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

Season over for Blades’ captain . . . Regina, Saskatoon combine to bid on 2023 WJC . . . Blazers clinch B.C. flag

TurnSignals


The Saskatoon Blades announced on Wednesday that D Aidan De La SaskatoonGorgendiere, their 19-year-old captain, won’t play again this season. He will be undergoing surgery to repair an undisclosed injury. . . . “Aidan has been battling through an ailment for most of the season and, over the weekend, it finally reached a point where surgery was the only option for him,” Colin Priestner, the Blades’ president and general manager, said in a statement. “We will miss his leadership and it certainly is difficult news given how much he means to our team on and off the ice.” . . . De La Gorgendiere is the Blades’ highest-scoring defenceman, with 45 points, including 41 assists, in 54 games. His 45 points are the fourth-highest on the team. . . . F Tristen Robins, 20, wore the captain’s ‘C’ for the first time on Wednesday night as the Blades dropped a 3-2 decision to the Pats in Regina.



Yes, it’s true. The virus reared its ugly head in the NHL again on Wednesday. The Winnipeg Jets were without F Kyle Connor and D Nate Schmidt when they met the Sabres in Buffalo last night after both players tested positive earlier in the day. . . . Connor hadn’t previously tested positive, while Schmidt missed time with COVID-19 last season while with the Vancouver Canucks. . . . Both players are expected to miss at least three games. Considering that Connor leads the Jets with a career-high 82 points, including 41 goals, this is a serious blow to a team that is chasing a playoff spot. . . . The Jets beat the Sabres, 3-2 in a shootout.


The 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship was to have been held in IIHFNovosibirsk and Omsk, Russia, but those plans were scrubbed after the dictator chose to attack Ukraine. There have been reports that the IIHF has asked Canada to play host, even though the 2022 tournament is to be held in Edmonton in August. One option for Canada is for Ottawa and Quebec City to share hosting duties, while organizations in Regina and Saskatoon are preparing a joint bid. . . . From a press release issued by Tourism Regina and Tourism Saskatoon: “This is an exciting opportunity to host the IIHF World Junior Championships throughout Saskatchewan with potential games being played in municipalities like Humboldt, Swift Current, Prince Albert and Moose Jaw.”


Doctor


Perry Bergson covers the Brandon Wheat Kings for the Brandon Sun . . .


WEDNESDAY IN THE WHL:

In Regina, the Pats scored the game’s first three goals and held on for a 3-2 Reginavictory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . D Ryker Evans’ 14th goal, on a PP at 1:31 of the third period, stood up as the winner. . . . The Blades had stopped Regina F Connor Bedard’s 21-game streak on Friday in Saskatoon and held him to one assist last night. . . . The Blades won the season series, 5-1-0. . . . The Pats (24-31-5) are five points from the Eastern Conference’s last playoff spot. . . . The Blades (34-24-4) are fifth, three points behind the Moose Jaw Warriors, with each team having six games remaining. . . .

C Carson Latimer scored two first-period goals, the second via the PP, to lead PrinceAlbertthe Raiders to a 2-1 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings in Prince Albert. . . . Latimer, who has 16 goals, struck at 14:27 and 16:33. . . . C Charlie Elick, the third overall selection in the WHL’s December draft, scored his first goal for Brandon. . . . The Raiders, who got 34 saves from G Chaika Tikhon, had lost their previous four games. . . . Prince Albert (25-32-5) now are within three points of eighth place but have only six games left. . . . The Wheat Kings (30-25-5) appear headed to a sixth-place finish in the conference. . . .

In Calgary, the Hitmen opened up a 2-0 first-period lead and went on to beat the Medicine Hat Tigers, 3-2. . . . F Cael Zimmerman’s 12th goal, at 19:57 of the first period, gave the Hitmen a 3-1 lead. . . . Calgary (23-31-8) is 10th, four points from a playoff spot with six games left. . . . The Tigers (11-46-4) won’t be in the playoffs. . . .

F Raphael Pelletier broke a 4-4 tie at 5:34 of the third period and later added an SwiftCurrentempty-netter as the visiting Swift Current Broncos beat the Lethbridge Hurricanes, 6-4. . . . Pelletier, who also had an assist, now has 19 goals. He went into this season with six goals and nine assists in 69 career regular-season games. This season, he now has 46 points in 60 games. . . . The Broncos (26-31-7) are seventh, one point ahead of eighth-place Lethbridge (27-30-4), which is three points ahead of Prince Albert. . . .

The host Kamloops Blazers scored three goals early in the first period en route Kamloopsto a 8-2 victory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . The Blazers, who led 6-0 before the second period was four minutes old, clinched first place in the B.C. Division. . . . F Logan Stankoven led the Blazers with two goals, giving him 40, and two assists. . . . Stankoven, a Kamloopsian who turned 19 on Feb. 26, has 91 points in 53 games. He leads the WHL in points per game — 1.72. F Ridley Greig of the Brandon Wheat Kings is second, at 1.62. . . . F Koehn Ziemmer scored his 30th goal of the season for the Cougars. He is the first Prince George freshman to get there since F Brett Connolly (2008-09). . . . Kamloops has had its two largest announced crowds of the season for its last two games — 4,969 for a 6-0 victory over the Kelowna Rockets on Friday and 4,745 last night. . . . With two games left in the season series, the Blazers hold an 8-2-0 edge; the Cougars are 2-7-1. . . . Kamloops (45-15-2) is two points behind the Western Conference-leading Everett Silvertips (43-10-8), who hold a game in hand.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Terry McFaul has been named the Kelowna Rockets’ director of player personnel. McFaul has been on the Rockets’ scouting staff for 31 years. He was named head scout on April 23, 2020. . . . If you like playoff OT, you should have been in Nelson, B.C., on Tuesday night for the Kootenay International Hockey League game. The Revelstoke Grizzlies and the Leafs got into the third OT period before the visitors got a goal from D Will McPhee at 15:04 for a 4-3 victory. Revelstoke G Brandon Weare stopped 49 shots, 12 more than Dylan Marshall of the Leafs. The Grizzlies lead the best-of-seven series, 3-1, with Game 5 in Revelstoke tonight.


Gas


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.


Amazon

WHL exempt from Alberta gov’t restrictions . . . AJHL has another team on virus leave . . . Rebels’ Sexsmith opens up about the season


If you’re paying attention, you already know that COVID-19 had another good day on Thursday.

In fact, you have to wonder if behind closed doors junior hockey operators are WHL2starting to wonder if the 2021-22 season is going to start anywhere close to on time, at least in Western Canada. Because — and let’s be honest here — we aren’t anywhere close to seeing the end of this.

When Alberta released its Thursday numbers, they were the worst the province has seen since the pandemic began in the early days of 2020.

So, from the Department of Better Late Than Never, the Alberta government responded with restrictions that cover various cities with particularly horrendous numbers, like Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge and Red Deer, each of them home to a WHL franchise.

Part of those restrictions included this:

“All indoor fitness activities are prohibited. This includes: all group physical activities, such as team sports, fitness classes and training sessions; all one-on-one lessons and training activities; all practices, training and games.”

But never fear WHL fans because it seems your favourite teams are exempt from these restrictions. With Red Deer playing on Thursday night, Rebels interim radio voice Troy Gillard tweeted that a “team official tells me the WHL does indeed remain exempt and games will continue as scheduled.”

Other areas under the restrictions are Airdrie, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie and Strathcona County, which includes Sherwood Park.

It would appear that the AJHL, like the WHL, is exempt from the restrictions because the Grande Prairie Storm is at home to the Sherwood Park Crusaders tonight (Friday) and Saturday, with the teams to play next weekend in Sherwood Park.


Plague


The AJHL has suspended the team activities of another team — the Calgary Canucks — after a positive COVID-19 test result was identified within the ajhlteam’s cohort. As per the league’s return-to-play protocols, the Canucks are on hold for at least 14 days. They were scheduled to play the Drayton Valley Thunder in Calgary tonight (Friday), on the road Sunday and May 7, and May 9 in Calgary, but those games all have been cancelled. . . .

On Tuesday, the AJHL halted team activities for the Whitecourt Wolverines and Bonnyville Pontiacs for 14 days because of a positive test in the Wolverines’ group. Those two teams had played each other on Saturday and Sunday. . . .

On Sunday, the Okotoks Oilers were put on hold for 14 days because of a positive test in their cohort. . . .

On April 23, the Drumheller Dragons experienced a positive test and they, too, were shut down for 14 days. . . .

On Wednesday, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons announced that they were ending their season out of an abundance of concern for the safety of players, billets and their community, which is under a local state of emergency. . . .

The league has seven teams up and running — Drayton Valley, Grande Prairie Storm, Sherwood Park Crusaders and Spruce Grove Saints in the North Division, and Brooks Bandits, Camrose Kodiaks and Olds Grizzlys in the South Division.

With seven teams and three two-team cohorts, the Spruce Grove Saints were left without a partner. That problem went away with the news regarding the Canucks. So the Saints are to play the Thunder tonight (Friday) in Spruce Grove and Saturday in Drayton Valley.

The AJHL schedule is to conclude on May 8.


File this under The Best Laid Plans: The Los Angeles Rams rented and outfitted a 9,000-square-foot beach house in Malibu from which their personnel was to set up shop and conduct the NFL draft. . . . On Thursday, general manager Les Snead announced that he has tested positive so will isolate at home and conduct the draft from there.


Retire


Mark Brennan, the Portland Winterhawks’ equipment manager, announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of this season. He has been the club’s equipment manager since 2012, after also working with, among others, the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers. When Portland’s season ends on May 11, Brennan will have worked 2,251 games. The Winterhawks’ news release is right here.

Brennan wasn’t behind a bench on Thursday night — he’ll be there tonight with Portland playing host to the Everett Silvertips — but there were three other WHL games . . .

In Lethbridge, the Medicine Hat Tigers broke a 1-1 tie with two shorthanded Tigersgoals and went on to beat the Hurricanes, 6-2. . . . Medicine Hat (13-6-1) had lost its previous three games. . . . Lethbridge is 8-11-2. . . . F Brett Kemp gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead at 6:44 of the first period, with F Jett Jones (5) getting the Hurricanes even at 12:07. . . . D Cole Clayton (9) sent the Tigers out front with the first shorthanded goal, at 3:51 of the second period, with F Nick McCarry (7) adding the second one at 10:48. . . . Medicine Hat put it away with the next three goals, too — Kemp’s second and 12th of the season, and two from F Lukas Svejkovsky, who also has 12. . . . F Ty Nash (2) got Lethbridge’s second goal on a late PP. . . .

F Cael Zimmerman’s OT goal gave the visiting Calgary Hitmen a 4-3 victory Calgaryover the Red Deer Rebels. . . . The Hitmen improved to 9-7-2. . . . The Rebels (2-15-3) have lost 13 in a row (0-12-1). . . . F Josh Prokop (9) put Calgary out front, while shorthanded, at 2:39 of the first period and the teams exchanged goals through game’s end. . . . F Carter Anderson (2) got Red Deer even at 13:19, with D Jackson van de Least (3) replying for Calgary at 17:40. . . . Red Deer tied it on D Jace Weir’s second goal at 19:52. . . . F Riley Fiddler-Schultz (5) put the Hitmen back out front, 3-2, at 10:18 of the second period. . . . F Chris Douglas (6) forced OT with a Red Deer score at 12:48 of the third. . . . Zimmerman won it with his sixth goal of the season, at 4:19 of extra time. . . . Calgary F Sean Tschigel had two assists, giving him 18 points, including 10 goals, in 18 games. He went into this season with five goals and nine assists in 64 games. . . .

BTW, if you are interested in a good story about what life’s been like with the RedDeerstruggling Rebels who have been living in the arena since this season began, here’s a taste from D Joel Sexsmith:

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t really tough,” the 19-year-old told Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate. “It hasn’t been easy here. It certainly hasn’t been easy when you’re losing, too. I think the dynamic would shift if we’d been winning all the time and we haven’t been, that’s just the reality.

“We live here, we look at the rink every day and it kind of serves as a reminder that we are where we are in the standings. I think that’s really tough mentally. I would say I’m really grateful that I’m able to go through this with this group of guys. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I love this group of guys on this team.” . . . Hackett’s complete piece is right here and it’s well worth a read. . . .

F Alex Swetlikoff broke a 3-3 tie at 18:27 of the third period as the Kelowna RocketsRockets beat the visiting Vancouver Giants, 4-3. . . . The Rockets (7-2-0) have won four in a row. . . . The Giants (9-7-0) have lost four straight. . . . Swetlikoff’s fourth goal of the season stood up as the winner. . . . Kelowna D Jake Lee (2) had tied the game at 14:29 of the third. . . . Vancouver led this one 2-0 on two first-period goals from F Zack Ostapchuk, at 9:03 and 9:40. . . . Ostapchuk, who has six goals in 16 games this  season, finished last season with five in 44 games as a freshman. . . . F Dillon Hamaliuk (4) got Kelowna’s first goal, on a PP, at 13:21. . . . The Rockets tied it on F Turner McMillen’s first WHL goal, shorthanded, at 4:19 of the second. That was Kelowna’s fifth shorthanded score in nine games. . . . McMillen was a ninth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft. He played two games last season and this was No. 9 this season. . . . Vancouver went back out front when F Bryce Bader (4) scored at 7:40. . . . Watching the replay of the winning goal, it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s changed to F Mark Liwiski, who appeared to score off a Swetlikoff rebound.


Belarus (2-1-0) secured a quarter-final berth in the IIHF U18 World U18Championship in Texas on Thursday, with a 6-2 victory over Latvia (0-3-0) in Group A. . . . Sweden (2-1-0) beat Switzerland (1-2-0), 3-1, in the other Group A game. . . . In Group B, G Kaidan Mbereko stopped five shooters in the shootout as Team USA beat Czech Republic, 2-1. . . . In the other Group B game, Russia (2-0-1) skated past Germany (0-3-0), 6-1. . . . There are two games scheduled for today — Canada (2-0-0) meets Switzerland in Group A, while Finland (2-0-0) plays Germany in Group B.


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation 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.


Monkees

Burzan, Langan fill hats in wins . . . Cutler has Royal birthday . . . Ams eke out victory over ‘Tips


MacBeth

F Ned Lukacevic (Spokane, Swift Current, 2001-06) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Tours (France, Division 1). This season, with the Odense Bulldogs (Denmark, Metal Ligaen), he had four goals and three assists in games. He was released by mutual agreement by Odense on Dec. 17. . . .

F Petr Vala (Seattle, 1997-98) announced his retirement, effective immediately. This season, he had three goals and nine assists in 12 games with Zell am See (Austria, Alps HL). He also is a coach of the Zell am See U12 team and will continue in that role.


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KOOTENAY KOUNTDOWN

For the bulk of this season, there has been speculation that the Kootenay Ice will leave Cranbrook, B.C., after this season and set up shop in Winnipeg.

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was on TSN Radio (1260) in Edmonton on Dec. 19.

Asked by host Dean Millard about the situation involving the Ice, Robison responded in part that “we’ll be very soon making an announcement as to what the future of that franchise is.”

I don’t pretend to know the definition of “very soon,” but we are into our 17th day since Robison made that statement, and there has yet to be an announcement of any kind.


The WHL’s Canadian teams are preparing to take part in the second season of RE/MAX whlPresents: WHL Suits Up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation. . . . The 17 teams first got involved in his promotion last season and it was a resounding success. . . . It is used to promote organ donation and to generate support for the Kidney Foundation of Canada. Last season, it raised more than $265,500, which, according to a news release, represents “the largest public awareness and fundraising campaign in the history of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.”

This time around, teams again will be wearing specially-designed Don Cherry-themed sweaters, only they will sport nicknames on the backs rather than surnames. Yes, sweaters will be available via auction after each game.

Here are the dates of these special nights:

Sat., Jan. 19 – Edmonton Oil Kings

Fri., Jan. 25 – Red Deer Rebels

Fri. Feb. 1 – Kamloops Blazers, Moose Jaw Warriors

Sat., Feb. 2 – Prince Albert Raiders

Fri., Feb. 15 – Regina Pats, Vancouver Giants

Sat., Feb. 16 – Brandon Wheat Kings

Fri., Feb. 22 – Lethbridge Hurricanes, Swift Current Broncos

Fri., March 1 – Kootenay Ice

Sat., March 2 – Victoria Royals

Sun., March 3 – Calgary Hitmen

Fri., March 8 – Prince George Cougars

Sat., March 9 – Kelowna Rockets, Medicine Hat Tigers, Saskatoon Blades.


G Kyle Dumba has been picked up by the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. Dumba, 20, will fill the spot created when the Seattle Thunderbirds signed G Roddy Ross on Tuesday. . . . Seattle immediately added Ross to its roster, replacing G Liam Hughes, who was traded to the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Dumba, 20, had been with the Victoria Grizzlies, who got future considerations from Camrose. . . . Dumba has spent time with the Calgary Hitmen, Kamloops Blazers, Everett Silvertips and Regina Pats in the WHL, along with the junior A Okotoks Oilers, Calgary Mustangs, Salmon Arm Silverbacks, Surrey Eagles and the Grizzlies.


If you enjoy what you see here, feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and contribute to the cause. Thank you, in advance, and stay safe out there.


FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Luka Burzan scored three times and added two assists to lead the host Brandon Wheat BrandonWKregularKings to a 7-3 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Brandon (16-14-6) had lost its previous four games. The Wheat Kings are two points shy of the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Seattle (11-20-4) has lost seven in a row (0-6-1) and is five points out of a playoff spot. . . . F Cole Reinhardt gave the home guys a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 3:40 of the first period, and Burzan upped it to 2-0 at 9:21. . . . F Noah Philp halved the deficit, on a PP, at 11:07. . . . Brandon took control with four second-period goals, two of them from Burzan and another from Reinhardt (9), who also had an assist. . . . Philp later added his 13th goal for Seattle. . . . Brandon got a goal, his fourth, and two assists from D Chase Hartje. . . . Burzan has two career hat tricks — he had a five-goal game on Sept. 29 in an 8-4 victory over the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . F Stelio Mattheos was back in Brandon’s lineup — he had two assists — after completing a three-game suspension. His line, with Reinhardt and Burzan, combined for 10 points. . . . The Thunderbirds opened a six-game East Division trip with this game. . . . G Jiri Patera, who played with Czech Republic at the WJC, started for the Wheat Kings and stopped 37 shots. . . . Seattle starter Cole Schwebius was beaten four times on 13 shots in 24:32. Roddy Ross, who joined the Thunderbirds from the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks this week, came on in relief. He stopped 19 of 22 shots in 35:28. . . . Seattle was without D Cade McNelly, who is serving a three-game suspension, and F Matthew Wedman, who sat out a one-game suspension. . . . F Keltie Jeri-Leon, who was acquired from the Lethbridge Hurricanes, and D Zach Ashton, who came over from the Saskatoon Blades, both were in Seattle’s lineup. . . . Seattle also had F Conner Roulette, 15, make his WHL debut. From Winnipeg, he was a second-round pick by Seattle in the 2018 bantam draft. Roulette has 22 goals and 34 assists in 29 games with the midget AAA Winnipeg Thrashers. . . . The Wheat Kings and Thunderbirds met in the 2015-16 WHL final, with Brandon winning in five games. Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun pointed out in pre-game coverage that there are three Wheat Kings left who played in that series — Mattheos, F Connor Gutenberg and F Linden McCorrister. Seattle also has three players left on its roster — Wedman, F Nolan Volcan and D Jarrett Tyszka.


F Tristin Langan scored three times to help the Moose Jaw Warriors to a 4-2 victory over MooseJawWarriorsthe Raiders in Prince Albert. . . . Moose Jaw (21-8-6) has points in six straight (5-0-1). The Warriors are third in the East Division, five points behind the Saskatoon Blades. However, Moose Jaw has five games in hand. . . . Prince Albert (34-4-1) now has lost two in a row at home where it is 17-2-0. It leads the East Division by 16 points over Saskatoon. . . . Langan gave Moose Jaw a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 6:58 of the first period. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt (8) tied it, on a PP, at 19:35. . . . Langan put the Warriors ahead again, at 12:05 of the second period. . . . D Brayden Pachal (10) got the home team back into a tie at 19:43. . . . Warriors F Brayden Tracey (15) snapped the tie, on a PP, at 7:31 of the third period, and Langan completed the hat trick into an empty net at 19:50. . . . Langan now has 66 points, including 30 goals, in 35 games. He went into this season with 71 points, including 25 goals, in 174 games. . . . Langan has four career hat tricks, three of them this season, two in his last six games. . . . The Warriors got three assists from D Josh Brook, their captain, in his first game back after playing for Canada at the WJC. . . . The Raiders were  credited with winning 46 of 65 faceoffs. . . . G Brodan Salmon stopped 38 shots for Moose Jaw, including 14 in the third period. . . . F Dante Hannoun was in the Raiders’ lineup one day after being acquired from the Victoria Royals. The Raiders also had G Ian Scott and F Brett Leason back from their stint with Canada’s national junior team. . . . Scott made 27 saves.


F Kyle Crnkovic scored on a PP in OT to give the host Saskatoon Blades a 2-1 victory over Saskatoonthe Regina Pats. . . . Saskatoon (24-11-5) has won three in a row. . . . Regina (12-25-2) has lost two straight (0-1-1). . . . F Max Gerlach (23) gave Saskatoon a 1-0 lead at 13:16 of the second period. . . . Regina tied it at 4:38 of the third when F Austin Pratt (15) scored, on a PP. . . . Crnkovic won it with his third goal of the season at 1:19 of OT. . . . F Gary Haden had the primary assist on both Saskatoon goals. . . . Saskatoon got 32 saves from G Nolan Maier, while Regina’s Max Paddock was outstanding in blocking 36 shots. . . . D Reece Harsch, acquired this week from the Seattle Thunderbirds, made his Saskatoon debut. . . . F Kirby Dach (undisclosed injury) was among Saskatoon’s scratches. . . . D Tyson Feist, who was acquired from the Spokane Chiefs, was in Regina’s lineup, as was F Blake Allan, who came over from the Kootenay Ice.


F Jaydon Dureau broke a 3-3 tie in the third period and the Portland Winterhawks went Portlandon to a 5-3 victory over the Broncos in Swift Current. . . . Portland (22-11-5) has points in seven straight (4-0-3). The Winterhawks are second in the U.S. Division, 11 points behind the Everett Silvertips. . . . Swift Current (7-27-3) has lost four in a row (0-3-1). . . . This was the start of Portland’s six-game East Division trip. . . . F Lane Gilliss (8) gave the Winterhawks a 1-0 lead at 2:13 of the first period. . . . Broncos F Ethan O’Rourke (3) tied it at 10:11. . . . Portland took a 3-1 lead on goals from F Joachim Blichfeld (35), at 14:41, and F Michal Kvasnica (6), at 16:54. . . . F Matthew Culling pulled the home side to within a goal at 17:36. . . . Culling now has eight goals, seven of them in his past nine games. . . . F Ethan Regnier (7) got the Broncos into a 3-3 tie at 2:46 of the second period. . . . Dureau snapped the tie at 7:28 of the third period, and F Jake Gricius (16) got the empty-netter at 19:10. . . . F Cody Glass, who played for Canada at the WJC, wasn’t in Portland’s lineup. . . . Portland held a 48-23 edge in shots — 16-8, 16-9 and 16-6, by period. . . . Yes, Broncos G Josh Hofer stood tall, again. . . . G Shane Farkas started for Portland, with Dante Giannuzzi backing him up. G Evan Fradette, 17, who was added to Portland’s roster from the midget AAA St. Albert Raiders on Thursday, wasn’t dressed. . . . Portland got back D John Ludvig, who was out with a two-game suspension. . . . The Winterhawks were without D Matthew Quigley, who served the second of a four-game suspension, and D Brendan De Jong, who is in concussion protocol.


F Brandon Cutler celebrated his 19th birthday with a goal and two assists to spark the VictoriaRoyalsVictoria Royals to a 3-2 victory over the Oil Kings in Edmonton. . . . Victoria (19-15-1) is 3-2-0 on its six-game Central Division swing. It is second in the B.C. Division, one point ahead of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Edmonton (21-13-7) had points in each of its previous seven games (5-0-2). The Oil Kings lead the Central Division, by one point over the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who have three games in hand. . . . Cutler (9) opened the scoring at 1:03 of the first period, and F Logan Doust (2) made it 2-0 at 15:04. . . . Edmonton got to within a goal at 18:01 when F Vince Loschiavo (18) scored. . . . F D-Jay Jerome’s 16th goal gave Victoria a 3-1 lead at 3:32 of the second period. . . . F Andrew Fyten (11) got the Oil Kings back to within a goal at 16:11. . . . Victoria G Griffen Outhouse blocked 35 shots, 15 of them in the second period. . . . The Oil Kings had D Will Warm back for the first time since Sept. 29 — he missed 35 games with an undisclosed injury — and F Brett Kemp returned after a two-game absence. . . . F Kody McDonald and F Carson Miller, who came over in a deal with the Prince Albert Raiders, made their Victoria debuts. Also in the Royals lineup for the first time was D Jake Kustra, who was acquired from the Saskatoon Blades on Dec. 10. He last played on Oct. 14. . . . D Noah Lamb, who is from Edmonton, also made his debut with the Royals. Lamb, who turned 17 on Tuesday, was a sixth-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft. He plays for the midget AAA Knights of Columbus Pats in Edmonton.


F Jake Elmer scored twice and added an assist, and G Liam Hughes posted his first Lethbridgevictory with Lethbridge as the Hurricanes edged the visiting Vancouver Giants, 4-3. . . . Lethbridge (20-10-8) has points in four straight (2-0-2). The Hurricanes are second in the Central Division, one point behind Edmonton and one ahead of the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Vancouver (23-12-2) has lost four straight; it is 1-4-0 on its six-game Central Division trip. The Giants lead the B.C. Division by 11 points over Victoria. . . . The Hurricanes took a 2-0 lead on second-period goals from Elmer, at 1:01, and F Jordy Bellerive (19), at 4:18. . . . The Giants tied it on goals from F Owen Hardy (8), on a PP, at 14:24, and F Justin Sourdif (9), just 33 seconds later. . . . F Taylor Ross (22) gave Lethbridge the lead at 3:31 of the third period, with Elmer (18) making it 4-2 at 7:53. . . . D Bowen Byram (10), on a PP, got Vancouver to within a goal at 16:14. . . . Ross added two assists to his goal. . . . Hughes stopped 33 shots in his second consecutive start since Lethbridge acquired him from the Seattle Thunderbirds earlier in the week. . . . Vancouver had three newcomers in its lineup — D Dallas Hines, who was acquired earlier in the day from the Kootenay Ice; F Jadon Joseph, who came over from the Regina Pats earlier in the day; and D Seth Bafaro, who was acquired from the Saskatoon Blades on Wednesday. . . . The Giants also had F Milos Roman back from his stint with Slovakia at the WJC. . . . F Scott Mahovlich was in Lethbridge’s lineup after being acquired from the Regina Pas on Thursday. . . . Michael Dyck, in his first season as the Giants’ head coach, has a long history in Lethbridge, having coached the Hurricanes and, most recently, the bantam AAA Golden Hawks, and minor midget and midget AAA Hurricanes.


The Calgary Hitmen snapped a 2-2 tie with two goals early in the third period en route to Calgarya 5-3 victory over the visiting Red Deer Rebels. . . . Calgary (18-16-4) has won three straight. Calgary holds down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Red Deer (22-13-2) now is fourth in the Central Division, one point behind Medicine Hat. The Rebels are in possession of the conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . F Cael Zimmerman gave Calgary a 1-0 lead at 3:41 of the second period, only to have Red Deer F Brett Davis (11) tie it at 5:59. . . . Calgary went back out front at 15:50 on a goal by F Bryce Bader (3). . . . D Dawson Barteaux tied it for Red Deer, on a PP, at 1:08. . . . The Hitmen broke the tie on goals from F Luke Coleman (10), at 2:00, and F Kaden Elder (16), at 4:19. . . . F Reese Johnson (18) scored for Red Deer at 16:16. . . . Zimmerman (4) iced it at 18:24. . . . Zimmerman also had an assist, for a three-point outing.


G Garin Bjorklund won his second straight start as the Medicine Hat Tigers dumped the Tigers Logo Officialvisiting Kootenay Ice, 5-3. . . . Medicine Hat (22-15-3) has won five in a row and moved into third spot in the Central Division. . . . Kootenay (8-25-7) has lost five in a row (0-4-1). . . . Bjorklund, 16, is from Calgary where he plays for the midget AAA Buffaloes. The Tigers, with G Mads Sogaard with Denmark at the WJC, brought in Bjorklund to partner with Jordan Hollett. . . . Last night, Bjorklund stopped 29 shots. . . . The Tigers took a 1-0 lead when D Hayden Ostir (9) scored at 11:17 of the first period. He left the game with an apparent leg injury late in the second period, and didn’t return, following a collision with Ice D Martin Bodak. . . . F Josh Williams made it 2-0 at 1:43 of the second period. . . . The Ice tied it on second-period goals from F Austin Schellenberg (2), on a PP at 8:30, and F Jaeger White, at 10:49. . . . Medicine Hat went ahead 4-2 before the period ended, on goals from F Ryan Chyzowski (14), at 11:46, and F Tyler Preziuso, at 12:45. . . . White’s 16th goal of the season, at 17:53 of the third period, pulled the Ice to within a goal, but Preziuso (15) put it away at 18:20. . . . White’s stepfather, Shaun Clouston, is the Tigers’ general manager and head coach. . . . Tigers F James Hamblin had one assist in running his point streak to 10 games. He has 10 goals and five assists one that stretch. . . . The Ice had F Connor McClennon in the lineup for the first time since he suffered an undisclosed injury on Nov. 24. McClennon, 16, was the second-overall pick in the 2017  bantam draft. . . . The Ice also had D Marco Creta and F Cyle McNabb make their Kootenay debuts. Creta was acquired from the Regina Pats and McNabb from the Vancouver Giants. . . . The Tigers are without F Bryan Lockner (concussion).


F Tyson Upper’s shootout goal gave the Prince George Cougars a 2-1 victory over the PrinceGeorgeRockets in Kelowna. . . . Prince George (13-21-3) had lost its previous two games. It is two points shy of the Kamloops Blazers, who hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . The Cougars are 2-7-0 on an 11-game road trip that continues on Tuesday against the Tri-City Americans. . . . Kelowna (17-17-4) has points in four straight (2-0-2). The Rockets are third in the B.C. Division, one point behind Victoria, which holds three games in hand. . . . The Cougars are 4-1-1 against Kelowna, which is 2-2-2 against Prince George. . . . F Conner Bruggen-Cate (4) scored, on a PP, for Kelowna at 14:28 of the second period. . . . F Jackson Leppard (8) got the Cougars’ goal, on a PP, at 10:47 of the third. . . . F Nolan Foote, leading off the second round of the shootout, scored for Kelowna. . . . F Vladislav Mikhalchuk and Upper followed with goals for Prince George. . . . The Cougars got 26 saves from G Taylor Gauthier, who was forced from Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Blazers in Kamloops by dehydration after two periods. . . . Prince George had a 9-1 edge in third-period shots; Kelowna led 5-1 in OT. . . . G James Porter stopped 27 shots for the Rockets. . . . D Tyson Phare, who last played on Nov. 18, returned to Prince George’s lineup. . . . Cougars D Cole Moberg (leg) sat out after being injured a week ago in Everett, and F Ilijah Colina left the game in Kamloops on Sunday with an undisclosed injury. D Cam MacPhee (undisclosed injury), F Reid Perepeluk (ill) and D Tyson Phare, who last played on Nov. 18, also were scratched. . . . F Craig Armstrong, 15, made his debut with the Cougars in this one. He was the ninth overall pick in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. The Cougars also had D Cole Beamin, 17, in the lineup after adding him from the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks. He was a second-round pick in the 2016 draft.


The Spokane Chiefs scored the game’s last three goals and beat the visiting Kamloops SpokaneChiefsBlazers, 4-1. . . . Spokane (21-13-4) is third in the U.S. Division, three points behind Portland. . . . Kamloops (14-18-3) is fourth in the B.C. Division seven points behind Kelowna. The Rockets are in Kamloops tonight. . . . F Riley Woods (24) gave the Chiefs a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 12:43 of the first period. . . . F Kobe Mohr (4) scored, on a PP, for Kamloops at 18:52. . . . Spokane broke the tie on a goal by F Jake McGrew (14), on another PP, at 1:28 of the second period. . . . D Filip Kral (4), who had played for Czech Republic at the WJC, added insurance at 7:02. . . . F Luke Toporowski (12) added an empty-netter. . . . The Chiefs were 2-6 on the PP; the Blazers were 1-3. . . . The Chiefs had three players back in their lineup who had been at the WJC — F Jared Anderson-Dolan and D Ty Smith (Canada), and D Kral. . . . This was the first game between the teams since the Nov. 26 deal in which the Chiefs acquired F Luc Smith from the Blazers for F Jeff Faith and two 2020 bantam draft picks — a third-rounder and a sixth-rounder.


The Tri-City Americans erased an early 2-0 deficit and beat the Everett Silvertips, 3-2, in tri-cityKennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (20-13-2) has won two in a row. The Americans are fourth in the U.S. Division, four points behind Spokane and in control of the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . Everett (29-8-2) had been 14-0-2 in its previous 16 games. This was its first regulation-time loss since it was beaten 5-2 by the host Portland Winterhawks on Nov. 16. Everett leads the U.S. Division by 11 points over Portland. . . . F Zack Andrusiak, in his first game with Everett since being acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds, scored the game’s first goal. His 28th goal of the season and seventh in seven periods came at 3:51 of the first period. . . . F Jackson Berezowski (9) made it 2-0 at 7:12. . . . F Krystof Hrabik, in his first game since playing for Czech Republic at the WJC, got Tri-City started with his ninth goal, on a PP, at 18:57. . . . D Aaron Hyman (9) got the Americans even at 3;23 of the second period, and F Blake Stevenson (8) broke the tie at 15:31. . . . The Silvertips had a 39-18 edge in shots, including 17-4 in the third period. . . . Tri-City G Beck Warm blocked 37 shots. . . . Everett was 0-5 on the PP; Tri-City was 0-1.


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