Thunderbirds drop two after racist incident . . . COVID-19 takes chunks out of Fighting Irish, two baseball leagues, NHL


Earlier this week, Geoff Baker, a reporter with the Seattle Times, was writing about Brendan Lee, a forward with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips who was born Everettin Seattle and is of Chinese heritage.

Baker wrote about how Lee was “jolted” by last week’s mass shooting in Atlanta in which six women of Asian descent were killed, something that brought stories of anti-Asian harassment to the forefront.

Baker wrote: “Lee said neither he nor his immediate family have felt targeted, though he’s aware of fears within the broader Asian community. He hopes there’s some role he can play, through hockey, in projecting a positive image of Asian Americans — within that diverse community and beyond.”

Lee told Baker: “It’s horrible what happened. And with the platform I have, I think I can be an influencer. Maybe have somebody look up to me that’s a kid, who can see an American Asian playing hockey — and that it’s a kid from Seattle.”

Let’s move ahead to Thursday now, when Baker was writing this:

“Two teenage forwards with the Seattle Thunderbirds major junior hockey Seattleteam have been released for the remainder of the season for a racial-taunting incident in which the squad’s lone Black player alleged he was called a racial slur and had a banana waved in front of him.

“The players, age 17 and 18, had been suspended the Thunderbirds’ first two Western Hockey League games last weekend after team officials investigated a complaint of racial harassment against a 17-year-old teammate.

“On Thursday the team informed the suspended players they were no longer on the team and would be flown back home to Canada shortly, and removed their names from the roster.”

Baker reported that the Thunderbirds have said neither player will be back next season, although the team will maintain their rights and could trade them.

“Both are awaiting further instructions on when they can return to Canada due to tightened border restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he wrote. “The 17-year-old is from Alberta, the 18-year-old from British Columbia.”

The victim texted Baker: “I am very disappointed with what happened, but I appreciate and respect the way my organization has handled this situation. That’s all I am going to say, and now I just want to focus on our season at hand.”

Baker’s wonderful story on Lee is right here.

Baker’s story involving the Thunderbirds is right here.


Oh boy, is the general manager of the Ottawa Senators going to be sorry about losing his cool in this age of social media, or what? This was Pierre Dorion after his club lost in OT to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night . . .


The Regina Pats broke a 1-1 tie with four straight goals en route to a 5-3 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders in the Regina hub on Thursday. . . . F Carson WHL2Denomie, who went into this developmental season with 35 goals in 198 regular-season games, scored his seventh goal in as many games for the Pats (2-3-2). He also had an assist. . . . Regina F Connor Bedard had two assists, giving the 15-year-old 12 points as he has started his WHL career on a seven-game point streak. . . . F Cole Carrier also had a goal and an assist for Regina, with D Ryker Evans adding two assists. . . . The Raiders (2-3-2) are winless in four games (0-3-1) after opening this developmental season by earning five points in their first three games. . . . Regina lost its captain, F Logan Nijhoff, to a kneeing major at 5:24 of the third period. . . . Prince Albert was without its captain, D Kaiden Guhle, for a fifth straight game due to a hand injury. . . . The Raiders dressed only one goaltender, Carter Serhyenko, because Cam Paddock is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. . . . Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, told Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW that “we had a goalie from another team (WInnipeg Ice) in the stands, so if something (had) happened to Carter, he would have dressed. It’s part of the bubble. It’s the way it is.” . . .

In the night’s other game, F Ridly Greig’s first goal of the season, shorthanded at 4:11 of the third period, broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Brandon Wheat Kings a 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Ice. . . . F Connor Geekie gave the Ice a 1-0 lead in the first period, but Brandon scored three times — F Nate Danielson, F Rylen Roersma and F Jake Chiasson — in a span of 2:17 before the period ended. . . . F Peyton Krebs and F Owen Pederson pulled the Ice (5-2-0) even, the latter scoring on a PP at 2:09 of the third. . . . Winnipeg had won five straight since opening with a 3-2 loss to Brandon on March 13. . . . The Wheat Kings (5-2-1) were without D Braden Schneider for a second straight game. He is listed as day-to-day with what is believed to be an injury to his right knee.


Scarecrow


It was a big day for COVID-19 on the sporting front Thursday. First, it took the Notre Dame Fighting Irish right out of the chase for the NCAA men’s hockey title. And then it took big chunks out of two summer baseball leagues that used to feature lots of U.S. college players. Oh, and it got into the coach staff of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres for the second time this season . . .

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The Fighting Irish were to have taken part in the NCAA Northeast Regional hockey tournament in Albany, N.Y., this weekend. But they have had to withdraw due to COVID-19 protocols. . . . According to head coach Jeff Jackson, “With multiple positives and contact tracing it became clear that for the safety of our team and others in the tournament we could not proceed.” . . . Notre Dame was to have played the Boston College Eagles on Saturday. That game has been declared no-contest and the Eagles moved directly into Sunday’s regional final against either St. Cloud State or Boston U. . . . Interestingly, Notre Dame was in the tournament as a late invitee after St. Lawrence U had to withdraw because of COVID-19 protocols. Notre Dame couldn’t be replaced because the NCAA had set a Monday night deadline for replacements to be made.

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The pandemic has forced quite a shuffling of the deck with the Western Canadian Baseball League. . . . The Edmonton Prospects, Lethbridge Bulls, Okotoks Dawgs (two teams) and Sylvan Lake Gulls have said that they will play the 2021 season using only Canadian players. . . . According to the league, the Fort McMurray Giants and Medicine Hat Mavericks continue to discuss their options. . . . At the same time, “due to the COVID-19 restrictions, border issues and the uncertainty of any changes,” five other teams — the Brooks Bombers, Moose Jaw Miller Express, Regina Red Sox, Swift Current 57’s and Weyburn Beavers — have decided to sit out the 2021 season. . . . At the same time, Taylor Shire of Global Regina tweeted that the “Yorkton Carinals and Melville Millionaires have left the WCBL and, according to WCBL president Kevin Kvame they both ceased operations.” . . .

From a news release issued by the Red Sox:

“Player and staff testing protocols will need to be in place at an estimated cost of $40,000 per team, as well as quarantine costs amounting to $2,000 per player. Interprovincial travel continues to be restricted, and the US/Canada border remains closed at this time. The WCBL is exploring options for an ‘All Canadian League’ in Alberta, which would also be subject to quarantine, testing, and border restrictions, presenting a challenge for the league. The Saskatchewan franchises have made the decision to defer the resumption of operations until 2022.”

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Marker

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The West Coast League, a wood-bat summer baseball league, has revised its 2021 schedule in order to remove international travel from its regular season, but it is leaving open the possibility of a playoff format involving teams from both Canada and the U.S. . . . The WCL, which features 15 teams, didn’t play in 2020. . . . In Canada, the Kelowna Falcons have opted out of the 2021 season, leaving the Victoria HarbourCats to play against three first-year teams — the Edmonton Riverhawks, Kamloops NorthPaws and Nanaimo NightOwls. . . . American teams in the league are the Bend Elks, Corvallis Knights, Cowlitz Black Bears, Portland Pickles, Ridgefield Raptors, Walla Walla Sweets, Bellingham Bells, Port Angeles Lefties, Wenatchee Apple Sox and Yakima Valley Pippins.

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Kevyn Adams, the Buffalo Sabres’ general manager, served as head coach on Thursday night as the team lost 4-0 to the Penguins in Pittsburgh. That’s nhl2because Don Granato, who was named interim head coach last week after Ralph Krueger was fired, and interim assistant coach Matt Ellis were in self-isolation. . . . This is the second time this season that the Sabres’ coaching staff was impacted by the virus. Earlier, Krueger tested positive and missed some time. . . . The Sabres have six victories this season; they have been shut out seven times. . . .

Meanwhile, the New York Rangers had assistants Jacques Martin and Greg Brown back behind the bench for last night’s 8-3 victory over the host Philadelphia Flyers. But head coach David Quinn has yet to be cleared to return from COVID-19 protocol, so former WHL player/coach Kris Knoblauch continues to work as head coach. Under normal conditions, Knoblauch is the head coach of the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Rangers’ AHL affiliate. . . . Knoblauch will stay with the Rangers at least through Saturday’s game in Philly. . . .

Marc Bergevin, the general manager of the Montreal Canadiens, expects his club to return to the ice next week. He said Thursday that one player had tested positive — forwards Joel Armia and Jesperi Kotkaniemi — and that it was a variant. . . . So far, the Canadiens have had four games postponed — three against the Edmonton Oilers and one with the Ottawa Senators. . . . If all goes well, the Canadiens will return to practice on Monday and play in Ottawa on Tuesday. . . . The NHL now has postponed 41 games because of COVID-19.


And how are things going out west? Hey, thanks for asking . . .

Justin McElroy, CBC Vancouver — 800 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C., the highest number since the very height of the second wave, as the province’s trendline is going up VERY sharply now. . . . Active cases jump by almost 300, now the highest since January 8. . . . Five new deaths and hospitalizations up.

Oh, hey, things are going great in Alberta, too . . .

CBC News — Alberta reports 764 new cases of COVID-19 and 3 more deaths. The province confirms 191 variants of concern cases. 294 people are in hospital, 55 in ICU. . . . Variant cases now make up more than 20 per cent of the total.

Party on, Garth!


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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: The Spokane Chiefs have promoted Chris Baird to director of hockey operations. He had been assistant director of hockey operations since 2017. He first was hired by the Chiefs in 2006-07 as a part-time video co-ordinator. . . . The AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders have named Adam Manah as general manager — he will continue as head coach — and Jeff Woywitka as assistant GM. Manah has been with the Crusaders since 2015 when he was associate coach. He took over as assistant GM and head coach in 2016. Woywitka has been associate coach since 2016. The moves were necessitated by the firing of general manager Kyle Chase on March 19. Chase, who had been part of the organization since 2004, had been GM since 2016. Shane Jones of the Sherwood Park News has more on Chase’s dismissal right here.


Anger

2020 WJC gold-medal game for less than $27? . . . Nine WHLers to U17 camp. . . . Raiders, Giants draw first blood


MacBeth

F Andrej Kudrna (Vancouver, Red Deer, 2008-11) has signed a one-year contract extension with Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, he had 11 goals and 14 assists in 52 games.


ThisThat

Tickets for the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship are scheduled to go on sale on 2020WJCApril 24. The tournament is to be held in Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic, opening on Dec. 26 and concluding on Jan. 5. . . . Ticket prices for the gold-medal game will start at €17.50 — on Friday, Cdn$1 equalled 0.66 Euro; it also equalled 17.07 Czech Koruna. . . . Games will be played in the Ostravar Arena, which has a capacity of 7,800, and the Week Arena in Trinec, with a capacity of 4,200. . . . Ticket prices are the same in both facilities. . . .

From a news release:

“Thanks to the unobstructed sightlines from all seats at both arenas, all tickets are available at a single price level for each game. Tickets for group-stage games are in three price categories — 290 CZK (€11.30), 240 CZK (€9.30) and 140 CZK (€5.40).

“For the same price of 290 CZK (€11.30), tickets to all four quarter-final games will be available in both cities: two in Ostrava and two in Trinec. The last two days of the tournament will take place in Ostrava — the semi-finals and medal games will be played in Ostravar Arena.

“Tickets for both semi-finals will be available for 290 CZK (€11.30), and then fans can watch the bronze-medal game for 350 CZK (€13.60) and the championship final for 450 CZK (€17.50). Tickets for games of the best-of-three relegation series that will also take place at Ostravar Arena will be sold for 90 CZK (€3.50).” . . . About 25 per cent of tickets have been blocked off for the IIHF, teams and media, and for technical purposes. . . .

Tickets will be available online at 2020.worldjuniors.hockey.

In Canadian dollars, a ticket to the gold-medal game will set you back about $26.

The 2019 tournament was held in Victoria and Vancouver. A ticket package for games in Victoria (14 games) started at $399 ($28.50 a game), with a Vancouver package (19 games) starting at $650 ($34.21 a game).

Ticket prices for the 2019 tournament were markedly lower than the 2018 tournament, which was held in Buffalo, and the 2017 event (Montreal/Toronto). Swaths of empty seats at those tournaments resulted in organizers rethinking ticket prices before the 2019 WJC.

(A tip of the Taking Note fedora to Matt Smith — “a long-time reader from Portland who has been living in Prague, Czech Republic, for the past five years” — for steering me to this information. Yes, he will be in attendance at the 2019 WJC “for its entirety.”)


There are nine WHLers among the 23 players invited by Hockey Canada to attend a Canadaselection camp next week prior to the 2019 IIHF U18 World Championship. . . . That tournament will be held in Örnsköldsvik and Umeå, Sweden, from April 18 through April 28. . . . The 23 Canadian players will gather in Kisakallio, Finland, next week for a training camp prior to two pre-tournament games. The camp will run from Monday through Friday, with exhibition games set for April 14 (Belarus, in Umeå) and April 15 (Russia, in Örnsköldsvik). . . .

The camp roster features three goaltenders, seven defencemen and 13 forwards. . . . The WHLers invited to camp are G Taylor Gauthier, Prince George Cougars; G Dylan Garand, Kamloops Blazers; D Braden Schneider, Brandon Wheat Kings; D Kaedan Korczak, Kelowna Rockets; D Daemon Hunt, Moose Jaw Warriors; F Brayden Tracey, Moose Jaw; F Dylan Cozens, Lethbridge Hurricanes; F Connor Zary, Kamloops; and F Peyton Krebs, Winnipeg Ice. . . . Dave Struch, the head coach of the Regina Pats, is an assistant coach with the U18 team. . . . Canada hasn’t won this tournament since 2013.

The training camp roster is right here.


The Spokane Chiefs have extended the contracts of three members of their hockey staff through the 2020-21 season. . . . Joseph Hurley, the team’s athletic trainer and conditioning coach, is finishing up his second season with the Chiefs. He also has worked with the NAHL’s Amarillo Bulls, the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers and USA Ball Hockey. . . .  Chris Baird, the assistant director of hockey operations, began with the Chiefs as a video co-ordinator in 2006-07. He has been in his present full-time position since August 2017. . . . Sports psychologist Jon Hammermeister has been an Eastern Washington U professor since 1999.


D Jared Freadrich of the Portland Winterhawks has signed on with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears. Freadrich, who doesn’t have any junior eligibility remaining, had 15 goals and 33 assists 67 games with Portland this season. . . . He also played with the Regina Pats, Red Deer Rebels and Victoria Royals during a WHL career in which he totalled 38 goals and 93 assists in 263 regular-season games.


D Calen Addison of the Lethbridge Hurricanes will spend the remainder of this season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. Addison, who will turn 19 on Thursday, was a second-round pick by Pittsburgh in the NHL’s 2018 draft but has yet to sign with them. . . . This season, his third with Lethbridge, he had 11 goals and 54 assists in 67 games. He added two goals and seven assists in seven playoff games.


D Aaron Hyman, who completed his junior eligibility with the Tri-City Americans this season, has signed with the ECHL’s Kalamazoo Wings. Hyman, who also played with the Calgary Hitmen, Seattle Thunderbirds and Regina Pats, had 16 goals and 66 assists in 232 career regular-season games. . . . This season, he had 10 goals and 40 assists in 68 games as he started with the Pats and finished with the Americans. . . . Hyman played in back-to-back Memorial Cup tournaments — with Seattle and then Regina.


G Joel Hofer of the Portland Winterhawks will finish his season with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage. Hofer, 18, was a fourth-round pick by the Blues in the NHL’s 2018 draft. He started this season with the Swift Current Broncos, before being dealt to Portland. All told, he was 15-29-3, 3.72, .906.


Chris Murray, a former NHL/WHL player, is the new head coach of the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. Murray, 44, played three seasons with the Kamloops Blazers, helping the team to Memorial Cup titles in 1991 and 1994. He went on to a pro career that included stints with the Montreal Canadiens, Hartford Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes, Ottawa Senators, Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars. . . . A city firefighter in Kamloops these days, Murray just completed his fifth season as a part-time assistant coach with the WHL Blazers. He also was the head coach of the minor midget Blazers. That position will be filled by Crosby Dorais of Kamloops.


USA Hockey named 23 players — two goaltenders, eight defencemen and 13 forwards — USAhockeyto its U-17 team on Friday. These players, all born in 2003, are expected to join USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program and compete as the national U-17 team. The NTDP is a two-year residency program based in Plymouth, Mich. . . . The roster includes two players whose WHL rights belong to the Portland Winterhawks, and one who was drafted by the Prince George Cougars. . . . D Ty Murchison of Corona, Calif., played for the Los Angeles Jr. Kings U-16 team. The Winterhawks selected him in the third round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. He hasn’t signed with them, nor has he made an NCAA commitment. F Chaz Lucius of Grant, Minn., has committed to the U of Minnesota for 2021-22. The Winterhawks selected him in the fourth round of the 2018 bantam draft. This season, Lucius had 39 goals and 23 assists in 13 games with the U-15 team at Gentry Academy in St. Paul, Minn. . . . Prince George selected D Aidan Hreschuk of Long Beach, Calif., in the fifth round of the 2018 bantam draft. He also played for the U16 Los Angeles Jr. Kings. Hreschuk has committed to Boston College for 2021-22. . . .

There are a couple of other players on USA Hockey’s U-17 team with WHL connections. . . .  F Tyler Boucher of Scottsdale, Ariz., is the son of former Tri-City Americans G Brian Boucher (1994-97). . . . F Colby Saganiuk of Valencia, Pa., is the grandson of Rocky Saganiuk, who played with the Kamloops Chiefs and Lethbridge Broncos (1975-77) and was the head coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes in 1995-96.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: Two second-round series began on Friday night. . . . In Prince Albert, the Raiders got three goals from F Sean Montgomery and a goal and three helpers from F Brett Leason in beating the Saskatoon Blades, 6-1. They’ll play Game 2 in Prince Albert on Sunday. The first three games of this series are being televised by Sportsnet. . . . In Langley, B.C., G Trent Miner recorded the shutout as the Vancouver Giants beat the Victoria Royals, 3-0. They’ll play again tonight in Langley. . . .

The other two series get going tonight, with the Edmonton Oil Kings — the Edmonton Oilers’ logo at centre ice in Rogers Place is gone — playing host to the Calgary Hitmen, and the Spokane Chiefs meeting the Silvertips in Everett.

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FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Prince Albert duo of F Brett Leason and F Sean Montgomery proved too much in the PrinceAlbertearly going as the Raiders beat the visiting Saskatoon Blades in Game 1 of their second-round series. . . . They’ll play Game 2 in Prince Albert on Sunday, then head to Saskatoon for games on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Montgomery and Leason were in on the Raiders’ first three goals. Montgomery scoring twice, with Leason getting a goal and two helpers. Montgomery later completed his first career WHL hat trick. . . . Montgomery (2) gave the home boys a 1-0 lead at 3:47 of the first period. . . . Saskatoon F Chase Wouters (2) tied it at 5:24. . . . Leason (3) broke the tie at 12:07, and Montgomery (3) upped the lead to 3-1 at 11:39 of the second period. . . . The Raiders went ahead 4-1 when F Parker Kelly (2) scored at 17:42. . . . Montgomery (4) completed his hat trick at 5:51 of the third period, on a PP. . . . Montgomery’s first hat trick came in his 362nd career game — 345 in the regular season and 17 playoff games. . . . It also was Prince Albert’s first three-goal playoff game since F Milan Kraft did it on March 30, 2000. On that night, Kraft scored the game’s last three goals, two of them via the PP, as the Raiders won, 3-2, in Swift Current. F Layne Ulmer had both Swift Current goals. That was Game 1 in a first-round series that the Broncos won, 4-2. . . . Kelly (3) gave the Raiders a 6-1 lead on a PP at 13:40, with Leason earning his third assist, and fourth point, of the night. . . . The Raiders were 2-6 on the PP; the Blades were 0-2. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 23 shots for Prince Albert. He is 5-0, 1.60, .925 in these playoffs. . . . Saskatoon G Nolan Maier was beaten five times on 36 shots in 47:04. Koen MacInnes came on in relief to make his WHL debut with the Blades trailing, 5-1. He gave up one goal on three shots. . . . G Dorrin Luding (undisclosed) was among Saskatoon’s scratches. MacInnes, 17, was dressed as Maier’s backup. MacInnes, from Burnaby, B.C., was a second-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft. He played this season for the Burnaby Winter Club’s prep team.


G Trent Miner turned aside 15 shots to help the Vancouver Giants to a 3-0 victory over Vancouverthe Victoria Royals in Langley, B.C. . . . They’ll play Game 2 tonight in Langley. . . . Games 3 and 4 are scheduled for Victoria on Tuesday and Thursday. . . . F Davis Koch (2) gave the Giants a 1-0 lead at 13:44 of the first period, on a PP. . . . Koch, who had a goal and nine assists in the first round, now leads the WHL’s playoff points race, with 11. . . . The Giants went ahead 2-0 at 5:50 of the third period as F Jared Dmytriw (2) scored. . . . F Dawson Holt (2) made it 3-0 with an empty-netter at 18:12. . . . Dmytriw also had an assist, while D Bowen Byram had two. . . . Vancouver was 1-3 on the PP; Victoria was 0-3. . . . Miner, who turned 18 on Feb. 5, was 24-5-2, 1.98, .924, with three shutouts, in the regular season. In the playoffs, he is 3-1, 1.51, .938 as he shares time with David Tendeck. . . . The Royals got 25 saves from G Griffen Outhouse. . . . Vancouver F Justin Sourdif played for the first time since he was injured late in Game 1 of a first-round series with the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . As expected, the Giants scratched F Aidan Barfoot. He was injured in Game 4 against Seattle. . . . F Kody McDonald (suspended) and F Kade Oliver (shoulder) were among Victoria’s scratches. Oliver’s season is over.


Tweetoftheday

Scattershooting: Blades’ voice has idea to honour Tyler Bieber . . . Guy Charron? Call him commissioner . . . Virden up 2-0 in MJHL final

Scattershooting

Les Lazaruk, the veteran radio voice of the Saskatoon Blades, caught a ride with Blades assistant coach Jerome Engele on Thursday morning and the two headed for Humboldt.

They went to the Elgar Petersen Arena for the funeral of Broncos’ radio voice Tyler Bieber, who was killed in Friday’s bus crash.

While in the seats, just prior to the service starting, Lazaruk had an idea.

“One other thing I feel as I sit and look at Tyler Bieber’s spot in the 107.5 Bolt FM broadcast booth,” he tweeted, “. . . I want to honour Tyler’s memory by calling Humboldt Broncos game on Bolt-FM. For free! No talent fee! No gas money! No meal money! I don’t care where the game is.

“There are 58 regular-season games in 2018-19 and I hope 57 other broadcasters step up and do the same in Tyler’s memory.”

If there is a way to make this work, you can bet on it happening.

Chris Cuthbert, Gord Miller, Peter Loubardias, Phil Andrews, Kelly Moore, Shawn Mullin, Ryan Switzer, James Gallo, Troy Gillard, Dave Randorf, John Fraser, Ben Holden, Joey Kenward, Tim Edmonds, Jason Gregor, Lee Jones, Tony Brar, Rob Mahon, Nick Gismondi, Brendan Parker, Peter Mills, Pete Krupsky and Cameron Birnie were among those to respond in a resoundingly positive fashion.


Tyler Bieber was a huge fan of the NFL’s New England Patriots.

Upon hearing that, Robert Kraft, the Patriots’ owner, called Bieber’s family — he ended up leaving a voicemail expressing condolences, according to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan — and also made sure that flowers were sent.



Bob Wilkie was a defenceman with the 1986-87 Swift Current Broncos. He survived the Broncos’ bus crash on Dec. 30, 1986, and went on to win the 1989 Memorial Cup with SCBroncosthem.

Wilkie later co-authored a book about the Broncos and that accident — Sudden Death: The Incredible Saga of the 1986 Swift Current Broncos.

On Sunday, he was in Saskatoon and Humboldt as he, Sheldon Kennedy, Peter Soberlak and Darren Kruger worked to spread hope among those impacted by the Humboldt bus crash.

This week, Wilkie dug up a souvenir of that 1989 Memorial Cup championship.



Elsewhere . . .

The Spokane Chiefs have signed three members of their organization to contract extensions, the lengths of which weren’t released. Assistant coach Scott Burt, equipment manager Tim Lindblade and Chris Baird, the assistant director of hockey operations, all have new deals. . . . Burt is preparing for his sixth season with the Chiefs. . . . Lindblade joined the Chiefs for the 2013-14 season. . . . Baird just completed his first season as equipment manager after 10 seasons as the Chiefs’ video co-ordinator.


Jeff Wagner is the new general manager and head coach of the junior B Fernie Ghostriders of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He had been assistant GM/associate coach with the KIJHL’s Creston Valley Thunder Cats. . . . Wagner replaces Craig Mohr, whose contract wasn’t renewed after the Ghostriders were first-round playoff casualties. This was his fourth season as the club’s GM/head coach.


Guy Charron, a former NHLer who did a couple of turns as the head coach of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, is the new commissioner of the Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League. . . . You can bet that Charron will be a busy man because, as Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week writes, “The league has never been short on fiery personalities and hot-button issues — and this year is no different.” . . . Hastings has more right here.


JUST NOTES: If you’re following the WHL playoffs, you will be aware that the Tri-City Americans completed a four-game sweep of the Victoria Royals on Wednesday night. The Americans play in the U.S. Division and were a wild-card entry into the playoffs. They have swept the B.C. Division’s top two teams — the Kelowna Rockets, who finished atop the division, and the Royals, who were second. Does this mean the Americans get to hoist a B.C. Division championship pennant prior to next season? . . . In the MJHL, Rylee Zimmer had a goal and two assists to help the host Virden Oil Capitals to a 4-3 victory over the Steinbach Pistons. Zimmer tied the game at 14:07 of the third period and drew an assist on Landyn Cochrane’s winner at 15:48. . . . Virden won the opener, 2-1, in Steinbach on April 6. Game 2 had been scheduled for Sunday, but was postponed out of respect for the Humboldt Broncos. Game 3 is scheduled for Saturday in Steinbach. . . . The winner of the MJHL championship will meet the SJHL champ, either the Estevan Bruins or Nipawin Hawks, in the ANAVET Cup series. The SJHL final opens Saturday in Nipawin. . . .


A really interesting hockey book was published a year ago, but somehow I missed it. That book is Father Bauer and the Great Experiment: The Genesis of Canadian Olympic Hockey. I came upon it last month, and simply devoured it. Written by Greg Oliver, it details all that went on as Canadian hockey moved into the national team era and beyond. When I was growing up in northern Manitoba, among my hockey heroes were the likes of Roger Bourbonnais, Terry O’Malley, Barry MacKenzie, Fran Huck, Seth Martin, Ken Broderick, Jean Cusson et al. These were the Canadian players who would venture to Europe and get in the face of the great Soviet machine. The stories of all that went into getting the national program off the ground — no, Clarence Campbell’s NHL didn’t like it at all — all are right here. Great stuff!

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