Beyak chooses to end things on his terms . . . Revisiting two epic WHL comebacks . . . Oil Kings end Hurricanes’ season

Rich Franklin spent time in the front office of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks and now is an executive with the Coachella Valley Firebirds, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken. . . . The above tweet is from the Kraken’s home game on Wednesday night and I have to tell you that it warms my heart.


DennisBeyak
DENNIS BEYAK

Dennis Beyak, one of hockey’s best play-by-play voices, has decided to partially retire when this season is over, something that will happen for him on Sunday. Beyak has been the voice of the Winnipeg Jets on TSN since 2011. Unfortunately, because of blackout regulations, a lot of hockey fans likely have never heard him call an NHL game. . . . Beyak, who turned 70 on Nov. 23, will call his final Jets’ game on Sunday afternoon when they meet the visiting Seattle Kraken. . . . Thankfully, we will be able to hear him on occasion as TSN plans on giving him some international assignments. His work on many World Junior Championship games that don’t involve Team Canada has been terrific. . . . Here’s hoping he’s on the call for some games from the WJC in Edmonton in August. . . .

If you aren’t aware, Beyak is a former WHL play-by-play man and also a former WHL executive. . . . He began his play-by-play career at CFAR in Flin Flon in 1970 as the voice of the Bombers at a salary of $57.50 per week. He would go on to call the play for the Saskatoon Blades, Victoria Cougars and Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . He had stints in management, too, as the Blades’ assistant general manager and as GM of the Seattle Thunderbirds and Tri-City Americans. . . . He also has been the play-by-play voice of the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs. . . .

Scott Billeck of the Winnipeg Sun wrote that Beyak explained his decision this way: “When I turned 70, I started to think about this, about how much longer I wanted to do this. I always wanted to kind of go out while I was still able to do it. I didn’t want to get to the point where I was questioning myself — should I have done it earlier?” . . .

Oh, and did I mention that he is an excellent emcee, who could have been a standup comedian?


Weight


Only two teams in WHL history have fallen behind 0-3 and gone on to win a best-of-seven series — the 1995-96 Spokane Chiefs and the 2012-13 Kelowna Rockets.

Let’s take a brief look back, shall we . . .

The Chiefs completed the 1995-96 regular season with a 50-18-4 record — that Spokanefour denotes ties (remember them?). They wound up atop the seven-team West Division. The Portland Winterhawks, meanwhile, finished in sixth place, at 30-39-3.

The series opened in Spokane with games on March 22 and 23, and the Winterhawks skated to 3-2 (OT) and 7-4 victories. They won the opener on F Brad Isbister’s goal at 6:23 of OT, then got three goals and two assists from F Richard Zednik in Game 2.

Playing at home on March 26, Portland got two goals and two assists from Todd Robinson, with Zednik chipping in two goals and an assist, in a 6-4 victory. And just like that the Winterhawks led the series, 3-0.

But one night later the Chiefs got out to a 4-1 lead before the first period was 13 minutes old and went on to a 5-3 victory. F Darren Sinclair and F Jason Podollan each scored twice for the visitors.

Back in Spokane on March 29, G David Lemanowicz turned aside 34 shots as the Chiefs won, 5-0. Podollan had three goals and an assist, giving him six scores in the five games.

The series headed back to Portland for Game 6 and the Chiefs won, 4-3, to get back on equal footing. After Spokane F Joe Cardarelli tied it on a PP with his second goal of the game, and fourth of the series, at 19:29 of the third period, the teams went into double OT before deciding it. It ended when F Randy Favaro struck for his first goal at 3:50.

On April 3, the Chiefs, playing at home, wrapped up the series with a 4-3 victory. Again, the teams went to OT, with Sinclair winning it 58 seconds into extra time.

The Chiefs went on to eliminate the Kamloops Blazers in six games, then would lose the WHL championship final to the Brandon Wheat Kings in five games. Only one of Spokane’s last 11 playoff games needed OT.

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In 2012-13, the Rockets finished with a 52-16-4 record, good for second place Kelownain the Western Conference, while the Seattle Thunderbirds wound up 24-38-10 and in seventh place.

Their seven-game series would feature five games that needed extra time to decide a winner.

The first two games were played in Kelowna with the Thunderbirds winning twice in OT — 5-4 on a goal by F Luke Lockhart at 19:09 and 2-1 when F Alex Delnov scored at 2:41.

The series then headed for Kent, Wash., where Seattle won Game 3, 3-2, scoring the game’s last three goals and winning when D Evan Wardley counted at 4:55 of OT. That left the Thunderbirds with what appeared to be a commanding 3-0 lead.

The Rockets started the long road back on March 27, winning 4-0 in Kent, behind two goals and an assist from F Tyson Baillie, a goal and two assists from F Zach Franko, and 25 saves from G Jordan Cooke.

They played Game 5 three nights later in Kelowna, with the Rockets building a 4-1 lead and hanging on to win, 4-3, as Seattle counted twice in the game’s last minute.

Then it was back to Kent for an April 2 game that the Rockets won, 4-3 in OT, to tie the series, 3-3. Game 6 was bizarre in that the first six goals all were scored in the first period. Lockhart’s third goal of the series gave Seattle a 3-1 lead at 9:23. Kelowna tied it on goals from F Tyrell Goulbourne (14:56) and F Cody Fowlie (16:20). The Rockets, who held a 59-43 edge in shots, won it when D Myles Bell got his fourth goal of the series at 10:39 of OT.

The very next night the series ended in Kelowna as the Rockets completed their remarkable comeback with a 3-2 victory and, yes, it took overtime.

Wardley gave Seattle a 1-0 lead at 9:04 of the second period. The Rockets grabbed a 2-1 lead on two goals from Baillie — his fifth and sixth of the series — at 9:17 of the second period and 13:09 of the third. Lockhart’s fourth goal in seven games tied it at 19:53. That left it for Baillie to complete his hat trick at 5:10 of OT. Baillie finished the series with seven goals and five assists.

The Rockets moved onto the second round where they were swept by the Kamloops Blazers. The last two games of that series needed OT, meaning Kelowna went into extra time in seven of its 11 playoff games that spring.



THURSDAY IN THE WHL:

There was one playoff game last night, and there are six on tap tonight. While the Edmonton Oil Kings completed a sweep of the host Lethbridge Hurricanes last night, four more teams — the Kelowna Rockets, Prince Albert Raiders, Saskatoon Blades and Spokane Chiefs — will face elimination on tonight’s six-game schedule. . . . Here’s a brief look at last night’s game . . .

Eastern Conference

In Lethbridge, F Josh Williams broke a 4-4 tie late in the third period and the EdmontonEdmonton Oil Kings went on to  a 6-4 victory over the Hurricanes. . . . The Oil Kings won the series, 4-0, and now await a second-round opponent. . . . F Justin Hall (1) pulled the Hurricanes into a 4-4 tie at 15:17 of the third period. Williams scored his first goal of the series just 40 seconds later. . . . F Jakub Demek (1) iced it with the empty-netter. . . . Edmonton held a 47-17 edge in shots. . . . F Dylan Guenther scored Edmonton’s first goal, giving him one in each of the four games. . . . The Hurricanes took all four of the game’s minor penalties and surrendered two PP goals. . . . The Hurricanes join Prince George on the outside looking in after the Cougars were swept by the Portland Winterhawks on Wednesday night.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Vancouver Giants will be without D Tom Cadieux and F Matthew Edwards when they entertain the Everett Silvertips in Game 4 of their first-round series tonight in Langley, B.C. Each player drew a one-game suspension for indiscretions in Game 3. The Silvertips hold a 2-1 edge in the series. Game 5 is scheduled for Everett on Saturday. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia has an advancer for tonight’s game right here, including a few words about how things are heating up between the two head coaches. . . .

The AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder has named Sean Brown the interim general manager and head coach. He has been operating his hockey development business, Breakout Hockey, but joined the Thunder earlier as assistant GM/assistant coach. The Thunder announced Wednesday that Eric Thurston was out as GM/head coach after four seasons. . . .

Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks, N.D., Herald tweets that “Scott Langer is out after one season” as head coach of the USHL’s Fargo Force. According to Schlossman, “The top candidate to replace him will be SCSU assistant Nick Oliver, a highly regarded young coach who played for the Force.”


Cops


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.

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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.


Dad

Clouston in Blazers’ coaching hunt. . . . Mikhalchuk signs with KHL team. . . . Czech U-20 team into summer camp

MacBeth

F Tanner Eberle (Moose Jaw, 2010-15) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Sheffield Steelers (England, UK Elite). This season, in 57 games, he had nine goals and 17 assists. . . .

D Mitch Versteeg (Lethbridge, 2006-09) has signed a one-year contract extension with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, he had two goals and eight assists in 36 games. . . .

F Reid Petryk (Medicine Hat, Everett, Edmonton, 2009-14) has signed a one-year contract with Frisk Asker (Norway, GET-Ligaen). This season, with the Idaho Steelheads (ECHL), he had 19 goals and 25 assists in 52 games. On loan to the Chicago Wolves (AHL), he had one goal in seven games. . . .

D Aaron Irving (Edmonton, Everett, 2012-17) has signed a two-year contract with Örebro (Sweden, SHL). This season, in 47 games with Storhamar Hamar (Norway, GET-Ligaen), he had 12 goals and 26 assists. He led the league in goals by a defenceman. . . .

D Ben Betker (Portland, Everett, 2011-15) has signed a one-year contract with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with the Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL), he had one goal and four assists in 15 games, and he had three goals and four assists in 22 games with Detva (Slovakia, Extraliga). . . . Zvolen’s head coach is Andrej Podkonický (Portland, 1996-98). . . .

F Cody Fowlie (Everett, Kelowna, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with Corona Brașov (Romania, Erste Liga). This season, with the Jacksonville IceMen (ECHL), he had 20 goals and 22 assists in 71 games. . . .

F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (Prince George, 2017-19) has signed a one-year, two-way contract with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (Russia, KHL). This season, with the Prince George Cougars (WHL), he had 25 goals and 25 assists in 68 games. He led the team in points.


ThisThat

If you are a follower of the Kamloops Blazers and you are wondering who will be their next head coach . . . well . . . you can move Shaun Clouston up near the top of the list, Kamloops1maybe even into the top slot.

Clouston, 51, was dumped by the Medicine Hat Tigers on May 30 after spending 16 years in the organization, the last seven as general manager and head coach. He was the head coach for two seasons before that, and also worked as associate coach and assistant coach.

One day after Clouston was moved out, the Tigers announced the hiring of Willie Desjardins as GM/head coach. Clouston actually worked under Desjardins before succeeding him as the Tigers’ head coach.

Taking Note has been told that Clouston, who is from Viking, Alta., will be in Kamloops to meet with Blazers general manager Matt Bardsley at some point over the next day or two.

The Blazers have been without a head coach since parting company with Serge Lajoie on April 16 after just one season. He now is the head coach of the midget prep team at OHA Edmonton.

Clouston is the winningest head coach in Medicine Hat history, with 375 regular-season victories. He broke Desjardins’ record (323) on Dec. 30, 2017. Clouston also spent time as the head coach of the Tri-City Americans and finished this season with a total of 391 regular-season victories, leaving him 18th on the WHL’s all-time list.

With Clouston as the head coach, the Tigers made the playoffs in eight of nine seasons. They twice reached the Eastern Conference final (2011 and 2014). The only time Clouston missed the playoffs with the Tigers was in 2016 when they lost a tiebreaker game to the Edmonton Oil Kings.

When Clouston left the Tigers, he is believed to have had some time left on his contract — perhaps as much as two seasons.


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F Vladislav Mikhalchuk, who led the Prince George Cougars in points this season, won’t PrinceGeorgebe returning to the WHL for his 20-year-old season. As you will have seen in The MacBeth Report, Mikhalchuk, who is to turn 20 on Oct. 16, has signed with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (Russia, KHL). . . . From Minsk, Belarus, Mikhalchuk played two seasons with the Cougars. He had 14 goals and 19 assists as a freshman, then added 25 of each this season. . . . Last season, the Cougars also had Czech F Matéj Toman on their roster. Toman, 18, had nine goals and 11 assists in his freshman season.


Dusty Imoo, a former WHL goaltender, is leaving the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings to work for Kunlun Red Star Beijing (KHL). Imoo worked in goaltending development with the Kings for four seasons. . . . Imoo had replaced Kim Dillabaugh, when he left the Kings to join the Philadelphia Flyers prior to the 2015-16 season. Dillabough had worked with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets before going to the NHL. . . . Former NHLer Curt Fraser, who is a family friend of Imoo’s, is Kunlun’s head coach. . . . Imoo played for the WHL’s New Westminster Bruins, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Regina Pats (1987-91). He went on to play nine seasons with the Seibu Bears Tokyo and four wit the Oji Eagles. Imoo played for Japan in the 1998 Olympic Winter Games, and also played for Japan in three world championships.


Václav Varaďa is back for a second season as head coach of the Czech Republic’s U-20 team. Varada is a former WHL and NHL player. He skated with the Tacoma/Kelowna Rockets for two seasons (1994-96), before going on to a pro career that included 493 NHL games. He has been coaching in Czech Republic since 2013-14. . . . Former NHLer Patrik Eliáš is back as an assistant coach, also for a second season. He played 1,240 NHL games with the New Jersey Devils. . . . The Czech U-20 team gathered in Jihlava on Monday to begin a summer training camp. Included on the camp roster are D Libor Zabransky, who began this season with the Kelowna Rockets and finished with the USHL’s Fargo Force, D Simon Kubicek of the Seattle Thunderbirds, F Martin Lang of the Kamloops Blazers and F Matéj Toman of the Prince George Cougars. . . . All told, four goaltenders, 16 defencemen and 24 forwards are on the camp roster. . . . It doesn’t include F Michal Kvasnica, 19. He played with the Portland Winterhawks in 2018-19, but spent this weekend in a camp being held by the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede.


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