Dreger: NHL GMs want to talk about 19s in the AHL . . . Friedman: CHL to ban Belarusians, Russians from draft . . . Bananas skate to WHL victory

A couple of items that involve the WHL slipped through the cracks here this week, so allow me to touch on them now . . .

The NHL’s general managers met in Manalapan, Fla., early in the week.

Darren Dreger of TSN reported that there was some conversation about what CHLonce was known as the pro-junior agreement — the deal between the NHL and CHL that involves the 60 major junior teams. That contract expired a couple of years ago, and simply has been rolled over because of the pandemic. But it seems that the parties are getting closer to sitting down and hashing it out.

Dreger also reported: “The general managers coming out of Tuesday’s meetings want to talk more about 19-year-olds playing in the American Hockey League and it feels like every March, when we’re healthy enough to be in a face-to-face environment, that the topic comes up. I know Kelly McCrimmon of the Vegas Golden Knights gave a very passionate account — as the former owner of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings — to tell the general managers (there are 11 new guys in there) how devastating it would be to the CHL if they introduce 19-year-olds at the AHL level.”

The NHL and major junior operators love to talk about how the CHL teams are in the business of developing players. And that is true. But it is time for both parties to acknowledge that these teams, first and foremost, are in the entertainment business. If they don’t produce an entertaining product, they might not be in business.

There has long been chatter about the NHL teams wanting the OK to put 19-year-olds in the AHL. One school of thought has it that a 19-year-old who has been a first-round selection in the NHL draft should be able to be placed in the AHL.

As things stand now, an NHL team has two options with a 19-year-old whose rights it owns — keep him in the NHL or offer him to his major junior team.

These 19-year-olds are the best players in major junior hockey, the players people pay to watch. To take them away from CHL teams would be a real slap in the face to those teams and their fans.

——

Meanwhile, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet posted his weekly 32 Thoughts and it included this: “It’s not announced yet, but several CHL teams are indicating a ban will be enforced against selecting Russians and Belorusians in the upcoming import draft. Existing prospects will be grandfathered, allowed to return next (season).”

Here’s a look at Russian (3) and Belarusian (7) players on WHL rosters (age shown is as of start of this season):

Brandon — F Zakhar Polshakov, 18, Minsk, Belarus.

Calgary — F Anton Astashevich, 17, Minsk, Belarus; F Maxim Muranov, 17, Moscow, Russia.

Lethbridge — F Yegor Klavdiev, 18, Minsk, Belarus.

Medicine Hat — D Gleb Ivanov, 18, Moscow, Russia.

Prince Albert — G Tikhon Chaika, 18, Minsk, Belarus; F Vladislav Shilo, 18, Minsk, Belarus.

Saskatoon — F Egor Sidorov, 17, Vitebsk, Belarus.

Spokane — D Timafey Kovgoreniya, 18, Minsk, Belarus.

Swift Current — F Alexei Shanaurin, 17, Snezhinsk, Russia.


Sweater


FRIDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference:

F Matthew Savoie scored twice and added an assist, while G Daniel Hauser WinnipegIceearned the shutout as the visiting Winnipeg Ice dumped the Regina Pats, 7-0, for their 13th straight victory. . . . Savoie now has 32 goals and 52 assists in 60 games. . . . The Ice also got a goal, his 23rd, and three assists from F Zach Benson, with F Connor McClennon scoring his 40th goal of the season. . . . Hauser stopped 17 shots to put up his WHL-leading eight shutout of the season. He is 30-2-1, 1.97, .915 this season. . . . Winnipeg (49-9-5) is 15-0-2 in its last 17 games and leads the conference by eight points over the Edmonton Oil Kings, who have six games remaining. . . . Regina (24-32-5) is five points away from a playoff spot with seven games left. . . .

Bananas

In Saskatoon, F Egor Sidorov scored twice to lead the Blades to a 4-1 victory Saskatoonover the Moose Jaw Warriors in what may well have been a first-round playoff preview. . . . Sidorov, who has 21 goals, broke a 1-1 tie at 8:04 of the third period and added insurance at 14:36. . . . G Nolan Maier recorded the victory with 18 saves. That was the 119th victory of his career, one shy of the WHL record. . . . The Blades (35-24-4) are fifth, one point behind the Warriors (35-23-5). Each team has five games remaining. . . . The Blades rebranded themselves as the Saskatoon Bananas, complete with new sweaters, for this one. For more on that, check out the Blades’ website. . . . 

The Brandon Wheat Kings scored two empty-netters as they beat the Raiders, Brandon4-2, in Prince Albert. . . . F Nate Danielson got his 20th goal into an empty net and gave Brandon a 3-1 lead at 18:12 of the third period. . . . F Sloan Stanick scored his second of the game and 21st of the season at 19:03 to get the home team to within a goal. . . . Brandon F Chad Nychuk (19) iced it with another empty-net goal at 19:32. . . . F Nolan Ritchie scored his 30th goal of the season in the first period. . . . G Ethan Kruger stopped 35 shots for Brandon, which clinched a playoff spot. . . . The Wheat Kings (31-25-5) are sixth, seven points behind Saskatoon and eight ahead of Swift Current, which has only three games remaining. . . . Prince Albert (25-33-5) is three points from a playoff spot. . . .

In Swift Current, the Calgary Hitmen scored the game’s last three goals as they Calgarybeat the Broncos, 5-2. . . . F Sean Tschigerl (22) gave the Hitmen a 3-2 lead, at 15:38 of the second period, with his second of the game. He also had an assist. . . . F Cael Zimmerman, who has 14, scored Calgary’s last two goals. . . . The Hitmen (24-31-8) are ninth, three points behind the Broncos (26-32-7), who trail Lethbridge by a point. . . .

The Lethbridge Hurricanes erased a 2-0 deficit with five straight goals en route Lethbridgeto a 6-3 victory over the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . F Alex Thacker scored twice for Lethbridge, giving him 12. He got the Hurricanes even at 9:08 of the second period and scored the eventual winner, on a PP, at 15:51. . . . Lethbridge got three assists from F Yegor Klavdiev. . . . The Hurricanes (28-30-4) are seventh, one point ahead of Swift Current. . . . The Tigers (11-47-4) have lost six in a row. . . .

Western Conference:

F Andrew Cristall, F Pavel Novak and F Scott Cousins each had three points as Kelownathe host Kelowna Rockets dumped the Prince George Cougars, 9-2. . . . The Cougars scored the game’s first goal — D Jonas Brøndberg got his first of the season at 1:31 of the first period — but the Rockets took a 4-1 lead into the second period. . . . Cristall had two goals, giving him 23, and an assist, with Novak scoring his 26th goal and adding two assist, and Cousins getting No. 3 and two assists. . . . Kelowna was 3-for-4 on the PP. . . . The Rockets (36-19-6) appear headed to a fifth-place finish. . . . The Cougars (22-37-3) are eighth, two points ahead of Spokane and three behind Victoria. . . .

In Kamloops, the Spokane Chiefs took a 5-1 lead into the third period and hung Spokaneon for a 6-5 victory over the Blazers. . . . F Blake Swetlikoff (11) gave the visitors a 5-1 lead, on a PP, at 19:47 of the second period. . . . Kamloops outscored Spokane 4-1 in the third period, getting goals from D Logan Bairos (4), at 11:16, and F Daylan Kuefler (37), on a PP, at 13:10, to get within a goal. . . . F Nick McCarry, who started the season with Kamloops, had a goal, his 18th, and two assists for Spokane. He had 28 points in 34 games with the Blazers; he has 28 points in 30 games with Spokane. . . . Spokane was 3-for-5 on the PP. . . . The Blazers got a goal, his 41st, and two assists from F Logan Stankoven. . . . Kamloops, which is carrying three goaltenders, didn’t dress starter Dylan Garand. Dylan Ernst went the distance, with Jesse Sanche on the bench. . . . Mike Boyle, the radio voice of the Chiefs, called his 1,500th WHL game and you can bet it was one he’ll remember. . . . The Blazers (45-16-2) are second, three points behind Everett. . . . Spokane (20-37-5) is ninth, two points behind Prince George. . . .

F Cross Hanas ended a three-goal comeback in OT as the Portland Winterhawks Portlandbeat the Silvertips, 5-4, in Everett. . . . The Silvertips took a 4-2 lead on third-period goals from F Jackson Berezowski (44), at 12:58 and D Aidan Sutter (4), at 16:08. . . . F Marcus Nguyen (19) pulled Portland to within one at 16:29 and D Clay Hanus (18) tied it at 19:46. . . . Hanas, who also had two assists, won it with his 24th goal at 1:03 of extra time. . . . The announced attendance was 6,833, Everett’s third-largest crowd this season. . . . The Winterhawks (42-16-5), with five games left, are third, three points behind Kamloops and six in arrears of Everett (43-10-9). . . .

In Kent, Wash., the Seattle Thunderbirds opened up a 5-0 lead en route to a 6-4 Seattlevictory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . F Henrik Rybinski’s 19th goal gave Seattle a 5-0 lead just nine seconds into the second period. . . . The Americans scored the next four goals, getting started at 1:50 when F Jordan Gavin scored his first WHL goal in his sixth game. . . . Tri-City got to within a goal at 18:41 on D Marc Lajoie’s 11th goal, via the PP, but Seattle F Lukas Svejkovsky (32) put it away at 19:58 with his second of the game, this one into an empty net. . . . F Jared Davidson scored twice for the winners, giving him 35. . . . Seattle (40-17-6) is three points behind Portland. . . . Tri-City (18-40-5) is six points out of a playoff spot with five games remaining.


Mat


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: F Matthew Wood, a freshman with the Victoria Grizzlies, won the BCHL scoring title this season by putting up 85 points, including 45 goals, in 46 games. Wood, who turned 17 on Feb. 6, is from Lethbridge. He was selected by the Regina Pats in the second round of the WHL’s 2020 draft. However, he has committed to join the U of Connecticut Huskies in Hartford for 2023-24. . . . G Eve Gascon stopped 23 shots to earn the victory as the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques beat the visiting Drummondville Voltigeurs, 7-3, on Friday night. This was the first time a woman had posted a goaltending victory in the QMJHL since Charline Labonte did it with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in 2000. . . . It seems there might be at least three bids being prepared with aspirations to play host to the 2023 World Junior Championship. The NHL’s Ottawa Senators are partnering with Quebecor, which owns the arena in Quebec City, and the Quebec government on one bid. Things are moving in Regina and Saskatoon with another bid being prepared from there; city councils in both cities already have approved some funding. Meanwhile, Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reported that “the belief is the Halifax Mooseheads and the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League are working on a bid with officials from their respective cities to host the tourney.”


Three former WHL players — F Jared Aulin, F Jayce Hawryluk and D Brennan Menell — have signed with 3ICE, a 3-on-3 pro hockey league that is scheduled to begin play in Las Vegas on June 18. . . . Each of the league’s six teams will comprise seven players, including one goaltender. All six teams will be in action on nights when the tour stops in Las Vegas, Denver, Grand Rapids, Mich., Hershey, London, Ont., Pittsburgh, Quebec City and Nashville. The 3ICE championship is to be decided in Las Vegas on Aug. 20. . . . Aulin, 40, played with the Kamloops Blazers (1998-2002), while Hawryluk, 26, was with the Brandon Wheat Kings (2012-16), and Menell, 24, skated with the Vancouver Giants and Lethbridge Hurricanes (2014-17). Hawryluk and Menell still are active; Aulin last played in 2019-20 with the Elite Ice Hockey League’s Manchester Storm and actually announced his retirement on July 26, 2021.


Ink


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.


Birthday

Restricted capacity coming to Ontario facilities; B.C. pondering it, too . . . OHL shuts down Erie Otters . . . Zimmer’s six-pack sparks Cougars

Merry Christmas . . .


The provincial government of Ontario announced on Wednesday that indoor arenas and venues with a capacity of more than 1,000 will be limited to 50 per cent capacity effective Saturday at 12:01 a.m. ET.

Those same Ontario facilities had moved to 100 per cent capacity on Oct. 8.

After the announcement, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns Covidthe NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, issued a news release that included this:

“MLSE’s venue operations team will implement an enhanced mask protocol within the venue beginning with Saturday’s Raptors game called ‘Operation Mask Up (or out)’ that requires all attendees to strictly adhere to all mask-wearing protocols or risk ejection from the building. MLSE also strongly encourages all fans to get vaccinated and closely follow all public health protocols to protect each other and our community at large.”

Unfortunately for Toronto basketball fans, the first game to feel the pinch of 50 per cent capacity will feature the visiting Golden State Warriors and all-world Steph Curry on Saturday.

——

Meanwhile, in B.C., we are bracing for more public health orders that are likely to be announced early next week.

During a late Wednesday afternoon news conference, Adrian Dix, B.C.’s minister of health, admitted that the government is considering reducing capacity for arenas and other venues.

A move back to 50 per cent capacity would impact four of the WHL’s B.C. Division teams — the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Vancouver Giants and Victoria Royals. Their arenas have been at 100 per cent capacity only since Oct. 19.

The Prince George Cougars, located in the Northern Health region, haven’t been permitted more than 50 per cent capacity in the CN Centre all season.

——

The OHL’s Erie Otters suspended all operations after 13 players tested positive. OHLAccording to the OHL, all players are asymptomatic or experiencing mild symptoms. The Otters were to have met visiting the Guelph Storm on Friday and entertained the Kitchener Rangers on Saturday; both games have been postponed. . . . This comes after the Sudbury Wolves had shut things down late last month after 12 positive tests. They were scheduled to return to game action tonight (Thursday) in Barrie against the Colts. However, that game has been postponed as the Wolves continue to deal with virus-related issues. The Wolves now have had six games postponed. . . .

The OHL also postponed a game scheduled for last night (Wednesday) that would have had the Rangers in Owen Sound to meet the Attack. The OHL said the decision was made out of an abundance of caution. . . .

In the OHL, all staff, players and those eligible in billet families are fully vaccinated.

——

And then there is the NHL where there were at least 53 players in protocol at the end of the day. That doesn’t include coaches and other staff members. Oh, and more positive tests are expected . . .

As of late Wednesday, the Calgary Flames had six players who WERE NOT in COVID-19 protocol — F Mikael Backlund, F Blake Coleman, F Dillon Dube, D Oliver Kylington, F Matthew Tkachuk and G Dan Vladar. The Flames added 17 people to their protocol list on Wednesday, including head coach Darryl Sutter and assistants Ryan Huska and Kirk Muller. There also are seven support staff members in protocol. . . . At that point, the Flames had 16 players, three coaches and seven staff members on the list. . . .

The Nashville Predators had six players and six other members of their travelling team in protocol. F Mikael Granlund, F Ryan Johansen, F Matt Luff, F Michael McCarron, F Philip Tomasino were on the list, along with head coach John Hynes, assistants Dan Lambert and Todd Richards, and goaltending coach Ben Vanderklok. . . . The Predators are scheduled to visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday; it could be that their AHL coaching staff — head coach Karl Taylor and assistants Scott Ford and Greg Rallo — running the Nashville bench. . . . Taylor spent one season (2013-14) as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. . . .

The Detroit Red Wings moved F Robby Fabbri and F Michael Rasmussen into protocol. The Red Wings are scheduled to meet host Carolina tonight (Thursday), but the Hurricanes have six players and a trainer in protocol. Carolina was to have played the host Minnesota Wild on Tuesday but the game was postponed. . . .

The Vancouver Canucks, who put four players on the list on Tuesday, flew to San Jose on Wednesday evening where they are scheduled to play the Sharks tonight (Thursday). Assistant coach Jason King didn’t make the trip, as he went into protocol before the flight departed. . . .

The NHL and NHLPA will try to slow the virus’s spread by going back to protocols that were used last season. . . . From Bruce Garrioch, who covers the Ottawa Senators for Postmedia: “Essentially, the league is going back to last year’s rules, which means management, staff and players will be tested daily until at least Jan. 7. With the (Ottawa) Senators on a three-game road trip that will continue Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team will essentially go into its own bubble. That means all meals will have to be eaten at the hotel and there will be no dining out or shopping during breaks in the schedule.”


Closed


The NFL said that 88 players had tested positive on Monday and Tuesday, but with players being moved on and off the COVID-19 list, there are reports that it’s likely that at least 100 players have come up positive. . . . The Washington Football Team had 18 players on its protocol list after adding eight more on Wednesday. . . . The Cleveland Browns had 18 players, half of them starters, and two coaches on the COVID-19 list by the end of the day. That included head coach Kevin Stefanski, WR Jarvis Landry and QB Baker Mayfield. . . . Still, Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, said the league isn’t considering postponing or cancelling Cleveland’s scheduled game against the visiting Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. . . .

Alvin Gentry, the interim head coach with the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, tested positive so wasn’t with his team for Wednesday’s 119-105 victory over the visiting Washington Wizards. He will need two negative tests 24 hours apart before being allowed to return. . . . The NBA had more than two dozen players in health and safety protocols on Wednesday, including 10 players from the Chicago Bulls. They were to play the Raptors in Toronto tonight (Thursday), but the game has been postponed. . . . According to the NBA, about 97 per cent of its players are vaccinated, with about 60 per cent having received a booster shot. . . .

The AHL-Toronto Marlies have one player who tested positive and four others isolating for precautionary reasons. . . . According to the team, “All players are double-vaccinated and are being closely monitored for symptoms while being tested daily.” . . . The Marlies dropped a 4-2 decision to the Syracuse Crunch on Wednesday night. . . .

The AHL-Belleville Senators were to have played against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in Allentown, Pa., on Wednesday night but it didn’t happen. The game was postponed, the AHL said, because of “protocols affecting Belleville.” . . . The Senators are scheduled to conclude a nine-day road trip against the Syracuse Crunch on Friday. . . .

Soccer’s Premier League postponed a game between visiting Watford and Burnley less than three hours before it was to start. The league postponed a third game in four days due to an outbreak on the Watford roster that left it without enough first-team players for a game.


It isn’t just the sporting world that is feeling the impact of this latest wave. The New York Time reported Wednesday: “Broadway has seen a raft of cancellations as positive Covid tests among cast and crew members have upended productions. The pandemic continues to pose a challenge to an industry struggling to get back on its feet after a lengthy and damaging shutdown.”




The New York Times, Wednesday, 2:30 p.m. PT: “Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. surpassed 800,000 on Wednesday, as the pandemic neared the end of a second year and as known virus cases in this country rose above 50 million. The death toll is the highest known of any nation.”

Carolyn Dunn, CBC Calgary, Wednesday, 5:53 p.m. PT: “By tomorrow, 30,000 Canadians (and possibly many more) will have died from COVID-19. So many families/friends robbed of a day, a month, or many years.”



Election


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: F Koehn Zimmer of the Prince George Cougars put up six points Wednesday night in a 7-3 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . The Cougars, who erased a 2-0 deficit, have won four in a row. . . . Zimmer, who WHLturned 17 on Dec. 8, finished with two goals and four assists. He now has seven goals and 12 assists in 26 games this season. He started it with nine goals and three assists in 24 games. . . .

F Ollie Josephson, the fifth-overall selection in last week’s WHL draft, was in the Red Deer Rebels’ lineup for the first time on Wednesday as they met the visiting Swift Current Broncos. Josephson was pointless and plus-1 in a 6-1 Red Deer victory. . . .

The Victoria Royals went into Kamloops having earned at least a point in 10 straight games (7-0-3), but the Blazers dropped them, 3-0, as G Dylan Ernst recorded his first WHL shutout. At one point late in the second period, Kamloops held a 29-4 edge in shots and a 2-0 lead. The Blazers ended up with a 51-9 advantage. . . . Kamloops D Viktor Persson wasn’t on the bench for the third period after taking a hit from Victoria D Wyatt Wilson at 8:49 of the second period. Wilson was given a charging major and game misconduct. . . .

In Calgary, F Jakub Demek, a Slovakian freshman, had two goals and an assist as the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Hitmen, 5-2. . . . Demek, a fourth-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL’s 2021 draft, has 13 goals and 22 assists in 28 games. . . . Oh, yes, he’s also on a 17-game point streak. . . .

F Jack Finley and D Jonas Woo made their Winnipeg debuts on Wednesday as the Ice dumped the host Saskatoon Blades, 6-0. . . . Finley, who was acquired earlier in the month from the Spokane Chiefs, had been in camp with Canada’s national junior team before being released. He had a goal, his ninth, and an assist in his first game with the Ice. . . . Woo, whose father, Larry, is an assistant coach with the Ice, was the 18th overall selection in last week’s WHL draft. He was pointless and plus-1 in his debut. . . . Darren Steinke, the travelling blogger, was at the game and his story is right here. . . .

Earlier in the day, the Ice acquired F Alessandro Segafredo, 17, from the Seattle Thunderbirds for Czech D Martin Bohm, 18, and a sixth-round pick in the WHL’s 2024 draft. . . . Both players were selected in the CHL’s 2021 import draft. . . . Mike Sawatzky (@sawa14) of the Winnipeg Free Press notes that “the Italian-born Segafredo was a teammate of current Ice D Max Streule with GCK Lions U20 in Zurich, Switzerland, last season.” . . . Segafredo is listed on Winnipeg’s injury list as being out day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, while Bohm, who last played on Nov. 14, is out month-to-month with an undisclosed injury. . . . The Seattle roster includes three imports, including British D Leon Okonkwo Prada and Slovakian D Samuel Knazko. . . . The Thunderbirds will have to trim one, via release or trade, once Bohm is healthy. . . . The Red Deer Rebels are the only WHL team carrying one import.


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.


GPS

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after spending some time with Adele . . .

Scattershooting2


Les Lazaruk, the long-time radio voice of the Saskatoon Blades on CJWW, and I have been friends for more years than either one of us cares to remember.

So . . . I can imagine how excited he was prior to calling the play for the Blades’ game in Winnipeg against the Ice on Saturday night. I mean, you have to know that Les gets excited before every game. But this one was extra special.

That’s because his nephew, Nolan Powell, who is from Winnipeg, was one of the game’s two referees, along with veteran Adam Bloski.

You should know that Nolan makes music with more than his whistle.

Besides being an on-ice hockey official, he is an accomplished classical guitarist.

From a story headlined ‘To hear Nolan Powell play is to believe in perfection’ from the U of Manitoba News in June 2020: “The 2020 Master of Music graduate, who also holds a B.Mus and B.Ed from the University of Manitoba, has a long history of impressing people, and received the Dr. Bonnie Buhler Graduate Scholarship in Music for his master’s degree.”

About the only degree his uncle has involves Strat-O-Matic Baseball.


ICING THE OPPOSITION: It should be pointed out that the Winnipeg Ice swept that weekend series from the Saskatoon Blades, 4-1 and 6-0. . . . The Ice, the WinnipegCHL’s top-ranked team, now is 17-1 and has outscored its opposition, 98-31. Winnipeg leads the Eastern Conference by seven points over the Edmonton Oil Kings (12-3-3) and tops the East Division by 11 points over the Blades (11-6-1). . . . Winnipeg forwards Mikey Milne and Matt Savoie lead the WHL points race, each with 29. Milne and teammate Connor McClennon are No. 1 in goals (14), with Savoie tops in assists (21). . . . If you are a plus-minus fan, Ice players hold down the top five spots — Milne (24), F Jakin Smallwod (22), F Conor Geekie (21), and D Carson Lambos and D Nolan Orzeck each 19. . . . G Daniel Hauser of the Ice leads the league in GAA (1.45) and save percentage (.941).


Antler
I first spotted this guy over a month ago in the field that is at the top of the photo. At that time, his left antler was dangling loosely on the side of his face. I didn’t see him again until he showed up in our yard late Saturday afternoon — the light was fading fast — and it seems that the broken antler has taken root and is solidly entrenched, giving him something of a bizarre look.

THE CENTURY CLUB: G Nolan Maier of the Saskatoon Blades posted his 100th career regular-season victory on Friday, beating the Wheat Kings, 2-1, in Brandon. According to quanthockey.com, he is the 21st goaltender in WHL history to reach 100 victories. The record is shared by Tyson Sexsmith (Medicine Hat, Vancouver, 2004-09) and Corey Hirsch (Kamloops, 1988-92), each with 120. Sexsmith did it in 179 games; Hirsch in 181. Maier has played in 170. . . . Next up for Maier is Cam Ward, at 102.


LOVIN’ THE AHL: So . . . you’re wondering how Mitch Love is doing in his first season as a head coach with the AHL’s Stockton Heat? Well . . . you should know that he’s doing just fine after leaving the Saskatoon Blades’ coaching staff for a spot in the Calgary Flames organization. F Justin Kirkland scored the shootout winner on Friday to give the host Heat a 3-2 victory over the Henderson Silver Knights. That was the Heat’s franchise-record ninth straight victory. . . . The Silver Knights bounced back on Saturday and ended that streak with a 4-3 OT victory.


HEY, THANKS FOR COMING: The Calgary Hitmen released D Alexei Garapuchik, 18, earlier this week. He cleared CHL waivers and returned to his home in Belarus. Garapuchik, who was picked in the CHL’s 2020 import draft, was pointless in one game with the Hitmen. . . . The move left the Hitmen with Russian F Maxim Muranov, 17, and F Anton Astashevich, 17, of Belarus as their two import players. Both were selected in the CHL’s 2021 import draft.


EMAILBAG: After a piece appeared here the other day about the owners of the Winnipeg Ice having abandoned, at least for now, plans for a new arena, there was email. Like this one. . . . Re the Winnipeg Ice. The Ice are still being sued by the City of Cranbrook for breaking the lease in Cranbrook. . . . From a former Ice season-ticket holder in Cranbrook, now a season-ticket holder for the Cranbrook Bucks who watches the Bucks games in our little arena of 4,700.


Bears


KINGS OF THE HILL: The Saskatoon Hilltops have won seven consecutive Prairie Football Conference championships after going into Regina, rushing for 386 yards, and beating the Thunder, 29-9, on Sunday. Yes, they’ve got a junior football dynasty going in Toontown. . . . The Thunder had gone into the final with a 9-0 record, including a pair of three-point victories over the Hilltops, who now are 8-2. . . . Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was on hand and posted this report right here. . . . The Hilltops will visit the Langley Rams, the B.C. Football Conference champs, in a CJFL semifinal on Saturday. . . . It’s worth pointing out that the Hilltops’ run of six straight Canadian titles was halted by the pandemic, which refused to allow a 2020 season.


WATER UNDER THE BRIDGEWATER: Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) of YahooSports tweeted late last week that “it’s pretty amazing that the current Carolina Panthers regime now is paying Teddy Bridgewater (who they signed to replace Cam Newton) and Sam Darnold (who they traded for to replace Teddy Bridgewater) only to pay Cam Newton to fix their QB problems.”

Or, as Dion Beary (@hashtagdion) put it: “David Tepper is current paying Cam’s replacement, the replacement for Cam’s replacement, and Cam to replace the replacement for his own replacement.”


Bunker


PERRY’S CORNER: “Green Bay Packers backup QB Jordan Love completed just 6 of 17 passes for 30 yards against the blitz, according to ESPN Stats and Information, in losing 13-7 to the Kansas City Chiefs in his starting debut,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Who says you can’t hurry Love?”

——

Perry, again: “The Los Angeles Rams have replaced wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who was released after complaining he wasn’t getting enough touches with the Rams, with Odell Beckham Jr., who complained he wasn’t getting enough touches with the Cleveland Browns. Check back in a month or so for any updates.”


TINFOIL MAN: “What if the 49ers had drafted Aaron Rodgers instead of Alex Smith?” writes Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle. “It might have led to greater glory, maybe Super Bowls. And now San Francisco fans would be stuck with an all-time local hero that they are ashamed of. Maybe Mike Nolan knew what he was doing, after all.”

——

Ostler, again: “This just in: Rodgers has lost another appeal to the NFL. Rodgers, citing personal freedom to make his own health decisions, and extensive research, requested permission to ditch his standard football helmet and wear a tinfoil hat.”


Eyes


HEY, THANKS FOR COMING, PART 2: The NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders have dumped their top two selections from the NFL’s 2020 draft because of off-field indiscretions. As Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, noted: “Apparently NFL teams employ psychologists to help them evaluate draft picks’ readiness. . . . Seems like the Raiders need to re-evaluate their evaluator.”



AN IMPERFECT 10: F Drake Batherson had two goals and two assists as the host Ottawa Senators beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, 6-3, on Saturday. He didn’t play in Sunday’s game against the visiting Calgary Flames after testing positive and becoming the 10th Ottawa player to be placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. It also marked the ninth straight day on which the Senators have had someone test positive. . . . Batherson joined F Connor Brown, D Josh Brown, F Alex Formenton, F Dylan Gambrell, D Nick Holden, D Victor Mete, G Matt Murray, F Austin Watson and D Nikita Zaitsev on the list, along with associate coach Jack Capuano. . . . Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reported Sunday that the Senators have had to make so many recalls from AHL-Belleville that there now are only nine players left with the farm club who are under contract to the NHL team. . . . The NHL hasn’t shown the Senators any mercy, either, as it refuses to postpone games. On Sunday, the Senators lost, 4-0, to the Flames. . . . On Sunday night, the Senators announced they won’t practise on Monday, the fourth straight practice to be cancelled. . . . Ottawa next is scheduled to fly out Monday for a Tuesday night date with the New Jersey Devils.



Storage


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.


TimeTravel

Sign stealing in the WHL? Yes, it happened . . . Not watching The Twilight Zone here . . .

It wasn’t quite the Houston Astros, but it turns out that the Kamloops Blazers were involved in the sign-stealing racket in the spring of 1998.

They were in the early stages of a first-round playoff series with the Prince George Kamloops1Cougars when the accusations started flying.

It seems the Cougars were of the opinion that Garnet Stevenson, the Blazers’ backup goaltender, was spying on Prince George head coach Ed Dempsey and his line calls.

“As Dempsey called out the next line combination,” I wrote in the Regina Leader-Post on March 28, 1998, “the Cougars felt that Stevenson was taking it all in and getting that information to Kamloops head coach Marc Habscheid.

“So, for Game 4, the Cougars had enforcer Richard Peacock stand at the end of the bench PrinceGeorgenearest the Blazers’ bench. His job was to screen out Stevenson’s view of Dempsey.”

According to Jim Swanson, then the sports editor of the Prince George Citizen: “Peacock, who also helped by opening the gate for teammates, stood next to Stevenson, talking to him and reminding the goaltender the Cougars knew about the Kamloops spy job. Early in Game 4, Habscheid kept looking for Stevenson for a hint of what the Cougars were planning but he had nothing to report.”

The Blazers won Games 3 and 4 — 5-3 and 2-1 — to take a 3-1 series lead. Prince George then won two straight, 4-1 at home and 4-3 in OT on the road, to force a Game 7, which it won, 2-1, at home.

As for the sign-stealing accusations, Stevenson told me via email this week: “The story was 100 per cent true.”


We were watching an episode of Hogan’s Heroes (so sue me) on Tuesday night when a promo came on for The Twilight Zone. Hey, you know the music . . .

Dorothy: We’re not watching that!

Me: Why not?

Dorothy: Because we’re living in The Twilight Zone right now.

Me: Hard to argue with that kind of reasoning.


Quarantine


As had been anticipated, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club has cancelled Wimbledon for 2020. Not postponed. Cancelled. . . . The tournament first was held in 1877. Prior to this, only the First and Second World Wars had kept it off the tennis calendar. . . . It was to have been held from June 29 through July 12. . . . The 2021 tournament is scheduled for June 28 through July 11. . . . At the same time, the ATP and WTA announced that all of their events have been cancelled through July 13. So that takes care of the grass-court season. . . . With Wimbledon gone, the first major the season is scheduled to be the U.S. Open, which is to begin on Aug. 31. For now. . . .

The Queen’s Plate, which was to have run at Woodbine on June 27, is expected to be postponed indefinitely. . . . The race dates to 1860 and is the oldest continuously run stakes race in North America. . . .Earlier, Woodbine Entertainment postponed the start of its thoroughbred season, as well as the harness racing season at Mohawk Park. . . .

According to Golf Digest, the R&A is expected to announce today (Thursday) that it has cancelled the 2020 Open Championship (aka the British Open). The tournament was to begin on July 16 at Royal St. George’s Golf Club. . . . The Golf Digest story is right here. . . .


The NFL, meanwhile, is steaming towards the start of its 2020 season early in September. A schedule is to be released around May 9. . . . On a Tuesday conference call, NFL general counsel Jeff Pash said: “All of our discussions, all of our focus, has been on a normal, traditional season, starting on time, playing in front of fans, in our regular stadiums and going through a full 16-game regular season and a full set of playoffs. That’s our focus.” . . . But as The Sports Curmudgeon points out, it was Dr. Anthony Fauci, who knows a thing or two about this pandemic, who noted: “We don’t set the timetable; the virus sets the timetable.” . . .



The Ottawa Senators have announced that four more people from their organization have tested positive for the coronavirus. They now have had seven people test positive, all of them having been part of the group that travelled to California and returned to Ottawa on a chartered flight on March 12. All told, five players and one staff member have tested positive, along with broadcaster Gord Wilson. According to the Senators, the five players and staff member all have recovered. . . . Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun has more right here.


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with the Thought of the Day, this one from A.J. Liebling: “A city with one newspaper, or with a morning and an evening paper under one ownership, is like a man with one eye, and often the eye is glass.”



Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet posted his weekly 31 Thoughts on Wednesday and, as usual, there is some neat stuff here. Especially good is the latter part of the piece where he pays tribute to a number of young players who weren’t able to complete their seasons, including WHLers Jadon Joseph and the Warm twins, Beck and Will. . . . It’s all right here.


The BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings have added Craig Carter to their staff as assistant general manager and director of player personnel. . . . Carter, who is from Langley, B.C., was the Salmon Arm Silverbacks’ director of hockey operations last season after spending two seasons as a scout with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild.


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