Alscher latest WHLer with NHL deal . . . Former Pats start gets head-coaching gig . . . Ice’s lead now four points

There was a staredown on Shuswap Road east of Kamloops on Monday afternoon. This guy and his three pals saw me coming, had a meeting and chose to send an emissary to greet me. No, he wasn’t about to move. So I lost and went around. BTW, there were two more just over the embankment to the left, so it’s a good thing I didn’t try anything. And as I moved to the left and drove past, I swear I heard that front guy laughing at me.

While I’m sure we’re all familiar with teams having minor hockey players, especially the youngest ones, on the ice during intermissions, the Saskatoon Blades went the other way on Sunday during a game against the visiting Prince Albert Raiders. The Blades had the old-timers on the ice and, yes, a good time was had by all. It was part of a Seniors Night promotion. Well done!


D Marek Alscher of the Portland Winterhawks has agreed to terms with the NHL’s Florida Panthers on a three-year entry-level contract. Alscher, 18, was a third-round selection in the NHL’s 2022 draft; that was Florida’s first selection in that draft. . . . From Czechia, Alscher has seven goals and 14 assists in 54 games as a sophomore. Last season, he put up 16 points, seven of them goals, in 61 games. . . . The contract calls for salaries of US$775,000 in each of the first two years and $855,000 in the third year. The minor league salary would be $82,500. And there are three $95,000 signing bonuses. . . .

Former WHLer Josh Holden is the new head coach of HC Davos of Switzerland’s National League. Holden, 45, fills a vacancy created a couple of months ago when Christian Wohlwend was released. . . . Holden got a two-year contract. . . . Waltteri Immonen and Glen Metropolit will be staying on as assistant coaches. . . . Holden, who is from Calgary, played 13 seasons in Switzerland (2005-18) before spending the past five seasons as an assistant coach with Zug. He also was an assistant coach with Canada’s Spengler Cup entry in December. Holden played four seasons (1994-98) with the WHL’s Regina Pats. . . .

F Carson Golder of the Kelowna Rockets drew a four-game suspension for that Friday night headshot on F Samuel Honzek of the Vancouver Giants. Golder sat out Saturday and Sunday games, and won’t play Wednesday in Prince George or Friday in Kamloops. . . . Honzek left the game in Kelowna and missed the Giants’ Saturday and Sunday games. . . .

Meanwhile, F Dawson Seitz of the Edmonton Oil Kings got three games after taking a boarding major and game misconduct in Winnipeg on March 10, and F Caleb Wyrostok of the Swift Current Broncos drew two games for a charging major/game misconduct, and for being a repeat offender, he took on Sunday in Moose Jaw. . . . According to the online game sheet, Wyrostok originally was given a double major (charging, fighting) and a double game misconduct. One of those game misconducts has been changed to a misconduct, according to the online sheet. . . .

The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League had two second-round series come to thrilling Game 7 conclusions on Monday night. . . . In Kimberley, before 1,782 fans, the Dynamiters, who had lost the first three games, beat the Fernie Ghostriders, 1-0, while the host Beaver Valley Nitehawks got past the Creston Valley Thunder Cats, 3-2 in OT, in front of 495 fans. . . . F Christian Mealey scored for Kimberley at 8:38 of the third period and G Trystan Self stopped 36 shots. . . . D Kaleb Percival scored the Nitehawks’ winner at 11:48 of the first OT. . . . The Dynamiters and Nitehawks will meet in the Kootenay Conference final.

If the WHL playoffs started today:


Winnipeg (1) vs. Swift Current/Calgary/Brandon (8)

Red Deer (2) vs. Medicine Hat (7)

Saskatoon (3) vs. Regina (6)

Moose Jaw (4) vs. Lethbridge (5)



Seattle (1) vs. Kelowna (8)

Kamloops (2) vs. Vancouver (7)

Portland (3) vs. Everett (6)

Prince George (4) vs. Tri-City (5)



F Matt Savoie scored twice to help the Winnipeg Ice to a 4-3 victory over the Raiders in Prince Albert. . . . The Ice trailed 2-0 after the first period, then took the lead with three second-period goals. . . . F Connor McClennon (43) and Savoie, who has 37 goals, tied the score with goals 46 seconds apart early in the second. . . . D Graham Sward (3) gave the visitors their first lead with 2.3 seconds left in the period. . . . Savoie made it 4-2 at 3:15 of the third period. . . . D Evan Herman (17) got the Raiders to within one while shorthanded at 18:51. . . . F Conor Geekie had three assists for Winnipeg, while F Owen Pederson had one. That was Pederson’s 200th regular-season point in his 232nd game. . . . G Daniel Hauser earned the victory with 22 saves. He has 35 victories this season, one more than he put up last season. He is one off the league lead (Dylan Ernst, Kamloops). . . . With 76 career regular-season victories, behind Nathan Lieuwen (85) and Taylor Dakers (82). Lieuwen now is the majority owner and president of the BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks, who were born after the Ice left Cranbrook for Winnipeg. . . . Winnipeg (53-9-1) has won five in a row. It leads the overall standings by four points over Seattle, which has six games remaining. . . . Prince Albert (26-34-3) is 11th in the Eastern Conference, five points from a playoff spot with five games remaining. . . .

The Portland Winterhawks struck four times in the first period en route to a 6-2 victory over the Spokane Chiefs, who were playing their fourth game in five nights. . . . F Luca Cagnoni scored twice (17) and added an assist. . . . F Luke Schelter (7) broke a 1-1 tie at 12:35 of the first period as the Winterhawks scored six straight goals. . . . Portland had a 48-33 edge in shots. . . . The Winterhawks (39-17-7) have points in five straight (3-0-2). They are headed to a third-place finish in the Western Conference. . . . Spokane (14-40-9) has lost four in a row (0-2-2). The Chiefs have lost 40 times in regulation for the first time since 1998-99 when they finished 19-44 with nine ties.


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Hey, MLB, want to trim more wasted time from your games? Eliminate mound visits by managers and coaches, except to remove the pitcher. This isn’t a job interview. Let the pitcher and catcher figure out how to work the next batter. If the manager wants to know how his pitcher is feeling, let the skipper stand at the dugout rail and shout, “How you feelin’, Meat?”


Ostler, again: One baseball art/skill I will never salute, but will cheer when it is rendered obsolete by robo umps: pitch framing. The analytics folks recognize it as a legitimate tool. (See: Statcast rankings.) Framing is legal cheating. Look how badly I can fool the umpire! Some catchers are subtle, easing the glove an inch or two back into the zone. Other catchers will leap or dive to catch a pitch, then frame it back into the zone, hoping the umpire has a resin bag for a brain.

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