There was a time when hockey people who do a lot of travelling would tell me that the Regina Leader-Post had the second-best sports section in Canada, behind only the Toronto Star. I was the sports editor then and I loved to hear from those people.
While that sports department covered the heck out of the CFL and the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the WHL and the Regina Pats we really prided ourselves on our local sports coverage. Our curling coverage was second to none. We had someone whose primary responsibility was the U of Regina; he also covered junior football’s Rams, the SJHL and the local stock car scene. We were all over the high school athletic scene and the local amateur sports people.
Well, as of today, that sports department is gone. Kaput. Nothing but a memory.
Murray McCormick, who had been there since 1985, spent his last day as a member of the sports department working from home. And somehow that was only fitting because the lights really had gone out a long time ago.
A department that once was home to at least 12 of us was down to three not that long ago. But then Greg Harder, whose primary beat had been the Regina Pats, moved over to entertainment.
That left McCormick and Rob Vanstone. But Vanstone announced his departure a few days ago. He now is the senior writer and historian with the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders.
For now, Regina is home to arguably the biggest story of this hockey season. F Connor Bedard, who hasn’t yet turned 18, led Canada to a gold medal at the World Junior Championship and since returning to the Pats he has been selling out arenas throughout Western Canada, including Regina. Until a few days ago, Vanstone had done a masterful job of keeping all informed of Bedard and all the numbers that go with his story.
In a few months, Bedard will be the first selection in the NHL’s 2023 draft.
As things sit now, the Regina Leader-Post won’t be there because it no longer has a sports department to document his journey. It’s like a book without an ending and that’s a real shame.
CANADA WEST UPDATE: The U of Calgary Dinos doubled the visiting Saskatchewan Huskies, 4-2, on Friday night to even their best-of-three Canada West semifinal series, 1-1. They’ll decide things at the Father David Bauer Arena in Calgary tonight. . . . The Dinos had won 23 in a row before dropping a 5-3 decision to the Huskies on Thursday. . . . In the other semifinal, the UBC Thunderbirds ran their winning streak to 15 games with a 4-3 victory over the visiting Alberta Golden Bears. They’ll play Game 2 in Edmonton tonight.
THE BEDARD REPORT: The Travellin’ Bedards were in Brandon on Friday night and, according to Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun, they drew a record 5,954 fans. “That’s a new record,” Bergson tweeted. “Maybe don’t tell the fire marshal.” . . . Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to ascertain what the previous single-game attendance record was. . . . F Connor Bedard only picked up one point on Friday night, but it was a big one as his goal, with 1:55 left in the third period, gave the Regina Pats a 4-3 victory over the Wheat Kings. . . . Bedard tipped home a point shot by D Parker Berge to win this one. . . . Bedard leads the WHL in goals (53), assists (58) and points (111). Yes, he was at 111 points after having what originally was a six-point outing — a goal and five assists — on Wednesday in Regina’s 6-3 victory over the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers. However, one of those assists later was taken away from him.
If the WHL playoffs started today:
Winnipeg (1) vs. Medicine Hat (8)
Red Deer (2) vs. Calgary (7)
Saskatoon (3) vs. Regina (6)
Moose Jaw (4) vs. Lethbridge (5)
Seattle (1) vs. Kelowna (8)
Kamloops (2) vs. Vancouver (7)
Portland (3) vs. Everett (6)
Tri-City (4) vs. Prince George (5)
FRIDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:
In Brandon, G Drew Sim blocked 44 shots to lead the Regina Pats to a 4-3 victory over the Wheat Kings. . . . According to one observer, Sim also sparked a post-game brouhaha by “waving goodbye to a Wheat Kings player at the end of the game.” Any resemblance to an old-fashioned bench-clearing was purely accidental, however. . . . Regina F Jaxsin Vaughan received a match penalty for attempt to injure in the post-game melee, while Brandon F Matt Henry was given a game misconduct for leaving the bench. . . . The Pats had taken three of the game’s four minor penalties until that point. . . . Vaughan already has served a five-game suspension for a headshot major and game misconduct in a Dec. 28 game at Brandon. . . . F Nate Danielson (27) got Brandon into a 3-3 tie at 8:17 of the third period. . . . Regina F Connor Bedard (53) won it at 18:05 of the third period. . . . The Wheat Kings are to play in Regina tonight. . . . Regina (28-24-3) has won three straight. It is sixth in the Eastern Conference, four points ahead of Calgary and Medicine Hat. . . . Brandon (22-25-8) is 10th, three points from a playoff spot. . . .
G Talyn Boyko stopped 27 shots to lead the visiting Kelowna Rockets to a 4-0 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Boyko has three shutouts this season and six in 136 career appearances. . . . F Dylan Wightman scored twice, his first one, at 9:55 of the first period, proving to be the winner. He’s got nine goals on the season. . . . Former Edmonton F Carson Golder (24) provided insurance at 3:45 of the second period. . . . F Max Graham was back in Kelowna’s lineup after a nine-game absence. He drew an assist on Wightman’s first goal. . . . Kelowna (21-30-3) has won four straight. It is eighth in the Western Conference, nine points ahead of Victoria and four behind Vancouver. . . . Edmonton (8-44-3) has lost six in a row. . . .
In Lethbridge, the Kamloops Blazers scored the game’s last five goals to beat the Hurricanes, 6-2. . . . F Fraser Minten (26) got the Blazers even, on a PP, at 19:00 of the second period and D Olen Zellweger (20) gave the visitors the lead, on another PP, at 9:53 of the third. . . . F Logan Stankoven scored his 29th goal and added two assists for the Blazers, who have won 11 in a row, five of them on a six-game swing through the Central Division that wraps up tonight in Medicine Hat. . . . Kamloops (38-10-6) will win the B.C. Division. . . . Lethbridge (30-21-6) has lost three in a row but appears headed to a fifth-place finish in the Eastern Conference. . . .
G Jackson Unger blocked 36 shots to lead the host Moose Jaw Warriors to a 4-3 victory over the Swift Current Broncos. . . . The Broncos held a 39-24 edge in shots, including 15-6 and 12-6 in the final two periods. . . . F Atley Calvert scored his 34th goal, giving him the Warriors’ single-season record for most goals by a Moose Jaw-born player. That record had belonged to David Bararuk (33, 2001-02). . . . Calvert’s goal, at 17:55 of the second period, broke a 2-2 tie. . . . F Ryder Korczak (23) made it 4-2 at 5:05 of the third period. . . . The Broncos got to within a goal when F Josh Filmon (35) scored at 5:39, but they weren’t able to equalize. . . . They’ll have a rematch tonight in Swift Current. . . . Moose Jaw (35-19-3) has won two in a row and looks to be headed to a fourth-place finish in the Eastern Conference. . . . Swift Current (25-27-3) has lost five straight and is two points from a playoff spot. . . .
F Matt Savoie’s third-period goal stood up as the winner as the Winnipeg Ice got past the Rebels, 2-1, in Red Deer. . . . F Zack Ostapchuk (21) had given the Ice a 1-0 lead at 12:03 of the first period. . . . F Jace Isley (25) tied it 11 seconds into the second. . . . Savoie’s 29th goal of the season, at 4:38 of the third, turned into the winner. . . . G Daniel Hauser earned the victory with 29 saves. This season, he is 31-3-1, 2.39, .913. His career numbers are 72-6-3, 2.27, .911. . . . Yes, 72-6-3. Think about that for a minute or two. . . . The game featured the leaders of the East and Central divisions. . . . Winnipeg (46-7-1) has won nine in a row. It now leads the Eastern Conference by 14 points over Saskatoon. . . . Red Deer (37-15-4) has lost two straight, but will finish atop the Central Division and be the conference’s second seed. . . .
The Prince Albert Raiders erased a 5-2 deficit with three third-period goals and then beat the host Saskatoon Blades, 6-5 in OT. . . . D Aidan De La Gorgendiere (10) put the Blades ahead 5-2 at 10:53 of the third. . . . The Raiders tied with with three goals in 2:45 — D Landon Kosior (17), at 12:37; F Niall Crocker (13), at 14:23; and F Aiden Oiring (11), at 15:22. The first two came via the PP. . . . F Sloan Stanick won it with his 19th goal just 49 seconds into OT. . . . It was Stanick’s second OT goal of the week. He had the winner at 1:05 of OT on Monday as the Raiders won, 4-3, in Brandon. . . . Kosior, who was playing in his 200th regular-season game, added two assists to his goal. . . . Oiring also had two helpers. . . . Saskatoon got two goals and an assist from F Jake Chiasson (17). . . . The Raiders were 3-for-8 on the PP; the Blades were 2-for-5. . . . They’ll meet up again tonight, this time in Prince Albert. . . . The Raiders (24-28-3) have won five in a row; they are four points from an Eastern Conference playoff spot. . . . The Blades (37-13-5) have points in five straight (4-0-1). They are likely to be the conference’s third seed. . . .
The Seattle Thunderbirds scored three first-period goals en route to a 6-1 victory over the Tri-City Americans in Kent, Wash. . . . F Brad Lambert (12) scored 16 seconds into the game to put Seattle ahead. . . . F Jalen Luypen (10) got the Americans even just 33 seconds later, but the visitors weren’t able to score again. . . . Seattle was 2-for-5 on the PP and added a shorthanded goal. . . . F Reid Schaefer (22) scored twice and added two assists. He’s got 46 points in 43 games. . . . Lambert added an assist to his goal. He now has 23 points in 14 games. . . . F Dylan Guenther drew three assists, giving him 13 points in eight games. . . . Seattle (44-9-2) ran its winning streak to nine games. It leads the Western Conference by eight points over Kamloops. . . . Tri-City (27-22-7) is fourth, three points ahead of Prince George. . . .
F Carter Streek scored twice to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 4-1 victory over the visiting Portland Winterhawks. . . . Streek, who has 13 goals, gave his guys a 2-0 lead at 19:14 of the first period and added the game’s last goal at 14:53 of the second. . . . F Ty Cheveldayoff helped Spokane’s cause with his 20th goal. . . . G Dawson Cowan stopped 30 shots to earn the victory. . . . Spokane (12-36-7) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). . . . Portland (36-15-5) has lost six straight (0-5-1) and is going to be the third seed when the Western Conference playoffs start. . . .
F Chase Wheatcroft scored twice, including an OT goal, as the Prince George Cougars beat the Vancouver Giants, 5-4, in Langley, B.C. . . . Wheatcroft, who has 36 goals, won it at 3:09 of OT. . . . The Cougars erased a 3-1 deficit with three goals 2:50 apart in the second period. . . . F Cole Dubinsky (17) gave them a 4-3 lead at 10:09. . . . F Skyler Bruce (10) got the Giants even with his second goal of the game, at 4:42 of the third period. . . . Wheatcroft also had an assist. . . . At one point in the first period, Vancouver D Damian Palmieri delivered seven cross-checks to the back of Prince George F Arjun Bawa, who was down in the Giants’ crease. Referee Adam Bloski was in perfect position at the back of the net and didn’t raise a finger. I know! I know! Stripes was waiting for the eighth one. . . . Prince George (27-23-4) has won three in a row. It has moved into fifth in the Western Conference, three points behind Tri-City and one ahead of Everett. . . . Vancouver (21-26-7) is seventh, four points ahead of Kelowna.
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