WHL positive tests somewhere above 150 . . . Winterhawks, Gauthier on real roll . . . BCHL suspends Nanaimo coaches pending investigation

Dan Courneyea, our man at the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, was on hand Beijingfor the opening day of the men’s hockey competition on Wednesday.

“Well . . . that was an interesting first day of men’s ice hockey,”  he reported. “ROC almost lost to the Swiss, who played a great game. A bounce is how that game ended.

“Denmark has come to play! They also played a great game and beat Czechia in what I saw was a big upset. Denmark, as a team, played very well with their goalie standing on his head.”

ROC scored a first-period goal and hung on for a 1-0 victory over Switzerland. In the other game to which our man referred, Denmark, playing in the Olympics for the first time, got past Czechia, 2-1.

In one other game, Sweden eked out a 3-2 victory over Latvia.

“Three games today,” he added. “It’s just going to get better as it goes along.”

Games on the second day (Thursday) will have Slovakia meeting Finland (National Indoor Stadium, 12:40 a.m. PT), China taking on the U.S. (5:10 a.m. PT, NIS), and Canada versus Germany (5:10 a.m. PT, Wukesong Sports Centre).

There is a women’s game Thursday, too, with Czechia and the U.S. meeting in a quarterfinal at 8:10 p.m. PT. On Friday, it’ll be Sweden and Canada at 5:10 a.m. PT and Switzerland versus ROC at 8:10 p.m. PT. The other quarterfinal will have Japan playing Finland on Saturday at 12:40 a.m. PT.


According to the WHL’s weekly roster/injury report, teams didn’t report any players in COVID-19 protocol until after the Christmas break. Since then, teams have shown 149 players having been in protocol.

However, the real number isn’t known because four teams — the Kamloops WHLBlazers, Lethbridge Hurricanes, Medicine Hat Tigers and Red Deer Rebels — haven’t listed even one player as having been in protocol. Interestingly, each of those teams has been shut down by the WHL at one point or another. Kamloops, Medicine Hat and Red Deer were among 15 teams that were told to pause team activities on Jan. 7 “as a result of multiple players and staff being added” to the protocol list “due to exhibiting symptoms or having tested positive for COVID-19.”

Also on Jan. 7, the WHL announced that Lethbridge had been “cleared to resume team activities” after it had been put on pause.

That figure of 149 also doesn’t include staff members who have  tested positive.

Here are the WHL teams who have reported having had players in protocol since returning from the Christmas break — Saskatoon Blades, 18; Seattle Thunderbirds, 17; Swift Current Broncos, Victoria Royals, each 14; Tri-City Americans, 13; Prince George Cougars, 11; Everett Silvertips, 10; Prince Albert Raiders, 9; Portland Winterhawks, 8; Spokane Chiefs, Vancouver Giants, each 7; Edmonton Oil Kings, Kelowna Rockets, Moose Jaw Warriors, Winnipeg Ice, each 4; Brandon Wheat Kings, Calgary Hitmen, each 2; and Regina Pats, 1.

As well, Spokane had two players test positive in November, but they weren’t shown on the roster report.


Airport


The Spokane Chiefs were in Portland for a Wednesday night date with the PortlandWinterhawks, the second of five straight games between these teams. . . . Portland, which had posted a 7-3 victory in Spokane on Saturday, delivered a quick message with five first-period goals, en route to a 9-0 victory. . . . They’ll play the next three in Spokane — on Friday, Saturday and Tuesday — and finish their season series on Feb. 20 in Portland. . . . Portland has points in 17 straight games — 16-0-1. . . . After last night, Portland is 7-1-0 in the season series; Spokane is 1-6-1. . . . Also last night, Portland G Taylor Gauthier, a recent acquisition from the Prince George Cougars, set a franchise record for longest shutout streak. He now has put up three straight shutouts and the shutout streak is at 232:19. The previous record (174:57) was set by Brendan Burke during the 2013-14 season. . . . In nine starts with Portland, Gauthier, who will turn 21 on Tuesday, is 9-0-0, 1.33, .954. His three shutouts leave him with nine in his WHL career.


Some Super Bowl trivia for you just in case you are trying to impress someone between now and Sunday. . . . In nine different Super Bowl games, there has been a starting quarterback named Joe — Namath, Kapp, Montana (4 times), Flacco, Theismann and Burrow. . . . In 10 different Super Bowl games, there has been a starting QB named Tom — Brady.


The BCHL has notified players with the Nanaimo Clippers that it “has appointed bchlan independent investigator to review allegations of Code of Conduct breaches” by Darren Naylor, the team’s vice-president, general manager, head coach and director of hockey operations, and Colin Birkas, the associate GM and associate coach. . . . In a Tuesday email from the Executive Committee to “Nanaimo Clippers Players,” the players were informed that the BCHL “has placed the coaches on temporary administrative leave while the investigation proceeds. At this time, the allegations are allegations only; no findings have been made against the coaches.” . . . According to the BCHL, it “cannot comment on particulars of the investigation itself due to privacy laws . . .” The letter also informs players that they may be contacted by the investigator “to discuss the allegations. It is very important for all concerned, particularly the game of hockey, that you provide the investigator with your full and honest cooperation. This is not the time for silence or silencing others; no one should lie on any person’s behalf for any reason.” . . . The league has told the Nanaimo players that “we will be advising your billets about this situation” and “we strongly encourage you to inform your parents as soon as possible as they will want to hear this development from you first . . . Please do not hesitate to reach out for support, whether it is to your parents, your billets or the league.” . . . The letter also indicates that the league will be “appointing an interim coaching solution to continue your day-to-day team activities and games.” . . . The Clippers are 23-13-2 and five points out of first place in the nine-team Coastal Division. They are scheduled to be in Powell River for games with the Kings on Friday and Saturday nights.


Pipe


Chad Harden, who scouts for the Calgary Hitmen, will be back in the Calgary Stampede’s chuckwagon races this year. Krista Sylvester of the Calgary Citizen reports that Harden, who was facing a potential lifetime ban after an accident in the 2019 Rangeland Derby, has been invited to return and has accepted the invitation. Harden received a stiff reprimand after the accident in which one horse died and three others were injured. A driver since 2000, Harden also was fined $10,000 and had to pay $10,000 for the horse that was killed. . . . Sylvester’s story is right here.


The Regina Pats ran out of goaltenders this week. Yes, they did! That’s how PatsKelton Pyne, a 16-year-old from White City, Sask., came to make his WHL debut with 36 saves in a 6-3 loss to the host Edmonton Oil Kings on Tuesday. . . . Matthew Kieper and Drew Sim, the two goaltenders on the Pats’ roster, both are sidelined with concussions. . . . Pyne wasn’t selected in the WHL draft and has been on the Pats’ protected list since last fall. . . . He is a regular with the U-18 Regina Pat Canadians of the Saskatchewan Male AAA Hockey League. . . . The Pats are scheduled to meet the visiting Calgary Hitmen on Friday and then visit the Saskatoon Blades on Saturday. Regina’s goaltenders are expected to be Pyne and Spencer Welke, who has come in from the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. . . . Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post has more on this story right here.


The B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League will have a new team — the Logan Lake LoganLakeMinersMiners — when the 2022-23 season arrives. The Miners will play out of the Logan Lake Recreation Centre. As an independent team, they will, according to a news release, feature players “enrolled in full-time courses at Thompson Rivers University and Nicola Valley Institute of Technology.” . . . Those schools are located in Kamloops and Merritt, respectively. . . . Logan Lake will get a look at a couple of BCIHL teams this weekend as the Okanagan Lakers meet Vancouver Island University at the Recreation Centre on Friday and Saturday nights. There won’t be an admission charge for either game, but public health guidelines will be in place. . . . The BCIHL’s news release is right here.


Bed


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Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

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Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

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Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

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——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


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WHL scouts on move . . . Calgary scout has good day at Stampede . . . Raiders d-man signs Czech pro deal


MacBeth

F Zane Jones (Chilliwack/Victoria, Calgary, Everett, Lethbridge, Vancouver, 2010-15) signed a one-year contract with Visby/Roma (Sweden, Division 1). Last season, in 28 games with Sollentuna (Sweden, Division 1), he had a team-high 16 goals and five assists. . . . Currently, Jones is playing his second season with the Newcastle North Stars (Australia, AIHL). In 12 games, he has eight goals and seven assists. Jones has dual Canadian/Australian citizenship, so doesn’t count as an import in the AIHL. . . .

F Geordie Wudrick (Swift Current, Kelowna, 2005-11) signed a one-year contract with the Chiefs Leuven (Belgium, BeNe Liga). Last season, with the Berlin Blues (Germany, Regionalliga), he had 29 goals and 21 assists in 22 games. He led the Blues in goals and points. . . . Presently, Wudrick is playing for the Sydney Ice Dogs (Australia, AIHL). He has 11 goals and 23 assists in 15 games. He leads the Ice Dogs in assists and points, and is second in the league in assists and third in points. This is his fourth season in the AIHL. . . .

F Kyle Beach (Everett, Lethbridge, Spokane, 2005-10) signed a one-year contract with Tölzer Löwen Bad Tölz (Germany, DEL2). Last season, with Villach (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had nine goals and 13 assists in 44 games. . . .

D Vojtěch Budík (Prince Albert, 2015-18) signed a one-year contract with Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, with Prince Albert (WHL), he had 14 goals and 27 assists in 63 games. . . .

F Alexander Kuvayev (Lethbridge, Vancouver, 2010-12) has been traded by Spartak Moscow to Admiral Vladivostok (both Russia, KHL) for Vadim Pereskokov. Last season, with Khimik Voskresensk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), Kuvayev had 13 goals and 13 assists in 52 games.


ThisThat

They are the unsung heroes of the WHL — and all other junior and pro hockey teams — and a few of them are on the move.

This isn’t at all surprising, considering the changes in the player personnel/scouting whldepartments made by a handful of teams.

For starters, Dylan Franson has left the Prince George Cougars to join the scouting staff of the Everett Silvertips, who have brought in Alvin Backus as director of player personnel and Mike Fraser as head scout. Backus had been with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, while Fraser scouted for the Brandon Wheat Kings. Franson had been with the Cougars for two seasons.

Meanwhile, Matt Blair has left the Kamloops Blazers’ scouting staff. He had scouted for the Blazers for 11 seasons. The Blazers have a new general manager in Matt Bardsley, who had been with the Portland Winterhawks since 1999. However, they have yet to replace Matt Recchi, who was dropped as director of player personnel on May 10.

There also is speculation that Jamie Porter, who is vacating his post as the Swift Current Broncos’ director of hockey operations at month’s end, will surface with the Tri-City Americans. Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager, has an opening after assistant GM Barclay Parneta signed on as GM with the Vancouver Giants.

As well, the buzz is that veteran scout Daryl Anning will be leaving the Broncos for the Vancouver Giants and what one source told me would be “an increased role.” Anning is the father of David Anning, the head coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings.

If you are a scout making a move, or if you are aware of anyone switching teams, help me give these folks some recognition by emailing me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.


Still with the scouting fraternity, Chad Harden, who works for the Calgary Hitmen, is busy these days at the Calgary Stampede.

A pro chuckwagon driver when he’s not in the rinks, Harden won Heat 3 of the StampedeRangeland Derby at the Stampede on Saturday night.

Harden came off the No. 4 barrel and almost got the rail on Chanse Vigen of Wolseley, Sask., who was driving his father Mike’s team. Vigen got to the finish line first, by about a head, but took a five-second penalty because of a barrel infraction.

That left Harden, who won the 2009 Rangeland Derby, with the Heat 3 victory in the Kubota Dealers of Alberta rig. His time of 1:11.79 was the second-fastest of Day 2.

Harden, 47, is from Mulhurst Bay, Alta. He also has scouted for the Prince George Cougars and Kootenay Ice.


The Colorado Avalanche has signed Czech F Martin Kaut, the 16th overall selection in the NHL’s 2018 draft, to a three-year, two-way contract. The Brandon Wheat Kings hold Kaut’s WHL rights, but he is expected to open the season with the Colorado Eagles, the Avalanche’s AHL affiliate. . . . Kaut has played the past two seasons with HC Dynamo Pardubice of the Czech Extraliga, the country’s top pro league.


D Vojtech Budik won’t be back for a fourth season with the Prince Albert Raiders after signing a one-year deal with Pardubice of Czech Republic’s Extraliga. Had Budik, who is from Holice, Czech Republic, returned, he would have been a two-spotter as a 20-year-old and an import. . . . In 189 regular-season games with the Raiders, he had 18 goals and 65 assists. . . . He was a fifth-round selection by the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL’s 2016 draft but wasn’t signed.


So . . . LeBron has joined the Los Angeles Lakers, and the way that columnist Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post sees it, LaVar Ball is about done with the that particular NBA team. Her superb column on this situation is right here.

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