Ostapchuk sparks Giants in first-round WHL stunner . . . SJHL has new commissioner . . . Allan, Dach off to AHL

You are free to wonder about the chances of the Lucius brothers both playing in the WHL next season, Chad with the Portland Winterhawks and Cruz with the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . After completing his freshman season at the U of Minnesota with nine goals and 10 assists in 24 games, Chad signed with the Winnipeg Jets on April 27. He was the 18th overall selection in the NHL’s 2021 draft. That came three years after the Winterhawks selected him in the fourth round of the WHL’s 2018 draft. . . . Chad, who turned 19 on Monday, is eligible to play next season in the NHL, with the Jets’ AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, or in Portland. . . . Cruz, 18, had committed to playing at Minnesota starting in 2022-23; however, he de-committed on Monday and now is exploring his options. The Thunderbirds selected him in the eighth round of the WHL’s 2019 draft. Cruz is coming off two seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program. Chad spent two seasons there, too, before going to Minnesota.


Kyle McIntyre is the new commissioner of the 12-team SJHL. He takes over SJHLfrom Bill Chow, who resigned after spending 11 years in the position. . . . From an SJHL news release: “McIntyre, a Saskatoon product, played U18 hockey with his hometown Contacts and Blazers before playing four seasons in the SJHL with Swift Current and Yorkton. He also served recently on the board of directors for the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos and Saskatchewan High School Athletics and was heavily involved in both minor hockey and minor baseball in Swift Current.

“McIntyre holds a Master of Educational Administration and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Saskatchewan and recently retired after a 30-year career in education including the past 20 years in a senior leadership position. McIntyre will assume the role fully on June 1.”


Dumbass


And then there were eight. . . . The first round of the WHL playoffs concluded on WHLplayoffs2022Monday night as the host Vancouver Giants eliminated the Everett Silvertips. . . . So now it’s on to the second round, which will open on Thursday with the No. 3 Red Deer Rebels visiting the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings. The other Eastern Conference series is to being on Friday with the No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors in Winnipeg to meet the No. 1 Ice. . . . In the Western Conference, the No. 8 Giants will be in Kamloops to face the No. 2 Blazers on Friday, while the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds will open at home in Kent, Wash., to the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks on Saturday. Due to building availability in Portland — the arena is booked for high school graduation ceremonies — the Portland-Seattle series will have a 1-2-1-1-1-1-1 format. . . . Meanwhile, here’s a look at what happened last night in Langley, B.C. . . .

——

MONDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference

In Langley, B.C., the Vancouver Giants scored three first-period goals, each one from a defenceman, as they completed one of the biggest playoff upsets in WHL Vancouverhistory with a 6-3 victory over the Everett Silvertips. . . . The No. 8 Giants, who finished 47 points behind the No. 1 Silvertips, won the series, 4-2. . . . How large was this upset? Prior to the game, Steve Ewen of Postmedia wrote: “Since the junior league went to a 16-team post-season split between two conferences in 2002, a No. 8 seed has never beaten a No. 1 in the first round of the playoffs, according to the league office.” . . . D Connor Horning (2) gave the Giants 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 1:15, with D Alex Cotton (4) upping it to 2-0 at 3:15, and D Mazden Leslie (2) making it 3-0 at 11:43. . . . After Horning’s goal, the Giants’ PP was 13-31 (41.9) in the playoffs. In the regular season, it operated at 17.7, good for 18th in the 22-team league. . . . F Ben Hemmerling (1) got Everett to within two goals at 12:40 of the second, only to have F Zack Ostapchuk (3), who assisted on each of the first two goals, get that one back at 17:51. . . . F Ryan Hofer’s sixth goal of the series, on a PP, at 10:00 of the third period cut the Everett deficit to two. . . . Vancouver restored its three-goal lead when D Damian Palmieri (1) scored at 15:32. . . . F Adam Hall’s seventh goal in six games, at 16:52, upped the lead to 6-2. . . . Everett D Jonny Lambos (1) closed out the scoring at 18:35. . . . Ostapchuk finished with a goal and four assists, giving him a WHL-leading 16 points, including 13 assists, in the series. . . . F Fabian Lysell added four assists. He totalled 15 points in the series. . . . The Silvertips were without three of their five leading scorers. Already without 46-goal F Jackson Berezowski (season-ending surgery), they lost F Niko Huuhtanen to an apparent leg injury in Game 5 on Saturday. He didn’t play last night and neither did F Michal Gut. Those three combined for 101 goals and 126 assists in the regular season.


Marty Hastings covers the Kamloops Blazers for Kamloops This Week.


PhoneBooth


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: D Nolan Allan of the Prince Albert Raiders has joined the Rockford IceHogs, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. Allan, 19, has signed with the Blackhawks, who selected him 32nd overall in the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . F Colton Dach of the Kelowna Rockets also has joined the IceHogs. Dach, 19, was selected by Chicago in the second round of the 2021 draft and signed an NHL contract on Oct. 1. . . . Rockford opens a best-of-three first-round series against the visiting Texas Stars on Wednesday. . . .

Nick Oliver is the new head coach of the USHL’s Fargo Force. He had been an assistant coach with the St. Cloud State Huskies since 2018, after working as assistant coach/director of scouting with the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede for three seasons (2015-18). He also spent two seasons (2009-11) playing with the Force. He replaces Scott Langer, who spent one season as head coach. The Force was 28-28-4 and lost out in the first round of the playoffs. Langer remains the winningest regular-season coach in NAHL history, thanks to a five-season run with the Aberdeen, S.D., Wings.


Oz


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.


Brunch

Canada’s U-18 staff has WHL flavour . . . Blades salute former GM/head coach . . . WHL playoff spots undecided with nine games remaining

Nolan Baumgartner, a former WHL player and most recently an assistant coach with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, and David Struch, also a former WHL HockeyCanadaplayer who started the season as the Regina Pats’ head coach, have been named to the coaching staff of the Canadian team that will play in the IIHF U-18 world championship. . . . That tournament is to be held in Landshut and Kaufbeuren, Germany, from April 23 through May 1. . . . Team Canada’s coaching staff also includes Kori Cheverie, who will be the first female to coach one of the country’s national men’s teams. She spent five seasons (2016-21) as an assistant with Ryerson U’s men’s team and this season worked with the Canadian women’s Olympic team. . . . Baumgartner was a defenceman with the Kamloops Blazers when they won the 1994 and 1995 Memorial Cup titles. He had been part of the Vancouver Canucks organization since 2012 until he was let go in a regime change this season. He was with the Canadian men’s Olympic team at the Winter Games in Beijing earlier this year. . . . Struch spent nine seasons with the Regina Pats before being fired as head coach earlier this season. He played four seasons (1988-92) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . The U-18 team’s coach staff also includes assistant coach Todd Miller, who is a former head coach of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals and was an assistant coach with the Brandon Wheat Kings in 2020-21, and goaltending consultant Brad Kirkwood, who works with the Calgary Hitmen and the U of Calgary women’s and men’s teams. . . . The complete news release is right here.


Courage


The WHL’s 22 teams are into the final two days of their 68-game regular seasons. There are nine games remaining, with seven of them scheduled for tonight. . . . Here’s a look at where things are in terms of playoff opponents (GR — games remaining) . . .

WESTERN CONFERENCE

  1. Everett Silvertips — Will finish atop the U.S. Division and the conference. One point ahead of Portland, which is out of games. . . . Will be without Olen Zellweger, the WHL’s highest-scoring defenceman, until at least the start of the playoffs. . . . GR (1): at Tri-City tonight.
  2. Kamloops Blazers — Actually third in the conference, two points behind Portland, but are second seed as B.C. Division winners. . . . GR (1): at home to Vancouver tonight.
  3. Portland Winterhawks — One point behind Everett, two ahead of Kamloops. . . . GR (0).
  4. Seattle Thunderbirds — Will finish fourth and have home-ice advantage against Kelowna in first round. . . . GR (0).
  5. Kelowna Rockets — Will finish fifth and meet Seattle in first round. . . . GR (1): at home to Prince George tonight.
  6. Vancouver Giants — Tied with Prince George for sixth, one point ahead of Victoria and two up on Spokane. Each of the four has one game remaining. . . . GR (1): at Kamloops tonight.
  7. Prince George Cougars — Tied with Vancouver for sixth, one point ahead of Victoria and two ahead of Spokane. . . . GR (1): at Kelowna tonight.
  8. Victoria Royals — Two points behind Vancouver and Prince George, one ahead of Spokane. Beat visiting Spokane last night. . . . GR (1): at home to Spokane tonight.
  9. Spokane Chiefs — Slipped to ninth spot as they lost while Victoria and Prince George won on Friday night. . . . One point out of a playoff spot. . . . GR (1): at Victoria tonight.
  10. Tri-City Americans — Not this season.

——

EASTERN CONFERENCE

  1. Winnipeg Ice — Will finish atop the overall standings so is assured of home ice through the playoffs. First-round opponent has yet to be decided. . . . GR (1): Ice will be designated as home team in Regina tonight.
  2. Edmonton Oil Kings — Will finish second and open against Lethbridge. . . . GR (1): at Red Deer tonight.
  3. Red Deer Rebels — Will finish third and meet Brandon in the first round. . . . GR (1): at home to Edmonton tonight.
  4. Moose Jaw Warriors — Will finish fourth and have home-ice advantage in first-round series with Saskatoon. . . . GR (1): at Regina on Sunday.
  5. Saskatoon Blades — Will finish fifth and meet Moose Jaw in first round. . . . GR (0).
  6. Brandon Wheat Kings — Will finish sixth and meet Red Deer in the first round. . . . GR (1): at Prince Albert tonight.
  7. Lethbridge Hurricanes — Will finish seventh and play Edmonton in the first round. . . . GR (1): at Calgary on Sunday.
  8. Prince Albert — Moved from 11th place into eighth with a 4-1 victory over the Broncos in Swift Current last night. . . . GR (1): at home to Brandon tonight.
  9. Swift Current Broncos — Actually tied for eighth with Prince Albert but have run out of games. . . . One point ahead of Calgary, two ahead of Regina. . . . GR (0).
  10. Calgary Hitmen — One point behind Prince Albert and Swift Current, one in front of Regina. . . . GR (1): at home to Lethbridge on Sunday.
  11. Regina Pats — In 11th place, two points behind Prince Albert and Swift Current, one behind Calgary. . . . GR (2): at home to Winnipeg tonight in what is an Ice home game, at home to Moose Jaw on Sunday.
  12. Medicine Hat — Sorry. Not this time.

FRIDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference:

F Kyle Crnkovic broke a 1-1 tie at 11:56 of the second period as the host Saskatoon Blades edged the Brandon Wheat Kings, 2-1. . . . That was his 39th goal this season. . . . Nolan Maier, the winningest regular-season goaltender in WHL history, stopped 35 shots for the Blades. He earned his 122nd career victory in his eighth straight start and his 60th appearance of the season. . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders scored the game’s last three goals to beat the Broncos, 4-1, in Swift Current. . . . F Carson Latimer (17), who also had two assists, snapped a 1-1 tie at 4:27 of the second period, with F Vladislav Shiloh (9) adding insurance, on a PP, at 13:16. . . . The winners got 32 saves from G Tikhon Chaika. . . .

In a game that was moved from Winnipeg to Regina due to inclement weather and poor driving conditions in the Manitoba capital, the Ice scored five times in the first period and beat the Pats, 6-1. . . . Pregame chatter about the Pats, fighting for their playoff lives, maybe taking advantage of home cooking turned out to be much ado about nothing. . . . In fact, the Ice, the WHL’s best team in this regular season, led this one 5-0 at the 11:09 mark of the first period. . . . The Ice had 14 players get at least one point, but only two — F Jakin Smallwood (25) and F Conor Geekie (25) — had two. Each had a goal and an assist. . . . G Daniel Hauser stopped 21 shots to record the victory. This season, he is 33-3-1, 1.94, .916. . . . The announced attendance, for what was a Winnipeg home game, was 2,799. . . . Oh, yes. The Pats had advertised this as Guaranteed Win Night. The meant each fan in attendance received a coupon good for a regular-season game in 2022-23. . . .

F Yegor Klavdiev scored his second goal of the game in OT to give the Lethbridge Hurricanes a 5-4 victory over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Klavdiev, who also had one assist, notched his 21st goal at 1:00 of extra time. . . . F Brayden Edwards (9) also scored twice for Lethbridge. . . . D Cole Jordan (3) had given the Warriors a 4-3 lead at 16:20 of the third period, only to have F Alex Thacker (13) pull the Hurricanes even at 19:05. . . .

Ridley
Bob Ridley, the radio voice of the Medicine Hat Tigers, was back where he belongs on Friday night. (Photo: Scott Roblin/CHAT-TV)

G Sebastian Cossa stopped 21 shots to help the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 3-0 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat. . . . Cossa put up his sixth shutout of this season and the 14th of his career. This season, he is 33-9-3, 2.28, .913. . . . The Oil Kings scored once in each period, with all three goals coming from freshmen — F Cole Miller (9), F Dawson Seitz (7) and F Shea Van Olm (8), who also had two assists. . . . The Oil Kings were 7-0-1 in the season series. . . . Bob Ridley, the only radio voice the Tigers had known prior to the start of this season, returned to the microphone for their final game of this season. Health issues had kept him on the sidelines to this point. . . .

——

Western Conference:

The host Victoria Royals struck four times in the first period and went on to beat the Spokane Chiefs, 7-3. . . . The Royals jumped into a 4-0 lead at 10:31 of the opening period. . . . F Marcus Almquist scored two of those early goals, giving him seven. Almquist, from Denmark, enjoyed his first career two-goal lead. He has scored six of his even goals in his past eight games. . . . F Tarun Fizer, the Royals’ captain, had a goal, his 16th, and two assists. . . . F Chase Bertholet had a goal, his 24th, and two assists for Spokane. . . .

F Jonny Hooker snapped a 2-2 tie at 7:57 of the third period as the Prince George Cougars went into Kamloops and beat the Blazers, 4-2. . . . The Cougars led 2-0 early in the second period, only to have the Blazers tie it early in the third. F Reese Belton (14) pulled the home side even at 4:42, with Hooker’s 17th goal putting the visitors back in front just 3:15 later. . . . The winners got 43 stops from G Ty Young. . . .

The Seattle Thunderbirds got three goals from F Jared Davidson as they beat the Tri-City Americans, 6-4, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Davidson, who has 42 goals, has put up hat tricks in two straight games. He went into this season with 39 points, including 19 goals, in 130 games. This season, he has 89 points in 64 games. . . . Seattle got three assists from D Jeremy Hanzel. . . . F Jake Sloan scored twice, giving him 17, and added an assist for the Americans, with F Parker Bell (18) adding a goal and two helpers. . . .  F Samuel Huo got No. 30 for Tri-City. . . . Seattle’s three 20-year-olds — F Henrik Rybinski, F Lukas Svejkovsky and D Ryan Gottfried — were given the night off. . . .

F Colton Dach’s OT goal gave the Kelowna Rockets a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . Dach scored his 29th goal at 1:12 of extra time. . . . F Adam Kidd (18) pulled Kelowna into a 2-2 with a PP goal at 12:27 of the third period. . . . F Zack Ostapchuk (25) had given the Giants a 2-1 lead, on a PP, just 39 seconds into the third. . . .

F Jaydon Dureau scored twice to help the Portland Winterhawks to a 5-1 victory over the visiting Everett Silvertips. . . . F Michal Gut (17) gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 3:45 of the second period. . . . The Winterhawks then rolled their way to five straight goals. . . . Portland was 3-for-5 on the PP, with Dureau’s second goal, and 24th of the season, coming after Everett F Jonny Lambos was tossed with a kneeing major. . . . G Taylor Gauthier stopped 24 shots for Portland. He is 24-4-0, 2.16, .931 since being acquired from the Prince George Cougars. . . . The Silvertips got 44 saves from G Koen MacInnes.


Lettuce


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders fired Jeff Woywitka, their head coach and assistant general manager, on Friday. Woywitka started as associate coach in 2006-07 and was named head coach in November, after the firing of Adam Manah. The Crusaders were 16-16-3 under Woywitka, and grabbed the Viterra North Division’s last playoff spot. The Fort McMurray Oil Barons beat the Crusaders, 4-1, in a first-round best-of-seven playoff series. . . .

The junior B Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League announced on Thursday that head coach Carter Rigby will be back for a second season. “Rigby . . . took the Coyotes from dead last in the 2019-20 pre-COVID season (21 points) to top of the KIJHL (72 points) in his first full season as head coach, earning him the top coach award in the Bill Ohlhausen Division,” reads the team’s news release. Rigby, 28, played five seasons in the WHL (Kelowna, Swift Current, 2011-15). . . .

F Michael Misa of the Greater Toronto Hockey League’s Mississauga Senators U16 AAA team has been granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada and is expected to be the first overall selection in the OHL’s draft, which is scheduled for April 29. Misa is the sixth player to have been granted exceptional status in order to play in the OHL as a 15-year-old, the others being F Shane Wright, D Sean Day, F Connor McDavid, D Aaron Ekblad and F John Tavares. . . .

The junior B Aldergrove Kodiaks of the Pacific Junior Hockey League have hired Ron Johnson as their head coach. He replaces Chris Price, who had been head coach for two-plus seasons. Price has joined the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs as assistant coach and strength and conditioning coach. . . .

D Keith McInnis has signed a tender with the USHL’s Waterloo BlackHawks. McInnis, who turned 16 on Jan. 8, is from Red Deer and was selected by the Rebels in the fifth round of the WHL’s 2021 draft. He played this season at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C.


Sucks


If you’re a regular in these parts, you know that we’re big on organ donation and transplantation here, primarily because 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. . . . The Kidney Walk is a huge fund-raising venture for the Canadian Kidney Foundation and its provincial branches. By participating, Dorothy is able to give something back to an organization that has been such a big part of our lives. . . . If you would like to be on her team by making a donation you are able to do so right here. . . . You should know that Dorothy was all smiles on Friday morning when an NHL team’s head coach joined her team with a donation. Talk about an ear-to-ear smile!


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.


Comcast

What if Derlago and Leach hadn’t been injured? . . . WHL has first matchup: Edmonton vs. Lethbridge . . . In Kamloops, No. 22 gets 22nd goal at 2:22 of OT

Potholes


As the WHL’s 2021-22 regular season winds down, let’s take a look back and wonder what one player’s final season might have been. It’s a season that shouldn’t be forgotten.

It was 1977-78. Bill Derlago of the Brandon Wheat Kings had turned 19 about a month before the season began. This would be his third full season with the Wheat Kings. In 1976-77, he had totalled 96 goals, which was a WHL record at the time, and 82 assists — 178 points — in 72 games.

Fans could only imagine what was to come.

Well, the native of Birtle, Man., didn’t disappoint, putting up 152 points, including 89 goals, in 52 games. That’s 1.17 goals and 2.92 points per game. Those are great numbers. Right?

But they could have been even better.

Derlago
The Brandon Wheat Kings had a line for their opponents — Ray Allison (left), Bill Derlago and Brian Propp. (Photo: wheatkings.com)

In early December, Derlago, playing between Brian Propp and Ray Allison, had 80 points, including 48 goals, in 26 games when he suited up with a WCHL all-star team in Regina against a touring side from what was then the Soviet Union. (The team, travelling as the Moscow Selects, won the game, 6-5. The WCHL team featured players from Brandon, the Regina Pats, Flin Flon Bombers and Medicine Hat Tigers.)

Over a 72-game season, Derlago was on pace for 218 points, including 133 goals. Rob Brown of the 1986-87 Kamloops Blazers holds the WHL record for most points in one season. He put up 212 in 63 games that season, an average of 3.37 points per game.

Had Derlago stayed healthy and maintained his pace, he would have averaged 1.85 goals and 3.03 points per game.

But it wasn’t to be.

On his second shift of that game in Regina, Derlago “lined up Boris Verigin . . . and took a run at him,” wrote Dave Senick of the Regina Leader-Post. “The Soviet went down and slipped past Derlago’s check.

“The Wheat King flew over Verigin and couldn’t get up after hitting the ice. The reason was a good one. He was taken to hospital and was diagnosed (with) possible torn knee ligaments.”

As it turned out, he had torn ligaments in his left knee.

“Sure, I’m disappointed and the records mean something to me,” Derlago told Senick. “But I’m not going to get worried. I just want to get back and play. It’s the first time I’ve had a serious injury in three years. I had my adrenaline flowing for this season.”

He did return and was able to finish up that 152-point season, but we were left to wonder what might have been.

BTW, Derlago’s 96 goals from 1976-77 stood up as the WHL single-season record until 1983-84 when Ray Ferraro, who had been acquired by the Wheat Kings from the Portland Winterhawks in the offseason, scored 108 times. That remains the WHL’s single-season record to this date.

The Vancouver Canucks selected Derlago with the fourth overall pick of the NHL’s 1978 draft. He went on to play 555 regular-season NHL games, most of them with the Toronto Maple Leafs for whom he enjoyed 35-, 34-, 40- and 31-goal seasons.

Jake Milford was the Canucks’ general manager at that time. He had been in the Wheat Kings’ front office, either as GM, head coach or both, from 1958-59 through 1963-64. McCallum had played two seasons (1958-60) with the Canucks.

And so it was that the Canucks, under Milford’s guidance, were putting the Canucks through their paces during Derlago’s first NHL training camp. That included running some sprints, something at which Derlago, who had large calves, wasn’t proficient.

When Milford called McCallum to update him on Derlago’s progress, the Canucks’ GM complained about Derlago’s poor performance on the track.

To which McCallum replied: “Jake, are you putting together a track team or a hockey team?”

——

It should be pointed out that Bill Derlago wasn’t the first WCHL superstar to FFBomberslose a possible monstrous statistical season to injury. In 1968-69, Reggie Leach, the Riverton Rifle, finished with 46 points, including 36 goals, in 22 games with the Flin Flon Bombers, losing most of the season to a shoulder injury.

Over a 60-game schedule, which is what they played back in the day, that works out to 125 points, including 98 goals. Had Leach scored 98 goals, he would be two ahead of the 96 Derlago scored in 1976-77.

But let’s also think about Flin Flon captain Bobby Clarke, who won the scoring title that season with 137 points in 58 games. The Bombers’ second-leading scorer was Brian Marchinko, with 86 points.

Had Leach been riding shotgun with Clarke for the entire season, who knows how many points the league’s top player might have put up? One season earlier, Clarke won the scoring title with 168 points; Leach was second with 131.

Unfortunately, we’ll never know what might have been for Leach in 1968-69.


Not to overload you with Flin Flon-related chatter, but . . .

If you are having a discussion about the most intimidating hockey arena anywhere you have to have Flin Flon’s Whitney Forum at or near the top of the list. I haven’t been there in years, but I did take in the odd Bombers game back in the days of Gerry Hart, Bobby Clarke, Reggie Leach, Steve Andrascik, Wayne Hawrysh et al. Yes, it was a noisy, scary place. . . . Now there is talk that Hudbay — today, it’s Hudbay Minerals Inc.; in my time it was Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting — “is slated to shut down much of its operations nearby later this year,” Eric Westhaver wrote in the Flin Flon Reminder the other day. . . . What will that mean to the folks of Flin Flon and the Fabulous Forum? Westhaver takes a look right here at the past, the present and the future of a Canadian landmark.



Screw


SATURDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference:

F Justin Sourdif and F Dylan Guenther each had two goals and two assists as the Edmontonhost Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Red Deer Rebels, 6-4. . . . The Oil Kings clinched their fourth straight Central Division pennant and will meet the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the first round of the playoffs. They will open in Edmonton on April 21. Edmonton won the season series, 6-2-0; Lethbridge was 2-5-1. . . . Edmonton snapped a 2-2 tie and took control with three goals in a span of 4:11 early in the second period, the last two coming via the PP after Red Deer F Frantisek Formanek was hit with a kneeing major and game misconduct. . . . Guenther now has 44 goals; Sourdif has 25. . . . Sourdif, who turned 20 on March 24, went into the game with 199 points in 195 career regular-season games. His first goal, at 8:50 of the first period, was his 200th career point. The Oil Kings acquired him from the Vancouver Giants earlier in the season. He has 37 points, including 16 goals, in 25 games with Edmonton. . . . Red Deer got a goal and two assists from each of D Christoffer Sedoff (8), F Ben King and F Arshdeep Bains. King and Bains each went into the game with 199 career regular-season points. . . . King, who leads the WHL with 50 goals in his 19-year-old season, now has 202 points in 204 career games. Bains, who leads the WHL with 105 points in his 20-year-old season, has 202 points in 255 career games. . . . King is the first Red Deer player to get to 50 since F Kyle Wanvig scored 55 in 2000-01. The franchise record (58) belongs to F B.J. Young (1996-97). . . . F Jake Neighbours, the Oil Kings’ captain, had two assists in his return to the lineup. He had last played on Feb. 21. . . . Edmonton (47-14-4) will finish second in the conference, while Red Deer (44-18-4) will be third. The Rebels, though, will have to wait to find out their first-round opponent — either the Saskatoon Blades, Moose Jaw Warriors or Brandon Wheat Kings. . . .

In Winnipeg, F Chase Wheatcroft scored twice and added an assist as the Ice WinnipegIcebeat the Medicine Hat Tigers, 6-1. . . . He’s got 16 goals. . . . F Cole Muir (11) scored twice and F Jakin Smallwood (24) had a goal and two assists. . . . Winnipeg held a 44-17 edge in shots, including 22-4 in the third period. . . . G Daniel Hauser earned the victory with 16 saves. This season, he is 31-3-1, 1.97, .914. . . . Winnipeg (50-10-5) will finish atop the conference and will face the eight-place team in the first round. Four teams — the Swift Current Broncos, Calgary Hitmen, Regina Pats and Prince Albert Raiders — are within two points of each other in the scrap for the last spot. . . . The Tigers (11-51-4) have lost 10 in a row. . . .

F Nate Danielson scored the only goal of a shootout as the Brandon Wheat Kings Brandongot past the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors, 3-2. . . . Moose Jaw led this one 2-0 early in the second period on goals from F Eric Alarie (22) and F Ryder Korczak (23). . . . F Nolan Ritchie (32) got Brandon to within one at 7:22 of the second period and D Vincent Iorio (11) tied it just 2:28 later. . . . Danielson was the fifth shooter in the circus. The Wheat Kings put it away when Korczak couldn’t beat G Ethan Kruger. . . . Brandon (35-25-5) is sixth, three points behind Moose Jaw (36-23-6) and the idle Saskatoon Blades (37-26-4). . . .

The Lethbridge Hurricanes ensured themselves of a seventh-place finish with a Lethbridge5-1 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . F Jett Jones, who scored twice, broke a 1-1 tie with his first goal at 1:21 of the second period. He added his 20th of the season, shorthanded, at 19:22 of the third. . . . That seventh-place finish means the Hurricanes (31-30-5) will face the Edmonton Oil Kings in the first-round of the playoffs. These two teams have never played each other in the playoffs. . . . The Hitmen (25-32-8) are tied for eighth with Swift Current, one point ahead of Regina and Prince Albert. . . . Calgary and Regina each have three games remaining, Prince Albert has two and Swift Current one. . . .

F Connor Bedard scored twice and added an assist as the host Regina Pats beat Reginathe Prince Albert Raiders, 5-3. . . . Bedard gave his guys a 2-1 lead at 6:19 of the second period, then put them ahead 4-2, on the PP, at 6:46 of the third. . . . Bedard now has 92 points, including 49 goals, in 58 games. . . . The Pats also got a shorthanded goal and two assists from F Tanner Howe, who was playing against his hometown team. Howe, who won’t turn 17 until Nov. 28, has 66 points, 26 of them goals, in 61 games. . . . F Evan Herman scored twice for the Raiders, giving him 25. . . . Regina (26-34-5) and Prince Albert (26-25-5) are tied for 10th, two points from a playoff spot.

——

Western Conference:

D Ethan Samson’s third-period PP goal broke a 1-1 tie as the host Prince George PrinceGeorgeCougars scored a 2-1 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . F Marcus Almquist (5) gave the Royals a 1-0 lead at 1:27 of the first period. . . . F Jonny Hooker (16) tied it 10:06 later. . . . Samson, who has 15 goals, snapped the tie at 13:29 of the third period. He also drew an assist on Hooker’s goal. . . . G Ty Young stopped 29 shots for the Cougars, including 10 in the third period. . . . Prince George (23-38-5) is tied for sixth with the Spokane Chiefs. The Cougars have two games remaining — in Kamloops on Friday and in Kelowna on Saturday. . . . Victoria (22-38-6) is tied with the Vancouver Giants for eighth. The Royals have two games remaining with Spokane to visit on Friday and Saturday. . . .

In Kamloops, F Jaydon Dureau’s OT goal gave the Portland Winterhawks a 5-4 Portlandvictory over the Blazers. . . . Andy Kemper, the Winterhawks’ historian, points out that the winning goal “was the 22nd of the season for No. 22 Dureau at 2:22 of OT.” . . . D Marek Alscher (7) had pulled Portland even, at 4-4, at 8:01 of the third period. . . . F Logan Stankoven had two goals, giving him 44, and an assist for Kamloops. His first goal, 57 seconds into the game, was his 100th point of the season. . . . Stankoven’s 102 points has him tied with F Ben King of the Red Deer Rebels for second in the WHL scoring race. They are three points behind Red Deer F Arshdeep Bains. . . . Stankoven leads the WHL in points per game, at 1.79. . . . The Blazers got three assists from F Daylan Kuefler. . . . Kamloops (47-16-3) is second in the conference. With two games to play, it is three points behind the idle Everett Silvertips (45-10-10) and two ahead of Portland (45-16-5), which also has two games remaining. . . .

F Andrew Cristall and F Colton Dach each had five points in leading the Kelowna KelownaRockets to an 8-4 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . Cristall had two goals and three assists, with Dach scoring once and adding four helpers. . . . Cristall has 26 goals, which breaks the franchise record for goals by a 16-year-old. F Shane McColgan (2009-10) and F Nick Merkley (2013-14) had shared the record prior to the game. . . . The Rockets also got two goals and two assists from F Mark Liwiski, who has 23 goals, and two goals and an assist from F Adam Kydd. He’s got 17 goals. . . . F Zack Ostapchuk scored three times for Vancouver. His first career hat trick gave him 23 goals this season. . . . D Alex Cotton added his 15th goal and two assists for the visitors. . . . These teams will play again today in Kelowna and then will clash on Friday in Langley, B.C. . . . The Rockets (40-19-6) are fourth, two points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds and the two teams are headed for a first-round playoff clash. Each team has three games remaining, and all that remains to be decided is who will have home-ice advantage. . . . Vancouver (23-27-4) is tied with Victoria for the conference’s last playoff spot. . . .

At Kent, Wash., F Jared Davidson had a goal and three assists to lead the Seattle SeattleThunderbirds past the Spokane Chiefs, 6-2. . . . The start of the game, scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PT, was delayed about two hours because weather conditions through the Snoqualmie Pass slowed the Chiefs’ trek. . . . Spokane, trailing 3-0 late in the second period, got to within a goal at 3-2 before third period was two minutes old but wasn’t able to equalize. . . . Davidson has 82 points, including 36 goals, in 61 games. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky added two goals for Seattle, giving him 34, with D Kevin Korchinski drawing three assists. . . . Seattle (41-18-6) is fourth, two points ahead of Kelowna. . . . Spokane (23-38-5) is tied for sixth with Prince George, one point ahead of Vancouver and Victoria.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: There is speculation that the QMJHL is seriously considering exempting 20-year-old goaltenders from the CHL rule that limits teams to three such players. That makes sense to me. I also would do away with the two-spot rule — teams are allowed three 20-year-olds and two imports — that has a 20-year-old import taking up a spot in each category. I have long thought that with teams having invested so much energy, money and time in import players they should have to declare a 20-year-old import as one or the other. . . . The BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks had their first season come to an end on Saturday when they lost, 3-2 in OT, to the visiting Prince George Spruce Kings, who won the best-of-seven series, 4-2. The announced attendance was 3,002.


Bananas


Dorothy is preparing to take part in the annual Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year. She has participated in every one since she underwent a kidney transplant at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver on Sept. 23, 2013. . . . The 2022 Kidney Walk will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . You are able to support her by making a donation 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.


YMCA

It’s Green Shirt Day as we promote organ donation and remember the Humboldt Broncos . . .


The boys played a hockey game last night. Yes, they shook off the rust and away they went.

They did pretty well, too, getting 37 saves from goaltender Parker Tobin in posting an 8-0 victory before a world-wide audience.

Tobin was making his first appearance with his new team, having been acquired from the junior A Humboldt Broncos in exchange for defenceman Xavier Labelle earlier in the day.

“We were fortunate we got a great performance from Tobin and our top scorers scored,” said general manager/head coach Darcy Haugan.

The boys were led by the line of Jaxon Joseph, Logan Schatz and Evan Thomas, who combined for 12 points, including six goals.

There was a scary moment early in the second period when Schatz appeared to catch an edge as he cut behind Tobin’s net. Schatz crumpled to the ice and for a moment it looked as though he had suffered a knee injury. Athletic therapist Dayna Brons, the only girl on the boys team, was quick to the scene. She helped Schatz to the dressing room and was able to get him back to the bench before too much time had elapsed.

“She’s got magic fingers and she’s great with tape,” said Schatz, who also is the team captain. “If there’s an MVP on this team, she’s it. I don’t know where we’d be without her.”

Haugan was thrilled when Schatz returned to the bench and Brons signalled that the captain was OK to go.

“That allowed us to keep our lines intact and to execute our game plan to a T,” Haugan said. “We wanted our power play to obviously be big. We didn’t expect it to be that big so we’re very fortunate. You need your top guys to be your best guys and they were.”

The boys counted five times on eight power-play opportunities and that really was huge.

Joseph finished with three goals and an assist, with Schatz chipping in two of each, and Thomas putting up a goal and three helpers.

Defenceman Adam Herold, the youngest player on the team, and forward Conner Lukan also scored. Lukan was skating alongside Jacob Leicht and Logan Hunter, and that threesome easily could have had four or five more goals. Hunter recorded two assists, with Leicht getting one. Defenceman Stephen Wack also had one assist.

As for the opposition, Haugan said, they “stepped up all night, they were relentless. Obviously our guys did a good job of keeping everything to the outside and didn’t allow them to penetrate to the middle of the ice. We did get a couple of breaks so we did get lucky but all-in-all to escape with a 1-0 lead after one, we’ll gladly take it.”

Defenceman Logan Boulet showed a lot of heart and leadership in earning six assists for the boys.

“I felt great out there,” Boulet said. “I was using a Brad McCrimmon model stick and, man, I really was able to throw some great saucer passes out there. And I don’t know that the stick had anything to do with it, but I never wanted to leave the ice.”

Haugan added: “(Boulet) was a beast out there.”

Ahh, yes, the sticks.

Haugan said one of the toughest tasks he and assistant coach Mark Cross faced was getting the players to pick out the sticks they wanted to use.

“I have never seen or heard of a team having such a wide selection to choose from,” Haugan said. “There were sticks everywhere. We may have to build some kind of stick warehouse to house them all.”

After the game, the boys admitted to being quite excited about having been able to replace one of their travelling staples.

“One of the boys picked up a copy of Slap Shot,” Haugan said. “He got it from somewhere in Portland, I think. You can’t be on the road without Reggie Dunlop and Slap Shot, but our original DVD got broken somehow and, let me tell you, there were some broken hearts when that happened.

“But all’s well that ends well.”

It’s worth pointing out that the boys led 1-0 after the first period, which was played in Chicago Stadium. They were up 4-0 after the second, which was played in Maple Leaf Gardens. The teams played the final period in the Montreal Forum. The travel arrangements were all under the control of Glen Doerksen, the team’s travelling secretary.

So . . . what’s next for the boys?

Well, Haugan said, the coaches are well aware that focusing on one sport isn’t the way to go.

“The guys are talking about wanting to play some baseball,” Haugan said. “Apparently, some guy in Iowa built a ball diamond in a cornfield. So I think we’re wanting to give that a try.

“But we’ll have to scrounge some bats, balls and gloves first.”

JUST NOTES: There was a third man behind the bench with Haugan and Cross, and Haugan later revealed that he has added Brock Hirsche to his coaching staff. Hirsche played in the WHL with the Prince George Cougars, then returned to his hometown to play with the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns. . . .

Also joining the boys is Jonathan Pitre, who is incredibly popular with the media and will handle public and media relations. . . .

Tyler Bieber, an up-and-coming play-by-play voice, called last night’s game on 107.5 FM (aka The Prayer), with sports fanatic Brody Hinz handling the analysis and statistics, including zone entries and Corsi. . . .

(Christopher Lee of the Humboldt Journal may recognize some of the quotes here. Thanks for loaning them to me.)


The OHL dropped the hammer on the Niagara IceDogs on Wednesday, a month after some members of the organization were alleged to have used improper OHLlanguage in a group chat on WhatsApp, a transcript of which was given to the league. Joey Burke, one of the team’s minority owner and the governor, and Billy Burke, the head coach and a minority owner, have been suspended indefinitely. The IceDogs also have been fined $150,000. . . . From an OHL news release: “Based on the results of the league investigation, it is the position of the league that their conduct is prejudicial to the welfare of the OHL as it violates the league’s Harassment & Abuse/Diversity Policy and also runs counter to the OHL’s Onside program, which emphasizes the importance of demonstrating respect for women through actions and words.” . . . According to terms of the disciplinary action, both are able to apply for reinstatement on June 1, 2024. “At that time,” reads the news release, “the Commissioner will assess whether they have successfully completed counselling and education to ensure that there will be no additional violations of League rules, policies, or expected conduct.” . . . Rick Westhead of TSN later tweeted: “IceDogs co-owner Bill Burke, Joey and Billy’s father, told The Welland Tribune that ‘today a very sad day for the Burke family. We will have more to say in the coming days. We would . . . like to thank everyone that has reached out today with their overwhelming love and support.”


Meanwhile, the AHL has suspended F Ben Holmstrom of the Rochester Americans for eight games for using “homophobic language” during a game against the visiting Utica Comets on March 30. He was ejected at the end of the first period. . . . “As part of the suspension,” the AHL said in a statement, “Holmstrom will be participating in diversity and inclusion education.”


Now let’s hop on over to Quebec for this from Guy Quenneville of CBC News . . .

“More Black minor hockey players in western Quebec are coming forward with allegations of racial slurs less than a week after another Black player spoke out.

“On Monday, Hockey Outaouais and the team L’Intrépide de Gatineau confirmed in a statement they have launched an investigation after two of the team’s players said they were subjected to racist remarks. 

“One of those players, Anthony Allain-Samaké, told Radio-Canada the bullying led him to quit the team.”

His mother, Julie Allain, speaking French, told Quenneville: “Being called the N-word was still quite common for several players. I told him it is totally unacceptable.”

Quenneville’s story is right here.


WEDNESDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference:

In Spokane, F Nick McCarry struck 10 seconds into OT was the Chiefs beat the SpokaneEverett Silvertips, 3-2. . . . McCarry, who has 22 goals, has seven points, five of them goals, over his past four games. . . . Olen Zellweger, the  WHL’s highest-scoring defenceman, scored his 14th goal and added an assist. He has 76 points in 53 games. . . . G Mason Beaupit stopped 32 shots, 18 of them in the second period, for Spokane. . . . Announced attendance was 7,252, an awfully impressive number for a midweek game. . . . The Chiefs’ victory eliminated the idle Tri-City Americans from the chase for a playoff spot. . . . Spokane (23-37-5), with three games remaining, is sixth, one point ahead of the Vancouver Giants and Victoria Royals, and two up on the Prince George Cougars. . . . Everett (44-10-10) leads the conference by four points over the Kamloops Blazers. Each team has four games remaining. . . .

The Kelowna Rockets scored the game’s last three goals as they beat the KelownaCougars, 4-1, in Prince George. . . . The Rockets, who won 1-0 in OT there on Tuesday, have won six straight in Prince George. . . . F Colton Dach scored once, his 26th, and added two assists. . . . F Pavel Novak (28) broke a 1-1 tie at 18:52 of the first period and the visitors put it away with two third-period goals. . . . Kelowna (39-19-6) now is two points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds with each team having four games to play. . . . The Cougars are ninth, one point from a playoff spot.

Eastern Conference:

The host Lethbridge Hurricanes struck for six goals in the third period as they Lethbridgedropped the Saskatoon Blades, 6-1. . . . The game’s seven goals all came in the third period. . . . D Joe Arntsen scored twice, giving him seven, and added an assist, with F Justin Hall and F Alex Thacker each adding three assists. . . . F Jordan Keller scored his first WHL goal in his eighth game for the Blades. Keller, who turned 17 on March 8, is the son of Aaron Keller, who played four seasons (1992-96) with the Kamloops Blazers before going on to play 17 seasons in Japan. Aaron now helps out the Blazers as a development coach. . . . Saskatoon G Nolan Maier stopped 31 shots in his first opportunity to break the WHL career record for victories. . . . Lethbridge (30-30-4) is seventh, seven points behind the Brandon Wheat Kings and five ahead of the Swift Current Broncos. . . . Saskatoon (36-26-4) remains fifth, one point behind the Moose Jaw Warriors and five ahead of Brandon.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The AJHL’s Bonnyville Pontiacs and Rick Swan, their general manager and head coach, “have mutually agreed to part ways effective immediately,” the team announced Wednesday. Swan had been with the organization for 10 years, the last nine as GM and head coach. This season, the Pontiacs went 36-16-8, good for third in the North Division, then lost a six-game first-round series to the Whitecourt Wolverines.



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.


Scattershooting on a Sunday night while contemplating Canada as a soccer nation . . .

scattershooting

Move over, Gary Bettman! Canada is soccer country!!

Yes, it was a day I never thought I would experience in my lifetime.

It was only on Aug. 6 when the Canadian women’s soccer team, led by the great CanadaSoccerChristine Sinclair, won gold at the Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo. The women had won bronze at London in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016, so they had given us at least a taste of success. But the gold in August tasted even better.

And then came Sunday and the Canadian men’s team made it a day to remember with a 4-0 victory over Jamaica at BMO Field in Toronto. All that means is that, yes, we are going to Qatar and World Cup 2022.

And, hey, wasn’t that a party on Sunday afternoon!

The men’s team, which last appeared in a World Cup in 1986, now has eight victories and four draws in 13 games, and is atop the CONCACAF qualifier standings three points clear of the U.S. and Mexico. As well, Canada has scored more goals (23) and allowed fewer (6) than any of the other seven teams.

There were said to be 29,122 fans in attendance on Sunday, but this was one of those events that over time it will be said that there were more than 100,000 people on the grounds. In fact, a whole country was there.

If you’re Canadian and didn’t get a lump in your throat seeing all of those Canadian flags waving in the stands, well, get thee to a mirror and try breathing on it. (Not to get political here, but I would suggest that Sunday’s show helped restore our flag’s glory that had been absconded by the freedumb gang.)

Anyway . . . I, for one, will be a long time forgetting what I witnessed on the telly on Sunday afternoon. The flags, the post-game reaction, the joy . . .

Now . . . what’s next?

Well, Canada plays its final qualifying game on Wednesday against host Panama.

And then comes Friday and the World Cup draw. TSN will start four hours of coverage at 8 a.m. PT.

As for the World Cup in Qatar, it is scheduled for Nov. 21 through Dec. 18.

Merry Christmas!



A tip of the hat to old friend Todd McLellan, a former WHL player and coach, who will be in his usual place tonight as his Los Angeles Kings play host to the Seattle Kraken in an NHL game. This will be McLellan’s 1,000th game as an NHL head coach. . . . He played four seasons (1983-87) with the Saskatoon Blades and turned to coaching when injuries derailed his playing career. He doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the job he did with the Swift Current Broncos through the early days of the Graham James debacle. McLellan was the head coach and assistant GM for two seasons (1994-96) and the GM/head coach from 1996-2000. . . . He has been an NHL head coach since 2008, working with the San Jose Sharks, Edmonton Oilers and the Kings.


As Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, prepared for last weekend’s March Madness he chose “to make two observations about the announcing on the games so far this year:

“Just when did the basketball become ‘the rock’ and/or ‘the orange’ and what might it take for the announcers to resume calling it ‘the ball?’

“Similarly, why has ‘an assist’ been renamed as ‘a dime?’ Why so cheap?  An assist guarantees at least two points; that ought to be worth at least ‘a buck and a quarter.’ ”


Crocs


Here’s how politics work in New York City. . . . You will be aware that Kyrie Irving of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets is unvaccinated and wasn’t able to play home games because of a local law that allowed only fully vaccinated people in city facilities. On March 13, Eric Adams, New York City’s mayor, was heckled on that very subject. His response: “Listen, you’re right. Kyrie can play tomorrow. Get vaccinated.” . . . Well, on March 23, Adams killed that particular law, allowing Irving as well as unvaccinated members of the New York Mets and Yankees to play in the city. . . . From The New York Times: “Steven A. Cohen, the hedge fund manager and Mets owner who last year gave $1.5 million to a super PAC supporting Mr. Adams’s mayoral campaign, has been paying $10,000 a month to a lobbying firm, Moonshot Strategies, to push state officials and City Hall on several issues, including Covid protocols. . . . Corey Johnson, the former speaker of the City Council who now runs his own lobbying firm, is receiving $18,000 a month from the Nets’s holding company, and lobbying records suggest that he recently contacted the mayor, his chief counsel and his chief of staff.” . . . All of which may have had something to do with the lifting of the mandate. Or maybe not. Wink! Wink! . . . The Times also reported that the decision was made with coronavirus cases having risen “31 percent over the past two weeks in New York City . . . though hospitalizations are down.”

——

Here’s Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“The arrogant fool, Kyrie Irving, was in the audience Thursday when New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced an exemption for professional athletes and performers from its private-sector vaccine mandate, meaning that Irving (barring an alarming pandemic surge) will be able to play home games for the Brooklyn Nets, starting Sunday night at Barclays Center. Good for Adams, looking down at Irving and telling him directly, ‘You should get the vaccine.’ It’s also the right move, considering that unvaccinated visiting players (as is the case at Chase Center), have been allowed to play in New York for months. But it’s sad that this represents a victory for the anti-vax crowd, so well represented by Irving’s smug expression. . . . Irving’s stance may yet backfire. If the Nets find themselves in a play-in game at Toronto (entirely possible), Canada’s strict vaccination policy will rule him out.”

——

Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“So Kyrie Irving abandons his team, putting the Nets’ title hopes in jeopardy, helps fuel the vaccine misinformation campaign that killed and sickened millions, and now is getting a free pass to join the fun? Superstardom has its perks!

“In granting special status to Irving and other athletes and entertainers, New York’s mayor, Eric Adams, may be heeding the scolding he got from Nets forward Kevin Durant, who recently said: ‘So hopefully, Eric, you’ve got to figure this out.’ Curious that Durant, with all his bold outspokenness, never said to his teammate, ‘So hopefully, Kyrie, you’ve got to figure this out.’ ”



For all those politicians and others who are convinced the pandemic is over, we have news from Banff, which is in Alberta. Team Logan, Canada’s entry in the women’s world deaf curling championship, had to withdraw from the gold medal game due to COVID. . . . The virus, it seems, missed the memo. . . . And now there’s news that Montreal Canadiens assistant coach Luke Richardson has tested positive and is in COVID-19 protocol. . . . Oh, and if you were looking for Lin-Manuel Miranda, he of Hamilton fame, at the Oscars, well, he wasn’t there. His wife has tested positive. . . . Wear a facemask. . . . Please!


Croc


WHL PLAYOFF PICTURE:

Each of the WHL’s 22 teams, with the exception of the Brandon Wheat Kings and Regina Pats, has played at least 60 games. The Wheaties and Pats are at 59. So it’s safe to say the stretch run is upon us. . . .

Only the Medicine Hat Tigers are into next season country, but the Pats, Calgary Hitmen and Tri-City Americans are on life support when it comes to playoff dreams.

In the Western Conference, the Everett Silvertips, Kamloops Blazers, Portland Winterhawks, Seattle Thunderbirds and Kelowna Rockets have clinched playoff spots. . . . The Silvertips lead the conference by four points over Kamloops, with each having seven games remaining. . . . Everett is headed for a first-place finish in the U.S. Division as it has a seven-point lead over Portland. . . . Kamloops will win the B.C. Division pennant. . . . Seattle is fourth, three points behind Portland, while Kelowna is headed for a fifth-place finish as it trails Seattle by eight points. . . . Further back, the Vancouver Giants and Victoria Royals are tied for sixth, but the Giants hold three games in hand. . . . The Prince George Cougars are clinging to the last playoff spot, three points behind Vancouver and Victoria and four ahead of the Spokane Chiefs, who have seven games remaining. . . . The Americans are six points out of a playoff spot with six games to play. . . .

If the playoffs started today: Everett vs. Prince George, Kamloops vs. Victoria, Portland vs. Vancouver, Seattle vs. Kelowna.

In the Eastern Conference, the Winnipeg Ice, Edmonton Oil Kings, Red Deer Rebels, Moose Jaw Warriors and Saskatoon Blades have clinched playoff spots. . . . The Ice leads the conference, four points ahead of the Edmonton Oil Kings, and those two will finish atop the East and Central Divisions, respectively. . . . The Rebels are headed for a third-place finish in the conference. . . . The Warriors are fourth, three points ahead of Saskatoon with each team having seven games remaining. . . . Brandon is sixth, seven points behind Saskatoon and seven ahead of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who are one point up on the eight-place Swift Current Broncos. . . . Prince Albert is four points behind Swift Current with the Raiders holding two games in hand. . . . Calgary is five points out of a playoff spot, while Regina trails Swift Current by six points. . . .

If the playoffs started today: Winnipeg vs. Swift Current, Edmonton vs. Lethbridge, Red Deer vs. Brandon, Moose Jaw vs. Saskatoon.

The playoffs are scheduled to open on April 22.

——

SUNDAY IN THE WHL:

In Calgary, G Isaac Poulter turned aside 37 shots to lead the Swift Current Broncos to a 3-0 victory over the Hitmen in Calgary. . . . He’s got six career shutouts, five of them this season. . . . F Cole Nagy’s 12th goal at 13:57 of the first period stood up as the winner. . . . Announced attendance was 11,999. . . .

In Winnipeg, the Ice opened up a 3-0 first-period lead en route to a 5-2 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . F Conor Geekie scored his 20th goal of the season for Winnipeg. The Ice now has seven players with at least 20 goals this season. The WHL record? The 1980-81 Portland Winterhawks and 1985-86 Medicine Hat Tigers each had 12. . . .

In Edmonton, the Lethbridge Hurricans struck for five second-period goals and went to a 5-1 victory over the Oil Kings. . . . Lethbridge G Bryan Thomson stopped 38 shots as his teammates were outshot, 39-18. . . . Announced attendance was 12,855. . . . The Oil Kings had won, 5-2, in Lethbridge on Friday. . . .

In Langley, B.C., the Prince George Cougars erased a 3-2 deficit with three third-period goals as they edged the Vancouver Giants, 5-4. . . . F Koehn Ziemmer (29) tied the score at 4:13 of the third period, F Ethan Samson (14) gave the visitors the lead at 9:20 and F Caden Brown (6) got the eventual winner at 13:49. . . . F Payton Mount scored three times for the Giants, giving him 12. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., F Jared Davidson and F Conner Roulette each scored twice as the Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Tri-City Americans, 4-1. . . . Roulette, who also had an assist, has 22 goals; Davidson has 33.


Plant


SATURDAY IN THE WHL:

The Everett Silvertips scored the game’s last five goals and beat the visiting Portland Winterhawks, 7-3. . . . Everett G Koen MacInnes stopped all 37 shots he faced after coming on in relief of Braden Holt at 12:04 of the first period with Portland leading, 3-1. . . . F Jackson Berezowski scored two of Everett’s first four goals, including the winner. He now has 43 goals. . . . Portland had won the previous four meetings with Everett. . . .

In Kelowna, F Colton Dach scored three times — he’s got 24 — and added an assist as the Rockets got past the Kamloops Blazers, 5-3. . . . The Blazers played six straight games against the Rockets and had won the first five. . . . Kelowna went 8-4-2 in the season series; Kamloops was 6-7-1. . . .

The Seattle Thunderbirds surrendered the first two goals, then scored six in a row en route to a 6-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Kent, Wash. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky, who began his WHL career with the Giants, scored three times, the second one on a penalty shot. Svejkovsky, who also had two assists, has 30 goals this season. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., G Tomas Suchanek stopped 38 shots to record his first WHL shutout as the Tri-City Americans beat the Spokane Chiefs, 4-0. . . . F Samuel Huo, who has 28 goals, scored Tri-City’s first two goals, with F Sasha Mutala (18) getting the other two. . . . The announced attendance was 4,906, the Americans’ largest crowd of the season. . . .

G Tyler Brennan blocked 24 shots to lead the Prince George Cougars to a 3-0 victory over the host Victoria Royals. . . . Brennan has four shutouts this season and five in his career. . . . The Royals had won five straight. . . . The Cougars had lost nine of 10 and three in a row. . . .

The host Moose Jaw Warriors scored five third-period goals en route to a 7-0 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . G Carl Tetachuk recorded the shutout with 31 saves. He’s got three shutouts this season, all with the Warriors who acquired him from the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Tetachuk, 20, has eight shutouts in his career. . . . D Denton Mateychuk had a goal, his 10th, and three assists. He has 10 points in last two games. He now has 60 points in his 58 games. . . . The Warriors are fourth in the Eastern Conference, three points ahead of the Blades. The teams will meet again Friday, this time in Saskatoon. . . .

In Red Deer, the Rebels opened up a 4-0 lead early in the second period and went on to beat the Swift Current Broncos, 6-2. . . . F Jayden Grubbe led the Rebels with two goals, giving him 12. . . . F Arshdeep Bains of the Rebels, who leads the WHL points derby, picked up his 36th goal. He now has 97 points, two more than linemate Ben King. . . .

The Brandon Wheat Kings erased a 1-0 deficit with five straight goals as they beat the host Regina Pats, 5-2. . . . The Wheat Kings took control with three goals in 1:11 late in the first period. . . . Brandon got two goals from F Rylen Roersma, who has 17. . . . F Connor Bedard got No. 44 for the Pats, who were playing in front of a season-high announced crowd of 6,241. . . .

In Winnipeg, F Jack Finley’s three goals led the Ice to a 6-2 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . The Ice held a 37-16 edge in shots, including 14-1 in the second period. . . . Finley has 24 goals, with 16 of them coming in the 31 games he has played with Winnipeg since coming over from the Spokane Chiefs. . . .

G Brayden Peters kicked out 13 shots to record the shutout as the Calgary Hitmen beat the Tigers, 2-0, in Medicine Hat. . . . Peters has four career shutouts, three of them this season. . . . Calgary outshot Medicine Hat, 39-13, including 14-2 in the opening period. . . . D Keagan Slaney’s third goal, at 15:48 of the first period, stood up as the winner. . . .


Here’s Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, describing the biggest cheaters in the world of sports: “Barry Bonds, Lance Armstrong, every NASCAR crew chief and those of you who fill out more than one NCAA tournament bracket.”


Therapist


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.


Unicorn

WHL apologizes after “technical issues” result in Brandon off-side goal standing . . . Franchise record for Maier . . . Prokop a hit in hometown

Car54


The Brandon Wheat Kings beat the host Saskatoon Blades, 5-4 in OT, on WHLWednesday night. The WHL now is admitting that Brandon’s second goal, which gave it a 2-1 lead, developed after an off-side play.

Saskatoon challenged for off-side, but the goal was allowed to stand.

In real time, Les Lazaruk, the veteran radio voice of the Blades, tweeted:

“Following Thornton’s goal at 5:55 of the 2nd period, @BladesHockey H-C Brennan Sonne issued a coaches challenge for offside. While video on the scoreboard showed offside, the goal was allowed after a long delay…about 10 minutes. I can only surmise the video on the screen . . . wasn’t available to the video officials booth. Either way, the review took way too long.”

Here is what the WHL says happened:

“Due to technical issues in the video review booth, the video goal judge did not receive a video feed providing all of the angles and slow motion replay required. Subsequently, the video goal judge determined the play at the blueline to be inconclusive and, as a result, the goal remained as called on the ice. After this determination was made by the video goal judge, the videoboard in-venue showed a video feed of the play different than what was available to the video goal judge and which showed that the play was off-side. The challenge by Saskatoon should have resulted in the Brandon goal being disallowed.

“The WHL apologizes for the technical issues that produced an inaccurate result in the video review requested by Saskatoon, and is working diligently to ensure similar problems do not occur in the future.”

It is, is it not, at least a little bit interesting that it was the home team that got stiffed by “technical issues in the video review booth.”

Would the conspiracy theorists have had a night had it happened in Brandon? LOL!


Hopefully, there weren’t any technical issues in any of the WHL’s eight Friday night games. Some highlights . . .

In Regina, F Skyler Bruce’s fourth goal of the season, on a PP, broke a 2-2 tie and the Winnipeg Ice went on to a 4-2 victory over the Pats. . . . Winnipeg was 1-for-2 on the PP. . . . The Ice (5-0-0) and Pats (2-4-0) will play again tonight, this time in Winnipeg. . . . The Ice has outscored its opposition, 34-7, in its season-opening five victories. . . .

In Prince Albert, the Moose Jaw Warriors scored the last four goals and beat the Raiders, 4-1. . . . The Warriors (3-2-0) held a 33-14 edge in shots. . . . Moose Jaw got a goal and an assist from each of F Ryder Korczak (1) and F Brayden Yager (4). . . . The Raiders (1-5-0) were without F Sloan Stanick, who drew a three-game sentence for a goaltender interference major he took on Wednesday in Moose Jaw in his first game after being acquired from Regina. The Raiders won that game, 3-2. . . .

In Saskatoon, G Nolan Maier set a franchise record with his 10th career shutout Bladesas the Blades dropped the Medicine Hat Tigers, 4-0. . . . Maier (3-1-1, 3.12, .893) had shared the shutout record with Andrei Makarov (115 games, 2011-13). Maier, who has played in 161 games, already holds the franchise record for regular-season victories by a goaltender (94). . . . The Blades (3-1-1) got three assists from F Tristen Robins — one each via PP, shorthanded and even strength — as he enjoyed his fourth straight multi-point game. He has a WHL-leading 11 points, including a league-high nine assists, in four games. . . . F Kyle Crnkovic (5) scored twice. . . . The Tigers are 2-3-0. . . . Darren Steinke was in attendance and the report he posted to his blog is right here. . . .

In Edmonton, D Luke Prokop scored twice in his first game with his hometown team as the Oil Kings skated past the Lethbridge Hurricanes, 4-1. . . . The Oil Kings (4-1-1) acquired Prokop from the Calgary Hitmen earlier in the week. . . . He opened the scoring at 4:14 of the first period. . . .  Prokop has 10 career goals, including a pair of two-goal games, in 154 games. The other occurred on Feb. 21, 2020, as the Hitmen lost, 6-5, to the host Vancouver Giants. . . . G Sebastian Cossa stopped 25 shots for his first shutout of the season and ninth of his career. . . . The Hurricanes are 3-2-0. . . .

In Calgary, F Arshdeep Bains had his first WHL hat trick to lead the Red Deer Rebels to an 8-1 victory over the Hitmen. . . . The Rebels (3-2-1) and Hitmen (1-3-0) will play again this afternoon in a game scheduled to be televised nationally by CBC. . . . Last night, the Rebels scored the last seven goals. . . . Bains, who has four goals, also had an assist. . . . D Christoffer Sedoff (1) and F Blake Stevenson (2) each added a goal and two assists. . . .

In Kelowna, F Colton Dach scored twice as the Rockets doubled the Kamloops Blazers, 4-2. . . . Dach (3) broke a 2-2 tie at 12:13 of the third period as the Rockets (2-1-0) handed Kamloops (4-1-0) its first loss. . . . The Blazers complete a run of four road games in five nights tonight when they meet the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . G Colby Knight, an 18-year-old from Red Deer, stopped 29 shots to earn the victory in his first appearance since being acquired this week from the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . .

In Kent, Wash., the Everett Silvertips tied the game with a shorthanded goal late Everettin the third period and then scored in OT to beat the Seattle Thunderbirds, 5-4. . . . F Alex Swetlikoff (2) pulled Everett (3-0-0) into a tie at 14:10 of the third and F Ben Hammering (2) won it at 2:11 of OT. . . . Hemmerling finished with two goals and two assists. . . . Seattle (2-1-1) lost F Lucas Ciona with a charging major at 13:49 of the second period after he ran into Everett G Braden Holt. Everett scored once on the ensuing PP, F Austin Roest (1) pulling it into a 3-3 tie. . . . The rivalry resumes tonight in Everett. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., G Mason Beaupit turned aside 18 shots to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 3-0 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . It was his first career shutout. It came in his fourth game of this season and 17th of his career. . . . F Jack Finley (2) had a goal and an assist. . . . The Chiefs are 2-3-1; the Americans are 2-2-0. . . . Tri-City F Drew Freer was hit with a match penalty for attempt to injure at 15:58 of the third period, following an incident involving F Reed Jacobson. The Chiefs’ Twitter account noted: “Ugly situation leads to Jacobson being taken off the ice by medical, appeared to be conscious and alert.”


Brick


JUST NOTES: The AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights announced Friday that head coach Manny Viveiros is taking a “non-COVID medical leave of absence from the team.” That puts assistant coach Jamie Heward in charge on an interim basis. Both are former WHL players and coaches, and were together on the bench when the Swift Current Broncos won the WHL’s 2017-18 championship. They are in their second seasons with the Knights, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. . . . The Golden Knights beat the Colorado Eagles last night, 5-4 in a shootout, on a goal by former Winnipeg Ice F Peyton Krebs. . . . John Garrett, a former WHL/NHL goaltender, wasn’t in Philadelphia with the Vancouver Canucks on Friday due to COVID protocols. Garrett usually provides the analysis along play-by-play man John Shorthouse on Canucks’ telecasts. Former WHL G Corey Hirsch moved over from the radio booth to take Garrett’s spot. . . .

The NFL’s Arizona Cardinals will be missing head coach Cliff Kingsbury, QB coach Cam Turner and DL Zach Allen when they play the Browns in Cleveland on Sunday. All three tested positive on Friday. The Cardinals have had enough recent positives that they are going into enhanced protocols, meaning players and staff will be tested daily regardless of vaccination status.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Calgary Hitmen have dropped G Jack McNaughton from their roster. McNaughton, who is to turn 20 on Oct. 30, played the previous three seasons with the Hitmen. From Calgary, he was 46-24-8, 3.32, .884 in 87 regular-season appearances over three-plus seasons. That included one game this season.


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.


Tape

Remembering 1945-46 USAHA-champion Vancouver Canucks . . . Russians stun Americans in Texas . . . Some twin history for Royals

Sign


Some baseball numbers to chew on. . . . I watch a fair amount of baseball, so obviously am aware that there are a whole lot of strikeouts in today’s game. In fact, I would suggest that the numbers have become mind-numbing. . . .

John Shea is the national baseball writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. A couple of days ago, I read a story he had written about what the headline referred to as “baseball’s rising tide of strikeouts” and the numbers were out of this world. . . . The gist of the story was how the Giants and Oakland A’s were adding flame-throwers to their pitching staffs because of the preponderance of strikeouts in MLB. . . . The numbers are stunning. . . .

Going into last weekend, MLB teams had played 576 games. There had been 5,263 strikeouts and 4,414 hits, a difference of 849. As Shea reported, “From 1900 through 2017, hits always outnumbered strikeouts. . . . In 1998, the year the sport expanded to 30 teams, there were 12,596 more hits than strikeouts.” . . . In 2018, there were 189 more strikeouts than hits, the first time that had occurred. That number was 784 in 2019 and last season, in only 60 games, it was 1,147.

As I said . . . mind-numbing numbers.


The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to begin on July 23. But, yes, there are questions, lots of questions. . . . If you’re a Canadian, you know that tennis star Bianca Andreescu won’t play in the Madrid Open after testing positive, and Canada won’t compete in the World track relays in Poland in May. And now there have been two positive tests on one of the teams that was entering the Calgary bubble to play in the women’s World Curling Championship. . . . As Myles Dichter of CBC writes: “It remains unclear how positive tests and cases like Andreescu’s would be handled, and it also remains to be seen if Japanese citizens will come around to hosting, as the latest polling reveals that at least 70 per cent are opposed. Meanwhile, just one per cent of the Japanese population is vaccinated and the torch relay has been rerouted to avoid hot spots on multiple occasions as the country lives under its third state of emergency.”


Are you aware that the Vancouver Canucks once won the Walter A. Brown Cup as United States Amateur Hockey Association champions? Yes, they did. . . . The Canucks played in the Pacific Coast Hockey League in 1945-46, winning the league championship by beating the Hollywood Wolves, 4-1, in a best-of-seven final. . . . The Canucks then challenged the Boston Olympics, who had won the Eastern Hockey League title, for the U.S. crown. Boston’s lineup included future Hockey Hall of Famers Fern Flaman and Allan Stanley. . . . The series was played in Vancouver with the Canucks losing three of the first four games before storming back to win the title. . . . There’s more on this story, from Jason Beck of the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame, right here.

The late Andy Clovechok was the scoring leader on that Vancouver team, winning the PCHL scoring title with 103 points, 56 of them goals, in 54 games. In September 2012, I wrote a bit about him and the 1945-46 Canucks as they were about to be inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame. . . . “The next season,” Clovechok said of the Olympics, “eight of Boston’s 14 players were in the National Hockey League. That’s how good they were.” . . . That story is right here.


Farmer


The 2021 IIHF U18 World Hockey Championship opened Monday in Frisco and Plano, Texas, and there was a shocker in the opening draw. . . . F Nikita Chibrikov, Russia’s captain, went end-to-end in OT and scored at 1:25 to give Russia a 7-6 victory over the U.S. Russia had trailed 5-1 in the second period. . . . Lucas Aykroyd has the game story right here. . . .

In the other Group B game on opening day, Czech Republic beat Germany, 3-1. . . . In Group A, Sweden bounced Belarus, 5-1, and Switzerland doubled Latvia, 4-2. . . . Canada plays its first game today when it meets Sweden (TSN, 6 p.m. PT). The other Group A game has Switzerland against Belarus. . . . In Group B, it’s Finland versus Russia and Germany against the U.S.


While the U18 teams began battling it out in Texas, there were three WHL games on Monday night . . .

The Winnipeg Ice scored three third-period goals to beat the Prince Albert WinnipegRaiders, 4-3, in the Regina hub. . . . Winnipeg (17-5-1) has points in six straight (5-0-1). . . . The Raiders are 8-11-4. . . . Prince Albert scored three PP goals to take a 3-1 lead into the third period. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt (6) got it started at 11:16 of the first period. . . . F Jackson Leppard (2) pulled the Ice into a tie at 6:36 of the second. . . . The Raiders went up 3-1 on goals from F Spencer Moe (2), at 10:29, and F Justin Nachbaur (6), at 17:07. . . . F Conor Geekie (8) started the Winnipeg comeback at 9:28 of the third and F Zachary Benson (9) tied it, on a PP, at 10:48. . . . D Karter Prosofsky got the winner, his first WHL goal, at 15:20. . . . A second-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft, Prosofsky was playing in his 57th game. . . . Ice F Peyton Krebs drew an assist on the game’s final goal to run his point streak to 22 games. That is a Kootenay/WInnipeg Ice franchise record, breaking the previous record that was set by F Mike Comrie with Kootenay in 2000-01. . . . Winnipeg got 24 saves from G Daniel Hauser, who is 7-0-1, 3.10, .898. He was a sixth-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . .

D Rhett Rhinehart’s OT goal gave the Saskatoon Blades a 5-4 victory over the BladesMoose Jaw Warriors in the Regina hub. . . . The Blades (15-5-3) had lost their previous four games (0-3-1). . . . The Warriors (8-13-3) finished their 24-game schedule by dropping four straight (0-2-2). . . . F Kyle Crnkovic had two goals and two assists for the Blades, with F Colton Dach, who assisted on the winner, scoring once and adding three helpers. . . . Crnkovic, who has 10 goals, gave Saskatoon a 1-0 lead at 3:49 of the first period, with Moose Jaw F Logan Doust (2) equalizing at 7:27. . . . Crnkovic scored a shorthanded goal at 11:24 of the second period for a 2-1 lead, only to have the Warriors tie it on a goal by F Jagger Firkus (6) at 12:02. . . . The Blades broke the tie on goals from Dach (9) and D Chase Wouters (9) at 0:08 and 5:29 of the third. . . . D Daemon Hunt (8), on a PP, and F Calder Anderson (3) scored for the Warriors at 7:02 and 15:43 to get proceedings into OT. . . . Rhinehart won it at 1:27. . . . Despite nine goals, 12 minor penalties and OT, the game took only two hours 12 minutes to complete. . . .

In Kamloops, the Prince George Cougars opened a 3-0 lead en route to a 4-1 PGvictory over the Victoria Royals. . . . The Cougars (5-7-2) had lost its previous four games. . . . The Royals (1-12-1) have dropped nine in a row. . . . F Kyren Gronick (5) and F Ethan Browne (4), on a PP, scored first-period goals for the Cougars, with F Jonny Hooker (6) making it 3-0 at 11:11 of the second. . . . F Trentyn Crane (2) got the Royals on the board at 5:44 of the third period but F Craig Armstrong (6) got that one back for Prince George at 7:30. . . . G Taylor Gauthier stopped 25 shots for the Cougars. . . . Ryan Spizawka made his WHL debut with the Royals, joining his twin brother, Jason, in the lineup. The brothers, from Victoria, are defencemen. Jason, the 19th overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft, has three assists in 12 games. Ryan was a seventh-round selection in that draft. . . . According to Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist, they are the “fourth set of identical twins” to play on the same WHL team. Dheensaw writes: “Jeremy and Josh Schappert skated with the Seattle Thunderbirds from 2005 to 2007, future NHLers Ron and Rich Sutter with the Lethbridge Broncos from 1980 to 1983, and Ted and Brent McAneeley with the Edmonton Oil Kings from 1968 to 1970.”


Dorothy, my wife of almost 49 years, had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, and now is preparing to take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. It happens virtually on June 6. You are able to join her team with a donation 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.


JUST NOTES: Colin Campbell, who has been with the Seattle Thunderbirds since 1994, has been promoted to president. He had been the team’s vice-president for business operations for 19 seasons. According to a news release, he will “oversee all hockey and business operations” for the organization. That news release is right here. . . . Brandin Cote, an assistant coach with the Swift Current Broncos, will leave after this season to become the associate coach with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies. The Broncos and Huskies confirmed the move on Monday. Cote is in his third season with the Broncos. Cote will work alongside Mike Babcock, the Huskies’ new head coach. Cote spent three seasons (1997-2000) as a player under Babcock with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs.


Daylighttime

Hansch, Hamilton, Marsh gone from Oil Kings . . . Heponiemi is finished in Swift Current . . . Blades, Ice sign draft picks

MacBeth

F Josh Holden (Regina, 1994-98) has retired from playing and signed a one-year contract as assistant coach with Zug (Switzerland, NL A). He will also be development coach for Zug Academy (NL B) and Zug U20 (Elite Junior A). This season, he had two goals and three assists in 19 games with Zug, and had nine goals and 19 assists in 31 games with Zug Academy, where he was team captain. . . . According to the Zug news release, Holden “has been living with his family in the canton of Zug for 10 years and is likely to receive the Swiss passport soon.” . . .

F Aleksi Heponiemi (Swift Current, 2016-18) signed a two-year contract with Kärpät Oulu (Finland, Liiga). This season, with Swift Current, he had 28 goals and a WHL-leading 90 assists in 57 games.


ThisThat

I have spent the past few weeks tinkering with three different blog sites.

If you haven’t already, please take a few moments to check them out, then let me know which one you prefer.

Here are the three addresses . . .

greggdrinnan.com

greggdrinnan.blogspot.com

gdrinnan.blogspot.ca

Let me know your preference by sending an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com.


The Edmonton Oil Kings will have at least three new faces in their hockey operations department when another season rolls around.

The Oil Kings will have a new general manager after revealing on Monday that Randy EdmontonOilKingsHansch is joining an as-yet-unnamed NHL team as an amateur scout.

At the same time, the Oil Kings announced that they have fired head coach Steve Hamilton, who had been in the organization for eight seasons, while assistant coach Ryan Marsh’s contract won’t be renewed. Marsh had been in that position through four seasons.

The decisions were announced by Peter Chiarelli, the president of hockey operations and general manager of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, who own the WHL franchise.

Hamilton, 44, spent four seasons as an assistant coach under head coach Derek Laxdal, then was head coach for four seasons. Hamilton took over from Hamilton when the latter joined the AHL’s Texas Stars as head coach.

Under Laxdal, the Oil Kings won two WHL titles and a Memorial Cup championship. Under Hamilton, the Oil Kings went 108-152-28, missing the playoffs each of the past two seasons.

This season, the Oil Kings had the WHL’s poorest record — 22-42-8.

Hansch, 52, had been with the Oil Kings since 2007-08, working the past five seasons as general manager. Prior to that, he was the director of player personnel and assistant general manager.

There has been speculation since the WHL bantam draft on May 3 that Kirt Hill, a former WHL player who spent this season as an amateur scout with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, will be joining the Oil Kings as director of hockey operations.

Hill played in the WHL with the Kelowna Rockets and Regina Pats (2004-08). He joined the WHL office as manager of player development during the 2013-14 season, then left to work for the Blackhawks prior to this season.

Derek Van Diest of Postmedia has more on the Oil Kings right here in a piece that includes some good quotes from Hansch.


There now are four WHL teams in need of a head coach.

The Oil Kings, of course, need one, having fired Steve Hamilton on Monday after he spent four seasons in that role.

Also needing a head coach are the Kamloops Blazers, Saskatoon Blades and Swift Current Broncos.

The Blazers are looking for a replacement for Don Hay, who has moved into an advisory role after four seasons as head coach. However, Hay, 64,  has said he wants to continue coaching and you would think he would at least get some consideration in Edmonton. Hay has more regular-season and playoff victories than anyone in WHL history.

Saskatoon needs a head coach after firing Dean Brockman following the end of its season.

Swift Current, which won the WHL championship, has to replace Manny Viveiros, who left the Broncos on Friday and now is an assistant coach with the Oilers.

When it comes to general managers, there are three teams looking to hire.

The Oil Kings are looking for a replacement for Randy Hansch after Monday’s announcement.

Also in the market are the Kamloops Blazers and Prince George Cougars. The Blazers announced earlier this month that Stu MacGregor had been reassigned to the scouting staff of the NHL’s Dallas Stars — Dallas owner Tom Gaglardi is the majority owner of the Blazers — while the Cougars parted company with Todd Harkins after their season ended.

The general manager in Prince George will inherit a head coach, Richard Matvichuk, who is going into the final season of his contract.

The Vancouver Giants already have a new general manager, having hired Barclay Parneta earlier this month. He replaces Glen Hanlon, who left the team after two seasons in that role.


If you aren’t already, you really should be paying attention to TSN where, led by Rick Westhead’s reporting, it is putting a spotlight on the NHL and head injuries. . . . It all has to do with the concussion-related lawsuit filed by a number of players against the NHL in 2013. It is mind-numbing to watch NHL commissioner Gary Bettman at his condescending best, and to read about some NHL owners denying having ever heard of CTE. . . . This is important to junior hockey fans, and owner/operators, too, because sooner or later a connection is going to be made, if it hasn’t already, between former professional players who are showing signs of CTE and head injuries they incurred in junior hockey. . . . The first of TSN’s five-part series is right here. There is video and a story by Westhead.


F Aleksi Heponiemi won’t be back for a third season with the WHL-champion Swift SCBroncosCurrent Broncos. The 19-year-old Finnish sensation has signed a two-year contract with Kärpät Oulu of the top pro league in Finland. . . . This season, Heponiemi had 118 points, including 90 assists, in 57 regular-season games with the Broncos. Last season, as a freshman, he had 28 goals and 58 assists in 72 games. . . . In 2016-17, he was named the WHL’s rookie of the year after leading all freshmen in assists and points. This season, he led the WHL in assists and was named a first-team all-star. He also was named the CHL’s most sportsmanlike player. . . . Heponiemi was selected by the Florida Panthers in the second round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . The Broncos’ other import player is Russian D Artyom Minulin, who is eligible to return for his 20-year-old season.


Back in the day, the Kamloops Blazers were a major junior dynasty, something that was defined by their three Memorial Cup titles in four years (1992, 1994, 1995). The architect of all that was Bob Brown, who was fired as general manager a couple of weeks after the third title as the organization chose to go in a different direction. The Blazers, of course, haven’t come close to that kind of success since then, but what is Brown up to these days? . . . Tom Zillich of the Surrey Now-Leader checks in with Brown right here.

Here’s a thought . . . Zillich reports that Brown’s scouting contract with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers is about to expire. As well, Ken Hitchcock, who had considerable success as the Blazers’ head coach back in the day, doesn’t have a coaching job these days; he has moved into an advisory role with the NHL’s Dallas Stars. . . . So you don’t suppose . . . Nah. Never happen.


The Saskatoon Blades have signed F Colton Dach, who was the sixth overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. From Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., he is the younger brother of Blades F Kirby Dach, who was the second overall pick in the 2016 bantam draft. . . . This season, Colton had 22 goals and 47 assists in 30 games with the OHA Edmonton bantam prep team.


The Kootenay Ice has signed three of its selections from the 2018 WHL bantam draft — D KootenaynewCarson Lambos, D Karter Prosofsky and F Skyler Bruce. . . . Lambos, from Winnipeg, was taken second overall. He had 15 goals and 25 assists in 30 games with the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy Nationals bantam prep team. He was named the CSSHL bantam league’s top defenceman. . . . Prosofsky and Bruce were second-round selections. . . . Prosofsky, from Saskatoon, had eight goals and 10 assists in 24 games with the Victoria-based Pacific Coast Hockey Academy’s bantam prep team. . . . Bruce, from Winnipeg, also played at the Rink Hockey Academy. He had 21 goals and 19 assists in 30 games with the bantam prep team.

The WHL’s 22 teams now have signed nine of the first-round selections from the 2018 bantam draft.

The Edmonton Oil Kings have signed F Dylan Guenther, the first overall selection, while the Ice (Lambos), Prince Albert Raiders (3. D Nolan Allan), Calgary Hitmen (4. F Sean Tschigerl), Saskatoon Blades (6. F Colton Dach), Lethbridge Hurricanes (8. F Zack Stringer), Tri-City Americans (14. D Marc Lajoie), Spokane Chiefs (17. D Graham Sward), and Edmonton (20. D Keegan Slaney),

The teams that have yet to sign their first-round selections are the Kamloops Blazers (5. F Logan Stankoven), Red Deer Rebels (7. F Jayden Grubbe), Prince George Cougars (9. F Craig Armstrong), Seattle Thunderbirds (10. F Kai Uchacz), Medicine Hat Tigers (11. F Cole Sillinger), Vancouver Giants (12. F Zack Ostapchuk), Victoria Royals (13. D Nolan Bentham), Brandon Wheat Kings (15. F Jake Chiasson), Red Deer (16. D Kyle Masters), Kelowna Rockets (18. F Trevor Wong), Portland Winterhawks (19. F Gabe Klassen), Prince George (21. G Tyler Brennan), and Moose Jaw Warriors (22. F Eric Alarie).


A tip of the Taking Note cap to the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves for hiring Mike Commito to fill the newly created position of team historian. . . . This is great news for a part of the hockey world whose history often is shoved into the shadows and forgotten. . . . “In anticipation of the Wolves 50th anniversary in the 2022 season,” the team noted in a news release, “the organization has created a new role to help capture the stories and memories that shape the rich Wolves’ hockey tradition.  From players and coaches, to fans and billet families, there are amazing stories that weave throughout the decades and who better to capture those stories than the team’s very first historian.” . . . That news release is right here.

%d bloggers like this: