WHL’s Final Four all set . . . Thunderbirds complete comeback, oust Winterhawks . . . Kamloops next up for Seattle

Dan Russell, the longtime host of the Vancouver-based radio show Sportstalk, has written a book. Oh, has he! . . . While it’s the story of his life and career to this point, Russell doesn’t pull any punches. There are lots of anecdotes and a ton(ne) of behind-the-scenes stories. . . . You are able to purchase Kindle and soft-cover editions at Amazon and a hard-cover edition is on the way. . . . Full disclosure — I may have provided Russell with a helping editing hand, an ear and, at times, a shoulder. Despite all that, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed in Russell’s story.


Router


And then there were four . . .

WHLplayoffs2022The WHL’s 2022-23 playoffs are down to the Final Four — the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice and No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings in the Eastern Conference, and the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers and the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds in the Western Conference. . . . The Thunderbirds beat the Winterhawks, 6-3, in Portland on Tuesday night to win that series, 4-3. Seattle trailed, 3-1, only a few days ago. . . .

So . . . the playoffs now take time off while the WHL holds a couple of its drafts. Game action is to resume on Friday with the opening games in both conference finals — the Oil Kings will be in Winnipeg and the Thunderbirds will spend some time in Kamloops.

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TUESDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference

In Portland, the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds scored three second-period goals in a span of 2:11 and went on to beat the No. 3 Winterhawks, 6-3, in Game 7 of Seattletheir conference semifinal. . . . Seattle became the 16th team in WHL history to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a series. . . . The Thunderbirds last appeared in a Western Conference final in 2017 when they went on to win the franchise’s first league championship. . . . They will open the conference final with games against the No. 2 Blazers in Kamloops on Friday and Saturday. . . . Games 3 and 4 are scheduled for Kent, Wash., on May 24 and 25. If necessary, they’ll play in Kamloops on May 27, in Kent on May 29 and in Kamloops, again, on May 31. . . . Last night, F Nico Myatovic (2) got Seattle started with a shorthanded goal at 19:05 of the first period. . . . The Thunderbirds really took control early in the second period with those quick goals. D Jeremy Hanzel scored his first two playoff goals at 5:48 and 7:20, and F Lucas Ciona (6) made it 4-0 at 7:59. . . . The Winterhawks halved the deficit with a pair of PP goals — F Jaydon Dureau (1) struck at 10:03 and F Robbie Fromm-Delorme (3) at 19:09. . . . Seattle F Lukas Svejkovsky (7) pretty much iced it when he upped the lead to 5-1 at 11:51 of the third period. . . . Portland brought G Taylor Gauthier to the bench as it went on the PP with 5:22 left in the third period and it paid off as Fromm-Delorme (4) scored at 15:50. . . . Seattle F Reid Schaefer (5) iced it for good with an empty-netter at 17:22. . . . G Thomas Milic, who was especially solid over the final three games, stopped 33 shots in this one, nine more than Gauthier. . . . Portland was 3-for-6 on the PP; Seattle was 0-for-4. . . .

The last time a WHL team erased a 3-1 deficit to win a series? It happened twice in the spring of 2017 — and remember that there weren’t any playoffs in 2020 or 2021. Anyway, in 2017, the Lethbridge Hurricanes beat the Red Deer Rebels, who had led 3-1, in a first-round series, and, in an Eastern Conference semifinal, the Regina Pats got past the Swift Current Broncos after trailing 3-1. . . . That same Pats squad went on to lose to the Thunderbirds in the championship final. . . .

Kamloops and Seattle met three times earlier this season, with the Blazers winning twice. . . . They faced off twice in November in Seattle, with Kamloops winning, 5-1, on the 20th and, 4-1, on the 24th. . . . They played in Kamloops on Dec. 10, with the Thunderbirds winning, 6-1.



Chris Branch, writing The Athletic Pulse for Tuesday, sums up the biggest story going into the weekend’s PGA Championship:

Terror reigns in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this week. Fans at the PGA Championship, which starts Thursday, will have to pay the following prices for beer:

Michelob Ultra: $18

Stella Artois: $19

People are understandably flabbergasted. We are used to paying more on gameday as sports fans, but this feels like too much. . . . Who’s paying $19 for a Stella anywhere?

Sadly — and as a cheap-beer lover, I don’t say this lightly — the beers are simply suffering from a branding problem. Nowhere on the menu does it say how many ounces are in that beer — they’re 25-ounce brews. Still expensive at about $9 for a 12-ounce beer, but not the rip-off you think it is. Just a little more expensive than the average beer price at NFL stadiums.

The $16 chicken caesar salad, though? That’s a bridge too far.


Bill and Denise Burke, the owners of the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, announced on OHLTuesday that they have sold the franchise to Darren DeDobbelaer, a businessman from Brantford, Ont. . . . The transaction awaits the stamp of approval from the OHL’s board of governors. . . . DeDobbelaer owns the junior A Brantford 99ers and the junior B Brantford Bandits. . . . The Burkes had owned the franchise for 15 years. . . . The Burkes purchased the Mississauga IceDogs and moved the franchise to St. Catharines where it has operated as the Niagara IceDogs. . . . From Luke Edwards of the St. Catharines Standard: “While the team had made an impact and was visible throughout Niagara, the franchise also experienced some turbulent waters earlier this year. Billy and Joey Burke, the team’s head coach and general manager, respectively, were given two-year suspensions after the league learned about a group chat where the pair made comments that violated the league’s harassment and abuse/diversity policy. The pair are also part-owners of the team. . . .”


Needs


COVIDFrom the New York Daily News: Eric Clapton, who has railed against lockdowns and vaccines, has tested positive for COVID-19. The 77-year-old English singer has canceled two upcoming concerts, Tuesday in Zurich and Wednesday in Milan, after being diagnosed, his team announced Monday.

From The New York Times: Apple, in a blow to its efforts to restore normalcy to its operations, has suspended its requirement that employees return to the office this month for at least three days a week because of a resurgence of Covid-19 cases.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Ryan Ward is the new head coach of the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms. He had been the director of player development with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm. Ward replaces Brad Patterson, who had been with the Phantoms since 2009-10, the franchise’s inaugural season, and had been head coach since 2016-17. . . .

If you have interest in being a junior hockey play-by-play voice, you should know that two BCHL teams — the Merritt Centennials and Salmon Arm Silverbacks — are looking for new radio voices. . . .

In the BCHL last night, the visiting Penticton Vees got a goal from F Stefano Bottini (3) at 2:55 of OT to beat the Nanaimo Clippers, 3-2. . . . The announced attendance was 2,332. . . . The Vees lead the series, 3-0. Game 4 is scheduled for tonight in Nanaimo.


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.

——

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.


Waste

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if spring finally has arrived (sorry, Brandon and area) . . .

scattershooting

F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats will be on the roster when Hockey Canada announces the roster of the team that will play in the IIHF U-18 world HockeyCanadachampionship in Germany later this month. . . . That means he will be reunited with David Struch, who was fired as the Pats’ head coach on Nov. 18 and will be an assistant coach with Team Canada. . . . Bedard and his Pats closed out their WHL regular season on Sunday with a 7-4 victory over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. Bedard put up five points — two goals and three assists — to finish the season with 100 points, including 51 goals, in 62 games. . . . Bedard, who will turn 17 on July 17, is the third 16-year-old in WHL history to score 50 times in one season. F Glen Goodall of the Seattle Thunderbirds scored 63 times in 1986-87, which was his third season in the WHL, while F Dan Lucas of the Victoria Cougars struck 57 times in 1974-75. . . . The U-18 tournament is to run from April 23 through May 1 in Landshut and Kaufbeuren, Germany. . . . I believe that Bedard also is eligible to play in the 2022 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup early in August in Red Deer and the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship, which is scheduled for Aug. 9-20 in Edmonton. . . . As for his future in the WHL, well, there already are rumblings in the hockey world that he could end up with the Blazers if Kamloops wins the right to play host to the 2023 Memorial Cup. Now that would be a trade for the ages!


SUNDAY IN THE WHL:

In Regina, F Connor Bedard ended his season with a flourish, putting up five points as the Pats beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 7-4. . . . Included in Bedard’s effort were his 50th goal and 100th point of the season. He finished with 51 goals. . . . F Tanner Howe (27) snapped a 4-4 tie, on a PP, at 7:15 of the third period. Bedard followed with No. 50, on another PP, at 13:50, then got No. 51 into an empty net at 19:36. . . . Howe’s season shouldn’t be overlooked in all the Bedard hype. Howe, who turned 16 on Nov. 28, finished with 69 points, including 42 assists, in 64 games. . . . F Cole Dubinsky (20) added two goals and an assist for the winners. . . . D Denton Mateychuk (13) score twice for Moose Jaw. . . . The Warriors will meet the Saskatoon Blades in the first round of the playoffs; the Pats didn’t qualify. . . . Regina ended up tied for ninth with the Swift Current Broncos and Calgary Hitmen, each with 59 points, two shy of a playoff spot. . . .

In Calgary, F Alex Thacker’s OT goal gave the Lethbridge Hurricanes a 3-2 victory over the Hitmen. . . . Thacker’s 14th goal came just 19 seconds into extra time. . . . The Hurricanes led this one 2-0 before the first period was 12 minutes old. . . . Calgary F Riley Fiddler-Schultz (28) tied it, on a PP, at 18:27 of the second period. . . . The Hurricanes finished seventh in the Eastern Conference and will meet the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings in the opening round. . . . The Hitmen didn’t qualify.


Osprey
The osprey have arrived back on the South Thompson River east of Kamloops. This happy couple have started rebuilding their nest, while also looking for food. The latter won’t be an issue with lots of fish in the river.

SOME NUMBERS: F Arshdeep Bains of the Red Deer Rebels won the Bob Clarke Trophy as the WHL scoring king with 112 points. He was one of four players with at least 100 points, the others being linemate Ben King (105), F Logan Stankoven (104) of the Kamloops Blazers and F Connor Bedard (100) of the Regina Pats. . . . King led in goals (52), one more than Bedard. . . . Bains was tops in assists (69), five more than D Olen Zellweger of the Everett Silvertips. . . . King finished with 15 game-winning goals, one off the WHL record that was set by F Brian Propp of the Brandon Wheat Kings in 1978-79. . . . G Daniel Hauser of the Winnipeg Ice had the best GAA, at 2.00, while G Taylor Gauthier, who was acquired by the Portland Winterhawks from the Prince George Cougars during the season, was tops in save percentage (.928). . . . Hauser and Dylan Garand of Kamloops led in victories, each with 34. . . . Hauser had a WHL-high eight shutouts. . . .

According to numbers compiled by the WHL, the average attendance for 748 games was 3,203. That’s down from 4,154 for 694 games in 2019-20 and from 4,361 for 748 games in 2018-19. Of course, this season’s numbers are skewed because of pandemic-related restrictions in the early going.


THINKING OUT LOUD: Nothing sums up the end of the race for playoff spots in the WHL’s Western Conference like the Prince George Cougars starting Saturday in seventh place, dropping a 3-1 decision to the Rockets in Kelowna that night, and, despite the loss, moving up to sixth place in the final standings. . . . The Winnipeg Ice won the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s top regular-season team. If the Ice goes on a deep playoff run, will it play all of its home game in what is the smallest arena in the 60-team CHL? The most frequently announced attendance in the Wayne Fleming Arena is 1,621. . . . The playoffs open on Thursday with the Lethbridge Hurricanes visiting the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Because of a Paul McCartney concert in Spokane on April 28, the Chiefs and Kamloops Blazers will open with three games in Kamloops, and then have a break between Game 3 (April 25) and Game 4 (April 29). This is the first stop on the tour, so they will start setting up and staging on April 24. Perhaps the Chiefs can get Sir Paul to hang around and do the anthems before Game 4. Hey, why not? After April 28, he’s off until May 2 in Seattle.


Insomnia


If you’re a baseball fan, you no doubt were disappointed on Wednesday when Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts yanked left-hander Clayton Kershaw, who was throwing a perfect game through seven innings. Kershaw had thrown 80 pitches and the Dodgers held a 7-0 lead over the host Minnesota Twins at the time.

There was a whole lot of indignation on social media, with Roberts getting mostly roasted.

But the best take I saw came from Joe Posnanski, who wrote in part:

“There was no chance in the world that Clayton Kershaw was pitching nine innings on Wednesday in Minnesota. We all knew it. We might not have liked it, might have wished for something else, but I mean, when that game started, if someone had asked you, “What are the chances that Clayton Kershaw throws a nine-inning complete game today?” you would have said: Zero percent.

“Not 1%. Not 0.5%. No: 0.000000000000000%.”

Posnanski went on to point out that Kershaw “finished last season with his elbow barely intact . . . he only began throwing again in January . . . in a shortened spring training, he threw a grand total of 101 pitches . . .” Posnanski also mentioned that Kershaw hadn’t thrown a complete game in almost five years and it was “like 30 degrees with a howling wind at Target Field.”

Posnanski’s complete take is right here.


Google is your friend if you aren’t aware of Tom House and his accomplishments in the world of baseball.


Bacon


Joe Maddon, the manager of the Los Angeles Angeles, ordered up a bases-loaded walk in a Friday game.

How did that work out?

Here’s Joe Posnanski: “Here’s something funny about managing a baseball game: You could do the absolute right thing from a percentage and logic standpoint and have it blow up in your face. And you could do the dumbest thing imaginable for the dumbest reason imaginable and have it work out perfectly.”

His complete take on Maddon’s move is right here, and it’s a great read.



From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Kiara Thomas was arrested and charged with assault in Laurel, Mississippi, for punching an umpire at a 12-year-old girls softball game, WLBT-TV reported. The capper? In her mugshot, Thomas rocks a ‘Mother of the Year’ t-shirt.”

——

Perry, again: “LSU outfielder Gavin Dugas was hit by a pitch 13 times in his first 103 plate appearances this season. Twins scouts love him, saying he’d be a perfect for Target Field.”


Dennys


The Athletic’s Chris Branch reports: “MLB commissioner Rob Manfred gifted every major leaguer a shiny new pair of Bose headphones on Opening Day as a way of saying, ‘I’m sorry for trying to withhold as much money from you as possible’ after a lockout that got particularly nasty at points. At least those pregame playlists will sound crisp now.”

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One more note from Branch: “Jrue Holiday started Milwaukee’s 133-115 loss to Cleveland on (April 10), his 67th game this season, but didn’t stick around for long. Seconds after the opening tip, Holiday intentionally fouled Cavaliers guard Darius Garland, exited the game and never came back. Why? Holiday’s game total triggered a $306,000 bonus in his contract. That’s $38,250 per second of play. Not bad.”

The aforementioned Dwight Perry chimed in with: “Which pencils out to a tidy $136.8 million an hour.”


Headline at The Beaverton — Canada to distribute remaining vaccines through “Roll Up the Rim to Win” contest.

One more from The Beaverton — Study finds cycling healthiest way to get hit by a car.


Headline at TheOnion.com — Climate report finds Antarctica could support multiple golf courses by 2050.


It was just a week ago when I mentioned in this space that OF Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins was capable of having an MVP-type season if only he could stay healthy. . . . Well, he went down in the Twins’ 8-4 victory over the Red Sox in Boston on Friday afternoon. He left the game in the first inning with soreness in his right knee, and now is likely to miss at least a week.


Manure


If you’re a regular in these parts, you know that my wife, Dorothy, is with us today because of a kidney transplant. And now she is preparing to take part in the annual Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year. . . . The 2022 Kidney Walk will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to be on her team by sponsoring her, you are able to do that right here.

——

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.


Feta

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