago and was declared free of the disease two months ago. . . . Also on the Flyers’ protocol list are D Justin Braun, F Morgan Frost, F Claude Giroux, F Scott Laughton, D Travis Sanheim and F Jakub Voracek. . . . F Steven Stamkos didn’t play for the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, with the team saying he had a lower-body injury. On Friday, the Lightning put him on its protocol list. Stamkos later tweeted that he had gotten a false positive. . . . The NHL had 47 players on the protocol list on Friday.


Curve

THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News — Federal government to implement new rules for international travellers February 22. Anyone arriving in the country, including Canadians, must first have a COVID-19 test and quarantine in an approved hotel for 3 days at their own expense.

CBC News — 81 new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, marking the 1st time since October the province has gone a full week where the number of new daily cases has been less than 100. 4 additional deaths are also being reported.

CBC News — Saskatchewan reports 195 new coronavirus cases and 2 additional deaths.

CBC News — Alberta is reporting 314 new COVID-19 cases and 16 additional deaths.

CBC News — On the Friday before the Family Day long weekend, B.C. health officials are pleading with everyone to stay local and stick to their households in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. . . . The warning came as the province announced 445 more cases of COVID-19 and 10 more deaths from the disease. . . . Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there are now 4,347 active cases of the novel coronavirus across the province. That includes 226 patients who are in hospital, including 61 in intensive care.

CBC News — Ontario is reporting 1,076 new cases of COVID-19 and 18 additional deaths related to the illness. 763 people are in hospital, including 295 in intensive care.

CBC News — 984 new COVID-19 cases in Quebec as the number falls below 1,000 again for the 4th time in a week. The number of hospitalizations is dropping steadily; it’s been below 1,000 for a week. 24 additional deaths are being attributed to the virus.

CBC News — New Brunswick reports 5 new COVID-19 cases as January’s surge in cases appears to be fading; the province’s 7 day-average has fallen to 8.

CBC News — 50 new cases of COVID-19 are being reported in Newfoundland and Labrador. 47 of the cases are in the Eastern Health region; the other 3 are in the Central Health region. 20 of the new cases involve people under 20 years old. There are 260 known active cases in the province. . . . Newfoundland and Labrador’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, says the latest COVID-19 outbreak in the St. John’s metro area is the variant from the UK. . . . A surge in COVID-19 infections has thrown Newfoundland and Labrador’s election into chaos. The vote, set for Saturday, has just become solely a mail-in election.

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While the CFL didn’t get to play in 2020, it is planning on a 2021 season. However, there already are rumblings that maybe that won’t happen. Gerry Moddejonge of the Edmonton Sun has quoted someone “familiar with the league at an executive level” as saying that “I don’t even know this year if it’s plausible for them to play with the (COVID-19) numbers the way they are. It would honestly be, to me, smarter for them to forego another season and plan for 2022.” . . . Yes, it’s early, but it’s food for thought, and it’s all right here. . . .

Canada’s Larry Walker was to have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., last summer. However, the party was postponed by the pandemic. And now the Hall of Fame has announced that the 2021 induction ceremony will be done entirely on TV on June 25. . . . Walker will be joined by Derek Jeter, Ted Simmons and the late Marvin Miller in being inducted. . . .

Brendan Batchelor, the radio play-by-play voice of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, will miss the club’s next four games. He revealed via Twitter on Friday that he was exposed to someone who had tested positive, so is self-isolating. While he will take part in pre- and post-game shows from home, Joey Kenward will call the play for at least the next four games. . . . Batchelor and Kenward both are former WHL radio voices.


Stocks


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.


Vote

Scattershooting on a Wednesday night and, hey, it’s George Reed’s birthday . . .

Scattershooting

Hey, we’re scattershooting from the road so we’re doing some catching up . . .


You know that you might be in Regina when you pick up a copy of The Leader-Post and the major headline above the fold reads: RIDER LEGEND HITS 80. . . . And the sports section front and second page are both all George Reed all the time. . . . Hey, not complaining. Just sayin’ . . . Hey, George, happy birthday and here’s to many more!



Brad Flynn is an assistant coach with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels. His fiancee, Christine, was diagnosed with breast cancer in April and is undergoing treatment. The other day, all of the Rebels players had their heads shaved in a show of support for her. Well done, Rebels! Well done! You can bet that really means a lot of Christine and Brad.


When old friend Bob Ridley walked into the broadcast booth in the ENMAX Centre in Lethbridge a couple of Friday’s ago, he began his 50th season of calling the play-by-play of games involving the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Going into the game, the Tigers had played 3,936 regular-season, playoff and Memorial Cup games, and Ridley had been on the air for 3,935 of them. (Yes, there’s a story behind the game he missed and it involves women’s curling. Ask him about it the next time you see him.) . . . As blogger Darren Steinke points out, “If you called 80 games a season . . . for 49 campaigns, you would still fall short of Ridley’s current total.” . . . And let’s not forget that Ridley was the Tigers’ bus driver for the vast majority of those seasons, too. . . . Steinke has more right here in a blog posting.



Here’s a plug for old friend Dickson Liong’s podcast — Two Peas in a Pod . . . cast. He and Jon Guarin talk about, in Liong’s own words, “topics that society is afraid to talk about, including mental health, relationships and everyday struggles.” . . . Check it out right here.


Headline at TheOnion.com: Tearful Justify holds press conference blaming failed drug test on contaminated salt lick.


IceCream


Thanks to Rod Pedersen, whose new show is available via Facebook, for the kind words: “The WHL and CFL lost two huge media figures when Gregg Drinnan and Drew Edwards walked away from their blogs (Taking Note and 3DownNation). They left for different reasons, but now a huge hole has been created in coverage of both leagues. 3DownNation will be okay because Justin Dunk has assumed control but as far as the Dub goes, there will never be another Gregg Drinnan. He doesn’t just belong in a Hall of Fame for WHL Writers; it should be named after him. Teams and head offices sometimes saw these guys as a pain, but we’re going to see now why the media is so important to what happens on the field, the ice, in the stands and at the turnstiles.”


From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “For you big believers in Bad Things Happen in Threes, Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) is out for the Steelers, Drew Brees (thumb) is out for the Saints and Christie Brinkley (broken arm) is out for Dancing With The Stars.”

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One more from Perry: “The Cowboys opened as 20-point favorites over the Dolphins earlier this season— the largest opening spread in 30 years. Stealing a page from the college-football book, Miami asked to be paid a $950,000 appearance fee.”

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Perry, again: “The NCAA banned Georgia Tech’s basketball team from postseason play for one year because boosters provided impermissible benefits to a recruit — including clothing and a strip-club visit. Which certainly puts a whole new spin on ‘shirts and skins’.”



Can anyone explain how ex-Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon became so dumb so quickly? As Jack Finarelli, aka The SportsCurmudgeon, writes: “Joe Maddon’s teams in Chicago accumulated a five-season record of 471-340, which is a winning percentage of .581. To put that in perspective, there are 25 managers in the Baseball Hall of Fame whose career records are below .581.”

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If you haven’t already read it, Steve Greenberg of the Chicago Sun-Times spells out right here what went wrong at Wrigley Field.


Headline at TheOnion.com: Overwhelmed Dolphins GM asks players to please use automated email form when making trade requests.



Will McCrimmon stay, or will he go? . . . Another hall beckons Ridley. . . . Broncos explain broadcast plans

ThisThat

It seems most likely that Bob Nicholson, the Edmonton Oilers’ CEO who is searching for a general manager, will chat with Kelly McCrimmon one of these days.

McCrimmon, who owns the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, is in his third season as the Oilersassistant general manager of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

Here’s Robin Brownlee of oilersnation.com: “The bottom line in job interviews has the prospective employer asking candidates — either directly or by nibbling around the edges — ‘Tell me why we should hire you?’ If I was in McCrimmon’s shoes and staring across the table at Nicholson, I’d be asking, ‘So, tell me why I should work for you?’ If it goes like that, and I suspect that it will, Nicholson had better have his fastball ready.” (Brownlee’s latest is right here.)

So, if this scenario plays out, will McCrimmon end up in Edmonton? Or will he move on to the expansion franchise in Seattle? Or will he stay put?

Time, of course, will tell, but history tells me that McCrimmon may just stay in Vegas and continue to work alongside general manager George McPhee.

Why do I lean that way?

Because McCrimmon, now 58, has a history of wanting to see things through. And after the way the Golden Knights’ season ended on Tuesday night, he may just want to stay there and play it out, something he has done a time or two.

As the 1980s turned into the ’90s, McCrimmon was the Wheat Kings’ general manager and head coach, having taken over as the latter when Doug Sauter took ill during the 1989-90 season.

He later gave up — temporarily, as it turned out — coaching duties to focus on reshaping the organization’s way of doing business. Back then, the Wheat Kings often scrambled just to get into the playoffs, only to be bounced early. By 1992-93, McCrimmon, the GM, owned one-third of the franchise and the reshaping was in high gear. A team that had won only 11 games in 1991-92 put up 43 victories in 1993-94. That was the start of seven straight seasons with at least 39 victories and included three trips to the WHL final and one championship. McCrimmon had surrounded himself with good people and they had turned a once-faltering franchise into one of the best in all of the CHL.

Fast forward to the summer of 2015. The Wheat Kings, with McCrimmon now owner, GM and head coach, were coming off a season in which they went 53-11-8, only to lose out in the WHL final. Then, in May, the Toronto Maple Leafs came calling as they searched for an assistant GM.

By early June there were reports that the Leafs had made an offer to McCrimmon, who had become the Wheat Kings’ sole owner in 2000. As tempted as McCrimmon was to join the Leafs, he chose to stay in Brandon. Why? Because he had overseen the building of the Wheat Kings into a championship contender and he felt he owed it to the players he had drafted and recruited to see it through.

In 2015-16, the Wheat Kings were 48-18-6, and then went on a 16-5 run as they won the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champs.

On Aug. 2, 2016, the Golden Knights announced that they had hired McCrimmon as assistant GM. His fingerprints are all over the organization, including the hirings of Vaughn Karpan as director of player personnel, Bob Lowes as assistant director of player personnel and scouts like Kelly Kisio, Bruno Campese and Erin Ginnell.

You can bet that McCrimmon had a lot to do with the February acquisition and subsequent signing of forward Mark Stone, too. He had played four seasons in Brandon after being a fifth-round pick in the WHL’s 2007 bantam draft.

For all of those reasons, then, McCrimmon just may choose to stay with the Golden Knights, who were in the Stanley Cup final as an expansion team just one year ago.

He has had a hand in all of it and just may want to be an active part of wherever it goes.

Or . . . maybe not!


The semifinals are set at the IIHF U-18 World Championship that is being played in CanadaOrnskoldsvik and Umea, Sweden. . . . Team Canada got past Latvia, 3-1, in Umea on Thursday, and now will travel to Ornskoldsvik to play the host Swedes on Saturday. . . . D Braden Schneider (Brandon Wheat Kings) gave Canada a 1-0 first-period lead, with F Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg Ice) being credited with the 2-0 goal after a Latvian defender scored an own goal on an attempted clearance. . . . Krebs later added an empty-netter. . . . Schneider added an assist to his goal, with F Connor Zary (Kamloops Blazers) and F Brayden Tracey (Moose Jaw Warriors) each earning one assist. . . . G Taylor Gauthier (Prince George Cougars) recorded the victory. . . . Sweden advanced with a 4-2 victory over Czech Republic. . . .

On the other side of the draw, Russia blanked Belarus, 6-0, and Team USA, behind three goals from F Jack Hughes and one from F Cole Caufield, dumped Finland, 6-0. Hughes now has eight goals and eight assists, while Caufield has scored 12 times. . . . Team USA and Russia will meet in a semifinal game on Saturday, also in Ornskoldsvik.

In Game 1 of the best-of-three relegation round, Switzerland dumped Slovakia, 4-1.

The tournament is scheduled to end on Sunday.


Just call him Bob (Hall of Fame) Ridley. . . . Ridley, the only play-by-play voice the Medicine Hat Tigers have had, will be inducted into the Western Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in Banff on June 6. The WAB made that announcement on Thursday. . . . Earlier, it was announced that Ridley will be going into the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame during an induction ceremony in Canmore on July 21. . . . He already is a member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. . . . Ridley has been with CHAT in Medicine Hat since 1968 and has been the voice of the Tigers since they entered the WHL for the 1970-71 season. . . . In all that time, he has missed only one game; legend has it that he was assigned to cover a women’s curling event in which the boss’s wife was playing. . . . Including regular-season and playoffs, he has called the play of 3,931 games involving the Tigers. . . . Ridley also drove the team’s bus until a couple of seasons ago. For some reason, he hasn’t yet been inducted into a bus drivers’ hall of fame. . . . There is more right here on the WAB honour, including ticket information.


If you have ever wanted to own a hockey team, well, this just might be your lucky day. . . . A tip of the Taking Note fedora to a regular reader for sending this along and, yes, it’s legit. . . . And, no, this isn’t a paid advertisement. . . .

 

ForSale


Games involving the Tri-City Americans will be heard on NewsTalk 870 KFLD for two more seasons after the WHL team and Townsquare Media announced a new two-year deal on Thursday. . . . Tri-City’s home-and-away games have been on the station since the 2000-01 season. . . . Craig West, the American’s vice-president of sponsorship sales/broadcasting, is the team’s radio voice.


The Swift Current Broncos revealed earlier this month that they are abandoning the SCBroncostraditional role of having their games on conventional radio, and moving to a model that includes streaming broadcasts. . . . On Thursday, they issued a lengthy news release explaining their new approach. . . . When the news broke earlier in the month, someone familiar with the situation told Taking Note that a “major hang up is broadcast rights/revenue sharing.” In other words, the Broncos were wanting Golden West Radio, the rights holder, to cough up some money, something that apparently wasn’t going to happen. . . . The Broncos’ news release that was issued on Thursday includes this: “The previous model of broadcasting did not provide the Broncos organization with the positive economic impact that sports broadcast rights at our level is expected to provide. By managing our own broadcasting and establishing a business model that leverages our full-time employees’ skill sets and abilities, we will be able to generate a positive financial benefit that will contribute to the long-term financial strength of our organization.” . . . That pretty much explains it all. . . . The complete news release is right here.


The Saskatoon Blades have made some moves on the business side of their organization. Saskatoon. . . Colin Priestner, who just completed his third season as the team’s general manager, now is the president and GM. He will, according to a news release, “oversee all operations . . . in both the hockey and business departments.” . . . Steve Hogle, who had been the president, now is senior advisor. He remains as the Blades’ alternate governor. (Mike Priestner, the team’s owner, is the governor.) . . . Hogle, according to the news release, also “is taking on additional duties with the Blades’ parent company, Go Auto.” . . . Tyler Wawryk, the team’s communications manager for three seasons, has been promoted to director of business operations. . . . Cliff Mapes, who had been vice-president of business, no longer is with the Blades. . . . The complete news release is right here.


George Cochrane has been named the combines manager for the Okanagan Hockey Group, where he will work with Jason Wild, the manager of combines operations. . . . Cochrane had been the head coach of the Kamloops Minor Hockey Association from 2006-17. He left that position to join BC Hockey as manager of programs at their Okanagan Regional Centre. This season, he also was the general manager for the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. . . . There is a complete news release right here.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The Vancouver Giants get their first chance at advancing to the WHL championship final tonight when they entertain the Spokane Chiefs in Langley, B.C. The Giants hold a 3-1 edge in the Western Conference final, after F Dawson Holt scored at 7:07 of OT to give them a 4-3 victory in Spokane on Wednesday night. . . . Holt has three goals and two assists in the four games with the Chiefs. He has five goals and seven assists in 14 playoff games after totalling six goals and 13 assists in 53 regular-season games. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia has more on Holt and this series right here. . . . The Giants haven’t been in the WHL final since the spring of 2007 when they lost a seven-game series to the Medicine Hat Tigers. The Giants were the host team for the Memorial Cup that year and went on to win it all. . . .

The Eastern Conference final also resumes tonight as the Edmonton Oil Kings meet the Raiders in Prince Albert. . . . The series is tied, 2-2, after the Raiders skated to a 2-1 victory in Edmonton on Wednesday night. These teams will return to Edmonton for Game 6 on Sunday afternoon.


Tweetoftheday

Who would you start in goal? . . . Hurricanes, Hitmen going to Game 7. . . . Oil Kings take care of Tigers in 6

MacBeth

G Leland Irving (Everett, 2003-08) signed a one-year extension with Bolzano (Italy, Erste Bank Liga). This season, in 45 games, he was 2.50 and .921. He was third in the league in GAA and second in save percentage.


ThisThat

The Victoria Royals are in Kamloops tonight with a chance to wrap up their first-round series with the Blazers. A 6-3 victory in Victoria on Saturday left the Royals with a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven series.

According to Blazers broadcaster Jon Keen, this will be the eighth time the Blazers will Kamloops1have been one loss from having either their playoff hopes or their season come to an end.

So . . . if you’re Kamloops head coach Serge Lajoie who do you start in goal tonight? Your choices are Dylan Ferguson 20, who started but didn’t finish on Saturday, or Dylan Garand, 16.

In this series, Ferguson is 2-2, 3.56, .876 in four appearances, all starts. He has turned aside 92 of 105 shots.

Garand is 0-1, 2.18, .933 — he has stopped 42 of 45 shots — in two appearances.

In the regular season, Ferguson, who has signed with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, was the unquestioned starter, finishing 17-24-5, 3.01, .908 in 49 appearances. However, he was injured on March 6 and Garand — he went 11-7-3, 2.94, .902 in 27 regular-season appearances — was spectacular as the go-to down the stretch.

In the last six regular-season games, with Ferguson unable to even dress as the backup, when a regulation loss would have ended the Blazers’ playoff hopes, Garand went 5-0-1, 1.63, .939.

Garand also went the distance in the tiebreaker, stopping 27 shots as the Blazers beat the visiting Kelowna Rockets, 5-1, to get into the first round.

So . . . if you’re Kamloops head coach Serge Lajoie who do you tap on the shoulder tonight?

As an aside, the Blazers have added G Rayce Ramsay to their roster. He has been with the team previously, most recently as Garand’s backup for part of the time while Ferguson was injured. Ramsay spent this season with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, whose season ended with a Game 7 loss to the host Estevan Bruins on Tuesday.


If was a year ago when Kelly Sowatsky took a sign with her to a Pittsburgh Penguins’ home game. She was in desperate need of a kidney transplant and had decided it might not hurt to get her message out there. . . . In the end, the sign paid off, and how it all came about is quite a story. . . . Ryan McGee, a senior writer at ESPN, has it all right here.


F Cam Recchi and F Coalson Walford each had a goal and an assist as the Notre Dame Hounds won the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League championship with a 4-1 victory over the visiting Saskatoon Blazers. . . . The Hounds won the best-of-five final, 3-1. . . . Recchi, 17, is the son of former WHL star Mark Recchi, who is a Hockey Hall of Famer and also a part-owner of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . The Hounds will join the Brandon Wheat Kings, Thunder Bay Kings and the host Tisdale Trojans in the Telus Cup’s western regional tournament starting Thursday.


Matt Hughes is the new head coach of the Okanagan Hockey Academy’s female prep team. He spent the past two seasons as the general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: There is one WHL game on the playoff schedule tonight, with the Victoria Royals in Kamloops to face the Blazers. The Royals won, 6-3, in Victoria on Saturday night to move into a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. . . . Game 7, if needed, would be played in Victoria on Wednesday night. . . . The winner of this series will face the Vancouver Giants in the second round. That series is to open in Langley, B.C., on Friday. . . .

The Calgary Hitmen and Lethbridge Hurricanes are going to a Game 7. The Hurricanes skated to a 7-6 OT victory in Calgary on Sunday in a game that featured six third-period goals, including one with 33 seconds left in regulation time. . . .

In Sunday’s other game, the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Tigers, 4-3 in OT, in Medicine Hat to win that series, 4-2. . . . The Oil Kings now await the winner of the series between Calgary and Lethbridge. . . . This was the third spring in a row that the Tigers’ season was ended by an OT goal. . . . Last season, F Linden McCorrister’s goal at 10:37 of OT gave the host Brandon Wheat Kings a 4-3 victory over the Tigers in Game 6 of a first-round series. . . . In 2017, F Tyler Wong’s shorthanded goal at 3:03 of OT gave the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes a 5-4 victory over the Tigers in Game 7 of a second-round series. . . .

Darren Steinke, who worked at the Medicine Hat News not that long ago, tweets that Bob Ridley, the voice of the Tigers, called his 3,935th game on Sunday. . . . With road teams winning twice on Sunday, the home teams now are 21-20 in the first round. . . .

F Phillip Schultz scored three times for the host Victoria Royals in Saturday’s 6-3 victory over the Kamloops Blazers. A freshman from Germany, he is the first import in Royals history to enjoy a playoff hat trick. . . . He also is the fourth Royals player with a playoff hat trick, after F Tyler Soy (2018), F Brandon Magee (2015) and F Jamie Crooks (2012). . . .

The dates for one second-round Western Conference series have been announced. . . . Everett and Spokane Chiefs will use a 2-3-2 format because Cirque du Soleil will take over the Silvertips’ home arena for a few days. The series will open in Everett on Saturday and Sunday, then move to Spokane for games on April 10 and 12 and, if necessary, April 13. The last two games, if needed, would be played in Everett on April 15 and 17. . . . Everett finished on top of the U.S. Division, at 47-16-5, with Spokane second, at 40-21-7. The Silvertips won the season series, 6-0-2; the Chiefs were 2-5-1. . . . They have met once since the Jan. 10 trade deadline — Everett won, 3-1, in Spokane on March 5. . . .

Meanwhile, the Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades are looking on with interest after sweeping their first-round series. They’ll being the second round with games in Prince Albert on Friday and Sunday, with Games 3 and 4 in Saskatoon on April 9 and 10. If needed, Game 5 would be played in Prince Albert on April 12, with Game 6 in Saskatoon on April 14, and Game 7 back in Prince Albert on April 16. . . . Prince Albert went 54-10-4 to finish atop the overall standings; Saskatoon was second in the East Division, at 45-15-8. . . . The Raiders were 6-2-0 in the season series; the Blades were 2-5-1. . . . They have met twice since the trade deadline — Saskatoon won, 3-2, at home on March 15; the Raiders won, 3-1, at home the next night.

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SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Lethbridge Hurricanes, who were 33 seconds from having their season end, got a Lethbridgegoal from F Taylor Ross at 3:57 of OT to earn a wild 7-6 victory over the host Calgary Hitmen. . . . The series is tied, 3-3, with Game 7 set for the Nicholas Sheran Arena in Lethbridge on Tuesday night. You will recall that the world men’s curling championship is being decided in the Enmax Centre, so the Hurricanes are playing home games in the arena that is home to the U of L Pronghorns women’s and men’s teams. . . . On Sunday, the Hurricanes jumped out to an early 3-1 lead but weren’t able to hold it. . . . F Kaden Elder (1) gave Calgary a 1-0 lead at 1:00 of the first period. . . . Lethbridge responded with three quick goals from F Zachary Cox (1), at 2:08; F Dylan Cozens (4), at 3:08; and F Jordy Bellerive (2), on a PP, at 6:32. . . . Calgary pulled even on goals from F Cael Zimmerman (2), on a PP, at 12:53, and D Devan Klassen (2), at 5:42 of the second period. . . . F Nick Henry (4) put Lethbridge back in front, on a PP, at 2:57 of the third period. . . . Calgary tied it when F Ryder Korczak (2) scored at 11:12. . . . F Jake Leschyshyn (6) gave Lethbridge a 5-4 lead, on a PP, at 11:47. . . . Calgary went ahead 6-5 on goals from F James Malm (2), at 13:05, and F Mark Kastelic (4), at 17:37. . . . With the Hitmen seemingly on the verge of winning the series, Lethbridge D Calen Addison, who also had three assists, scored his second goal of the series at 19:27. . . . Ross, a 34-goal man in the regular season, won it with his first goal of the series. . . . Leschyshyn also had three assists, with Zimmerman chipping in two. . . . Lethbridge was 3-4 on the PP; Calgary was 1-4. . . . The Hurricanes got 27 stops from G Carl Tetachuk, while G Jack McNaughton stopped 34 shots for Calgary. . . . Calgary had a 3-2 edge in OT shots.


F Vince Loschiavo scored at 2:43 of OT as the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Tigers, 4-3, in EdmontonOilKingsMedicine Hat. . . . Edmonton won the series, 4-2, and will play either the Calgary Hitmen or Lethbridge Hurricanes in the second round. That series likely will open on Friday night in Edmonton. . . . The Oil Kings won on Sunday by scoring the game’s last three goals. . . . F Trey Fix-Wolansky (3) put Edmonton out front at 4:09 of the first period. . . . The Tigers took a 3-1 lead on goals from F Corson Hopwo (1), at 5:54 of the first; F James Hamblin (4), at 7:14 of the second; and Hamblin (5), on a PP, at 7:41. . . . D Wyatt McLeod (1) scored at 8:06 to get the Oil Kings to within a goal, and D Conner McDonald (1) tied it 31 seconds into the third period. . . . Loschiavo’s fourth goal of the series, off a pass from Fix-Wolansky, won it at 2:43 of extra time. . . . Medicine Hat was 1-3 on the PP; Edmonton was 0-1. . . . Edmonton held a 37-29 edge in shots, including 10-5 in the third period and 3-1 in OT. . . . The Oil Kings got 26 saves from G Todd Scott, while G Mads Søgaard stopped 33 shots for the Tigers.


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Mickey Mouse Night in Moose Jaw. Ohh, the memories. . . . Blazers adding goaltender. . . . Ridley talks way into AHHOF

If you haven’t seen this yet, take a look. Yes, we used to have some fun on the WHL beat and, no, there won’t ever be another Crushed Can. . . .


MacBeth

D Dominik Bittner (Everett, 2011-12) has signed a two-year contract with Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL). This season, with Schwenninger Wild Wings (Germany, DEL), he had two goals and 14 assists in 46 games.


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The Kamloops Blazers, their playoff hopes flickering like a fading light bulb, have lost G Dylan Ferguson to injury, so are expected to add G Rayce Ramsay to their roster.

Ramsay, who turned 18 on Jan. 3, has been playing with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. Kamloops1From Saskatoon, Ramsay was 16-7-1, 2.73, .923 in his first season with Humboldt. . . . Ramsay got into 27 games with the Broncos, as he split time with Dane Dow, who made 34 appearances and was 19-12-2, 3.06, .906. . . . The Broncos aren’t scheduled to play again until March 15 when they open a best-of-seven first-round series with the Estevan Bruins. . . . Ramsay has made two appearances with the Blazers this season, going 1.99, .931 in 60 minutes of action.

Ferguson, who has played in 49 games (17-24-5, 3.01, .908), went down in the second period of a 5-0 loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants on Wednesday night. He needed to lean on his stick in order to get back on his feet, and tried to stay in the game. But he left at the next whistle, and needed help leaving as he was unable to put any weight on one leg.

G Dylan Garand, a 16-year-old freshman from Victoria, is the Blazers’ other goaltender. A third-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft, he is 6-7-2, 3.40, .891.

The Blazers (23-32-7) have lost their past four games (0-3-1), three of them to the B.C. Division-champion Vancouver Giants. With six games left, Kamloops is fourth in the division, seven points behind the Kelowna Rockets. The Blazers and Rockets are to meet tonight in Kamloops and Saturday night in Kelowna.

Kamloops also is seven points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot.


The Kelowna Rockets will be without F Mark Liwiski for their next three games, KelownaRocketsincluding this weekend’s home-and-home series with the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Liwiski drew a three-game suspension after taking a boarding major and game misconduct for a hit on Portland F Seth Jarvis during a 4-3 victory over the visiting Winterhawks on Sunday. . . . The Rockets are to play in Kamloops tonight, with the Blazers in Kelowna on Saturday night. . . . Liwiski, who has 10 goals and six assists in 58 games, also will miss Kelowna’s game on Wednesday against the visiting Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Rockets are third in the B.C. Division, seven points ahead of the Blazers.


Paul Danzer of the Portland Tribune reports that three Winterhawks skaters — F Cody PortlandGlass, F Seth Jarvis and D Matt Quigley — were listed as “week-to-week” by GM/head coach Mike Johnston going into this week. . . . Danzer writes that Glass “has experienced some nagging discomfort in the knee he injured in late January.” Glass has missed Portland’s past three games. . . . Quigley has missed eight games with an undisclosed injury. . . Jarvis was injured during a 4-3 loss to the Rockets in Kelowna on Sunday. Kelowna F Mark Liwiski received a boarding major and game misconduct on the play, and since has been suspended for three games by the WHL. . . . The Winterhawks have added D Ryan Miley to their roster since his team, the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles, had its season come to an end. Miley, 18, is from Brooking, S.D. He had one goal and four assists in 43 games with the Eagles. He was pointless in one game with Portland last season.


The Victoria Royals have added a pair of defencemen — Kaden Reinders and D Noah VictoriaRoyalsLamb — to their roster. . . . They both played in Wednesday’s 6-3 loss to the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Reinders had been with the midget AAA Grande Prairie Storm. He was a third-round pick in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. He is pointless in nine WHL games, six of them this season. . . . Lamb played for the midget AAA Edmonton Knights of Columbus Pats. He was selected in the sixth round of the 2017 bantam draft, and has played two WHL games, both this season. . . .


The Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame’s 2019 induction dinner is going to have a definite Tigers Logo OfficialMedicine Hat flavour. . . . The Class of 2019, as revealed on Thursday, includes Bob Ridley, the only play-by-play voice in the Tigers’ history, along with the 1986-87 and 1987-88 Tigers, the only team from Alberta to have won back-to-back Memorial Cup titles. . . . Ridley celebrated 50 years with CHAT in Medicine Hat last year. He has done more than 3,900 Tigers games and until recently doubled as the team’s bus driver. . . . Also to be inducted are Theo Fleury, who won a Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames, an Olympic gold medal and also played four seasons (1984-88) with the Moose Jaw Warriors; Shirley Cameron, a player, coach and builder of women’s hockey in Alberta; Kevin Lowe, who won six Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers and two Olympic gold medals; and Duncan MacDougall, who is being recognized for “four decades of involvement at the grassroots level of the officiating program in Edmonton.” . . . The AHHF Awards Gala is scheduled for July 21 at the Coast Hotel in Canmore.

The 1986-87 Medicine Hat Tigers: Ron Bonora, Neil Brady, Dean Chynoweth, Rob Dimaio, Rocky Dundas, Mark Fitzpatrick, Kelly Hitchins, Jamie Huscroft, Wayne Hynes, Kevin Knopp, Mark Kuntz, Dale Kushner, Kirby Lindal, Trevor Linden, Mike MacWilliam, Wayne McBean, Scott McCrady, Mark Pederson, Guy Phillips, Jeff Wenaas, Keith Van Rooyen, Rod Williams, Russ Farwell (general manager), Bryan Maxwell (coach).

The 1987-88 Medicine Hat Tigers: Mike Barlage, Vince Boe, Neil Brady, Dean Chynoweth, Rob Dimaio, Mark Fitzpatrick, Clayton Gainer, Murray Garbutt, Wayne Hynes, Dan Kordic, Kirby Lindal, Trevor Linden, Wayne McBean, Scott McCrady, Ryan McGill, Jason Miller, Mark Pederson, Jason Prosofsky, Darren Taylor, Neil Wilkinson, Mark Woolf, Cal Zankowski, Russ Farwell (general manager), Barry Melrose (coach).

(Rosters from chlmemorialcup.ca/history-rosters/)



Alan Millar, the general manager of the Moose Jaw Warriors, is back with Hockey CanadaCanada as part of its Program of Excellence management group. . . . Millar will, according to a news release, “advise and support the Canadian contingents at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and 2020 IIHF U18 World Championship.” . . . This will be Millar’s second consecutive season with the program. . . . At the same time, Hockey Canada announced that Martin Mondou, the GM of the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes, will “guide and support three teams at the 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Medicine Hat and Swift Current.” . . . Mark Hunter, the general manager of the OHL’s London Knights, will take over the U-20 program and Canada’s national junior team. Hunter spent four seasons with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs as director of player personnel (2014-16) and assistant GM (2016-18) before returning toe London. He is likely to get at least some consideration as the next GM of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. As well, the expansion Seattle franchise likely will have him on its list of possible general managers. . . . Hockey Canada’s complete news release is right here.


JUST NOTES: The 2020 U-17 World Hockey Challenge is to be played in Charlottetown and Summerside, both of which are on Prince Edward Island, from Oct. 31 through Nov. 7. Games will be played in in Charlottetown’s 3,717-seat Eastlink Centre, as well as Summerside’s 3,728-seat Credit Union Place. . . . The OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs will play host to the next Top Prospects Game, which is set for Jan. 16, 2020. The 25th annual game will feature NHL draft-eligible players from the OHL, QMJHL and WHL. . . . The Calgary Hitmen have added F Sean Tschigerl to their roster. Tschigerl, 15, is from Whitecourt, Alta., and has been playing with the OHA Edmonton prep team. The fourth-overall pick in the 2018 bantam draft, he is pointless in six games with the Hitmen this season. . . . The Tri-City Americans have added F Sequoia Swan, 17, to their roster. He had been playing with the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard, whose season has ended. He was a sixth-round pick by the Americans in the 2017 bantam draft.


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Brandon hopes to deal veteran d-man . . . McClennon nearly ready to return . . . Rebels pull victory out of the fire


MacBeth

D Ty Wishart (Prince George, Moose Jaw, 2004-08) has been released by Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He had four goals and three assists in 27 games.


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The Brandon Wheat Kings have dropped D Schael Higson, 20, from their roster and are BrandonWKregularhoping to trade him before the Jan. 10 deadline. . . . Higson, from Grande Prairie, Alta., has three goals and 14 assists in 20 games this season. . . .

The first indication that something was happening with Higson came on Monday prior to Brandon’s 3-1 loss to the Warriors in Moose Jaw. Higson was scratched and, prior to the game, Brandon Crowe, the radio voice of the Wheat Kings, tweeted that he had been told Higson’s absence was a “coach’s decision . . . he did not make the trip.” . . . 

In his fifth WHL season, Highson has played 90 regular-season games with the Saskatoon Blades and 192 with the Wheat Kings. In those 282 games, he has 18 goals and 61 assists. . . . Higson’s departure leaves Brandon with one 20-year-old on its roster — F Linden McCorrister.

The Wheat Kings, who have lost four in a row and seven of 10, are at home to the Seattle Thunderbirds on Friday night. The skid has knocked the Wheat Kings out of a playoff spot; they had held the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, but now trail the Calgary Hitmen by two points. Brandon has two games in hand. . . . The Wheat Kings are fourth in the East Division, 10 points behind the third-place Moose Jaw Warriors.


D Matthew Quigley of the Portland Winterhawks has been suspended for four games whlafter taking a kneeing major and game misconduct during a game against the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash., on Saturday. Quigley hit F Dillon Hamaliuk on the play. Hamaliuk was injured and isn’t expected to play again this season. . . . Quigley sat out Sunday’s rematch in Portland, and will miss road games Friday (Swift Current), Saturday (Moose Jaw) and Tuesday (Brandon) before being eligible to return on Jan. 9 in Regina. . . .

Meanwhile, Seattle D Cade McNelly drew a three-game suspension after taking a cross-checking major and game misconduct for a hit on F Michal Kvasnica in Portland on Monday. . . .

As well, Seattle F Matthew Wedman has a TBD suspension after taking a kneeing major and game misconduct for a hit on F Jake Gricius in that Monday game. Gricius left the game and didn’t return. However, he is with the Winterhawks on their Central Division and is expected to play Friday in Swift Current.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have added F Mike Horon to their roster. Horon, 17, was acquired from the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Tuesday. From Lethbridge, he was playing for the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes and was leading the Alberta Midget Hockey League in scoring, with 50 points, including 25 goals, in 21 games. . . . Seattle got Horon, F Keltie Jeri-Leon, 18, and a 2019 fourth-round bantam draft pick from Lethbridge for G Liam Hughes, 19, and an eighth-round pick in the 2019 draft. . . . The Thunderbirds are to open an East Division swing in Brandon on Friday night.


The Spokane Chiefs have added D Graham Sward, 15, to their roster. He was Spokane’s first-round selection, 17th overall, in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Sward, from Abbotsford, B.C., has five goals and 12 assists in 19 games with the major midget Fraser Valley Thunderbirds. . . . He will be available to play with the Chiefs on Friday against the visiting Kamloops Blazers and on Saturday in Cranbrook, B.C., against the Kootenay Ice.


F Connor McClennon, who was the second overall selection in the 2017 bantam draft, Kootenaynewappears to be close to returning to the Kootenay Ice’s lineup. . . . McClennon, 16, hasn’t played since suffering an undisclosed injury on Nov. 24 in a 5-1 loss to the visiting Prince Albert Raiders. . . . McClennon, who has four goals and eight assists in 19 games, was a full participant in the Ice’s practice on Wednesday. . . . Kootenay will play three games in fewer than 48 hours this weekend. It is to meet the Tigers in Medicine Hat on Friday, then return to Cranbrook, B.C., to face the Spokane Chiefs on Saturday and the Vancouver Giants on Sunday. . . . The Ice (8-24-7) has lost four in a row (0-3-1) and is 1-6-3 in its last 10 outings. Kootenay is 15 points away from the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot.


The Everett Silvertips have added F Justyn Gurney to their roster. Gurney, 18, has been playing with the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles. The 6-foot-2, 285-pounder has six goals and seven assists in 23 games. . . . He has previous WHL experience, having totalled three goals and five assists in 86 games. . . . He played 85 games over two seasons (2016-18) with the Calgary Hitmen, who selected him in the sixth round of the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. . . . Earlier this season, he got into one game with the Regina Pats. . . . The Silvertips placed him on their protected list on Dec. 13. . . . The Silvertips are to visit the Tri-City Americans on Friday night.


F Jared Legien’s latest WHL stint has come to an end. Legien, 20, left the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers last week to join the Vancouver Giants. He played three games with the Giants, putting up a goal and two assists. . . . All three points came in his first game with Vancouver, a 6-0 victory over the Rebels in Red Deer on Friday. . . . On Wednedsay, the Terriers tweeted that “Legien is returning to the orange and black” and is expected to be in Yorkton’s lineup on Friday against the visiting Flin Flon Bombers. . . . Before joining the Giants, Legien had 28 goals and 24 assists in 32 games with the Terriers. . . . Legien, who was selected by the Kootenay Ice with the ninth pick of the 2013 bantam draft, has 28 goals and 34 assists in 148 regular-season WHL games split among the Ice, Victoria Royals, Regina Pats and the Vancouver.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed F Dawson Pasternak, 15, a Winnipegger who is playing in the Sioux Falls, S.D., Power program with the U-16 team. . . . Pasternak leads the Power in goals (13) and points (37) in 32 games. . . . Pasternak was a fourth-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Prior to this season, Pasternak was a defenceman with the bantam AAA Winnipeg Hawks.


The Prince Albert Raiders have signed F Cole Nagy, 17, to a WHL contract. Nagy, who is from Saskatoon, is in his second season with the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers. Last season, he had eight goals and seven assists in 37 games. . . . This season, the 6-foot-4, 190-pound Nagy is leading the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League in scoring, with 49 points, including 21 goals, in 32 games. . . . Nagy was a sixth-round pick by the Moose Jaw Warriors in the 2016 bantam draft.


The Prince George Cougars have added F Craig Armstrong, 15, to their roster. From PrinceGeorgeAirdrie, Alta., he was the Cougars’ first selection, ninth overall, in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Armstrong is playing for the Edge School Mountaineers’ midget prep team, and has 11 goals and 12 assists in 23 games. . . . Armstrong will help fill a spot on the roster that was created when F Ilijah Colina suffered an undisclosed injury during a 2-1 loss to the Blazers in Kamloops on Sunday. He is out week-to-week. . . . The Cougars are to meet the Rockets in Kelowna on Friday night, before completing an 11-game road trip against the Tri-City Americans on Tuesday and the Spokane Chiefs on Wednesday.


The SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings have removed the ‘interim’ from head coach Kyle Haines’ title. . . . Haines moved up from assistant coach following the firing of Wes Rudy on Dec. 15. . . . The Red Wings now have decided that Haines, 31, who played three seasons (2005-08) there, will be the head coach, at least through the end of this season. . . . This is Haines’ first season as a coach. Last season, he played for the SPHL’s Pensacola Ice Flyers.


WHL players at the World Junior Championship:

Brandon — G Jiri Patera (Czech Republic).

Medicine Hat — G Mads Sogaard (Denmark).

Moose Jaw — D Josh Brook (Canada).

Portland — F Cody Glass (Canada).

Prince Albert — G Ian Scott, F Brett Leason (Canada).

Red Deer — D Alex Alexeyev (Russia).

Seattle — F Andrej Kukuca (Slovakia).

Spokane — F Jared Anderson-Dolan, D Ty Smith (Canada); D Filip Kral (Czech Republic).

Tri-City — F Krystof Hrabik (Czech Republic).

Vancouver — F Milos Roman (Slovakia).

Victoria — F Phillip Schultz (Denmark).


WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F James Hamblin scored twice and added an assist to help the Medicine Hat Tigers to a 4-Tigers Logo Official3 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . The Tigers (21-15-3) have won four in a row. They are fourth in the Central Division, one point behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Red Deer Rebels. . . . The Giants (23-11-2) have lost three straight. They are 1-3-0 on a six-game Central Division trip. Vancouver leads the B.C. Division by 11 points over the Victoria Royals and Kelowna Rockets. . . . Hamblin gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead at 15:13 of the first period. . . . The Giants took a 2-0 lead on second-period goals from F Davis Koch (11), at 1:07, and F Justin Sourdif (8), just 22 seconds later. . . . Hamblin tied it with his 23rd goal of the season, at 14:45. . . . F Elijah Brown (6) put Medicine Hat in front 3-2 at 15:18, and D Hayden Ostir (8) upped the lead to 4-2, on a PP, at 8:48 of the third. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky (3) got the Giants to within a goal at 11:39. . . . The Tigers won 41 of the game’s 60 faceoffs. . . . G Jordan Hollett, who was playing in his 100th WHL game, stopped 29 shots to earn the victory. . . . The Tigers were without F Bryan Lockner, who, according to Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News, “hit his head on the ice in a fight Sunday.” After the game, McCracken confirmed that Lockner is in concussion protocol.


F Cam Hausinger’s shootout goal gave the Red Deer Rebels a 5-4 victory over the visiting Red DeerLethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Red Deer (22-12-2) is tied with Lethbridge (19-10-8) for second in the Central Division, three points behind the idle Edmonton Oil Kings (21-12-7). . . . Lethbridge has points in three straight (1-0-2). . . . The Rebels forced OT with two goals in the last two minutes of the third period. . . . F Reese Johnson (17) was credited with the first of those goals after Lethbridge D Ty Prefontaine inadvertently scored an own-goal at 18:05. . . . Rebels F Brandon Hagel (23) tied it, on a PP, with 6.6 seconds left in the period. . . . Both goals came with G Ethan Anderson the bench for the extra attacker. . . . The Hurricanes led 2-0 in the first period on goals from F Jake Leschyshyn (25), at 3:48, and D Calen Addison (7), at 10:12. . . . F Jeff de Wit (21) cut the Rebels deficit to one at 10:58. . . . F Dylan Cozens (22) restored the two-goal lead 51 seconds into the second period. . . . Hagel got his guys back to within a goal at 17:08. . . . F Taylor Ross (21) gave the Hurricanes a 4-2 lead at 5:59 of the third period. . . . F Jordy Bellerive gave Lethbridge a 1-0 lead in the shootout, but the Rebels won it on goals from Hagel, who also had an assist, and Hausinger. . . . Leschyshyn’s goal, the 70th of his career, left him with 150 points in 226 games. . . . F Nick Henry had three assists for Lethbridge, with the first one being the 100th of his career. He has 169 points, 102 of them assists, in 163 games. . . . Anders finished with 28 saves. . . . G Liam Hughes, who was acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds on Tuesday, stopped 26 shots in his Lethbridge debut.


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Scattershooting in the aftermath of tragedy

Scattershooting

Logan Boulet, a defenceman from Lethbridge who turned 21 on March 2, was among the players who died on Friday in the tragedy involving the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos.

Boulet had signed his organ donor card upon turning 21, and his organs will benefit others. He was kept on life support into Saturday in order to allow that to happen.

Liam Nixon of Global Lethbridge tweeted a statement from Logan’s father, Toby, on Saturday evening. Part of that statement: “Despite other media reports today, Logan’s strong heart continues to beat this evening. The final harvesting of Logan’s organs will take place overnight, now that he has positive matches for all organs donated.”

Earlier, Nixon had reported that Logan “is giving new hope to at least six different people.”

Neil Langevin, a family friend of the Boulets, was Logan’s godfather. Langevin tweeted that a surgical team from the U of Alberta hospital would travel to Saskatoon “for organ transplant procedures. There have been matches made for all vital organs, including a patient set to receive his heart and lungs. . . . The family will stay with Logan until the surgery begins at around 2 a.m.”

Langevin added: “Following the organ surgery, his other organs will be donated to science as he requested. These actions alone give voice to the selfless and benevolent nature Logan possessed in life for others, truly taught and fostered by Toby and Bernie.”

As someone whose wife was did peritoneal dialysis for four years before being the beneficiary of a kidney transplant, I will admit there were tears when I read all of this news. There really aren’t words at a time like this, but a heartfelt ‘Thank you’ — along with the deepest condolences — to Logan’s family and friends.



Glen Doerksen was driving the Humboldt Broncos’ bus at the time of the accident. He didn’t survive the crash. He also drove for the Kinistino Tigers of the Wheatland Senior Hockey League. . . . Dave Deibert of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has more on Doerksen right here.


Sheldon Kennedy, Peter Soberlak and Bob Wilkie were players with the 1986-87 Swift Current Broncos and survived the bus crash on Dec. 30, 1986, that claimed the lives of four teammates. Kennedy, Soberlak and Wilkie are scheduled to arrive in Humboldt today (Sunday) and will provide help and support where they can.


On Saturday evening, I received an email from a relative of one of the injured players. “His Mother is there and having mixed emotions with her son surviving with other Mothers losing sons,” read part of the email. . . . Yes, survivor’s guilt is something with which people will have to deal, which is among the many reasons that counsellors are being made available.



One of the things we need to keep in mind at a time like this is that because of social media, spring/summer hockey and travelling teams, players throughout hockey are often more than acquainted with so many more players than players of yesteryear. Thus, a tragedy of this nature will have a far greater and more personal impact on more players than even the accident involving the Swift Current Broncos.



While general manager/head coach Darcy Haugan and assistant coach Mark Cross were among the fatalities, athletic therapist Dayna Brons survived and is recovering from undisclosed injuries in hospital. From Lake Lenore, Sask., she is a graduate (kinesiology and health studies) of the U of Regina. Brons is in her second season with the Broncos.


Darcy Haugan, 41, leaves behind his wife, Christine, and two sons, Carson and Jackson. Christine works for the Broncos as their office manager.


If you click right here, you will find a person-by-person look at many of those killed or injured in the crash involving the Humboldt Broncos’ bus.


Devin Cannon and his wife, Rene, provided a billet home for three of the Humboldt Broncos players — D Xavier Labelle, 18, from Saskatoon; F Logan Hunter, from St. Albert, Alta.; and D Adam Herold, who was to turn 17 on Thursday. Herold spent this season as the captain of the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians. When their season ended, he joined the Broncos. . . . Labelle, Hunter and Herold all died in the crash.


F Evan Thomas, 18, also died in the accident. From Saskatoon, his father, Scott, played for the Moose Jaw Warriors (1988-91) and Tacoma Rockets (1991-91) and now is involved in hockey as the president of the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers. Evan was in his first season with the Broncos. . . . F Jaxon Joseph, 20, was the son of Chris Joseph, a defenceman who played with the Seattle Thunderbirds (1985-88) before going on to a pro career that included 510 NHL games. . . . Jaxon played 21 games with the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles in 2015-16, before joining the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs where he spent last season. He played 16 games with the Mustangs this season before being acquired by the Broncos.


Another email that I received on Saturday evening pointed out that “in my opinion, buses are a terrific mode of transport. I have been riding in/driving a bus for close to 40 years and in that time there are only a couple of times that were scary. Buses, inherently, with their long wheel base are very stable in almost all conditions — fog and black ice being the exceptions. Kudos to all the drivers out there who have done such an outstanding job all these years.” (The afore-mentioned email didn’t come from Bob Ridley.)