WHL makes “commitment” for 24-game schedule; no starting date yet . . . Virus finds Dallas Stars . . . Former WHL coach added to Coyotes’ staff

The WHL’s board of governors chatted on Friday, after which the league announced that it had “made a commitment” to play a 24-game 2021 season.

The news release stated: “The start date for the season will be determined once WHL2final approval has been received from the health authorities in each provincial and state jurisdiction and it is anticipated the approvals will be received soon.”

In other words, there isn’t anything new for a league that has announced starting dates of Oct. 2, Dec. 4 and Jan. 8, only to watch COVID-19 make those goals impossible to reach. The WHL and its fans continue to play the waiting game as they have for almost 10 months now.

As I have written here on numerous occasions, the virus will decide if/when the WHL and other leagues will play, and let’s be honest — short of announcing that it was cancelling the season, what else could the WHL say?

On Dec. 15, when it announced that a Jan. 8 start date wouldn’t be happening, the league said the governors would “meet in January to consider potential start dates.”

That is the meeting that took place on Friday.

When the WHL states that it needs final approval from health officials and that “it is anticipated the approvals will be received soon,” you are free to wonder if someone in the Calgary-based office has some inside information. Again, though, what else would the WHL be expected to say?

But the coronavirus-based numbers in the six jurisdictions in which the WHL operates haven’t exactly provided anyone with warm and fuzzy feelings of late. (See The COVID-19 Chronicles further down in this piece.)

You also wonder if the governors started their meeting yesterday by discussing DallasStarsgoings-on in the NHL where the Dallas Stars shut things down after six players and two staff members tested positive, and the Columbus Blue Jackets held 17 players out of practice.

The Stars were to have opened the NHL’s regular season against the host Florida Panthers on Jan. 14, but that obviously won’t happen. In fact, the Stars also have had to postpone two others games — Jan. 15 at Florida and Jan. 17 at the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Stars’ first game now is scheduled for Jan. 19 in Tampa Bay.

In the meantime, the Stars players and staff who tested positive are self-isolating and the team’s training facilities are closed.

The Blue Jackets, who are scheduled to open on Jan. 14 against the Predators in Nashville, held 17 of 38 players off the ice “out of an abundance of caution and in accordance with NHL COVID-19 protocols.”

Aaron Portzline, who covers the Blue Jackets for The Athletic, tweeted that the non-practising players were: forwards Emil Bemstrom, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Max Domi, Nick Foligno, Nathan Gerbe, Liam Foudy, Mikhail Grigorenko, Boone Jenner, Mikko Koivu, Eric Robinson, Alexandre Texier, and defencemen Adam Clendening, Vladislav Gavrikov, Seth Jones, David Savard, Andrew Peeke, Michael Del Zotto.

After discussing the NHL situation, maybe the WHL govs talked a bit about NCAA hockey where a number of schools have found out that their hockey teams have been bitten by COVID-19.

Nothing explains all of what has happened better than the National Collegiate NCHCHockey Conference (NCHC). It took eight teams into Omaha in early December and played 38 games. They didn’t call it a bubble; rather, it was a pod. Teams were limited to their hotel and the arena. There was regular testing; there weren’t any positive tests.

However, once that experience was over and the teams returned home, well, the virus licked its lips and went to work.

The U of Omaha has been unable to play four straight games against North Dakota, including two scheduled for this weekend. Mike Kemp, an associate athletic director at Omaha, told The Associated Press: “We got it in spades.”

Elsewhere in the world of NCAA men’s hockey, Lowell’s program is on pause and at least its next three games are off the schedule; Canisius has put things on hold due to protocols and contact tracing; Michigan Tech had to put things on hold after positive tests in its program earlier this week; Northern Michigan has been able to play six games, while having eight postponed or cancelled . . . and on and on it goes.

Where it stops . . . only the virus knows.


F Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers told CFJC-TV’s Chad Klassen that he is looking at going to the USHL.

“I know nothing’s been confirmed yet, but I’ve talked to Fargo Force from down in the States,” Stankoven, 17, said. “I think they’re pretty interested in me, maybe having me come down, but obviously nothing’s set in stone.”

The USHL deadline to add Hockey Canada-released players to team rosters is Sunday. Klassen reported that should Stankoven go that route, he would be required to spend the remainder of the season there.

“As much as I don’t want to head down to the States and play for a whole different team and in a whole different country, things got to be done,” Stankoven said. “It’s part of our development and players need to play hockey. It’s our life. As much as people say it’s not our job, it’s part of our job. It’s our careers.”

You wonder what impact, if any, the WHL’s Friday news release might have on Stankoven’s decision.

Earlier this week, the Dubuque Fighting Saints announced that they were adding F Matt Savoie, 16, of the Winnipeg Ice to their roster. The Fighting Saints played Friday night — they lost 5-2 to the host Youngstown Phantoms — but Savoie has yet to be placed on their roster.


At least two B.C. junior B leagues — the Kootenay International and Vancouver Island leagues — had hoped to return to regular-season play on Jan. 15. However, those hopes were dashed on Thursday when the B.C. government and health officials extended a series of province-wide restrictions until Feb. 5. . . . The junior A BCHL now is talking about starting its regular season on Feb. 8. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia tweeted that the BCHL couldn’t get approval for its Penticton hub idea from health officials so that idea is dead.


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

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CJOB Radio, Winnipeg: As Manitoba announced nine additional COVID-19-related deaths Friday, the province’s top doctor said hundreds of recent cases have been linked to gatherings over the holidays.

Scott Billeck, Winnipeg Sun: From the province: 355 cases and 1,900 contacts from holiday gatherings to date.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 336 new cases of COVID-19 and 7 new deaths related to the illness. It’s the highest daily case count since Dec. 6. There are currently 180 COVID-19 patients in the province’s hospitals, including 26 people in intensive care.

Jason Herring, Postmedia: Here are Friday’s COVID-19 Alberta stats: 1,183 new cases (total now 109,652) . . . 24 new deaths (total now 1,241) . . . 851 currently in hospital, 135 in ICU (yesterday: 871 in hospital, 139 in ICU) . . . 13,628 active cases (up from 13,298) . . . 16,765 tests conducted (~7.1% positive).

Justin McElory, CBC Vancouver: 617 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C. on Friday, a big drop from Thursday but part of a small rise since Christmas. . . . 18 new deaths, the highest number since Dec. 23. . . . Hospitalizations and active cases down.

Tacome News Tribune: The Washington state Department of Health reported 4,829 new cases of COVID-19 and 65 deaths Friday. . . . Statewide totals from the illness caused by the coronavirus are 268,607 cases and 3,699 deaths. The case total includes 11,160 cases listed as probable. Those numbers are up from 263,778 cases and 3,634 deaths on Thursday.

Daily Hive Portland: The Oregon Health Authority has reported 1,755 new and presumptive COVID-19 cases and seven new deaths. The state has now seen a total of 122,847 COVID-19 cases, and the death toll has risen to 1,575.

Public Health Agency of Canada, Friday, 4 p.m. PT — People tested: 15,420,760 . . . Total cases: 644,348 . . . Active cases: 81,670 . . . Recovered: 545,971 . . . Deaths: 16,707.

CNN, Friday, 3 p.m. PT: 368,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Friday, 3 p.m. PT: 21.8 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

AFP News Agency, Friday, 8 p.m. PG: US sets new record with nearly 290,000 Covid cases in 24 hours: Johns Hopkins.

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Curling Alberta has cancelled its 2021 men’s, women’s and mixed doubles championships “due to Alberta’s continued state of public health emergency.” All were to have been held in Sylvan Lake, Jan. 25 to Feb. 5. . . .

With the B.C. government and health officials having extended various restrictions, including one restricting adult team sport, through Feb. 5, Curl BC has cancelled the men’s and women’s championships that had been scheduled for Kamloops and the mixed doubles event that was to have been held in Chilliwack. . . .

Holly Rowe, a veteran ESPN sideline reporter, revealed on Friday that she has tested positive, meaning she won’t be working on Monday when Alabama and Ohio State meet in the college football championship game in Miami. . . . Rowe admitted to having some symptoms and not feeling great. . . . She also is a cancer survivor, having battled melanoma. . . .

The Maine Red Claws, a G League men’s basketball team affiliated with the NBA’s Boston Celtics, have opted out of the 2021 season. . . .

Mike Lange, the veteran play-by-play voice of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, won’t start the approaching NHL season out of an abundance of caution. He says he’ll be back once he is able to be vaccinated and when he feels it is safe to return. Lange, who will turn 73 in March, missed the 2019 playoffs due to pneumonia. . . .

Kurt Warner, an analyst with the NFL Network, announced Friday night that he has tested positive so won’t be working on any studio shows this weekend. Warner, 49, has been with the NFL Network for 10 years. . . . Also on the NFL broadcast front, NBC’s Mike Tirico will call the play of the Tampa Bay-Washington game from home because of COVID-19 protocols, while CBS-TV’s Tony Romo will provide analysis of the Chicago-New Orleans game from a remote site for the same reason.


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

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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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Former WHL coach Jay Varady, who is the head coach of the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners, has been added to the coaching staff of the parent Arizona Coyotes. Varady, 43, spent seven seasons (2003-10) on the coaching staff of the Everett Silvertips. He had been the Roadrunners’ head coach for two seasons. . . . The NHL’s San Jose Sharks has left K-FOX, its play-by-play station since 2020-21, and now will stream its games on the Sharks Audio Network, available on the team’s website and app. . . . Lethbridge has been chosen as the host city for the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier (aka the Canadian men’s curling championship). It is scheduled to run March 4-13, which means the Hurricanes will be out of the Enmax Centre for a couple of weeks in the waning days of the WHL’s 2021-22 season.

Backmeyers looking for rental in Vancouver. Can you help? . . . Gillis remembers good news day . . . Checking in with Julie Dodds

FerrisPat
Ferris and Pat Backmeyer. (Photo: Lindsey Backmeyer)

In what seems like another life a long time ago, Pat Backmeyer entertained hockey fans in Kamloops as Digger, the Blazers’ mascot.

In his real life, he is the father of three young daughters, one of whom, Ferris, had kidney disease. Ferris is three (yes, Ferris, I know you soon will be four) and has been on one form of dialysis or another for a lot of her young life.

Of late, she has been having issues with peritoneal dialysis (PD) and will be heading to Vancouver and B.C. Children’s Hospital early in the new year so that she can be switched over to hemodialysis, at least for a while.

With so much uncertainty and in an attempt to make things easier, Pat and his wife, Lindsey, have decided to set up housekeeping in Vancouver for the foreseeable future.

With that in mind, Pat has turned to Facebook in the hopes of finding a rental accommodation.

“As most of you know,” he wrote, “my daughter Ferris has to go down to Vancouver to have a surgery to repair her abdomen. This unfortunately means switching her over to hemodialysis which is only able to be done at Children’s Hospital.

“So we had to make the decision to move the family down to Vancouver for a minimum of 3 months but could be potentially longer and even a chance of staying until she receives a kidney.

“There are a few places we have seen but the rent in Vancouver for a place that will fit our family is out of our budget. So I am putting a shout out to anyone who might have a friend or know someone who has a place to rent in Vancouver. There will be 5 of us down there. And we need it furnished, and hopefully close as possible to Children’s Hospital.”

This won’t be their first stint at B.C. Children’s Hospital and in the past they have stayed at Ronald McDonald House. But, as Pat pointed out, “Due to COVID they have strict quarantine procedures and due to me commuting back and forth from Kamloops for school it is unfortunately not a option.”

So . . . if you know someone who might have something that would fit the bill for the Backmeyers, contact me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com and I’ll pass along the information.


You may remember Stephen Gillis as the Vancouver minor hockey coach whose team mounted something of a campaign in the hopes of finding a live kidney donor who could help him.

MichaelGillisZach
Stephen Gillis (centre) with Zach Tremblay and his mother, Jana, together on March 11. Stephen’s team had just won a championship that they dedicated to Zach, a 17-year-old from Robson, B.C., who needs a kidney. (Photo: Stephen Gillis)

You also will remember that a friend, Michael Teigen, donated a kidney and that the surgery took place on Feb. 18. But Gillis also remembers one other important date.

Here’s Gillis in a Facebook post on Dec. 11:

“One year ago today, Michael Teigen and Denise Jones showed up to VGH while I was on dialysis to surprise me with our kidney transplant date.

Each day I awaken with endless gratitude for Michael’s selfless and heroic act. My second chance at a full life, COVID aside, has not been taken for granted.

“Almost 10 months post transplant, Michael is doing great and is currently filming another film (his 3rd post transplant), my bloodwork is near perfect and now my follow-ups have moved to every 2 months.

“From the beginning we have shared our story to help others. To raise awareness for organ donation & kidney disease, and to show it isn’t scary to share your health with someone. Rather it is a special gift.

“To all the healthcare professionals that assisted myself and Michael along our journey, THANK YOU. To Michael, endless thank you for eternity, I love you.

Thank you all for your support through it all, it did and still does mean the world.

Be kind. Be safe. Be like Mike.

#beadonor

#organdonation

#organdonorssavelives


Chad Klassen of CFJC-TV in Kamloops caught up with Julie Dodds on Thursday and provides an update right here. Julie underwent a kidney transplant at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver on Oct. 28. The living donor was her younger brother, Jason. . . . Julie was back home in less than four weeks and now is preparing for a Merry Christmas with her husband and their three boys. . . . That story is right here.


Rochelle Corpuz of Kamloops was diagnosed with lupus 16 years ago, two years before she moved here from the Philippines. The autoimmune disease is hard on kidneys and Corpuz’s condition “has worsened and I have to face the reality of kidney failure in the very near future. We are talking months here,” she told Tereza Verenca of castanetkamloops.net. . . . Corpuz, 37, knows that the best scenario for her is to have a kidney transplant from a live donor, and to have that surgery before she is forced to go on dialysis. With that in mind, she has started the search for a living kidney donor. . . . There’s more on her story right here.



Vic2

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.

Kamloops mom hoping transplant is near . . . Donor search for Ferris continues . . . Early stages of CKD? There’s a webinar for you on Sept. 24

Just over a year ago, Julie Dodds of Kamloops turned to Facebook in an attempt to find a living kidney donor. She has Medullary Kidney Disease Type 1, a genetic condition, and had reached Stage 4. . . . The next step is kidney failure and dialysis, and she almost is there these days. . . . This week, Chad Klassen of CFJC-TV in Kamloops updated Julie’s story and, fingers crossed, the married mother of three boys may be getting close to a transplant. . . . It’s also the story of friends, and friends of friends, responding to a call for help. . . . That story is right here.

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Meanwhile, the search for a kidney donor for Ferris Backmeyer, a three-year-old from Kamloops, will continue after Kim DeRose, who spent six months in the testing process, was ruled out. . . . According to her friend Melissa Robinson, who wrote with DeRose’s approval, she was found to have a high level of calcium in a kidney and that was enough for doctors to rule her out. . . . DeRose had read about Ferris’s story, and according to Lindsey Backmeyer, “was inspired to get tested. . . . See if she would be able to give Ferris a better life.” . . .

Robinson wrote on Facebook: “I would like to send a huge shout out to my friend Kimmy. . . . I would like to express how grateful this universe is for people like her.”

Robinson pointed out that DeRose didn’t have any connection to the Backmeyers and is “just a kind heart doing something extremely positive.”

She added: “Positive tests made Kim hopeful that this sweet little girl would get a chance to live her well-deserved life off dialysis; unfortunately, she got the phone call that . . . it is unsafe for her to donate.

“Feeling discouraged and broken, I wanted to express to my friend how brave and kind-hearted she is for doing something so scary!”

As Lindsey wrote on her Facebook page: “This world needs more Kims! There are at least a dozen kids in the province who need kidneys . . . hundreds of adults. Some of whom are parents of young children and all are deserving of a better life.”

A huge thank you to Kim DeRose from my little corner of the Kamloops kidney community. Thank you for being so unselfish. And, yes, the world, as Lindsey wrote, needs more people like you.


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.






Kamloops woman looks for kidney as CIHI reports transplants are up but people are dying on waiting lists

Chad Klassen of CFJC-TV stopped by our home on Thursday as he worked on a story involving local reaction to a report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

Chad spoke with Dorothy, my wife who had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013. As you will see by watching his story right here, he also chatted with Julie Dodds of Kamloops.

Julie has a genetic kidney disease — Medullary Kidney Disease Type 1 — and has reached Stage 4 kidney failure. She needs a kidney and is hoping to get one before she has to go on dialysis.

I told her story right here early in August.

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The Canadian Institute for Health Information issued a report on Thursday that indicates there were 2,782 organ transplants performed in Canada in 2018.

According to the report, which showed a 33 per cent increase in transplants since 2009, the first of 10 years covered here:

“At the end of 2018, there were 4,351 people on wait lists for organ transplants (2,890 active and 1,461 on hold). Additionally, 223 people died that year while on a wait list for an organ transplant.

“The increased need for organ transplantation is in part being driven by the rising rate of Canadians living with end-stage kidney disease, which went up 32 per cent over the 10 years studied.”

Greg Webster, the CIHI’s director of acute and ambulatory care information services, pointed out that “more than 4,000 Canadians are still on a waiting list for a transplant, and many die each year while waiting.

“We know that organ transplants save lives. For most organs, patient survival is greater than 80 per cent after five years.”

Also from the report: “(In 2018), there were 555 living donors (people who donated a kidney or a lobe of liver) and 762 deceased donors in Canada. The number of deceased donors increased by 56 per cent between 2009 and 2018, whereas the number of living donors remained stable.”

Some highlights from the report:

Kidneys (1,706) and livers (533) were the top organs transplanted, followed by lungs (361), hearts (189) and pancreases (57).

As of Dec. 31, 2018, more patients were on wait lists for kidneys (3,150) and livers (527), compared with lungs (270), hearts (157) and pancreases (156).

Of the 762 deceased organ donors, 60 per cent were male. Of the 555 living organ donors, 63 per cent were female.

For deceased donors, the average number of organs used for transplantation was three for all donors and 4 for donors ages 39 and younger.

The complete report is available right here.



Stroup family cries tears of joy after organs donated. . . . Daughter had registered two years ago as donor

Folks in Kamloops will gather at McDonald Park on Sept. 22 for the annual Kidney Walk. If you would like to participate, we register at 10 a.m., walk at 11, and have breakfast when it’s all done. The Brock Central Lions Club supplies the breakfast — pancakes, sausage and coffee — by donation.

We held a news conference on Monday at St. Andrews on the Square. If you are curious about how the media saw what we had to announce, here’s a look . . .

Chad Klassen of CFJC-TV filed a video report and wrote a story, both of which are right here.

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John Luke Kieper of KamloopsBCNow was on hand, too, and he posted his story right here.

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Dairai Mutandiro of Kamloops Matters joined us and wrote this piece right here.



Tara Stroup’s daughter, Madeline, was in a coma for seven days after being involved in a car crash in Abbotsford, B.C., on July 26. When the family decided to take Madeline off life support and donate her organs, they discovered that she had registered as a donor. . . . Tara spoke with Estefania Duran of CBC News about the decisions involved and the aftermath. That story is right here.




Habscheid, Sutter approach No. 500 . . . Almeida sinks Cougars in OT . . . Raiders post 40th victory


MacBeth

F Justin Sigrist (Kamloops, 2017-18) has signed a one-year contract extension with ZSC Zurich (Switzerland, NL A). This season, he is pointless in nine games with ZSC. On loan to the GC Küsnacht Lions (Switzerland, NL B), he had five goals and 11 assists in 18 games, and on loan to the GCK Lions U20 Zurich (Switzerland, Elite Junior A), he had seven goals and five assists in five games.


ThisThat

Two long-time WHLers are running almost neck-and-neck as they move closer to becoming only the eighth and ninth head coaches with 500 regular-season victories.

Just one victory separates Marc Habscheid of the Prince Albert Raiders and Brent Sutter whlof the Red Deer Rebels as they close in on the milestone.

Habscheid, whose Raiders are into their 14th consecutive week as the top-ranked team in the CHL, has 495 victories. He wasn’t in Victoria on Tuesday night as the Raiders beat the Royals, 4-1, because he is in Red Deer for the Top Prospects Game.

Habscheid, 55, has coached the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Chilliwack Bruins, Victoria and Prince Albert.

Sutter, 56, is at 494 victories. He is the owner, general manager and head coach in Red Deer and has spent his entire coaching career with the Rebels. Sutter missed one victory earlier this season because he was on a fathers’ junket with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. His son, Brandon, plays for the Canucks.

Don Hay, now an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks, holds the career record for victories (750), having passed Ken Hodge (Edmonton, Portland, 742) last season while the head coach of the Blazers.

After Habscheid and Sutter, the current head coaches with the most regular-season victories are Shaun Clouston of the Medicine Hat Tigers, at 382, and Portland’s Mike Johnston, with 342.


The Prince George Cougars were without F Josh Maser on Tuesday as they dropped a 3-2 OT decision to the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Maser was serving the first of a three-PrinceGeorgegame suspension handed down earlier in the day. He was suspended under supplemental discipline for an unpenalized hit on Kamloops D Quinn Schmiemann during the Blazers’ 3-2 OT victory in Prince George on Sunday. On the WHL’s weekly roster report, Schmiemann is listed as being out for a week. . . . Why did the Blazers file for supplemental discipline? . . . Serge Lajoie, the Blazers’ head coach, told Chad Klassen of CFJC-TV that “it was a situation and a play that should’ve been called on the ice, should’ve been penalized. To what extent in the heat of the battle, you never know, but upon watching video I think it’s something we want to make sure we’re continuing to educate our players that that’s a dangerous play.” . . . As for the length of the suspension, Lajoie also told Klassen: “Three games. I’m not going to judge on that, but I’ve seen our players, for similar players, get more games.” . . . The Blazers have had two players suspended for more than three games for high hits this season. F Jermaine Loewen got four games after hitting D Matthew Quigley of the Portland Winterhawks on Oct. 5 in Kamloops. Quigley missed three games. F/D Jeff Faith drew a five-game suspension under supplemental for an unpenalized hit on D Remy Aquilon of the host Victoria Royals on Jan. 9. Aquilon hasn’t played since absorbing that hit.


F Dylan James, 15, announced via Twitter on Tuesday that he has committed to the U of North Dakota where he will play for the Fighting Hawks. He is the first player born in 2003 to commit to UND. . . . From Calgary, he was a second-round pick by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. James, who won’t turn 16 until Oct. 12, has 14 goals and 12 assists with the midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes. . . . Last season, he put up 26 goals and 30 assists in 56 games with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons.


The Everett Silvertips have signed F Jacob Wright to a WHL contract. Wright, 16, is a list player from Langley, B.C. He has 11 goals and 23 assists in 24 games with the B.C. Major Midget League’s Fraser Valley Thunderbirds.


The Moose Jaw Warriors have signed G Brett Mirwald to a WHL contract. Mirwald, 15, is from Saskatoon. He was selected in the seventh round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, with the midget AAA Saskaton Blazers, he is 14-2-0, 2.11, .910, with three shutouts in 17 appearances.


The junior B Campbell River Storm of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League has named Mike Wilson as its head coach, replacing Cam Basarab. . . . Wilson is familiar with Campbell River, having been the associate coach for two seasons (2015-17). . . . Basarab had been the head coach — he moved up from assistant coach — since early November following the departure of GM/head coach Lee Stone. Assistant coach Bill Brett took over as the GM. . . . The Storm is 27-9-3 and leads the North Division by 23 points over the Nanaimo Buccaneers.


TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Justin Almeida scored 30 seconds into OT to give the Moose Jaw Warriors a 3-2 victory MooseJawWarriorsover the Cougars in Prince George. . . . Moose Jaw (25-11-8) has points in five straight games (4-0-1), all on a trip through the B.C. Division. The Warriors are third in the East Division, four points behind Saskatoon with three games in hand. . . . Prince George (16-24-5) has lost four in a row (0-2-2). It is two points out of a playoff spot. . . . The Cougars took a 2-0 lead on goals from F Ilijah Collins (6), at 18:07 of the first period, and F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (16), at 3:51 of the second. . . . F Tristin Langan (37) pulled the visitors to within a goal at 7:12, and D Jett Woo (10) tied it at 6:14 of the third period. . . . Almeida won it with his 15th goal, off assists from Langan and D Josh Brook, who finished with two helpers. Almeida, from Kitimat, B.C., began his WHL career by playing 87 games with the Cougars, who had selected him fifth overall in the 2014 bantam draft. . . . The Cougars had a 25-16 edge in shots, and won 31 of 50 faceoffs. . . . The game featured one minor penalty, that to Moose Jaw D Drae Gardiner for slashing at 9:59 of the third period. . . . The Warriors got 23 saves from G Adam Evanoff. . . . The Cougars had G Tyler Brennan, 15, from the Rink Hockey Academy in Winnipeg on the bench in support of starter Isaiah DiLaura. Brennan was the 21st-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Taylor Gauthier, the Cougars’ other goaltender, is at the Top Prospects Game in Red Deer.


F Nolan Volcan broke a 1-1 tie just 24 seconds into the second period as the Seattle SeattleThunderbirds beat the Spokane Chiefs, 2-1, in Kent, Wash. . . . Seattle (17-21-5) has points in six straight (5-0-1). It holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, two points ahead of Kamloops and Prince George. . . . Spokane has lost three in a row (0-2-1). It is third in the U.S. Division, six points behind Portland and two ahead of Tri-City. . . . F Matthew Wedman (18) gave Seattle a 1-0 lead at 4:07 of the first period. . . . Spokane tied it at 19:44 when F Jake McGrew (19) scored on a PP. . . . Volcan’s 18th goal, with Wedman drawing the lone assist, stood up as the winner. . . . G Roddy Ross blocked 34 shots in his first home start for Seattle, two more than Spokane’s Bailey Brkin. . . . Ross was making his sixth appearance with Seattle since joining the Thunderbirds from the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. He is 4-0-1, 2.11, .926. . . . The Chiefs were without F Luc Smith, who left the club following a death in his family. He is expected back in time to play Friday in Kamloops. . . . F Cordel Larson, who left the ice on a stretcher the last time the Chiefs played, on Saturday night, made the trip to Kent with his teammates but won’t play for at least a week. He’s fine, but needs time to recover from the trauma and some soreness. . . . Seattle F Jake Lee missed this game as he is in Red Deer for the Top Prospects Game.


The Prince Albert Raiders got out to a 2-0 first-period lead and never looked back as they PrinceAlbertskated to a 4-1 victory over the Royals in Victoria. . . . Prince Albert (40-5-2) has points in six straight (5-0-1). It is 3-0-1 in the B.C. Division swing that wraps up Thursday against the B.C. Division-leading Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. That game is to be televised by Sportsnet. . . . The Raiders, who last won 40 games in one season in 1998-99, lead the overall standings by 14 points over Everett. . . . Victoria (23-20-1) is second in the B.C. Division, five points ahead of Kelowna. . . . F Justin Nachbaur (13) got the Raiders started, on a PP, at 15:02, with F Sean Montgomery adding his 20th goal just 47 seconds later. . . . F D-Jay Jerome (18) scored for Victoria at 1:00 of the second period only to have F Cole Fonstad (18) get that one back at 4:27. . . . D Max Martin (6) finished the scoring, on a PP, at 8:52 of the third period. . . . The Raiders were 2-3 on the PP; the Royals were 0-5. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 20 shots for Prince Albert, seven fewer than Victoria’s Griffen Outhouse. . . . Outhouse’s night included a right-pad stop on a third-period penalty shot by F Parker Kelly. . . . The Raiders were without head coach Marc Habscheid and F Brett Leason, both of whom are in Red Deer for the Top Prospects Game. . . . In Habscheid’s absence, associate coach Jeff Truitt ran the bench and recorded his 136th victory as a head coach. That includes stints with the Kelowna Rockets and Red Deer Rebels. . . . D Loeden Schaufler, who was acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds on Jan. 10, played his first game with the Raiders.


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Leafs’ training camp under way . . . Hawgy’s back in NHL . . . Portland booster club prexy on road to recovery


MacBeth

D Renat Mamashev (Moose Jaw, 2000-01) announced his retirement. Last season, he had two goals and one assist in 18 games with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (Russia, KHL); two goals and 11 assists in nine games with Sarov (Russia, Vysshaya Liga); and one goal and three assists in 19 games with Admiral Vladivostok (Russia, KHL). In an interview, Mamashev said he plans to move with his family to New York City and enrol in Columbia University’s Sports Management Program. . . .

D Travis Ehrhardt (Moose Jaw, Portland, 2004-09) signed a one-year contract with the Glasgow Clan (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, he had six goals and 12 assists in 37 games with KRS Heilongjiang Harbin (China, Russia Vysshaya Liga).


ThisThat

Forget the Summer Showcase and the Hlinka Gretzy Cup, because they fall under the category of ‘summer hockey’ and really don’t count.

No, as you can see by the above tweet, the 2018-19 hockey season, at least on this side of the pond, got started on Friday when the junior B Nelson Leafs, who play in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, opened their training camps.

Could that be why fans were chanting ‘Go Leafs Go’ during the Toronto Blue Jays’ game on Friday night?


Chase Souto played four seasons (2010-14) with the Kamloops Blazers when concussions Kamloops1ended his playing career before his 20-year-old season. Souto, 23 now, is from Yorba Linda, Calif. He joined the Blazers after playing for the Los Angeles Jr. Kings U-16 and U-18 teams. Now he is an assistant general manager with the Jr. Kings program. . . . Chad Klassen of CFJC-TV in Kamloops reports that Souto has been added to the Blazers’ scouting staff. . . . “I’m going to be working with our midget team . . .,” Souto told Klassen. “I see a lot of the kids from Arizona, Colorado, Texas, and Minnesota a little bit, too, so just help out the team and see if we can get some American blood back up here.” . . .

Klassen also reported that Greg Hawgood, a former Blazers defenceman (1983-88) who did a stint as the team’s head coach (2007-08), has signed on with the Chicago Blackhawks as a part-time amateur scout. Hawgood, who is from Edmonton, turned 50 on Friday. He lives in Kamloops, where he works at the Kamloops Regional Correction Centre. . . .Hawgood had seasons of 119, 123 and 133 points with the Blazers, then went on to a pro career that included 474 regular-season games in the NHL.

Klassen’s complete story is right here.


Nick Marek, who had been working with the NAHL’s Lone Star Brahmas, is joining the PortlandPortland Winterhawks as broadcast and media relations manager, meaning that he will, among other things, handle play-by-play duties. The Brahmas revealed the move in a news release on Friday. . . . Marek, 26, had been the Brahmas’ director of communications and broadcasting. He joined the Brahmas prior to the 2014-15 season. . . . In Portland, Marek will fill the spot vacated by Evan Richardson, who left after one season in order to return to his home in Toronto.



The Portland Winterhawks are scheduled to open training camp on Aug. 21 and Stuart PortlandKemp, the president of the team’s booster club, is adamant that he will be there. Should that happen, there won’t be any doubt about who is the toughest person in the building. . . . Kemp, 51, suffered two strokes this summer — on April 30 and May 8 — and has been working to rehabilitate with the opening of training camp as a target. . . . Kemp is a native of Port Moody, B.C. . . . Paul Danzer of the Portland Tribune wrote about Kemp this week, pointing out that Kemp once was a pro wrestler and spent time on the Canadian circuit. Kemp wrestled as the Illegitimate Son of Bob Brown — no, not that Bob Brown; Bulldog Bob Brown. . . . According to Danzer, Kemp “estimates he won a half-dozen times and lost at least 800 bouts.” . . . Danzer’s story is right here. It should be required reading for all WHL fans because folks like the Kemps — Stuart and his wife, Cathy — truly are the Most Valuable People in junior hockey.

Friends also have a GoFundMe page rolling, and you are able to find it right here.


Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013. She will celebrate the fifth anniversary on Sept. 23 by taking part in the Kamloops Kidney Walk. This will be the fifth time she has done the Kidney Walk; she has been the leading fund-raiser in Kamloops in each of the previous four years. . . . If you would like to support her this year, you are able to do so right here.


Mark Hunter is back in the OHL, and has returned to his job as general manager of the LondonLondon Knights. Rob Simpson, who had been the GM, now is the associate general manager. . . . Hunter is a co-owner and vice-president of the organization. . . . After 14 seasons as general manager, he left the Knights in 2014 to take on the role of director of player personnel with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, who promoted him to assistant general manager prior to the 2016-17 season. . . . He left the Maple Leafs earlier this season after he was bypassed when Kyle Dubas, who also had been an AGM, was named general manager. . . . With Hunter no longer scouting for an NHL team, I, for one, will miss our press box chats.


Nicholas and Joshua Filoso have purchased the junior A Smiths Falls Bears of the CCHL and the Westport Rideaus of the CCHL2 from Chris Cassell. He had owned the Bears for 12 years, and purchased the Redeaus in 2015. . . . This is a really interesting story because Nicholas is 23 years of age and Joshua is 21. They are from Ottawa and are involved in family-run businesses there and in Calgary. . . . Jonathan Brodie of the Brockville Recorder and Times has the whole story right here.

It’s worth noting that the Bears were part of one of the most-exciting playoff series in hockey history. They met up with the MJHL’s Selkirk Steelers in the 1974 Centennial Cup’s best-of-seven final. The Steelers, under head coach George Dorman, won the national junior A title when F Gord Kaluzniak scored with about two minutes left in Game 7 for a 1-0 victory. The entire series was played in the Nepean Sportsplex in Ottawa.


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We never will forget Dec. 30, 1986. . . Canucks’ head coach back in minors for a day . . . Americans lose star for up to two months

Scattershooting

Lost in the hoopla of the outdoor game at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo on Thursday was this fact: Canada won’t be involved in a New Year’s Eve game for the first time in forever. There will be a lot of people in this country who won’t know what to do.


It has been 31 years since four players died when the Swift Current Broncos’ bus crashed just east of the Saskatchewan city. The tragedy’s anniversary was recognized numerous times by a whole lot of people on social media on Saturday. However, there wasn’t a peep on the WHL’s website.


Headline at SportsPickle.com: NFL clarifies catch rule: Players must hold on to ball, take it home and raise it as their own.


Allow me to remind you that the real World Junior Championship starts when the playoff round begins, which will be on Tuesday. That is when the fun — and the real excitement — gets rolling.


“No NHL games were scheduled on Boxing Day,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Tiger Williams, we hear, was inconsolable.”


There were 11 games in the WHL on Saturday night. Seven of them went to OT or a shootout, meaning seven teams picked up loser points. Good luck to teams trying to move over others and get into playoff positions.


After burglars stole a toilet from a home belonging to former NBAer Charlie Villanueva, RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com reported: “Police say no arrests have been made because there’s nothing to go on.”


The 41-game U.S. college bowl season kicked off on Dec. 14. As Janice Hough (aka The Left Coast Sports Babe) noted: “And if you can name at least half of them without Google, you just might need a life.”


Ever wonder why there are so many bowl games? Here’s blogger Chad Picasner: “Remember, it’s all about supporting colleges and the sport. Or as my Uncle Al used to say, ‘I’m taking Notre Dame and the points.’ ”


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

It was on Dec. 30, 1986 when the Swift Current Broncos’ bus, en route to a game in Regina, crashed and four players were killed.

The accident occurred just east of Swift Current and took the lives of Trent Kresse, Scott Kruger, Chris Mantyka and Brent Ruff. A memorial now is in place near the site of the accident.

Dan Lambert, now the head coach of the Spokane Chiefs, was a defenceman with the Broncos, although he wasn’t on the bus at the time. During his time on the Kelowna Rockets’ coaching staff, Lambert spoke with Regan Bartel about his memories of that time in his life.

That interview, from a few years ago, is right here.

Of course, a book about the Broncos, the accident and much that came afterwards was published in 2012. Sudden Death: The Incredible Saga of the 1986 Swift Current Broncos is available at chapters.indigo.ca or through Amazon. There’s more on the book in the piece below from Chad Klassen of CFJC-TV in Kamloops.


Green
Travis Green, a former WHL player and coach, was behind the bench of a bantam AAA team from Orange County, Calif., on Friday morning. In his other life, he is the head coach of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: Kevin Gallant)

Observers who were at a bantam AAA game in the Pat Quinn Classic at the Burnaby Winter Club on Friday morning may have noticed a familiar face behind the bench of the team from Orange County, Calif.

Yes, that was Travis Green, the head coach of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, helping out behind the bench. His son, Blake, plays on the Orange County team.

Taking Note has been told that Green helped coach Orange County during the game against the No. 1-seeded California Golden Bears. In that game, the Golden Bears, who had won their first four games, held a 2-1 lead when Green called a timeout. From that point, Orange Country outscored its opposition 8-1 to pull off a 9-3 victory and eliminate the top seed.

On Saturday, Orange County dropped a 6-0 decision to the Langley Eagles in the game for the bronze medal.

Green wasn’t available for that one because his other job took precedence. That night, the Canucks dropped a 4-3 decision to the visiting Los Angeles Kings.


The Tri-City Americans will be without F Michael Rasmussen for up to eight weeks with a TriCity30wrist injury that required surgery. Interestingly, the news wasn’t reported by anyone close to the Americans. Instead, it was reported by Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. . . . The Detroit Red Wings selected Rasmussen in the first round, ninth overall, of the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . “He could have waited till the end of the season, but he was tired of playing in pain,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland told St. James. “We decided on surgery now because on the short end, he’ll be back some time in late Janurary; on the long end, sometime in February.” . . . Rasmussen, who has signed with the Red Wings, first injured the wrist late in the 2016-17 regular season. On March 2, with Rasmussen not having played since Feb. 1, the Americans revealed that he had a “fractured wrist” but that the injury wouldn’t “require surgery as the fracture is healing on its own.” . . . This season, the 6-foot-6 Rasmussen has 16 goals and 15 assists in 22 games.


In the OHL, the Soo Greyhounds ran their winning streak to 23 with a 4-3 shootout victory over the visiting Guelph Storm last night. The Greyhounds had made it 22 in a row with a 6-5 victory over the visiting Flint Firebirds on Friday night. . . . The Kitchener Rangers hold the OHL record for longest winning streak (25 games), set from Jan. 11, 1984, through March 16, 1984. . . . The London Knights went 31 games without a loss in 2004-05 (29 victories, two ties), but the longest winning streak contained in that was 18 games.


While a lot of the hockey world was intent on what was going on at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo on Friday, a neat story was being written in Edmonton.

That’s where Jeff Glass, a 32-year-old goaltender, played the first NHL game of his career. He stopped 42 shots, including 18 in the first period, as his Chicago Blackhawks beat the Oilers, 4-3 in OT.

WHL fans will remember Glass from three terrific seasons (2002-05) with the Kootenay Ice. In those seasons, he was 2.45, .909; 2.35, .911; and 1.76, .932. Yes, he was terrific.

Tim Campbell of nhl.com has more on Glass and that first game right here.