Bilous, Bruins win Game 7 . . . Ice opens by beating Warriors . . . Bankier streak to 15 as Blazers dump Giants

The host Estevan Bruins won the SJHL championship on Friday night, taking Game 7, 4-0, over the Flin Flon Bombers. G Boston Bilous earned the shutout with 29 saves. . . . Both teams will play in the 10-team Centennial Cup, though, because the Bruins are in as the host team. The national junior A championship tournament runs from May 20 through May 29.


The Brandon Wheat Kings announced Friday that general manager Doug Gasper Brandonhas chosen to leave the organization “for personal reasons.” . . . Gasper joined the Wheat Kings as assistant GM on Aug. 15, 2019, and was named GM on April 16, 2021. . . . Gasper took over from Darren Ritchie, who moved on to the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs as an amateur scout. . . . According to the news release, Gasper “will transition out of his current position over the coming weeks and will assist in hiring his replacement.” . . . Kelly McCrimmon was the Wheat Kings’ general manager for 27 seasons before leaving to join the front office of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. Since 2016, Grant Armstrong, who now scouts for the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, Ritchie and Gasper have held the position.


With 14 of the WHL’s 22 teams having had their seasons reach the end of the road, you can bet that the coaching carousel is soon to start spinning.

For starters, the Spokane Chiefs introduced Matt Bardsley as their new general Spokanemanager this week, and you have to think there might be a coaching change in the offing there.

Ryan Smith has been the Chiefs’ interim head coach since head coach Adam Maglio was fired on Feb. 10. Smith had been the club’s associate coach.

Should Bardsley choose to hire his ‘own’ coach, you have to think Kyle Gustafson, who just completed his first season as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, will be in the running. Gustafson had been on the Portland Winterhawks’ coaching staff since 2003 when he chose to join former Winterhawks associate coach Travis Green with the Canucks. Of course, Green was fired as head coach by the Canucks early in the season. Gustafson finished up the season under head coach Bruce Boudreau, who replaced Green.

Bardsley spent 18 seasons in the Winterhawks’ front office, so he and Gustafson are quite familiar with each other. In fact, early in Bardsley’s stint as general manager of the Kamloops Blazers, he offered the Blazers’ head-coaching job, and a four-year contract, to Gustafson.

There are expected to be changes in the Canucks organization and the coaching staff likely won’t escape unscathed. Thomas Drance of The Athletic tweeted on Friday that amateur scouts Brandon Benning, Pat Conacher, Tim Lenardon and Derek Richard have been dropped by the Canucks. Patrick Johnston of Postmedia added that Ted Hampson, another amateur scout, also is gone.

With change in the wind, perhaps Gustafson might be interested in making a pre-emptive move by returning to the WHL. Should that happen, expect Smith to stay on with the Chiefs as associate coach.

Meanwhile, the owners of the Regina Pats would seem to have a coaching Reginadecision on their hands, too.

You will recall that John Paddock, already the vice-president of hockey operations and general manager, took over as head coach after the firing of David Struch on Nov. 18. At the time, ownership stated that Paddock would be the head coach through the 2022-23 season. However, assistant coach Brad Herauf ended up the interim head coach from Feb. 11 through season’s end as Paddock was forced to deal with some health concerns.

It will be worth watching to see if Paddock, who will turn 68 in June, will remain the head coach.


Your daily reminder that the pandemic isn’t over, this one from The New York Times: “George Cheeks, the president and chief executive of CBS, tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, just days after sitting beside President Biden at the White House Correspondents Dinner, the network confirmed on Friday.”


Gift


There were two WHL playoff games on Friday night as the Winnipeg Ice and WHLplayoffs2022Kamloops Blazers opened best-of-seven conference semifinal series with victories. . . . The pace will pick up tonight with all eight remaining teams in action. . . . In the Eastern Conference, the No. 1 Ice will again play host to the No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors, who fell 6-1 last night, while the No. 3 Red Deer Rebels visit the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings, who hold a 1-0 edge. . . . In the Western Conference, the No. 2 Blazers and No. 8 Vancouver Giants will meet again in Kamloops, where the home team won, 3-1, last night, while the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks and No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds open their series in Kent, Wash.

——

FRIDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference

In Winnipeg, the No. 1 Ice scored in the first minute of each period en route to a WinnipegIce6-1 victory over the No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Ice leads the conference semifinal, 1-0, with Game 2 set for tonight in Winnipeg. . . . F Owen Pederson (4) gave the Ice a 1-0 lead 18 seconds into the first period. . . . F Jakin Smallwood (4) upped it to 3-0 just 57 seconds into the second period. . . . F Mike Milne (6) made it 6-0 at 0:11 of the third period. . . . Pederson finished with two goals, giving him five in these playoffs, and an assist, while Milne added two assists to his goal. . . . Winnipeg G Daniel Hauser stopped 18 shots. He lost his shutout bid when F Brayden Yager (3) scored at 17:48 of the third period. . . . Winnipeg was 2-for-4 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 0-for-4.

Western Conference

In Kamloops, F Caedan Bankier had a goal and an assist, running his point Kamloopsstreak to 15 games in the process, as the No. 2 Blazers opened with a 3-1 victory over the No. 8 Vancouver Giants. . . . Game 2 will be played in Kamloops tonight. . . . Bankier (2) opened the scoring, on a PP, at 18:28 of the first period. . . . Bankier, who put up 60 points in 68 regular-season games, has quietly put together a 15-game point streak. He finished the regular-season on a 10-game tear (five goals, 11 assists) and has put up two goals and six assists in five playoff games. . . . F Reese Belton (1), at 2:43, and F Ethan Rowland (1), at 16:29, gave the Blazers a 3-0 lead with second-period goals. . . . F Adam Hall (8) got the Giants on the board at 7:04 of the third. . . . Kamloops G Dylan Garand stopped 30 shots. In these playoffs, he is 5-0, 0.80, .968. . . . The Blazers lost F Luke Toporowski late in the first period with what appeared to be an injury to his left shoulder. F Daylan Kuefler moved into his spot on the team’s top line, alongside Logan Stankoven and Drew Englot. . . . Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week tweeted later that Shaun Clouston, the Blazers’ GM/head coach, said the “early feel” is that Toporowoski’s injury isn’t long-term, that he’s “sore,” and that he’ll be re-evaluated Saturday. . . . Toporowski missed the last 12 games of the regular season with a knee injury. . . . On the same stoppage during which Toporowski left, the Giants lost D Mazden Leslie, who left while favouring his right leg.


JUST NOTES: Greg Brown is the new head coach of the Boston College Eagles men’s hockey team. After spending 14 seasons as an assistant coach or associate coach with the Eagles, he now takes over from the retiring Jerry York. Brown also played at BC before going on to a pro career that included 94 games in the NHL and eight seasons in Europe. . . .

Manny Viveiros was back behind the Henderson Silver Knights’ bench for an AHL playoff game on Friday night. Viveiros, a former WHLer, had been away from the team while undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. In his absence, Jamie Heward, another former WHLer, handled the head-coaching duties. . . . Viveiros was the general manager and head coach, and Heward his assistant, with the Swift Current Broncos when they won the 2017-18 WHL championship. . . . Last night, the host Colorado Eagles beat Henderson, 5-2, thus winning the best-of-three first-round series, 2-0.


Donut


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.

——

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.


Will

Struch pays price in Regina; Paddock back behind Pats’ bench . . . Bedard due to break out? . . . USHL’s Lancers in disarray


Dave Struch became the second head-coaching casualty of this WHL season when the Regina Pats fired him on Thursday morning.

John Paddock, a veteran of the coaching game and twice the winner of the Dunc PatsMcCallum Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s coach of the year, has taken over and now is the organization’s vice-president of hockey operations, general manager and head coach. Paddock ran the Pats’ practice in Regina on Thursday.

According to Pats’ owner/governor Shaun Semple, Paddock “will assume the role of head coach for the remainder of this season and next.”

Struch, 50, was in the final year of his contract. He had been with the Pats since 2014-15. He started as an assistant coach working alongside Paddock, then took over as head coach after the Pats were the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup.

Prior to joining the Pats, Struch spent eight seasons on the Saskatoon Blades’ coaching staff, the last one (2013-14) as head coach.

“Not much to say, as this is what I signed up for as a coach,” Struch told the Regina Leader-Post via text on Thursday afternoon. “I’m sad for my family. Disappointed that I couldn’t help the team get more wins. Expectations are high for this group of young men to be at the top of the conference and I couldn’t make that happen.”

Struch exits with the Pats at 6-10-0, their most-recent appearance a 6-1 loss to the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes that left them with three straight losses. The Pats’ season has been streaky — two victories, seven losses, four victories, three losses.

Assistant coaches Brad Herauf, who is in his seventh season, and Ken Schneider, in his first, were retained.

“I’m positive that with John, Brad and Ken, they will get (the Pats) back to the top where they should be this season,” Struch told The Leader-Post. “I am grateful to the organization for everything they have done for my family and I over the last seven years.”

Paddock, 67, makes his first appearance back behind the bench on Saturday as the Pats begin a six-game road trip against the Moose Jaw Warriors.

He has extensive head-coaching experience that includes stints in the NHL with the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators. He was the WHL’s coach of the year following the 2014-15 and 2016-17 seasons.

Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post has his thoughts on the Pats’ situation right here.

The other coach to depart since this season got started? Dean Brockman left the Swift  Current Broncos on Oct. 14.

——

With the Regina Pats having stumbled through the first part of the WHL’s regular season, there are those who are wondering about the first 16 games of F Connor Bedard’s season.

Bedard, the first player to have been granted exceptional status allowing him to play in the WHL as a 15-year-old, put up 12 goals and 16 assists in 15 games in the developmental season that was played in the Regina hub last spring.

This season, Bedard, now 16, has eight goals and four assists in 16 games.

However, as Ken Campbell wrote Thursday at Hockey Unfiltered, better numbers are likely to be in Bedard’s immediate future.

“The temptation might be to wonder what is going on with Connor Bedard these days,” Campbell wrote. “There also might be a temptation to think that the WHL’s first exceptional player and top prospect for the 2023 NHL draft is lagging behind his competition, namely Adam Fantilli and Matvei Michkov.

“Yes, Bedard has only eight goals and 12 points in 16 games for the Regina Pats after scoring 28 points in just 15 games last season and leading Canada to a gold medal at the World Under-18 Championship. And he has yet to score a single goal on the power play. But there are a couple of mitigating circumstances at play. First, Bedard leads the Western Hockey League in shots with 85, which means he’s been the victim of some terribly bad luck. People in analytics tell us all the time that, particularly with elite players who generate a lot of chances, that luck is bound to change and his shooting percentage will get way above 9.4 percent. Last season, it was 17.4 percent.”

Campbell’s complete piece, which includes notes on a lot more than just Bedard, is right here.


If you are one of those people who puts stock in power polls or rankings or whatever they might be called, consider this from Mike McIntyre of the Winnipeg Free Press . . .

“ESPN calls itself the worldwide leader in sports, but it’s more like the worldwide leader in hot takes (and arguably clickbait) following Wednesday’s release of their weekly NHL ‘power rankings.’

“In case you missed it, the new U.S. rightsholder for league telecasts has seen fit to demote the Winnipeg Jets down to 20th, a drop of eight spots from the No. 12 position they occupied last Wednesday.

“This, despite the fact the Jets just went a perfect 3-0-0 over the past seven days, including a dominating 5-2 win over Edmonton on Tuesday night. That would be the same Oilers team ESPN has ranked No. 1. Seriously. “You couldn’t make this up.

“Winnipeg has just one regulation loss in the last dozen games (9-1-2), and if it keeps up this impressive pace I suspect the Jets are going to drop all the way to dead-last in the rankings rather quickly.”

BTW, the Jets dropped a 2-1 shootout decision to the host Oilers on Thursday night. Yes, Edmonton F Connor McDavid scored another one of “THOSE” goals.


Monopoly


The schedule has been released for the 2022 Memorial Cup and it comes with a real change. The tournament, which is to be held in Saint John, N.B., from June 4 through June 13, will begin on a Saturday night, rather than Friday, and the championship final is scheduled for Monday night, rather than Sunday. . . . All games will begin at 4 p.m. PT (7 p.m. ET) with one exception — the game on June 5 between the QMJHL and WHL champions is to start at 1 p.m. PT (4 p.m. ET). . . . There is a news release right here, and it includes ticket-buying information.


Some crazy stuff has been going down with the USHL’s Omaha Lancers. Let’s Lancersstart with some Thursday tweets from Brad Elliott Schlossman, the Grand Forks Herald’s superb hockey writer . . .

On Wednesday, he had tweeted:

“Four months after Omaha (USHL) hired Chadd Cassidy as head coach and GM, and after an 8-4-2 start to this season, the Lancers have pushed him out, per multiple sources.”

These followed on Thursday (all times Pacific):

10:53 a.m.: Situation in Omaha escalating: Lancers have been cutting budgets, everything from video software to some postgame player meals; after ousting Cassidy, Omaha asked him to coach last weekend’s games (per @THNRyanKennedy); Omaha discussed having an injured player be asst coach.”

10:57 a.m.: “Remaining Omaha Lancers staff members are currently resigning. I’m not sure if there will be anyone left when this is done. Players are threatening to boycott upcoming games.”

11:11 a.m.: “Assistant general manager Jeff Cox, acting head coach Sean Walsh, assistant coach Tate Maris and trainer Nick Hart have all resigned from the Omaha Lancers.”

11:49 a.m.: “The remaining Lancers staff was willing to stay for the sake of the players. Then, this morning, team president David DeLuca lost his temper with acting HC Sean Walsh. Assistant coach Tate Maris resigned. Players opted to walk out. Remaining staff backed players and resigned.”

12:30 p.m.: “The Lancers say Chadd Cassidy ‘stepped down as head coach to pursue other opportunities.’ . . . Yeah, and I bench pressed 500 pounds this morning.”

Schlossman later filed this story right here.

And right here is a story from Chris Peters of dailyfaceoff.com who also has been all over this story.


On the subject of crazy stuff, it’s hard to believe that it has been 27 years since one of the highlights of my time around the WHL. Yessss, those were the days! . . . Regina versus Moose Jaw was so much fun. Play-by-play guys in Donald Duck outfits. Coaches battling. . . . Kevin Shaw, the Regina Pats’ unofficial historian, reminds us of what happened 27 years ago with this tweet . . .



Bigfoot


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.


Toad

Pats extend coaching staff . . . Season over for two Oil Kings . . . Heponiemi burning it up

MacBeth

F Linden Vey (Medicine Hat, 2006-2011) signed a contract for the rest of the season with the ZSC Lions Zurich (Switzerland, NL A) after being released by Barys Astana (Kazakhstan, KHL). He had 17 goals and 35 assists in 50 games with Barys Astana. Vey was third in the KHL in assists and points. Astana has been eliminated from KHL playoff contention.


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

The Regina Pats have signed John Paddock, their general manager and head coach, Dave ReginaPats100Struch, the assistant GM and assistant coach, and assistant coach Brad Herauf to multi-year contract extensions. . . . No further details were released, but Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post reported that all three extensions were “for three-plus years.” . . . Paddock joined the Pats prior to the 2014-15 season. In three-plus seasons, he has a regular-season record of 149-83-31 and the Pats have reached at least the second round of playoffs each season. In 2016-17, the Pats set a franchise record with 52 regular-season victories, before losing out in the WHL’s championship series. He has twice been named the WHL’s coach of the year. . . . Struch is in his 12th season as a WHL coach. Like Paddock, he came to Regina prior to the 2014-15 season. . . . Herauf, a former head coach of the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians, is in his third season with the Pats.


The Edmonton Oil Kings revealed via Twitter on Thursday that two players — G Travis Child and F Andrei Pavlenko — will miss the remainder of this season “due to shoulder surgery.” . . . Child, from Killam, Alta., is a 20-year-old so the injury means his junior hockey career is over. He got into 23 games with the Oil Kings this season, last playing on Dec. 15 when he left after the first period of a 5-0 loss to the visiting Tri-City Americans. . . . Pavlenko is a 17-year-old freshman from Minsk, Belarus. He had three goals and an assist in 20 games, but hasn’t played since Nov. 14.


F Aleksi Heponiemi of the Swift Current Broncos ran his point streak to 25 games in Wednesday’s 3-2 overtime victory over the host Tri-City Americans. He had two goals, SCBroncosincluding the winner, and an assist in the victory.

In the 25 games, he has 19 goals and 43 assists. He has had two five- and two four-point games. There have been seven three-point outings, including each of the past two. He has enjoyed two-point games on nine occasions, and five times has had one point.

The Broncos will play Game 2 of a U.S. Division trek tonight in Portland.

Heponiemi last went pointless on Oct. 13 in a 1-0 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. The Finnish sophomore missed 10 games while playing at the WJC in Buffalo.

The longest point streak in WHL history lasted 56 games. F Jeff Nelson of the Prince Albert Raiders put up 108 points from Oct. 24, 1990, through March 6, 1991.

Second on the list is 47 games, which two members of the Regina Pats — Jock Callander (141 points) and Wally Schreiber (99 points) — did in 1981-82.

In 1980-81, Portland D Jim Benning had a 45-game streak during which he had 95 points.


A couple of notes from info supplied by Geoffrey Brandon (@GeoffreyBrandow):

F Matthew Phillips of the Victoria Royals had a goal and two assists Wednesday’s 4-2 VictoriaRoyalsvictory over the Winterhawks in Portland. He now has 31 goals this season, the third straight season in which he has scored at least 30. He also has 40 assists for a second straight season.

In his last 15 games, during which he has been blanked twice, Phillips has 10 goals and 14 assists.

Meanwhile, F Tyler Soy of the Royals scored his 20th goal of the season in Portland. He is the first play with four straight 20-goal seasons since Tyson Baillie (Kelowna Rockets), Jackson Houck (Vancouver Giants/Calgary Hitmen), Luke Philp (Kootenay Ice/Red Deer Rebels) and Brayden Point (Moose Jaw Warriors) all did it from 2012-16.


If you would like to contact Taking Note with information, have a question or just feel like commenting on something, feel free to send an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com. I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).


If you enjoy stopping by here, and even if you don’t, feel free to make a donation to the cause by visiting my old site, taking note.ca, and clicking on the DONATE button. Thank you, in advance.


Scoreboard

THURSDAY:

No Games Scheduled.


FRIDAY (all times local):

Moose Jaw at Regina, 7 p.m.

Kamloops at Calgary 7 p.m.

Prince Albert at Red Deer, 7 p.m.

Edmonton vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m.

Swift Current at Portland, 7 p.m.

Lethbridge at Prince George, 7 p.m.

Brandon vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.

Victoria vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7:30 p.m.

Kelowna vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:35 p.m.


TWEET OF THE DAY

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