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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Plastic


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

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

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

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

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



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



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


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


Bedtime


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Driving

Morgan Gobeil progressing, but needs your help . . . COVID-19 showing up all over . . . Finland WJC team loses key player to quarantine

Merry Christmas . . .


Morgan Gobeil survived the crash involving the Humboldt Broncos’ bus on April 6, 2018, and the young man continues to work on his recovery. . . . The facility in which he does so much of his rehab work is in need of a Smith Machine. With that in mind, Last Man Back, which was started by family and references Morgan’s having been the last survivor to be released from hospital, is selling clothing. His brother, Ryan, tweets that “all money is going directly to First Steps to purchase much need equipment for Morgan and others. . . . Check out the above tweet and then send a DM to Ryan to place an order. . . . I have a Last Man Back hat that I really like, and it has become my go-to lid.


It was March 11, 2020. Rudy Gobert and the New Orleans Jazz were in Oklahoma CovidCity for an NBA game with the Thunder. Officials and players were on the floor preparing for the game to start when word came that Gobert had tested positive for COVID-19. It wasn’t long before the NBA season was indefinitely suspended. One positive test . . .

Keep that in mind as you read what follows . . .

The coronavirus has dominated the news from the sporting world through the first two days of this week. And it doesn’t show any sign of slowing down.

Rick Westhead of TSN tweeted Monday afternoon: “Spoke to infectious disease Dr. Andrew Morris (@ASPphysician) about pro sports events & Omicron. He says Omicron cases doubling in Ont. every 2-3 days. Estimates 10K daily cases by Dec. 31. Predicts Ont. govt will soon have to close NHL/NBA games to fans. ‘Govt has no choice.’ ”

On Tuesday, the NHL postponed a game between Carolina and the host Minnesota Wild that was to have been played that night. The Hurricanes have eight players in protocol.

On Monday, the Calgary Flames had six players and a member of their training staff enter protocol, so the NHL postponed three games. The Flames added three more players on Tuesday.

Here’s a brief look at the last two days in the NHL . . .

BOSTON BRUINS: F Brad Marchand and F Craig Smith went into protocol on Tuesday, before the Bruins were beaten, 4-1, by the visiting Vegas Golden Knights. . . . The Bruins were awfully flat in this one; in fact, only Boston play-by-play voice Jack Edwards was flatter. In fact, he almost sounded bored, which may have been because of the score.

CALGARY FLAMES: They shut things down on Monday after six players and a member of their training staff entered protocol. By Tuesday, there were nine players on the list. . . . The NHL postponed Calgary’s next three games, including a scheduled Monday date against the Blackhawks in Chicago. Also postponed was the Flames game in Nashville against the Predators on Tuesday and a game against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. . . . The NHL said in a Monday news release that it was postponing the games because of the “likelihood of additional positive cases in the coming days.” . . . Eric Francis of Sportsnet wrote on Monday: “With (Andrew) Mangiapane, Elias Lindholm, Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov, Adam Ruzicka and Brad Richardson joining the list no one wants to be on, there now have been 123 NHL players in COVID protocol this season, which is roughly 17 per cent.” . . . On Tuesday, the Flames added F Milan Lucic, F Sean Monahan and D Noel Hanifin to the list. . . . If all goes well, the Flames will return to practice on Friday and face the visiting Blue Jackets on Saturday.

CAROLINA HURRICANES: The Hurricanes put F Sebastian Aho, F Seth Jarvis and a member of the training staff on the COVID-19 list on Monday. As per Canadian regulations, all three are to remain in Vancouver while in quarantine, a stretch that will take them past Christmas Day unless the team is able to get clearance for a medical flight to get them home. While Aho didn’t play on Sunday in Vancouver — the team said he was ill but didn’t provide specifics — he and Jarvis had played against Calgary and Edmonton. D Tony DeAngelo and D Brett Pesce of the Hurricanes have been in protocol since Nov. 28. . . . On Tuesday, the Hurricanes added D Ian Cole, F Steven Lorentz, F Jordan Staal and F Andrei Svechnikov to the list.

COLORADO AVALANCHE: Colorado moved D Devon Toews into protocol.

DETROIT RED WINGS: Detroit F Tyler Bertuzzi, the NHL’s only unvaccinated player, is out of quarantine and returned to the lineup last night (Tuesday) against the visiting New York Islanders. Despite having missed eight games so far — he isn’t allowed to travel into Canada — he said he isn’t about to get vaccinated, claiming that he has “natural immunity now.” Of course, immunity didn’t help D Danny DeKeyser of the Red Wings, who is back after a second go-round with the virus. . . . The Red Wings are 2-6 without Bertuzzi, who missed five games while in quarantine and three in Canada. . . . Detroit beat the Islanders, 2-1.

EDMONTON OILERS: The Oilers placed F Ryan McLeod into protocol on Tuesday, while head coach Brad Tippett wasn’t on the bench for that night’s 5-1 loss to the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs. The Oilers said Tippett was kept away for precautionary reasons. With Tippett out, assistant coach Glen Gulutzan was in charge of the bench. . . . After the game, Edmonton assistant coach Jim Playfair said that Tippett had gone into protocol. The earliest Tippett could return is for a Dec. 27 game at Calgary.

FLORIDA PANTHERS: F Ryan Lomberg went into protocol on Tuesday before the Panthers were beaten 8-2 by the visiting Ottawa Senators.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS: There were reports that the Nashville Predators had a “handful” of positives, the specifics of which had yet to be released as of Tuesday night. F Ryan Johansen went on the COVID-19 list on Sunday.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS: The Islanders put F Mat Barzal on the list on Tuesday before playing the host Detroit Red Wings. Barzal stayed in quarantine in Detroit as the Islanders went home where they are to face the Bruins on Thursday.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: F Morgan Frost was pulled from a 6-1 victory over the visiting New Jersey Devils as he entered protocol. Frost played three shifts totalling 2:12 early in the first period before leaving the game.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS: Vancouver, which had such a miserable time with an outbreak in May, put D Luke Schenn and F Juho Lammikko into protocol. So those two were missing from Tuesday’s 4-3 victory over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets. Just prior to game time, Vancouver D Brad Hunt also went into protocol. . . . During the game, the Canucks lost D Tucker Poolman when he was pulled late in the first period after being informed of a positive test. Poolman also tested positive while with the Winnipeg Jets in January.

MEANWHILE, Emily Kaplan of ESPN reported Tuesday afternoon that “as of now, there’s been no discussions about pausing the season due to COVID cases. NHL and NHLPA have a regularly scheduled call (will happen tonight or tomorrow) where they will discuss if there’s a need to enhance protocols.” . . . TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted Tuesday night that a medical conference took place Tuesday night. He added that “it’s likely enhanced protocols will be implemented on a league-wide basis for a period of time. Final details being worked out.” Later, he added: “Basically, it would be a return to last season’s protocols.”

——

In the NBA, the Brooklyn Nets added four players, including James Harden, to what the league refers to as health and safety protocols on Tuesday, shortly before playing the Raptors in Toronto. . . . That left the Nets with eight healthy players after they upgraded Kevin Durant from questionable. An NBA team needs eight players in order to play a game. . . . According to head coach Steve Nash, the Nets also placed two coaches and two staff members on the list. . . . The shorthanded Nets still beat the Raptors, 131-129 in OT. . . .

On Monday, the NBA postponed two games involving the Chicago Bulls thanks to outbreak on their roster. They have 10 players and some staff members in protocols.

——

The NFL added 37 players — yes, 37 players! — to their COVID-19 list, the most in any single day since this pandemic got started. According to the NFL, all 37 of those players tested positive. Things weren’t much better on Tuesday, with at least another 31 players added, including nine from the Los Angeles Rams and eight from the Cleveland Browns.

On Oct. 22, WR Odell Beckham Jr., then with the Browns, stated that he wouldn’t get COVID-19 because “its a mutual respect.” Now with the Rams, he tested positive on Tuesday.

On Monday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter pointed out on Twitter: “Worth noting that 86 percent of NFL player and staff COVID positives this season originated away from team facilities. Community-spread has been the issue.”

——

Also on Monday, the English Premier League postponed a game for the second time in three days. Manchester United at Brentford, scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed on Monday. Tottenham was to have played at Brighton on Sunday but came up with eight positives and that game was postponed.

There also have been reports that Aston Villa and Norwich have had positive tests among their players.

The number of positive tests in the league through Sunday had jumped to 42 from 12 the previous week.

——

One more from Monday . . . the New Brunswick/Prince Edward Island U18 Hockey League announced that “as a result of the latest New Brunswick COVID restrictions all games involving New Brunswick Major U18 teams will be postponed until further notice.”


Toads


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

F Brandon Lisowsky scored three goals in 6:42 of the second period to help the visiting Saskatoon Blades to a 5-4 OT victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors on Tuesday. F Tristen Robins scored the winner 35 seconds into extra time. . . . Robins had scored three goals in 6:16 of the second period in a 6-2 victory over the Warriors on Oct. 27. . . .

In Prince Albert, F Evan Herman’s three goals helped the Raiders to a 4-1 victory over the Winnipeg Ice. . . . The Ice is 23-4-1 this season, having lost twice to the Raiders (11-13-2) and the Edmonton Oil Kings (19-6-3). . . .

The Vancouver Giants dropped a 5-3 decision to the Cougars in Prince George on Tuesday night. . . . Vancouver F Cole Shepard scored Vancouver’s second goal, 50 seconds into the third period. It was his first goal since Feb 19, 2020, when he counted in a 6-2 victory over the host Victoria Royals. Shepard played his first game since March 7, 2020, on Dec. 10 as he completed a recovery from hip surgery. . . .

The Victoria Royals outshot the host Kelowna Rockets, 19-3, in the third period but gave up the frame’s only goal and ended up dropping a 5-4 decision in OT. That ended Victoria’s five-game winning streak. Still, the Royals are 7-1-4 since starting the season 1-10-0. Victoria is 7-0-3 in its last 10 outings.



WJC NOTES: Finland’s entry in the World Junior Championship took a hit with the news that F Aatu Räty, a draft pick of the NHL’s New York Islanders, is off the roster because of having to quarantine. Räty was seen as perhaps Finland’s No. 1 centre. . . . The Finns are to fly into Edmonton today (Wednesday). . . . Chris Peters (@chrismpeters), who is an excellent follow for all kinds of hockey news, tweets that the Slovakian team “is bussing to Munich to hop on a charter with Austria, Germany and the Czechs. Fly to stopover in Iceland, then on to Edmonton, then a bus to Red Deer. Then 2-day quarantine.” . . . If you are at all interested in the WJC, Peters has a really thorough look at Tuesday’s news right here. . . .

Russia’s roster doesn’t include three NHL draft picks — D Daniil Chayka (Vegas Golden Knights), D Yan Kuznetsov (Calgary Flames) and F Matvey Petrov (Edmonton Oil Kings). All three left Russia to play junior in North America, Chayka with the OHL’s Guelph Storm, Kuznetsov with the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs and Petrov with the OHL’s North Bay Battalion.


Cat


JUST NOTES: Two former WHL players and a former WHL coach have been added to the coaching staff of Canada’s entry in the Spengler Cup, replacing Bruce Boudreau and Scott Walker, who now are on the Vancouver Canucks’ coaching staff. Nolan Baumgartner, a defenceman with the Kamloops Blazers (1992-96), had been an assistant coach with the Canucks before losing his job in last week’s purge. Jeremy Colliton (Prince Albert Raiders, 2001-05) had been the Chicago Blackhawks’ head coach before being fired on Nov. 6. Ben Cooper also will be with Team Canada. He was on the Victoria Royals’ coaching staff for two seasons (2011-13). Cooper now is an assistant coach with EC Salzburg of the ICEHL. . . .

The Acadie-Bathurst Titan and host Halifax Mooseheads were scheduled to play on Friday night. That game — it is a Teddy Bear night — has been moved to Thursday due to, according to a post on the Mooseheads’ Facebook page, “the recent restrictions announced by the Nova Scotia government.” Global-TV explained: “spectators will be placed into groups of 150 people. There can be multiple groups, so long as each group has a separate entrance, exit and washrooms. Within those groups of 150 people, masking and physical distancing will be maintained, unless people are with their own household or a consistent group of 20. Eating and drinking will no longer be allowed in the stands or seats, and can only happen in separate designated seating areas.” Tim Houston, Nova Scotia’s premier, wasn’t pleased, saying in a statement that “the time between the announcement and the implementation was to give businesses, organizations and individuals time to prepare . . . not to give organizations an opportunity to reschedule events and get in front of the changes.”


Fifi


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.


Cooking

Lisowsky, Robins help Blades get back on track . . . Ripplinger moves up in Moose Jaw . . . Nevill, former WHL scout, dies at 81



F Brandon Lisowsky broke a 3-3 tie in the third period to help the Saskatoon BladesBlades to a 5-3 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders in Regina. . . . Lisowsky’s fifth goal of the season came  at 12:50 and F Caiden Daley (6) added the empty-netter. . . . The Raiders (4-8-2) had erased a 3-1 deficit on PP goals from F Reece Vitelli (4) at 14:23 of the second and F Dallyn Peekeekoot (2) at 16:01. . . . Peekeekoot added two assists to his goal. . . . F Tristen Robins had a goal, his eighth, and three assists for the Blades (10-2-2), who had lost three in a row (0-2-1). . . . Saskatoon is 3-0-0 against Prince Albert in the Regina hub.


The Frozen Four, which ends Saturday with the NCAA declaring a men’s hockey champion, played its semifinals on Thursday in Pittsburgh. . . . The UMass-Amherst Minutemen got past the defending-champion U of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, 3-2 in OT, in the nightcap. . . . F Garrett Wait got the winner at 14:30 of the first extra period . . . UMass had a 13-2 edge in shots in OT after being outshot 36-15 in regulation. . . . The Bulldogs were without Ryan Fanti, their sophomore starting goaltender due to COVID-19 protocols. Freshman Zach Stejskal got the start. . . . The Minutemen were without starting G Filip Lindberg, third-stringer Henry Graham and F Carson Gicewicz, their leading goal scorer. Equipment manager Zac Steigmeyer was added to the roster and backed up senior Matt Murray. . . . After Thursday’s game, UMass revealed that Lindberg, Graham and Gicewicz have cleared protocols and will rejoin the team today. If they test negative today and Saturday morning, they will be good for the final. . . .

In the first semifinal, F Nolan Walker broke a 4-4 tie with 53.2 seconds left in the third period to give the St. Cloud State Huskies a 5-4 victory over the Minnesota State Mavericks. . . . For more on the Frozen Four, visit collegehockeynews.com.


Mars


Jason Ripplinger is the new general manager of the Moose Jaw Warriors. MooseJawRipplinger, 45, joined the Warriors prior to the 2017-18 season as assistant general manager. . . . Prior to that, he spent 16 seasons with the Vancouver Giants, first as a scout and then as director of player personnel. . . . In Moose Jaw, he takes over from Alan Millar, who has left the Warriors to join Hockey Canada as director of player personnel for the Program of Excellence.


Former NHL coach Dave Allison is expected to be named general manager and head coach of the Fort Frances Lakers of the seven-team junior A Superior International Junior Hockey League. Allison, a 61-year-old native of Fort Frances, has been coaching since 1986. . . . He spent part of the 1995-96 season as head coach of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, having replaced Rick Bowness in midseason. . . . In recent years, Allison spent four seasons (2014-18) as head coach of the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers and two seasons in Europe. He started this season as head coach of DVTK Jegesmedvek in Slovakia, but was replaced in January. . . . In Fort Frances, Allison replaces Bernie Lynch, who was fired on Jan. 2 due to what the team said was “a clear breach of applicable codes of conduct.”


Bob Nevill, once a scout with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels, has died in Brandon. He was 81. . . . He was a well-known figure on Brandon’s sporting scene, having been an assistant coach with Brandon U’s basketball teams and later a basketball official. He also coached high school football in Brandon with the Crocus Plains Plainsmen. . . . Nevill’s son, Rhett, played 32 games on defence with the Rebels in 1998-99.



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.


DUI

WHL asks players to opt out of lawsuit. . . . Yes, Matvichuk wants to keep coaching. . . . Blades sign three 2019 draft picks

MacBeth

D Nick Ross (Regina, Kamloops, Vancouver, 2004-09) has signed a one-year contract with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had nine goals and 31 assists in 52 games. He was second on the team in assists. . . .

F Dalibor Bortňák (Kamloops, 2008-11) has signed a one-year contract with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had 10 goals and 21 assists in 54 games. . . .

F Parker Bowles (Tri-City, 2011-16) has signed a one-year contract with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Lillehammer (Norway, GET-Ligaen), he had 20 goals and 25 assists in 48 games. . . .

F Gilbert Brulé (Vancouver, 2002-06) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). This season, with Sibir Novosibirsk (Russia, KHL), he had seven goals and 15 assists in 30 games. . . .

D Clint Filbrandt (Tri-City, Kootenay, 2012-14) has signed a one-year contract with DEAC Debrecen (Hungary, Erste Liga). This season, with U of Lethbridge (USports, Canada West), he had two goals and five assists in 25 games. . . .

F Calder Brooks (Calgary, Prince Albert, Spokane, 2011-15) has signed a one-year contract with Lyon (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with St. Mary’s U (USports, Atlantic University Sport), he had six goals and 15 assists in 29 games. He also had three goals and one assist in three games with the Wichita Thunder (ECHL). . . .

F Danis Zaripov (Swift Current, 1998-99) has signed a one-year contract extension with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL). This season, he had nine goals and 23 assists in 48 games. He was third on his team in points. . . .

F Milan Jurík (Prince Albert, 2006-07) has signed a one-year contract extension with Mulhouse (France, Ligue Magnus). An alternate captain, he had six goals and 17 assists in 42 games this season. . . .

F Brendan Shinnimin (Tri-City, 2007-12) has signed a two-year contract extension with Växjö Lakers (Sweden, SHL). This season, he had 17 goals and 16 assists in 47 games. He tied for the team lead in goals and points. . . .

F Marek Kalus (Spokane, Brandon, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga), he had 20 goals and 30 assists in 50 games. He led the team in goals and points.


ThisThat

Rick Westhead, TSN’s senior correspondent, reported Tuesday that the WHL “is asking current and former players to opt out of a class-action minimum-wage lawsuit against the league, suggesting that the future of amateur sports in Canada is at risk. The WHL shared its message in an e-bulletin that was sent Tuesday by email to a distribution list that includes current and former players. The group email was obtained by TSN.” . . . Westhead’s complete story is right here.


It began with a report in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette that had Richard Matvichuk, the former head coach of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars, as a candidate for the head-coaching position with the ECHL’s Komets.

Matvichuk wasn’t the favourite, reported Justin A. Cohn, but he was believed to be in the chase.

Then came a rumour that, no, Matvichuk didn’t want to coach, and that he would stay in Prince George and get involved with minor hockey.

Well, it turns out that Matvichuk, a 46-year-old native of Edmonton, isn’t through with coaching. At least, he hopes he isn’t.

As he told Taking Note: “Yes, I want to coach.”

And why shouldn’t he?

A defenceman, Matvichuk played three seasons (1989-92) with the Saskatoon Blades before going on to a professional career that included 796 regular-season NHL games and another 123 in the playoffs. His name is on the Stanley Cup (Dallas Stars, 1998-99).

His coaching career includes two seasons as assistant GM/assistant coach with the Texas-based Allen Americans, who then were in the CHL. He then spent two seasons (2014-16) as director of hockey operations and head coach of the ECHL’s Missouri Mavericks. He was the ECHL’s coach of the year in the second of those seasons.

Matvichuk brought that track record to the Cougars, and he guided them to first place in the B.C. Division with a franchise-record 45 victories in his first season. That marked the first time the franchise had won a WHL banner.

But the Cougars went all-in that season, then were upset in six games by the Portland Winterhawks in the first round of the playoffs.

The Cougars spent the past two seasons trying to get back on track, as often happens to teams that try to seize the moment by going all-in.

General manager Mark Lamb, who was nearing the end of his first season with the Cougars, fired Matvichuk with 16 games remaining this season. Matvichuk’s three-year contract was to have expired following the season.

At the time, the Cougars were 16-30-6 and on an 11-game losing skid. Lamb stepped in as head coach and the slump reached a franchise-record 17 games before it finally ended. The Cougars went 3-11-2 under Lamb to finish at 19-41-8 and out of the playoffs.

During the season, the Cougars’ ownership, having surveyed the damage, reached the conclusion that it would never again go all-in, that the price to be paid just isn’t worth it because, as they found out, there aren’t any guarantees.

It also has to be pointed out that the Cougars’ 2018-19 season, at least in terms of grabbing a playoff spot, was done in by perhaps the worst stretch of scheduling in WHL history.

The Cougars were 11-14-3 in December when they headed into an absolutely bizarre 11-game road trip that was broken up by the Christmas break and included three separate treks into the U.S. Division.

Here’s a bit of what I wrote in February:
“If you’re wondering why things went south in Prince George this season, it may have had something to do with the schedule. As bad as 16-30-6 may sound now, the Cougars were 11-14-3 as they began an insane 11-game road trip that was interrupted by the Christmas break and included three separate jaunts into the U.S. Division. They went 3-8-0 on that trip, came home and beat Kelowna twice, and are 0-8-3 since those victories.

“Team management has since gone on the record as saying it will never again accept such goofy scheduling.”

The Cougars split with the visiting Victoria Royals on Dec. 1 and 2, then didn’t play at home again until Jan. 11 and 12 when they swept Kelowna.

It’s no wonder that Matvichuk doesn’t feel that he is done with coaching.


The WHL will have three of its coaches working benches during the U-17 World Hockey Challenge in November. . . . Michael Dyck, the head coach of the Vancouver Giants, has been named by Hockey Canada as head coach of Team Canada White. . . . Ryan Marsh, the associate coach with the Saskatoon Blades, will be an assistant coach alongside Dyck. . . . Steve O’Rourke, an assistant coach with the Prince George Cougars, is to be an assistant coach on Team Canada Red. . . . The tournament is to be held in Medicine Hat and Swift Current, Nov. 2-9.


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The Saskatoon Blades have signed three 2019 bantam draft selections to WHL contracts. . . . F Brandon Lisowsky, from Coquitlam, B.C., was taken in the first round, ninth overall. He is the eighth of the 22 first-round selections to sign a WHL contract. This season, Lisowsky had 61 goals and 48 assists in 53 games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam prep team. . . . F Hayden Smith, from Kamloops, was selected in the second round. He had 24 goals and 23 assists in 30 games with the Yale Hockey Academy’s bantam prep team. . . . G Ethan Chadwick, from Saskatoon, was a third-round pick. He had a 2.83 GAA and a .920 save percentage in 22 games with the bantam AA Saskatoon Stallions.

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The Regina Pats have signed D Layton Feist to a WHL contract. Feist, from Coldstream, B.C., was selected in the first round, 17th overall, of the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. This season, he had eight goals and 14 assists in 20 games with the OMAHA (Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association) North Zone Kings. . . . His older brother, Tyson, is a defenceman with the Pats.

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The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed F Brayden Boehm to a WHL contract.  He was a second-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . From Nanaimo, he had 16 goals and 24 in 30 games with the Delta Hockey Academy’s prep green team this season.

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The Swift Current Broncos have signed F Caleb Wyrostok to a WHL contract. From Medicine Hat, he was a ninth-round selection by the Broncos in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Wyrostok, 16, played this season for the Northern Alberta X-Treme elite 15 team, putting up 20 goals and 15 assists in 30 games.


The MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders have signed Geoff Grimwood as their new general manager and head coach. Grimwood, from Victoria, spent 2018-19 as the GM and head coach of the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors. Prior to that, he was the GM and head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers for three seasons.


Bob Beatty, a veteran junior A coach, has signed on with the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons as an associate coach. For the past two seasons, Beatty has been the head coach of the bantam prep team at the Shawnigan Lake, B.C., School. In Fort McMurray, Beatty will be working alongside Dave Dupas, who is preparing for his first season as general manager and head coach.


Pierre-Paul Lamoureux is the new head coach of the USHL’s Fargo Force. A native of Grand Forks, N.D., he played three seasons (2004-07) with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels and worked as their associate coach in 2016-17. Lamoureux was the Force’s associate head coach for the past two seasons. . . . Lamoureux, 31, will be the youngest head coach in the league. He takes over from Cary Eades, who stays on as general manager and president of hockey operations.


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