Raiders can win WHL title tonight. . . . Giants hope to make some history. . . . Hudak wins Cranbrook by-election


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John Hudak, who was the spokesperson for the Green Bay Committee that attempted to help keep the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, won a seat on Cranbrook’s City Council in a by-election that was completed on Saturday. . . . Final preliminary results, as released by the City of Cranbrook, had Hudak with 1,115 votes (45.9 per cent of the vote), well ahead of Ron Miles, who was second at 518, and three other candidates. . . . The by-election was the result of Danielle Eaton having resigned in January. . . . A retired RCMP officer, Hudak was part of the Green Bay Committee, a group comprising mostly local businessmen who offered to sell sponsorships and season tickets in an attempt to benefit the Ice. However, the committee, which said it quickly sold $50,000 worth of sponsorships and tickets, disbanded when it realized that it wasn’t going to get any co-operation from the WHL team’s owners. . . . The Ice relocated to Winnipeg when its season ended.


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The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies won the QMJHL championship with a 4-0 victory over the qmjhlhost Halifax Mooseheads on Saturday. The Huskies won the series, 4-2. . . . Huskies G Samuel Harvey stopped 28 shots to earn the shutout. Harvey, who is in his fifth season with the Huskies, has 20 career shutouts — 15 in the regular season and five in the playoffs. He put up four of those playoff shutouts in these playoffs. . . . Both teams will appear in the Memorial Cup as the Mooseheads are the host team. . . . This is the 11th straight season in which the host team for the Memorial Cup hasn’t been able to win its league championship.


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NOTES: The Prince Albert Raiders and Vancouver Giants arrived back in Prince Albert on Saturday afternoon and will resume the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup with Game 6 tonight (Sunday) at the Art Hauser Centre. . . . The Raiders lead the series, 3-2, and can win the second championship in franchise history — the first came in 1985 — with a victory tonight. . . . Should the Giants win tonight — and they won Game 5, 4-3, on Friday in Langley, B.C. — Game 7 would be played on Monday night in Prince Albert. . . .

Following the conclusion of Game 5 in Langley on Friday, fans in Prince Albert began lining up at the Art Hauser Centre at 11 p.m., with tickets for Games 6 and 7 going on sale Saturday morning. . . . Late Friday night, the Raiders advised fans via Twitter: “Tickets for Game 7 are non-refundable. If a Game 7 isn’t necessary, the tickets can be used as a voucher for any regular-season game in the 2019-20 season.” . . . Now I don’t know how much a ticket to Game 7 was selling for, but I have to think one of those tickets would be worth a whole lot more than one regular-season game. Wouldn’t it? . . .

If the Giants are to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup, they are going to have to do something that has been accomplished only once before in WHL history. . . . There have been 11 championship finals go to Game 7; the first 10 were won by the home team. The last final to need Game 7 was in 2014 when the Edmonton Oil Kings became the first team in WHL history to win Game 7 on the road. They beat the Portland Winterhawks, 4-2. . . .

Here is a look at the previous WHL championship series that have been decided in Game 7 . . .

1975 — The Saskatoon Blades actually won the first two games of what was an eight-point final — in other words, no OT — beating the New Westminster Bruins twice in legendary Queen’s Park Arena. The Bruins then won twice in Saskatoon, before the Blades won Game 5 at home. Back in New Westminster, the Bruins won, 4-1 and 7-2, to take the series, 8-6.

1976 — This also was an eight-point series featuring the Saskatoon Blades and New Westminster Bruins. The teams played to a 3-3 tie in Game 6 in New Westminster and the Bruins won Game 7, 3-1, the next night, winning the series, 9-5.

1981 — The Calgary Wranglers led the Victoria Cougars, 3-1, before the bottom fell out. The Cougars came back with 7-4 and 4-2 victories in Calgary, then won Game 7 at home, 4-2. This is the series that featured goaltenders Grant Fuhr (Victoria) and Mike Vernon (Calgary).

1984 — The Regina Pats won the middle three games at home to go ahead of the Kamloops Blazers, 3-2. The scene shifted to Kamloops where the Blazers won, 4-3 in OT and 4-2. In Game 6, the Pats were 12 seconds from winning the championship when Kamloops F Dean Evason tied the game. F Ryan Stewart later won it at 13;13 of OT.

1987 —The Medicine Hat Tigers and Portland Winterhawks played a 3-3-1 format and were all even going back to Alberta for Game 7 after the Tigers won Game 6, 4-3. Back home, the Tigers won Game 7, 6-2.

1992 — The Kamloops Blazers took a 3-1 lead over the Saskatoon Blades in a final that used a 3-3-1 format. The Blades won Games 5 and 6 (5-1 and 4-3) at home. The Blazers won it all by taking Game 7, 8-0, at home.

1993 — The Portland Winterhawks led the series, 3-2, over the Swift Current Broncos after a 3-1 victory in Game 5 in Oregon. The Broncos won Game 6, 7-5, in Portland, then went home and posted a 6-0 victory in Game 7.

1994 — For the third straight season, the WHL final went seven games, and for the second time in three seasons it featured the Kamloops Blazers and Saskatoon Blades. Using a 2-3-2 format, Kamloops won twice at home and then took Game 4 in Saskatoon for a 3-1 lead. The Blades tied it by winning 3-2 at home and 2-1 in Kamloops, but the Blazers took Game 7, 8-1, at home.

2007 — For the first time in 13 years, the WHL final went seven games. This time, it featured the Vancouver Giants and Medicine Hat Tigers. The Giants took a 3-2 series lead on the strength of three shutouts — 1-0, 4-0 and 3-0 — from G Tyson Sexsmith. But the Tigers went home for the last two games and won them both — 4-3 and 3-2 in double OT, the latter on a goal by F Brennan Bosch.

2012 — The Edmonton Oil Kings won Game 5, 4-3, at home to take a 3-2 lead over the Portland Winterhawks, who went home and won Game 6, 3-2, two nights later. The series shifted to Edmonton for Game 7 and the Oil Kings won, 4-1.

2014 — It was the Edmonton Oil Kings and Portland Winterhawks one more time. Portland won twice at home, then Edmonton did the same. The Oil Kings won Game 5, 3-2, in Portland, only to have the Winterhawks go into Edmonton and win Game 6, 6-5 in OT. The Oil Kings won the final with a 4-2 road victory in Game 7. The WHL’s first season was 1966-67. The Oil Kings are the only team in the league’s history to have won Game 7 of a championship series on the road.

(NOTE: Thanks to Dean (Scooter) Vrooman, the legendary former play-by-play voice of the Winterhawks, for laying the groundwork for all of this.)


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Rasmussen, Jokiharju sent to AHL . . . Hitmen open Corral series tonight . . . Hay busy learning more in Portland

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Two players who could be playing monster minutes in the WHL this season have found themselves playing in the AHL this week.

F Michael Rasmussen, 19, played the past three seasons with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans. The Detroit Red Wings selected him with the ninth pick of the NHL’s 2017 draft.

Rasmussen opened this season with the Red Wings and had six goals and seven assists in 41 games when he was assigned to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins this week on one of those conditioning assignments. The Red Wings also have him on long-term injured reserve with a hamstring issue that has kept him out since Jan. 4.

Because he’s 19, Rasmussen isn’t eligible to stay in the AHL. The NHL-NHLPA CBA calls for him to play in the NHL or be returned to the Americans.

He scored twice in his AHL debut on Thursday, as the Griffins beat the host Texas Stars, 5-3.

Meanwhile, D Henri Jokiharju has been assigned by the Chicago Blackhawks to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. He spent the previous two seasons with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks.

Jokiharju, who was the 29th overall selection in the NHL’s 2017 draft, had 12 assists in 37 games with the Blackhawks.

In December, Chicago freed him up to play for Finland in the World Junior Championship, where he had two goals and three assists in seven games as his team won the gold medal.

In his first 32 games with Chicago, Jokiharju was playing 20 minutes per game. Of late, however, he been playing fewer than 15 minutes and had been a healthy scratch three times in eight games.

I haven’t seen any mention of Jokiharju being on a conditioning assignment, so I have a feeling that he is there until further notice. Remember late in the summer of 2018 when there was discussion about whether he would have to play for Chicago or be returned to Portland? There was some chatter then that he had been on loan to the Winterhawks from his club team in Finland, so might not be covered by the same CBA clause as someone like Rasmussen.

Perhaps that’s what’s going on here.


The Calgary Hitmen and visiting Brandon Wheat Kings will open the three-game Corral CalgarySeries tonight. Before it’s over, the Hitmen will have played three games in the Calgary Corral and honoured three teams that used to call it home — the Centennials and Wranglers (WHL) and Cowboys (WHA). . . . The Centennials will be in the spotlight tonight, with the Cowboys to be saluted on Feb. 6 with the Regina Pats in town. The Wranglers will be feted on Feb. 8 when the Hitmen meet the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Todd Saelhof of the Calgary Sun has more right here, including lots of memories.


Don Hay, the winningest coach in WHL history, says he didn’t like the way things ended Portlandin Kamloops, but now he is really enjoying life as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks. . . . “I didn’t like the way it ended in Kamloops,” Hay told Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune. “You want to go out under your own terms. This was a good way to stay active, to stay in the league, to continue educating myself in the game.” . . . Hay, whose 65th birthday is fast approaching, never tires of learning, and that’s what he’s doing as he works alongside Mike Johnston, Portland GM and head coach. Yes, Johnston is learning, too. . . . Eggers’ complete story is right here.


Earlier this week, I posted a link to the impact statement that Scott Thomas read during the sentencing hearing for Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the truck driver who was involved in the accident involving the Humboldt Broncos’ bus on April 6. . . . On Wednesday, Thomas, who lost his son, Eric, in the accident, spent 15 minutes meeting privately with Sidhu. . . . There’s more on that meeting right here.


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