Seattle goalie stars in Game 1 win . . . Kelowna paper reports Rockets’ home needs more than $7 million in work . . . Ex-WHL assistant now head coach in AJHL

All three major junior hockey leagues are into their best-of-seven championship series. . . . The WHL final got started on Friday night with the WindsorSeattle Thunderbirds in Edmonton against the Oil Kings. . . . In the OHL, the Windsor Spitfires opened in Hamilton against the Bulldogs on Friday night. Windsor won, 4-3 in OT, getting the winner from former Bulldogs D Michael Renwick at 9:30 after Hamilton had been assessed a checking-from-behind major at 6:56. Hamilton went into the game with a 12-0 record in these playoffs and, including the regular season, had won 24 in a row at home. They’ll play Game 2 on Sunday afternoon in Hamilton. . . . In the QMJHL, the Shawinigan Cataractes will face the host Charlottetown Islanders in Game 1 tonight (Saturday). . . . The QMJHL’s opening playoff rounds all were best-of-five because the league got off to a later start than its two counterparts. But it now is caught up, so the final is best-of-seven. . . .

TSN will televise all three series, starting with the third game in each — Hamilton at Windsor on Monday, 4 p.m. PT; Edmonton vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., Tuesday, 7 p.m. PT; and Charlottetown at Shawinigan, Wednesday, 4 p.m. PT. . . . There is a complete telecast schedule right here. . . . TSN also will show all games in the Memorial Cup, which is to run in Saint John, N.B., from June 20 through June 29.

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FRIDAY IN THE WHL:

Championship Final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup

In Edmonton, the Seattle Thunderbirds, fresh off a Game 7 victory in Kamloops, opened the best-of-seven WHL final with a 2-1 triumph over the Oil Kings. . . . SeattleEdmonton went into the game with a 7-0 record at Rogers Place in these playoffs. . . . They are scheduled to play Game 2 in Edmonton on Sunday, before shifting to Kent, Wash., for games on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Remember that because of issues with building availability in Kent, Games 5, 6 and 7, as needed, would be played in Edmonton. . . . Last night, F Matt Rempe (6) got the scoring started for Seattle, backhanding home the rebound off a shot by F Reid Schaefer at 1:59 of the second period. . . . F Conner Roulette (4), who had an assist on Rempe’s goal, upped Seattle’s lead to 2-0 at 8:55 of the third period, tipping in a shot by D Tyrel Bauer. . . . Edmonton got on the board at 11:40, on a PP, as F Carter Souch (10) found the range with a redirect of a shot by D Luke Prokop. . . . The Oil Kings were 1-for-2 on the PP; Seattle was 0-for-1. Referees Chris Crich and Fraser Lawrence handed out only three minor penalties. . . . Seattle G Thomas Milic, who was named the game’s first star, continued his strong playoff run with 43 saves. . . . Edmonton got 20 stops from G Sebastian Cossa.


Music


According to a report prepared by consultants hired by the City of Kelowna, Prospera Place, the home of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, is in need of about Kelowna$7.7 million worth of upgrades. The report, acquired by the Kelowna Daily Courier through a Freedom of Information request, was prepared by Toronto-based Stadium Consultants International. . . . The arena, which opened on March 28, 1999, is owned by GSL Group, which also owns, among other things, the WHL’s Victoria Royals and that city’s Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre. In Kelowna, an agreement between GSL Group and the city calls for ownership to be turned over to the city in 2029. . . . According to the SCI report, 6,500-seat Prospera Place should have its roof and outer walls replaced within seven years. There also should be improvements made to ventilation, vinyl and carpeted floors, among other things. . . . Ron Seymour of The Daily Courier wrote: “Issues are said to include some water leakage on the roof, outdated and undersized food and beverage facilities, small dressing rooms, and a cramped concourse. But other aspects of the building are said to be in surprisingly good condition given their age.” . . . The consultants suggest replacing the roof would have an estimated cost of $2.4 million, while upgraded lighting would come in at $1.5 million. . . .

The Rockets were to have been the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup; however, that event was cancelled because of the pandemic. Many observers expected Kelowna to be awarded the 2023 tournament, but the Kamloops Blazers were named the host team on May 27. As that announcement was being made in Kamloops, the Rockets issued an open letter stating that they weren’t able to bid on the 2023 Memorial Cup because of “significant deficiencies” in Prospera Place. . . . Seymour wrote that GSL Group issued a statement this week saying it “had complied with all the terms and conditions for building maintenance set out in the agreement with the city.” . . . From that statement: “Prospera Place and GSL Group have been and continue to be in compliance with our obligations and contractual agreements. That will not change, nor will our commitment to Kelowna.”

Seymour has stories right here and right here.


The Minnesota Twins opened a three-game series in Toronto against the Blue Jays on Friday, and the visitors were missing four players. The U.S. and Canada both have pandemic-related restrictions that don’t allow unvaccinated people to cross their borders. Thus, the Twins placed four players on the restricted list before flying into Toronto after losing four of five games to the Tigers in Detroit. . . . OF Max Kepler and pitchers Trevor Megill, Emilio Pagán and Caleb Thielbar were left behind presumably because all four are unvaccinated. . . . The Twins also are without SS Carlos Correa, who tested positive for COVID-19 while in Detroit. . . . The Twins beat the Blue Jays, 9-3, on Friday night. . . .

Bob Weeks of TSN tweeted on Friday afternoon: “According to Golf Canada, Webb Simpson and Matt Kuchar are not able to play the RBC Canadian Open ‘due to current Government of Canada travel restrictions . . .’ Both are RBC ambassadors.” . . . Neither the American nor Canadian governments allow unvaccinated travellers into their countries.


Banjo


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Brad Flynn has signed a three-year contract as the head coach of the AJHL’s Bonnyville Pontiacs. Flynn, 37, spent the 2021-22 season as an associate coach with the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach with the Red Deer Rebels for three seasons (2018-21). . . . In Bonnyville, Flynn takes over from Rick Swan, the winningest coach in franchise history. Swan left the organization early in April in one of those mutually-agreed-upon parting of the ways. . . . There is a news release right here. . . .

The junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League’s board of governors has cut the regular-season schedule from 52 games to 48. According to a news release from the 11-team league: “The decision to drop to 48 games will provide VIJHL players with a little more rest in-season and allow clubs to have more prime night home games.” . . . The league also is going to hire a “head of player and safety discipline.” Again, from a news release: “The paid position will be in charge of reviewing all major penalties and determining what supplemental discipline, if any is required.” . . . That news release, which covers the board’s annual meeting, is right here.


My wife, Dorothy, is taking part in her ninth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk, which will be held (virtually) on Sunday. As usual, she is fund-raising on behalf of the Kidney Foundation. . . . If you would like to support her, you are able to do so right here.


Marley


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

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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.


Bishop

WHL’s off-ice season begins today . . . Bedard gets exceptional status . . . Cranbrook Bucks have their GM/coach

Turnsignals


The WHL will hold its inaugural two-round U.S. prospects draft today (Wednesday), along with its annual bantam draft lottery. . . . The lottery, which won’t be streamed live, is to be held at 11 a.m. (MT) and will originate from the WHL office in Calgary. The U.S. prospects draft will be held online, starting at 2 p.m. MT. . . .

Meanwhile, the WHL announced that it has cancelled its annual awards show and changed the date of its bantam draft. . . . The awards show was to have been held in Red Deer on May 6. . . . The bantam draft that was scheduled for Red Deer on May 7 now will be held online on April 22. . . .



In loading up for a run at the 2020 Memorial Cup, no one went to the lengths as did the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats and Chicoutimi Sagueneens. The Wildcats, under general manager Ritchie Thibeau, traded for three star players, giving up 13 draft picks and a prospect. Chicoutimi GM Yanick Jean bettered that by adding five players for 18 picks, seven of them first-rounders, and two players. . . . And, of course, there won’t be any playoffs in the QMJHL, nor will there be a Memorial Cup. . . . Ken Campbell of The Hockey News reviews the situation involving the two big buyers right here. . . .


Emily Kaplan of ESPN reported Tuesday morning that “the NHL is temporarily cutting the pay of league office employees by 25 per cent.” . . . The cuts will come into play on April 1. . . . Kaplan wrote, “According to sources, the NHL is hoping that the temporary pay cut among league office employees will prevent layoffs during this uncertain time.” . . . The NHL had 189 games remaining in its regular season when it halted play on March 12. . . .

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The owners of the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers had told salaried employees that they would be hit with pay cuts of 20 per cent and would be moving to four-day work weeks. . . . However, on Tuesday, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, reversed course. . . . “Our commitment has been to do our best to keep all of our employees working through this very difficult situation,” Josh Harris, HBSE president, said in a statement. “As part of an effort to do that we asked salaried employees to take a temporary 20% pay cut while preserving everyone’s full benefits — and keeping our 1,500 hourly workers paid throughout the regular season. After listening to our staff and players, it’s clear that was the wrong decision. We have reversed it and will be paying these employees their full salaries. . . . To our staff and fans, I apologize for getting this wrong.” . . .

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Groupe CH, which owns the Montreal Canadiens and the AHL’s Laval Rocket, has announced layoffs that will affect 60 per cent of the employees in the organization. The layoffs will begin on Monday. . . . From a report by The Canadian Press: “Groupe CH says it has established a $6-millon assistance fund to help employees. The organization says the fund will help enhance employment insurance benefits for eight weeks, ensuring that employees will receive 80 per cent of their base salary for that period. The fund also will provide loans to employees in difficult financial situations.” . . .



Janet Brown of Vancouver radio station CKNW tweeted Tuesday morning that “White Spot restaurants has laid off about 3,000 employees in last week . . . owner Ron Toigo says restaurant industry was already hurting . . . he uses the words ‘bleak and staggering’ describing impact of COVID-19.” . . . Toigo also is the majority owner of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants. . . .



Former Boston Bruins star Johnny Bucyk was to have had a hip replaced this week, but — guess what! — yes, the surgery was postponed. Dave Stubbs of nhl.com caught up with Bucyk, who is 84, and wrote this story right here. . . . You will enjoy this one. I guarantee it. . . .


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by readin’. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” . . .


The headline on the IIHF website reads: Ireland Coaches Italy. . . . Seriously. . . . Greg Ireland has signed on as the head coach of Italy’s national men’s hockey team. . . . Ireland, 54, takes over from Clayton Beddoes, who resigned earlier this year. . . . Ireland has been the head coach of HC Bolzano of the EBEL since January. . . . Prior to that, he spent three seasons as the head coach of Switzerland’s HC Lugano. . . .



BC Hockey announced Tuesday that F Connor Bedard has been granted exceptional status, so the 15-year-old will be eligible to play full-time in the WHL next season. Bedard, from North Vancouver, is the first player granted such status for WHL play. . . . Bedard, 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, had 84 points, including 43 goals, in 36 games for West Vancouver Academy’s midget prep team this season. . . . The WHL bantam draft is scheduled to be held online on April 22. . . . Prior to the 2019-20 season, WHL teams were allowed to use a 15-year-old in only five games before his club team had its season end. However, the Winnipeg Ice got F Matthew Savoie into 22 games, turning that ‘rule’ into something of a fallacy. Savoie, who applied for exceptional status by Hockey Canada but didn’t get it, finished with seven points, all of them assists. . . .

Two other players — F Riley Heidt and F Brayden Yager — also applied for exceptional status in the hopes of playing in the WHL next season as 15-year-olds. They both are from Dundurn, Sask., and both played with the Saskatoon Contacts of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. Heidt had 17 goals and 20 assists in 44 games; Yager had 18 goals and 24 assists in 44 games. . . . There was no mention of either in the announcement involving Bedard. . . .

Bedard is the seventh player to have been granted exceptional status, after Sean Day, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, John Tavares and Shane Wright, all of whom played in the OHL, and Joe Veleno, who played in the QMJHL. . . .


Floss


Ryan Donald is the first general manager and head coach of the Cranbrook Bucks, who are scheduled to begin play in the BCHL in 2020-21. The Bucks have signed Donald to a four-year contract. . . . Donald, who is from Edmonton, has been an assistant coach at Yale U for five seasons. Earlier, he played at Yale for four seasons. . . . “Ryan is an incredible hire for our club,” Bucks owner and president Nathan Lieuwen said in a news release, “and is absolutely the right person to build this franchise. “Not only does he have quality experience coaching at high levels, but he also has great connections throughout the NCAA.”


Ryan Oulahen has been named head coach of the OHL’s North Bay Battalion. He signed a three-year contract. . . . Oulahen had been the interim head coach since Dec. 10, when he replaced Stan Butler. . . . A former captain of the Battalion when the franchise was based in Brampton, Oulahen spent two seasons (2016-18) as head coach of the Flint Firebirds. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach with the Battalion for five seasons. . . . Butler had been the Battalion’s head coach since 1998-99. . . .


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