How a coach wound up with two WHL teams at same time . . . Friedman puts focus on Ingram . . . B.C. mess has schedule implications

Bob Tory, the general manager of the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, heard from a Americansfew potential goaltending coaches on Wednesday.

There was one problem . . . the Americans have a goaltending coach in Eli Wilson.

If you tuned in late, Wilson also is Kelowna’s goaltending coach, something that Rockets president/GM Bruce Hamilton announced on Monday.

A goaltending coach working with two teams in the same league? Only in the WHL, you say.

Well, here’s how it went down . . .

On Nov. 7, the Rockets acquired G Talyn Boyko, all 6-foot-7.5 of him, from the Americans for G Cole Tisdale, 19, and a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2024 draft.

Boyko, 19, a fourth-round pick by the New York Rangers in the NHL’s 2021 Rocketsdraft, has been a long-time student of Wilson’s, having attended his goaltending camps as well as working with him with the Americans.

After the trade, when Hamilton asked Tory if Wilson could work with Kelowna’s goaltenders, Tory said he didn’t have a problem with it, as long as it didn’t interfere with the one week a month that Wilson, who lives in Kelowna, is to spend with the Americans.

So that’s how Wilson came to be on the ice with the Rockets in Kelowna on Wednesday while the Americans were riding the bus to Kamloops where they spent the night. Tri-City is to practise in Kamloops this morning and then head to Prince George for a Friday-Saturday series with the Cougars.

With the Rockets, Wilson replaces Adam Brown, who no longer is with the organization. Brown, 30, spent four seasons (2008-12) tending goal for the Rockets and five (2016-21) on their coaching staff.


It was an exciting evening in this household on Oct. 24 when G Connor Ingram made 33 saves in his NHL debut and helped the visiting Nashville Predators to a 5-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild.

Ingram, 24, is a favourite in these parts for a couple of reasons. First, we had many conversations as he put up 81 victories during his three seasons (2014-17) with the Kamloops Blazers. Second, his folks, Joni and Brent, have long supported Dorothy in her annual Kidney Walk fund-raising efforts.

In January, Connor left the Predators and voluntarily entered the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program, going on to spend 40 days at a facility in Malibu, Calif.

Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet has lots on Ingram and the subsequent diagnosis of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in his latest 32 Thoughts.

“This is the kind of OCD you do not hear about,” Ingram told Friedman. “You hear about repeatedly washing hands or being incredibly organized. My apartment is a disaster, I’m not one of those people.”

It’s worth reading to understand what Ingram has been through.

But it was something that Brian Poile, Nashville’s assistant GM and director of hockey operations, told Friedman that really struck me. When Ingram decided that he needed help, the Predators were in Dallas and it was Poile who stayed with him in a hotel as things were put in motion to get help.

“In professional sports,” Poile told Friedman, “we sometimes forget these are young men, some of them not fully developed physically or mentally. In many cases, they leave their homes and families in their prime development years to chase their NHL dreams. These young men devote the majority of their days and years to hockey, and in some cases at a significant compromise to the other areas of their life, to become exceptional at the game they love.”

If you are a follower of junior hockey take a few moments to think about that because Poile hit the nail squarely on the head.

Friedman’s complete 32 Thoughts is right here. Items 23 through 27 deal with Ingram.


The events of the last few days in the area to the west of my world are almost beyond comprehension. After getting through a horrendous summer that included devastating wildfires — one wiped the community of Lytton right off the map — and a heat bubble that took temperatures into the high 40s and resulted in hundreds of deaths, areas of B.C. are faced with surveying untold damage, mopping up and eventually rebuilding after a weekend of torrential rain.

Blake Shaffer, an assistant professor in the economics department of the U of Calgary, tweeted on Wednesday that this will be the “costliest natural disaster in Canadian history . . . won’t even be close.”

The resulting landslides, mudslides and flooding has left the highways into the Lower Mainland — generally recognized as the area west of Hope — all shut down. (Highway 7 opened to westbound passenger vehicles from Hope on Wednesday at 5 p.m., allowing more than 1,000 people who had been stranded there to head for home, and then was closed two hours later. . . . There are reports that Highway No. 3 could be open to some traffic at some point over the approaching weekend.)

People being people, of course, grocery stores throughout B.C. — from Prince George to Vancouver — found themselves hit by hoarders on Tuesday and many quickly ran out of a whole lot of stuff, from toilet paper to produce to milk products and meat, bringing back memories of the same thing happening in the early days of the pandemic. For people in places like Kamloops, Kelowna and Prince George, it didn’t seem to matter that highways to the east remain open to trucks bearing supplies. Hoard on, Garth!

Anyway . . . the transportation issues have resulted in a number of hockey leagues having to keep a close eye on their schedules.

For starters, the WHL has postponed a game that was to have had the Victoria Royals play the Blazers in Kamloops on Friday. It has been rescheduled for Feb. 16. The Royals, however, will travel to Langley, B.C., to play the Vancouver Giants on Saturday night. . . . The Blazers are to play the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash., on Saturday night. Teams going south are able to bypass the Lower Mainland by travelling through Osoyoos, B.C., and entering the U.S. at the Oroville crossing. . . .

In the BCHL, a Wednesday night game between the visiting Merritt Centennials bchland the Penticton Vees was postponed with a rescheduled date yet to be announced. Merritt, with a population around 7,500, remains under an evacuation order after its wastewater treatment plant was compromised by flood water from the Coldwater River. . . . That evacuation order is expected to be in place for at least another week. . . .

The BCHL also postponed a pair of Merritt home games — Friday against the Vernon Vipers and Saturday versus the Prince George Spruce Kings.

All told, the BCHL has postponed eight weekend games and added a pair. There’s a news release detailing it all right here. . . .

Two BCHL teams were forced into extended road stays after being unable to get home after weekend games. The Victoria Grizzlies flew home from Penticton on Wednesday, one day after most of the Coquitlam Express drove from Kamloops to Kelowna and then boarded a plane for home. . . .

The junior B Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey kijhlLeague was to have entertained the Chase Heat on Wednesday night. However, the Storm’s home arena at McArthur Island is being used to house evacuees from Merritt so the game was postponed. The Storm’s next home game is scheduled for Sunday against the North Okanagan Knights. . . .

The KIJHL had postponed a Tuesday game in Princeton that was to have had the Posse meeting the Kelowna Chiefs. Princeton was hit with an evacuation order for 295 homes after the Tumaleen and Similkameen rivers overflowed. The Posse next is to play on Friday in Summerland against the Steam, before returning home to face Chase on Saturday. . . .

In the junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, a game scheduled for Friday that was to have had the host Lake Cowichan Kraken meet the Victoria Cougars has been postponed with a new date yet to be determined. . . . Also postponed is a Friday game between the visiting Kerry Park Islanders and Saanich Predators and two Sunday assignments — the Campbell River Storm at Saanich and the Islanders at the Westshore Wolves. . . .

The Pacific Junior Hockey League postponed a Wednesday night game that was to have had the Aldergrove Kodiak visit the Richmond Sockeyes. . . .

The AHL’s Abbotsford Canucks were to have played host to the Bakersfield Condors on Friday and Sunday. Those games have been moved to Jan. 5 and Jan. 10. . . . Abbotsford’s next home game is scheduled for Nov. 30 against the Ontario Reign. . . .

The message here is that if you are planning on attending a sporting event in these times, you need to check a schedule to see if the game is still on, all the while being sure to see what pandemic-related restrictions are in place.


Using a whole lot of numbers, Rhianna Schmunk of CBC News put together a comprehensive look at the situation in B.C., and it’s all right here. It’s a scary read, especially when you realize that this is happening right down the road.



The NHL’s Ottawa Senators, who have had as many as 10 players and one coach nhl2on the COVID-19 protocol list, are scheduled to play the Colorado Avalance in Denver on Monday. By that point, eight of those players could be back, depending on how the testing process goes. . . . The Senators have had three games postponed. . . . Ottawa F Michael Del Zotto explained the situation to Toronto radio station TSN 1050 on Wednesday: ““Some guys have had some loss of taste and smell, and I think that’s about as serious as it’s gotten, at least to my knowledge. Everyone is vaccinated so that certainly helps, but it’s scary how quickly it can spread and how quickly it went through the team. This is 20 months now still talking about (COVID-19) and it would be nice for us to get past this.” . . .

The NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights have put three players — F Michael Amadio, F William Carrier and F Johnathan Marchessault on the NHL’s COVID-19 list since the start of the week. The Golden Knights are to entertain the Detroit Red Wings tonight.


Meetings


The Los Angeles Chargers have some COVID-19 issues as they prepare to meet the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers in a Sunday night NFL game. Defensive linemen Joey Bosa, Christian Covington and Jerry Tillery are on the COVID-19 list, as is LB Drue Tranquill. The unvaccinated Bosa was deemed a close contact to Tillery, but has tested negative and could return to workouts on Saturday.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The 2022 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is scheduled to be played in Kingston, Ont., on Feb. 2. . . . You will recall that the Spokane Chiefs were to have spent last weekend in Victoria playing a doubleheader against the Royals. That, of course, didn’t happen after two Spokane players tested positive. Those two games now have been rescheduled for Jan. 11 and 12. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia reports that F Cole Shepard is back skating with the Vancouver Giants. He hasn’t played since March 2020 and has since undergone hip surgery. Shepard, 19, may be cleared to play at some point next week. . . . G Jack McNaughton, 20, who made 87 appearances over three-plus seasons (2018-22) with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen, has signed with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers.


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.


Number

Ingram a winner in NHL debut . . . Hockey Canada reveals its vax policy for 2022 WJC . . . COVID-19 strikes at Canada West hockey

Connor Ingram, who spent three seasons (2014-17) tending goal for the WHL’s PredatorsKamloops Blazers, made his NHL debut on Sunday with the Nashville Predators. And he did it in style, turning aside 33 shots in a 5-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild. . . . The Wild went into the game as one of the NHL’s unbeaten teams, at 4-0. . . . Dean Evason, one of the Blazers’ all-time great players, is the Wild’s head coach. . . . The Predators are 2-4-0. They recalled Ingram from the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals on Oct. 16 because G David Rittich was added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. . . .“I still don’t think it’s hit me a little bit,” Ingram, 24, told reporters. “Ignorance is bliss at this point where you don’t really realize what’s going on yet, but it felt good.’’ . . . Ingram was beaten for the first time when F Nick Bjugstad beat him at 11:30 of the second period. . . . “My first shot in the Western League, my first shot in the American League both went in, so I was kind of half-expecting it to go in today, but it didn’t so that’s a nice way to start.’’ . . . The Predators next are scheduled to play on Tuesday night against the visiting San Jose Sharks. . . .

Ingram was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the third round of the NHL’s 2016 draft. He played one-plus season with the Lightning’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, and 13 games with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears before Tampa Bay dealt him to Nashville on June 14, 2019, for a seventh-round pick in the NHL’s 2021 draft. He spent 2019-20 with Milwaukee.

Last season, with the hockey world experiencing pandemic turmoil, he got into nine games with IF Björklöven of Sweden’s HockeyAllsvenskan and five with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves.

Ingram’s season ended in January when the NHL and NHLPA announced that Ingram was “voluntarily taking part in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program.” . . . At the time, he was on the Predators’ taxi squad as a mandatory third goaltender, something that was necessary under the NHL’s pandemic protocol. . . . The confidential program provides assistance to players and their families for mental health and substance abuse issues.


Hockey Canada announced its vaccination policy on Friday, something that will Canadaimpact the 2022 World Junior Championship that is scheduled for Red Deer and Edmonton, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5

From a news release:

“Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Hockey Canada and its board of directors have voted to implement a policy mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for all participants who are active in any international or national event hosted in Canada, including all on- or off-ice activities or programs hosted or controlled directly by Hockey Canada. This means that all participating players, coaches, team staff, on-ice officials, event volunteers, spectators and any other individual associated with an event who is in contact with the aforementioned group must have received the necessary doses of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the start of the event. Hockey Canada will consider exemptions based on guidance from government and public health authorities, as well as experts retained by the organization.”

The complete news release is right here.


If you thought COVID-19 was on its way out, you are sadly mistaken . . .

A Saturday night Canada West men’s hockey game between the visiting CovidSaskatchewan Huskies and Regina Cougars was postponed. According to a Canada West news release, “Positive cases of COVID-19 were confirmed within the Cougars.” The two teams had played in Saskatoon on Friday night. . . . Earlier in the week, Canada West postponed a series between the Calgary Dinos and MacEwan after positive tests were found in the Griffins’ program. . . .

The Brandon Sun reported Saturday that “at least one confirmed COVID-19 case has been detected in association with an Oct. 17 hockey game between Elton/Forrest/Rivers/Strathclair/Hamiota and Vincent Massey high school hockey teams, according to a news release from the province on Oct. 20.” . . .

The Chicago Blackhawks played Sunday afternoon without F Jujhar Khaira and D Riley Stillman, both of whom are in COVID-19 protocol. Chicago also was without assistant coach Marc Crawford for the same reason. . . . The Blackhawks lost, 6-3, to the visiting Detroit Red Wings. Chicago now is 0-5-1. . . .

Kevin Ross, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defensive backs coach, was unavailable for Sunday’s game against the visiting Chicago Bears, so injured veteran DB Richard Sherman was on the sidelines wearing a headset. Tampa Bay won, 38-3.


Oranges


While Connor Ingram was making his NHL debut on Sunday, there were two games taking place in WHL arenas . . .

In Saskatoon, the Blades scored the game’s last three goals and beat the Regina Pats, 4-1. . . . F Brandon Lisowsky (5) broke a 1-1 tie at 1:43 of the second period. . . . F Tristen Robins (4) scored for the Blades but had his run of multi-point games halted at six. . . . The Blades (6-1-1), who were 1-for-9 on the PP, have points in seven straight (6-0-1). . . . The Pats (2-7-0) have lost seven in a row. . . .

In Calgary, the Hitmen erased a 1-0 first-period deficit with three second-period goals en route to a 3-2 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . F Riley Fiddler-Schultz (2) scored the eventual winner on a PP at 16:48. . . . The Hitmen (4-3-0) have won three in a row. . . . The Wheat Kings (4-6-0) went 0-3-0 on a weekend swing into the Central Division that also included stops in Edmonton and Red Deer.

——

There were eight WHL games on Saturday . . .

In Portland, G Braden Holt blocked 22 shots to help the Everett Silvertips to a 1-0 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . Holt’s second shutout of the season — he blanked visiting Portland 4-0 on Oct. 8 — allowed the Silvertips to run their record to 6-0-0. . . . Portland is 3-4-1. . . . D Jonny Lambos’s first goal of the season won it at 17:27 of the first period. . . . Holt has three shutouts in his career. . . . Mike Johnston, Portland’s GM/head coach, was back behind the bench after a one-game absence while he travelled to Red Deer to watch some of the WHL Cup. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., the Spokane Chiefs erased a 2-1 first-period deficit with six straight goals, five of them in the second period, as they beat the Tri-City Americans, 7-2. . . . F Luke Toporowski (6) scored twice and added an assist, with F Eric Atchison drawing three assists. . . . The Chiefs improved to 3-4-1; the Americans’ fifth straight loss dropped them to 2-5-0. . . . 

In Vancouver, G Jesper Vikman turned aside 23 shots to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 2-0 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . A freshman from Stockholm whose NHL rights belong to the Vegas Golden Knights, Vikman has two shutouts in four starts. . . . F Justin Lies (2) scored the game’s first goal, at 8:26 of the second period. . . . The Giants now are 3-2-0; the Rockets are 2-2-0. . . .

In Victoria, the Prince George Cougars scored the game’s last three goals to defeat the Royals, 4-1. . . . The Cougars (4-3-0) have won four in a row, all of them against the Royals as the teams play a six-game set. . . . The Royals (1-8-0) have lost seven in a row. They will conclude this series with games in Prince George on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . F Koehn Ziemmer (2) had a goal and an assist. . . . G Campbell Arnold, 19, acquired earlier in the week from the Spokane Chiefs, stopped 30 shots for Victoria. . . . F Caleb Willms, 19, acquired earlier in the day from the Medicine Hat Tigers, was in the Royals’ lineup. He cost them a conditional sixth-round pick in the WHL’s 2024 draft. He had five goals and 10 assists in 52 games with the Tigers. . . . The Royals also acquired D Anson McMaster, 19, from the Winnipeg Ice for a conditional seventh-rounder in the 2023 draft. McMaster, who had a goal and five assists in 66 games with the Ice, also made his Victoria debut in this one. . . . On Sunday, the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints announced that they have signed F Graeme Bryks, 20, who split four-plus seasons between the Royals and Seattle Thunderbirds. As well, the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos said they have signed F Cage Newans, 18, who played 25 games over three seasons with the Royals.

In Edmonton, the Oil Kings skated to a 5-2 lead and then hung on for a 5-4 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . F Carson Latimer (4) scored twice for Edmonton, with F Jalen Luypen and F Carter Souch each earning three assists. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky scored his eighth goal of the season for the Tigers (4-4-1). . . . The Oil Kings are 6-2-1. . . .

In Lethbridge, the Hurricanes snapped a two-game losing skid with a 5-3 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Lethbridge (4-3-0) trailed 3-2 after two periods and then scored the only three goals of the third period. . . . F Alex Thacker (3) had two goals and an assist for the Hurricanes, who got three assists from F Ty Nash. . . . Thacker’s second goal, at 18:49 of the third, was the winner. . . . F Evan Herman scored his first two goals of the season for the Raiders (2-7-0). . . .

In Moose Jaw, the Winnipeg Ice erased a 4-1 deficit with four goals in the last half of third period and beat the Warriors, 5-4. . . . D Nolan Orzeck (2) tied the game at 14:03 of the third period and F Connor McClennon (8) won it at 19:15. . . . F Matt Savoie (6) scored twice for the Ice and F Mikey Milne had three assists. . . . Moose Jaw got two goals from F Brayden Yager (5). . . . The Ice (9-0-0) was 2-for-5 on the PP; the Warriors (3-5-0) didn’t receive even one opportunity. . . . The Warriors were without D Daemon Hunt, who drew a four-game suspension for a charging major and game misconduct in a game on Wednesday in Winnipeg. His hit took Winnipeg F Zach Benson out of the game; he didn’t play on Saturday. . . .

In Red Deer, F Blake Stevenson scored twice and added an assist as the Rebels dumped the Brandon Wheat Kings, 7-1. . . . Stevenson has four goals this season. . . . The Rebels (6-3-1) have won three straight. . . . The Wheat Kings (4-5-0) had lost 9-2 in Edmonton on Friday. . . . Red Deer lost D Jace Weir to a cross-checking major and game misconduct at 12:37 of the first period.


Egg


There were nine WHL games on Friday night . . .

In Medicine Hat, the Tigers erased a 2-1 second-period deficit with five goals as they skated to a 6-2 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . F Oren Shtrom (2) had a goal and two assists. . . . The game featured two Wiesblatt brothers — Oasiz with the Tigers (4-3-1) and Ozzy with the Raiders (2-6-0). . . .

In Swift Current, the Calgary Hitmen opened a 5-0 lead and went on to a 5-2 victory over the Broncos. . . . F Sean Tschigerl (4) had two goals and an assist, with Riley Fiddler-Schultz (1) scoring once and drawing two assists. . . . The Hitmen evened their record at 3-3-0, while the Broncos slipped to 2-5-2. . . .

In Regina, G Nolan Maier stopped 37 shots to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 5-2 victory over the Pats. . . . That gave the visitors at least a point in six straight (5-0-1). . . . F Tristen Robins had two assists for the Blades (5-1-1), his sixth straight multi-point game this season. That left him with 15 points, 12 of them assists, in six games. . . . The game featured only two minor penalties, both to the Pats (2-6-0), who surrendered one PP goal in their sixth straight loss. . . .

In Red Deer, the Rebels doubled the Lethbridge Hurricanes on the shot clock (42-21) and on the scoreboard, 6-3. . . . The Hurricanes (3-3-0) scored the game’s first goal at 1:00 of the opening period. The Rebels (5-3-1) led 4-1 after the period. . . . F Ben King scored his fourth goal of the season for the winners. . . . D Alex Cotton (4) scored twice for Lethbridge in his 150th game. . . .

In Edmonton, the Oil Kings scored five times in the game’s first 14:57 as they dropped the Brandon Wheat Kings, 9-2. . . . F Jared Luypen (3) had two goals and two assists, with F Carter Souch (2) scoring twice and setting up another in his 200th career game. F Dylan Guenther (2), F Jaxsen Wiebe (1) and F Logan Dowhaniuk (2) each added a goal and two assists. . . . Edmonton improved to 5-2-1, with Brandon slipping to 4-4-0. . . . The victory was the 109th for Brad Lauer as the Oil Kings’ head coach. That is second in the franchise’s history, behind only Derek Laxdal, who won 180 games during his four seasons (2010-14). . . .

In Victoria, the Prince George Cougars scored the game’s last five goals in a 5-1 victory over the Royals. . . . The Cougars (3-3-0) have won three in a row, all of them against the Royals (1-7-0). This was the third of six straight games between these teams. . . . The Royals listed seven scratches as being injured. They dressed 16 skaters, two under the maximum. . . . The Cougars got at least one point from 13 different skaters. . . . F Jonny Hooker’s fifth goal of the season stood up as the winner. . . .

In Kamloops, the Blazers scored three times in 48 seconds to take a 3-0 first-period lead as they beat the Vancouver Giants, 7-4. . . . The Blazers led 6-1 at one point before the Giants got to within two at 6-4. . . . F Logan Stankoven (5) and D Quinn Schmiemann (2) each scored twice for Kamloops (6-1-0), with F Josh Pillar (4) adding a goal and two helpers. . . . The Giants (2-2-0) got a goal, his first, and two assists from F Fabian Lysell. . . .

In Portland, F Alex Swetlikoff scored three times to lead the Everett Silvertips to a 5-2 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . Swetlikoff, who has five goals, broke a 1-1 tie with goals at 15:40 and 19:58 of the second period and completed his first career hat trick at 15:36 of the third. He has played in 116 regular-season games, five of them with Everett. . . . Swetlikoff, 20, was acquired from the Kelowna Rockets in the off-season. . . . Everett stayed unbeaten (5-0-0); Portland was left at 3-3-1. . . . With Mike Johnston on a scouting trip to Red Deer, site of the WHL Cup, associate coach Don Hay ran the Portland bench. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., G Thomas Milic stopped 19 shots to help the Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Tri-City Americans, 5-0. . . . Milic’s first shutout of this season and second of his career came in his 17th appearance over three seasons. . . . F Jordan Gustafson (3) scored twice and D Kevin Korchinski had three assists. . . .


A bus carrying the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s Miramichi Timberwolves was involved in a fatal accident on Sunday afternoon in Astle, N.B. . . . The Timberwolves were on their way to a game in Fredericton against the Red Wings when their bus and a car collided. The driver of the car died at the scene. The game was postponed. . . . According to the MJHL: “Those on the bus sustained limited injuries and grief counsellors have been brought in. Further counselling and support will be offered, as requested.”


JUST NOTES: F Jaydon Dureau signed an ATO with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch on Saturday. Dureau, 20, who played the previous three seasons with the Portland Winterhawks, then scored the game’s first goal as the Crunch dropped a 5-3 decision to the host Rochester Americans. . . . Former WHL referee Steve Kozari worked his 1,000th NHL game on Friday night as the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the host Vegas Golden Knights, 5-3. Each team presented Kozari with an autographed team sweater. . . . Ryan Gibbons, who played five seasons (2001-06) with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, was one of the linesmen on Saturday night when the Seattle Kraken played its first home game in franchise history. The Vancouver Canucks beat the Kraken, 4-2.


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.


Novel

Scattershooting on a Monday night while waiting for pitchers and catchers to report . . .

Scattershooting

Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports, following news that New York Giants QB Eli Manning was about to announce his retirement: “So, I’ll ask you . . do you think he’s a Hall of Famer? You can let me know by tweeting me your thoughts, but just know that I don’t care what you think because I’m a Patriots fan and Eli Manning has been dead to me for years.”


Larry Walker, the pride of Maple Ridge, B.C., is going into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., later this year. But how close was he to becoming a goaltender? . . . Legend has it that he was in camp with the WHL’s Regina Pats and ended up being cut — twice! — by general manager Bob Strumm, who is one of the most popular figures in WHL history. . . . Anyway, Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post chatted with Strumm for a column that is right here.


Passwords


——

Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle on the Baseball Hall of Fame: “The truth is, (Barry) Bonds deserves to be in the Hall. Not for his hitting — the PED business makes it hard to fairly evaluate Bonds’ hitting — but because baseball is the rudest sport, and Bonds should be in the Hall representing that aspect of our national pastime.”

——

Ostler, again: “If I had a HOF vote, I’d write in Mike Fiers.”


The Bosa family doesn’t talk about it a whole lot, but it’s a story you are going to hear about as Super Bowl LIV (54) approaches. . . . It seems the great-grandfather of San Francisco 49ers DL Nick Bosa was a Chicago mobster who worked with Al Capone. Seriously! . . . Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle has more right here.


Congrats to Kelly Kisio, who is to be honoured by the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen on March 1. CalgaryKisio will become the third person to be saluted as Forever A Hitmen, after players Ryan Getzlaf, who was honoured in 2015 and Andrew Ladd (2017). . . . In 18 seasons with Calgary, Kisio filled various roles, including stints as general manager, head coach and president of hockey operations. He twice was named the WHL’s executive of the year. . . . My favourite Kisio story doesn’t involve the Hitmen. In 1982-83, he was playing with HC Davos in Switzerland. He had eight goals and two assists in a 19-7 victory over HC Lugano. That was Kisio’s second-last game with Davos; three days later he was with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. . . . He finished that season with Davos with 87 points, 49 of them goals, in 38 games. . . . Now a scout with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, Kisio will be honoured prior to an afternoon game against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes.


CallImportant


The NFL’s 2020 draft is to be held in Las Vegas, which now has its own franchise — the Raiders. . . . As Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, points out, “The NFL has come a long way in just a few years.  About five years ago, the league would not allow Tony Romo to be a part of a Fantasy Football Convention in Las Vegas because of ‘close ties to gambling’. This year, the league will be part of a show that will close The Strip for three days.”

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Mike Leach, the new head coach of the Mississippi State football team, tweeted the other day: “Love being out in the great state of Mississippi recruiting some absolute studs! Any restaurant advice for me throughout the state?”

That was enough for The Sports Curmudgeon to come up with this response: “There was a time early in my career when I was in the Research, Development and Engineering business and I had reason to travel very extensively in the U.S. That tweet made me realize that Mike Leach’s wanderings as a head coach for the last couple of decades have taken him to places that would make him relish the idea of traveling around Mississippi. I have been to Lubbock TX and to Pullman WA and to Starkville MS. Let me just say that none of those venues can claim to be as close to the Garden of Eden as exists on Earth. If you spent a lot of time lobbying me, you might get me to concede that Pullman is a ‘bustling burb’ — but it won’t be easy. That will not be possible regarding either Lubbock or Starkville.

“Given where he has had to live for the last 20 years or so, I think I now understand why he is obsessed with pirates and aliens. There are not a lot of things to prevent his mind from wandering through the cosmos.

“As for restaurant advice, let me suggest to Coach Leach that he have some fun with his dining events. I have always wanted to go into a Denny’s for dinner and to ask the waiter to see the wine list.”


Sleep


You may have been watching when RB Raheem Mostert of the San Francisco 49ers ran for 220 yards and four touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers’ defence in the NFC final. As Mike Hart of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel put it: “There hasn’t been anything carved up like that since Emeril Lagasse was introduced to his first turkey.”


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Prior to a recent NBA game between the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers, StubHub was listing tickets for as low as $4. The Left Coast Sports Babe wondered: “Are they asking or paying?”


Sportsbetting.ag, an offshore site, has listed a whole lot of prop bets for the Super Bowl. . . . Here’s one: “Which will be higher? (Tweets and retweets count). Donald Trump total tweets on 2/3/20 or the 49ers point total?” . . . Yes, Trump’s total will come from the day after the Super Bowl. . . . BTW, the over/under for Demi Lovato’s version of the U.S. anthem is two minutes one second. Take the over.


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You know how an NHL team now might fire its head coach and then hire a head coach who recently had been fired as the head coach of a different team? Well, it seems that trend has reached the junior A ranks. . . . The AJHL’s Olds Grizzlys have hired Scott Atkinson as general manager and head coach, replacing Joe Murphy, who resigned on Jan. 15. The BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks had ousted Atkinson on Dec. 30.


The Kamloops Blazers beat the host Prince George Cougars, 3-0, on Friday night, the first time in franchise history that its goaltenders have put up three consecutive shutouts. The Kamloops1Blazers had beaten the visiting Tri-City Americans, 9-0, on Jan. 18 and the host Vancouver Giants, 4-0, on Jan. 19. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 27 shots on Friday night. He blocked 21 against Vancouver, with G Rayce Ramsay turning aside 24 against the Americans. . . . The Cougars got a split on Saturday night, beating the Blazers, 3-1, and ending Kamloops’ shutout streak at a franchise-record 233 minutes 30 seconds. . . . The Blazers also put together back-to-back shutouts on Oct. 15 and 18, beating the visiting Swift Current Broncos, 4-0, and Vancouver, 6-0. Ramsay had 23 saves against the Broncos, with Garand stopping 23 in the victory over the Giants. . . .

Kamloops first posted back-to-back shutouts in 1991-92 when Corey Hirsch made 20 and 21 saves respectively in home-ice victories — 13-0 over the Tacoma Rockets and 9-0 over the Seattle Thunderbirds — on Feb. 7 and 9. . . . Kamloops scored 11 times in the second period against Tacoma. . . . Those two shutouts came in a seven-game stretch during which Hirsch put up four shutouts. . . .

Back-to-back shutouts didn’t occur again until 2006-07 when Dustin Butler did it on Jan. 10 and 13. He stopped 20 shots in a 3-0 victory over the Chiefs in Spokane, then turned aside 18 in beating the visiting Prince George Cougars, 6-0. . . .

In 2011-12, Cole Cheveldave did it on Jan. 1 and 6, blocking 22 shots in blanking the visiting Cougars, 5-0, then turning aside 32 shots in a 2-0 triumph in Prince George. . . . Cheveldave did it again in 2012-13, on March 3 and 5. He kicked out 25 shots in a 3-0 victory over the Kelowna Rockets, then stopped 14 in a 6-0 beating of Victoria. Both games were in Kamloops. . . .

It was Connor Ingram’s turn in 2016-17, when he made 28 stops in a 3-0 victory over the visiting Cougars on Feb. 19, then blocked 23 shots in a 7-0 triumph over the Edmonton Oil Kings in Kamloops on Feb. 21. . . .

One other shutout-related note involving Kamloops: In 2004-05, 19 of the Blazers’ 72 games ended in a shutout. Unfortunately for Kamloops, it was on the wrong end in 13 of those.


“Just wondering,” ponders the always deep-thinking Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, “if Wheaties is the Breakfast of Champions, what is the Breakfast of Upsets, Coco Gauffs?”



JUST NOTES: If you watched Serena Williams lose a third-setter to China’s Qiang Wang in the third round of the Aussie Open the other night/morning, you have to wonder if we are watching the end of an era. Serena, who was the No. 8 seed, certainly seemed to be suffering from fatigue near the end of her loss to the No. 27 seed. . . . Wouldn’t it be nice, though, if Williams just once would give some credit to her opponent? . . . The NHL all-star stuff on Friday and Saturday evenings? Not in my home. The Aussie Open was on my TV. . . . One of the best things about the Aussie Open, and other tennis tournaments, is the lack of commentary while the ball is in play. . . . I did find time to watch The Irishman during the week. If you like gangster movies and know at least a bit about Jimmy Hoffa, you should like this one. If you aren’t aware, though, it’s three hours and 20 minutes long. . . . The book with the movie tie-in — The Irishman: Frank Sheeran and Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa — is rather good, too. . . . Sheesh! If only some people would learn the difference between cancelled and postponed!

Giants set to name head coach . . . Brockman signs on as Broncos’ tamer . . . Oil Kings add Hill, Lauer to front office

MacBeth

Glen Hanlon (Brandon, 1974-77) signed a one-year plus option year contract as head coach of DVTK Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This is the club’s first season playing in Slovakia’s Extraliga. Hanlon was GM of the Vancouver Giants the past two seasons.


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The Vancouver Giants are expected to introduce Michael Dyck as their newest head Vancouvercoach today. Dyck, 49, will take over from Jason McKee, who was fired by incoming general manager Barclay Parneta on June 15. At the time, Parent said he wanted a head coach “I’m more familiar with.” . . . In 2002-03, Parneta was scouting for the Giants, while Dyck was an assistant coach. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia has more on the story right here.


Dean Brockman was introduced Wednesday as the Swift Current Broncos’ director of SCBroncoshockey operations and head coach. Brockman takes over from Manny Viveiros, who guided the Broncos to the WHL championship in May, in his second season in Swift Current, then joined the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers as an assistant coach. . . . Brockman spent the past four seasons with the Saskatoon Blades, the last two as head coach. He was fired when the 2017-18 season ended. Before joining the Blades, Brockman spent 17 seasons with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. He is a four-time winner of the SJHL’s coach-of-the-year award.


After being away for 11 seasons, Brad Lauer is returning to the WHL, this time as the EdmontonOilKingshead coach of the Edmonton Oil Kings. His signing was announced on Wednesday. Lauer replaces Steve Hamilton, who was fired on May 28. Hamilton had been on the Edmonton coaching staff for eight seasons, the last eight as head coach. . . . Lauer, 51, is a former WHL player and coach. He played three seasons (1983-86) for the Regina Pats, before going on to a pro career that ended after the 2001-02 season. His NHL career comprised 323 regular-season and 34 playoff games. . . . He spent five seasons (2002-07) as an assistant coach with the Kootenay Ice and has NHL coaching experience with the Ottawa Senators, Anaheim Ducks and Tampa Bay Lightning. For the past three seasons, he was an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning. . . . Derek Van Diest of Postmedia has more on the Lauer hiring right here.

The Oil Kings also introduced Kirt Hill, 30, as their president of hockey operations and general manager. He takes over from Randy Hansch after he and the Oil Kings parted company. . . . Terry Jones of Postmedia has more on the Hill hiring and the state of the Oil Kings right here.


Importdraft

The CHL’s 2018 import draft is scheduled to be held today (Thursday), starting at 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT). The QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs hold the first pick, followed, in order, by the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings and the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves.

As of late Wednesdsay night, 52 of the 60 CHL teams were poised to pick in the first round, with 27 of them to take part in the second round.

The CHL finally made official on Wednesday what has been widely reported for weeks now. According to a news release: “For the first time since 2013, goaltenders will be eligible for selection in the CHL import draft, in addition to forwards and defencemen.”

Here’s a look at the 22 WHL teams and their import situation . . .

Brandon Wheat Kings — They have released Czech D Daniel Bukac, 19, freeing them to make two selections. The Wheat Kings also hold the CHL rights to Czech F Martin Kaut, who was selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the NHL’s 2018 draft. Because he was a first-round pick, the Wheat Kings are allowed to make that second pick in the import draft.

Calgary Hitmen — D Vladislav Yeryomenko (Belarus) and D Egor Zamula (Russia) both will be back, so the Hitmen will sit out the import draft.

Edmonton Oil Kings — F Andrei Pavlenko (Belarus) is returning, while F Tomas Soustal (Czech Republic) has completed his junior eligibility. The Oil Kings will make one selection.

Everett Silvertips — With F Martin Fasko-Rudas (Slovakia) returning, the Silvertips have room for one import. D Ondrej Vala (Czech Republic), who finished with Everett last season, is 20 and is expected to play in the Dallas Stars’ organization.

Kamloops Blazers — They traded Vala to Everett in January and have released F Justin Sigrist (Switzerland), so are expected to pick twice.

Kelowna Rockets — They are bringing back D Libor Zabransky, but have released F Marek Skvrne, so they will make one selection. Both players are from Czech Republic.

Kootenay Ice — With F Martin Bodak (Slovakia) unsure whether he will return, the Ice is expected to make one selection as it looks for an import to join F Gillian Kohler (Switzerland). Bodak, 20, would be a two-spotter should he return, so there’s that, too.

Lethbridge Hurricanes — D Igor Merezhko (Ukraine) is 20, so would be a two-spotter were the Hurricanes to keep him. They have released F Yegor Zudilov (Russia), so will make two selections.

Medicine Hat Tigers — D Linus Nassen (Sweden) is preparing for his 20-year-old season, but would be a two-spotter. D Kristians Rubins (Latvia) was a two-spotter last season so has aged out. The Tigers are expected to pick twice.

Moose Jaw Warriors — They had two Russians last season — D Oleg Sosunov and D Dmitri Zaitsev — both of whom now are 20. Neither is expected back and the Warriors are expected to make two selections.

Portland Winterhawks — F Joachim Blichfeld (Denmark) is 20 and should play in the San Jose Sharks organization. D Henri Jokiharju (Finland), 19, was a first-round selection by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2016 NHL draft. The Winterhawks, then, will be making two selections.

Prince Albert Raiders — They will make one selection. D Sergei Sapego (Belarus) will be back, but D Vojtech Budik (Czech Republic) is 20 and won’t be returning.

Prince George Cougars — F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (Belarus) is expected back for his sophomore season, so the Cougars are preparing to make one selection. F Pavel Azhgirei (Belarus) won’t return.

Red Deer Rebels — F Kristian Reichel (Czech Republic) is 20 and his future is up in the air, while D Alex Alexeyev (Russia) will be back after being a first-round selection by the Washington Capitals in the NHL’s 2018 draft. Because of the situation, the Rebels are eligible to make two picks.

Regina Pats — D Libor Hajek (Czech Republic), 20, should play in the New York Rangers organization, while F Emil Oksanen (Finland), 20, has signed to play at home. The Pats are planning on making two selections.

Saskatoon Blades — D Mark Rubinchik (Russia) has signed to play with a KHL team, leaving the Blades to make a pair of picks.

Seattle Thunderbirds — They also will make two selections, having released F Nikita Malukhin (Russia) and with F Sami Moilanen having signed with a pro team in Finland.

Spokane Chiefs — They will select once, having chosen to release Slovakian F Milos Fafrak, who will turn 19 on July 8. Spokane’s other import is Czech D Filip Kral, who will turn 19 on Oct. 20.

Swift Current Broncos — D Artyom Minulin (Russia), 20, will be a two-spotter should they bring him back, while F Aleksi Heponiemi (Finland) has signed to play at home. Thus, the Broncos are expected to make two picks.

Tri-City Americans — They’ll make one selection as they try to find an import to join D Roman Kalinichenko (Russia), who returns for a second season. D Juuso Valimaki (Finland) turns 20 on Oct. 6, but should be in the Calgary Flames organization.

Vancouver Giants — They’ll pass as they plan on going with F Milos Roman (Slovakia) and F Yannik Valenti (Germany), a 2017 import draft pick who signed with them on March 9.

Victoria Royals — The Royals have F Igor Martynov coming back, while they have released F Andrei Grishakov (Russia). Therefore, they will make one selection.


Work is underway at Mosaic Place, the home of the Moose Jaw Warriors, to upgrade the MooseJawWarriorsboards and glass. The Warriors announced Wednesday that they will share the $446,313 cost with the DFFH (Downtown Facility and Field House). . . . “This new CrystalPlex dasher board system is in the best interest of player safety and will benefit not only our WHL players, but all users of the facility,” Alan Millar, the Warriors’ general manager, said in a news release. . . . The upgrades are scheduled to be finished in time for the 2018-19 season.


The Portland Winterhawks are looking for a new broadcast team after announcing PortlandWednesday that Evan Richardson, their play-by-play voice, and analyst Andy Kemper have stepped aside, both of them citing a desire to spend more time with family. . . . Richardson spent one season calling Winterhawks’ games. He has decided to return to his hometown of Toronto. . . . Kemper began his broadcasting career in 2004, alongside the legendary Dean (Scooter) Vrooman. He will continue to be part of the Winterhawks organization as the team historian.


G Connor Ingram, who played with the Kamloops Blazers, spent last season with the Syracuse Crunch, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.

After the tragedy involving the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, Lukas Favale, the Crunch’s radio voice, pledged $1 to the fundraising attempts for every save made by Ingram from then through the end of the AHL playoffs. Ingram immediately said he would match that total.

Earlier this month, F Kaleb Dahlgren of the Broncos and Ingram took part in a cheque presentation with some folks from STARS Ambulance.


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