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


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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

Kyle Beach: I’m sorry I didn’t do more . . . I felt like I was alone . . . I didn’t know what to do . . .

Kyle Beach apologized on Wednesday.

Seriously. He did.

“I’m sorry,” Beach said in an interview with TSN’s Rick Westhead. “I’m sorry I didn’t do more, when I could, to make sure it didn’t happen to (someone else).”

Hockey didn’t do anything but break Beach’s heart and his spirit. And he’s the one apologizing? To another victim of the man who abused him.

If you haven’t heard, Beach is the John Doe 1 at the centre of the sexual assault scandal and lawsuit that have rocked the NHL, in general, and the Chicago Blackhawks, in particular. Beach chose to end his anonymity on Wednesday, thus the interview with Westhead, one of the reporters — Katie Strang of The Athletic is another — who has been vigorously reporting this story from the beginning.

In short, Beach, then 20, was allegedly assaulted by Brad Aldrich, at the time a video coach with the Blackhawks, who, despite management being aware of what had happened, was allowed to stay on the job while the Blackhawks won the 2010 Stanley Cup.

Beach, now 31, is a native of North Vancouver, who plays in Germany and calls Kelowna home. He grew up there and his parents live and work there. He played four seasons in the WHL, splitting 251 regular-season games between the Everett Silvertips, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Spokane Chiefs. He was a big, aggressive forward, one of those guys who is despised by everyone but his teammates. In those four WHL seasons, he put up 273 points, including 134 goals, and 773 penalty minutes. The WHL hasn’t seen a player like Beach since, well, Beach.

The Blackhawks selected him with the 11th overall pick of the NHL’s 2008 draft. But he never played an NHL game.

Regan Bartel, the veteran radio voice of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, tweeted on Wednesday afternoon: “I often asked (Beach) in interviews what happened in Chicago. Why did he never play a game with the Hawks as a first-round pick. He always stuck to the script knowing he had to hide a deep secret . . . up until today.”

Beach spent time with the Blackhawks’ then-AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack. Then there was season after season in Europe, where he is playing a second season with EHC Erfurt in Germany.

Beach scored 52 goals in 68 games with Spokane in 2009-10, then joined Rockford where he showed some promise by scoring three times in four playoff games.

The Blackhawks brought him up for their playoff run to serve as one of the Black Aces, players who practise in order to be ready to step in should a team run into injuries. It was then, on May 8 or 9, when he said, according to the lawsuit, that Aldrich struck.

“I felt like I was alone and there was nothing I could do and nobody I could turn to for help,” Beach told Westhead. “And I didn’t know what to do as a 20-year-old. I would never dream, or you could never imagine being put in this situation, by somebody who’s supposed to be there to help you and to make you a better hockey player and a better person and continue to build your career. (I was) just scared and alone with no idea what to do.”

Beach — remember that he was 20 years of age, trying to find his way as a professional athlete — went to James Gary, then the Blackhawks’ mental skills coach. One thing led to another and, according to a report from the law firm Jenner & Block that conducted an investigation into this mess, there was a meeting that involved general manager Stan Bowman, Al MacIsaac, then the vice-president of hockey operations, then-president and CEO John McDonough, head coach Joel Quenneville, assistant GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and Jay Blunk, an executive vice-president.

Except that it was May 23, 2010, and the Blackhawks were in the Western Conference final against the San Jose Sharks, and, yes, this was going to be a distraction if word got out, so . . .

Flash forward to the summer of 2021. The cat is out of the bag. Quenneville, now a couple of years into a contract as the head coach of the Florida Panthers, tells The Associated Press: “I first learned of these allegations through the media earlier this summer.”

On Wednesday, Beach responded to that by telling Westhead that “there’s absolutely no way that he can deny knowing it.”

Beach added: “I witnessed meetings, right after I reported it to James Gary, that were held in Joel Quenneville’s office. If this had been reported to someone other than John McDonough, or Joel Quenneville or Stan Bowman that didn’t have skin in the game of winning a Stanley Cup, it would have been dealt with and would have protected all of the survivors that came after me.”

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks went on to win that Stanley Cup. As for Aldrich, well, here’s what Beach told Westhead . . .

“It was like (Aldrich’s) life was the same as the day before. Same every day. And then when they won, to see him paraded around lifting the Cup, at the parade, at the team pictures, at celebrations, it made me feel like nothing. It made me feel like I didn’t exist. It made me feel like, that I wasn’t important and . . . it made me feel like he was in the right and I was wrong. And that’s also what “Doc” Gary told me, that it was my fault because I put myself in that situation. And the combination of these and him being paraded around, then letting him take the Stanley Cup to a high school with kids after they knew what had happened. There are not words to describe it . . . there really isn’t.”

The Blackhawks, who won the Stanley Cup on June 9, allowed Aldrich to take part in the hoopla despite his having left the organization about a week later and despite his being around the team was in violation of his separation agreement. He had been given a choice — resign or take a leave of absence while the situation was investigated. Of course, he resigned.

Aldrich later was convicted of fourth-degree sexual assault from an incident that involved a Michigan high school student. Beach’s apology on Wednesday was directed towards this student, Beach feeling that had he only done more that abusive situation could have been avoided.

“I’m sorry I didn’t do more when I could,” Beach told Westhead. “To make sure it didn’t happen to him. To protect him. But I also want to say thank you to him. Because when I decided after a teammate asked me about it when I was playing overseas, and I decided to Google Brad Aldrich’s name, that’s when I found out about the Michigan individual, the Michigan teen. And because of what happened to him, it gave the power and the sense of urgency to take action. To make sure it wouldn’t happen to anybody else. So I’m sorry and I thank you. And I hope at some point, down the road, if he’s open to it, I would love to meet him because, unfortunately, we share something in common that’s going to be a part of us for the rest of our lives.”

If only some others had done more . . .

It’s worth noting that Beach also went to the NHLPA in his search for help. Don Fehr, the NHLPA’s executive director, issued an apology on Wednesday night, saying that the association was guilty of a “serious failure.”

Like Quenneville, Cheveldayoff, now the Winnipeg Jets’ GM, denied knowing anything, despite having been in on that May 23, 2010 meeting. On July 22, 2021, Cheveldayoff issued a statement that included: “I had no knowledge of any allegations involving Mr. Aldrich until asked if I was aware of anything just prior to the conclusion of his employment with the Chicago Blackhawks.”

Quenneville was behind the Panthers’ bench on Wednesday night as they ran their record to 7-0-0. Yes, it’s the best start in franchise history and that’s really important, don’t you know. Quenneville didn’t address the media after the game, as NHL coaches normally do.

Cheveldayoff? He’s still on the job, too.

Both men should have been suspended, at least until the NHL completes whatever investigation it is going to conduct. But, then, that’s not hockey’s way, is it?

Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, is to meet with Quenneville today (Thursday) and Cheveldayoff on Monday. Beach isn’t holding his breath, and who can blame him?

“The NHL is inclusive,” Beach told Westhead. “The NHL includes everybody, and they let me down and they’ve let down others, as well. But they continue to try and protect their name over the health and the well-being of the people who put their lives on the line every day to make the NHL what it is. I hope through and through that Gary Bettman takes this seriously, and that he does his due diligence, that he talks to not only them, but Stan Bowman, John McDonough and anybody else that has information to offer before he makes his decision because they already let me down. They wouldn’t investigate for me, so why would they now?”

So where does this leave us?

Well, Bowman is gone from the Blackhawks and from USA Hockey. He was to have been the general manager of the American entry at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. McDonough is gone, too. By the end of his run, he was the Blackhawks’ president and CEO.

But Quenneville is coaching and not talking. Cheveldayoff is GMing and not talking.

And don’t forger that it was just a few short months ago, with the Chicago pot roiling, when the Montreal Canadiens used a first-round draft pick to take defenceman Logan Mailloux, despite his having been convicted in an ugly sexual incident in Sweden in 2020.

You are free to wonder if the NHL and hockey will ever learn.

Sheldon Kennedy . . . Theo Fleury . . . Todd Holt . . . Greg Gilhooly . . . Jay Macaulay . . . Jeffrey Walker . . . Frank Pietrangelo . . . Mike Sacks . . . Kelly Gee . . . Brent Cary . . . Chris Jensen . . . Benjamin Cole . . . Daniel Carrillo . . . Kyle Beach . . .

Those are only some of the men who have told their stories publicly. I would suggest that there are dozens and dozens — if not hundreds — of others who have chosen to try and live with their secrets. Like Kennedy and Fleury and Carrillo and, yes, Beach they self-medicate as they try to tame their inner demons.

It goes on and on and on.

Take any one of the stories written about Beach yesterday . . . remove his name . . . substitute with Kennedy’s name . . .

Then remind yourself that almost 25 years have passed since Graham James was charged with sexually assaulting Kennedy.

That was on Nov. 22, 1996.

Now ask yourself this: “How much has changed?”


The first three paragraphs of a story written by Kim Zarzour of YorkRegion.com:

“They were spirited and eager as they gathered at the Newmarket hockey rink, a league of older men, all double-vaccinated and keen to finally get back to a sport they’d put on ice since the start of the pandemic.

Now they are recovering from COVID-19, one of their teammates dead, wondering if this tragedy could have been averted.

“ ‘It’s just strange,’ mused Brian Dunn of Thornhill. ‘Fifteen guys who played separate nights, different change rooms, days apart, one tragic death. We vacillate between absolutely pissed off and sad . . . I lost my best friend.’ ”

As the headline on the website reads: COVID-19 sweeps through Newmarket men’s hockey league.

Zarzour’s story is right here.

——

The Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association, which is headquartered in Burnaby, B.C., has asked its teams to dump the post-game “bare-hand handshake, the glove-on handshake and the glove-on fist bump.” . . . In a memo from Rick Grant, its president, the association has told its teams that after congratulating your goaltender, players should “move to your blue line and face your opponents, who will be lining up on their blue line, and begin a stick tap. Then face the on-ice officials and repeat.” . . . The PCAHA oversees minor hockey in the Lower Mainland of B.C., from Hope to the Sunshine Coast. Its jurisdiction includes about 19,700 players, 6,000 team officials, 2,100 on-ice officials and an untold number of volunteers. . . .


There were four WHL games on Wednesday night . . .

In Calgary, the Winnipeg Ice ran its season-opening winning streak to 11 games with a 3-2 victory over the Hitmen. . . . F Conor Geekie (4) broke a 2-2 tie at 16:06 of the third period. . . . D Blake Heward scored his first WHL goal and added an assist for Calgary (4-4-0), which had won its previous three games. . . . The Ice lost F Connor McClennon to a boarding major and game misconduct at 1:21 of the first period. . . . The Ice (11-0-0) is scheduled to meet the Oil Kings in Edmonton on Friday night. If you are into such, the Ice and Oil Kings (6-2-1) are second and third, respectively, in the CHL’s weekly rankings. . . .

In Portland, the Seattle Thunderbirds scored the game’s first three goals en route to a 6-4 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . Seattle (5-2-1) scored three times before the game was 16 minutes old. . . . F Tyson Kozak score twice (2) and added an assist for the Winterhawks (3-5-1), who have lost three in a row. . . .

In Prince George, G Tyler Brennan blocked 31 shots to lead the Cougars to a 4-0 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . Brennan posted his first shutout of this season and the second of his career. . . . F Carter MacAdams (3) and F Blake Eastman (4) each scored twice. . . . The Cougars (5-3-0) have won five in a row, all of them against the Royals. Prince George outscored Victoria, 20-5, in those five games. . . . What was to have been a six-game series was shortened by a game when inclement weather prevented the Royals from getting to Prince George to play on Tuesday night. . . . Victoria, which has lost eight in a row, now is 1-9-0. . . .

In Saskatoon, F Tristen Robins scored three times and added an assist, leading the Blades to a 6-2 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Saskatoon opened up a 6-0 lead, with Robins scoring at 2:10, 6:10 and 8:26 of the second period. His third goal ended a five-goal explosion in the span of 6:16. . . . Robins leads the WHL in assists (12) and points (19). . . . F Kyle Crnkovic had a goal (7) and three assists. . . . The Blades (7-1-1) have points in eight straight (7-0-1). . . . The Warriors (3-6-0) have lost four in a row.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The WHL will hold its 2021 and 2022 drafts about five months apart. Due to the pandemic, the 2021 draft, which normally would have been held in May, was bumped to Dec. 9. It is for players born in 2006. On Wednesday, the league announced that its 2022 draft, for the 2007 age group, has been scheduled for May 19. . . .

The junior B Summerland Steam of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League has signed Mark MacMillan, 29, as its general manager and head coach. The Penticton native replaces Nick Deschenes. The team announced on Oct. 19 that the organization and Deschenes had “mutually agreed to part ways, effective immediately.” The Steam was 4-1-0 at the time. . . .

F Jace Weir of the Red Deer Rebels has been suspended for four games after taking a cross-checking major and game misconduct in a game against the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings on Oct. 23.


There was an interesting development involving a Canadian ECHL franchise on Wednesday when the City of St. John’s, Nfld., tossed the Newfoundland Growlers out of Mile One, the arena that it calls home. . . . With a week before its scheduled home-opener, the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs are headed to the Ontario city to play at least its first six home games in the Coca-Cola Coliseum until the dispute plays itself out one way or another. . . . The Growlers are owned by Deacon Sports and Entertainment, which is headed up by Dean MacDonald. . . . From VOCM.com: “St. John’s Sports and Entertainment and Deacon recently signed a three-year lease but has been told that the employees find the workplace situation with the Growlers difficult. The city says there will be a workplace investigation by a third-party investigator. Mayor Danny Breen says employees have brought forward allegations of disrespectful workplace conduct directed towards staff at SJSEL. No other details will be provided.”


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.

 

Sutter steps down as Rebels’ head coach . . . Winterhawks win a wild one . . . Cougars end Miner’s shutout streak

I’m guessing that Brent Sutter went to bed on Friday night and spent the next few hours arguing with himself.

His Red Deer Rebels had been beaten, 6-3, by the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes a few hours earlier, their seventh straight loss dropping their record to 2-10-2.

After the game, Brent talked with Shaun Sutter, a nephew who is the Rebels’ RedDeerassistant general manager and director of personnel, and Merrick, his son who is the senior vice-president. The decision for him to step aside, Brent said, basically was reached at that time.

But there still was time for him to change his mind. After all, he’s the boss and he was born to coach.

As Sutter tossed and turned, the owner, governor, president and general manager titles were perched on one shoulder; on the other was the coach.

The argument, I’m thinking, raged all night long.

Sutter has owned the Rebels since 1999. He has been their head coach for all but five seasons since then. He spent two seasons (2007-09) as the head coach of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. And for the following three seasons, he was the Calgary Flames’ head coach.

This season, though, has been unlike any other. On the ice, it started in February for the Alberta teams. But for the likes of Sutter, with all their titles and responsibilities, it started long before then and it has gone on seemingly forever.

And then COVID-19 found the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks and Sutter’s son, Brandon, ended up sick — perhaps with the P.1 variant — and quarantined in his basement, with a pregnant wife and two children, ages 2 and 3, upstairs. There isn’t a more-helpless feeling than being the parent of an ailing child, even a 32-year-old NHL player, and being unable to provide help.

Combine everything — oh, and I should mention that the injury bug has hit the Rebels hard, leaving them almost out of defencemen — and it could be that Brent Sutter simply wore down.

As he told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com: “Everthing (negative) that could happen has happened.”

So, at some time in the wee hours of Saturday, Sutter, the husband and father, the owner, governor, president and general manager, won out over the coach.

Early Saturday afternoon, the Rebels announced that Sutter was out as the team’s head coach. Shaun will join assistant coaches Ryan Colville and Brad Flynn in running the coaching side of things.

Once the organization gets this season behind it, a decision will be made on the next head coach.

“You have to put so much time into it, and when you’re doing that plus the management side of it . . . because you’re so dialled in on the coaching side you’re not there to help out with some of the other side,” Sutter told Meachem. “Mentally it’s been really tough for everyone with the whole environment we’re in. We need to get the players upbeat again.”

Including this screwy season, Sutter has 526 regular-season WHL coaching victories, eighth on the all-time list. The Rebels won the Memorial Cup under him in 2001.

Sutter also won back-to-back World Junior Championship gold medals in 2005 and 2006 as the head coach of Canada’s national team.

“I’ve been coaching for 22 years and two months and I’ve been so dialled into it, so passionate about it,” he told Meachem. “Yet you can’t be selfish. The players and the front of the jersey always come first, no matter what. The right thing for this hockey team and this organization is for me to step down right now. For me personally, it’s the right thing.”


Spy


Please don’t forget that Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant more than seven years ago, is preparing to take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. Unfortunately, it will be a virtual walk for a second straight year, but that won’t keep her from fund-raising on behalf of the Kidney Foundation. If you would like to help her out, you are able to make a donation right here.


LethOn the ice, the Rebels were involved in one of six games played in the WHL on Saturday night. Playing in Lethbridge, the Rebels dropped a 5-2 decision to the Hurricanes, who got a goal, his third, and three assists from F Liam Kindree. . . . Lethbridge (5-6-2) has points in three straight (2-0-1). . . . The Rebels (2-11-2) have lost eight in a row. . . . If you’re wondering, the online game sheet didn’t list a Red Deer head coach. . . . F Logan Barlage scored his fourth goal and added two assists for Lethbridge, which also got goal No. 9 and two assists from F Justin Hall. . . . The Rebels lost D Trey Patterson, perhaps for the remainder of this season, with an undisclosed injury in Friday’s 6-3 loss to the visiting Hurricanes. The Rebels, with nine games remaining, are down to four healthy defencemen — Kyle Masters, Joel Sexsmith, Mason Ward and Jace Weir. Due to COVID-19 protocol, they aren’t able to bring in reinforcements, either. . . .

F Conor Geekie scored at 2:13 of OT to give the Winnipeg Ice a 4-3 victory over Winnipegthe Prince Albert Raiders in Regina. . . . Geekie’s fifth goal allowed Winnipeg (11-4-0) to run its winning streak to five games. . . . The Raiders (4-9-2), who have lost three straight, had erased a 3-1 deficit with second-period goals from F Michal Horon (2) and F Evan Herman (4). . . . F Peyton Krebs scored his ninth goal for the Ice, running his point streak to 14 games. He was blanked in the season’s first game, and has nine goals and 19 assists in his past 14 games. . . . Ice F Zachary Benson, 15, had a goal and an assist. The 14th overall pick in the 2020 bantam draft, he’s got six goals and seven assists in 15 games. . . .

F Tristen Robins scored twice and added an assist to help the Saskatoon Blades Bladesto a 4-2 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors in Regina. . . . F Brayden Yager (4) gave Moose Jaw (7-8-1) at 1-0 lead at 9:01 of the first period. . . . Robins, who has 10 goals, tied it at 10:20 and gave the Blades (11-2-2) the lead at 14:11. . . . F Wyatt McLeod (2) upped the lead to 3-1 at 1:25 of the second. . . . F Tate Popple (5) got the Warriors to within a goal at 17:57, but Saskatoon F Kyle Crnkovic (6) scored shorthanded at 1:10 of the third. . . .

On most nights, you would think a five-goal period would guarantee a team PortlandAlternatevictory. That wasn’t the case with the host Spokane Chiefs who, despite scoring five times in the third period, dropped a 7-6 decision to the Portland Winterhawks. . . . The Winterhawks (5-4-2), who had lost three straight, scored three second-period goals and took a 4-1 lead into the third. . . . The Chiefs tied it by scoring three times in 2:19 early in the period. . . . Portland responded with three straight goals to take a 7-4 lead. . . . The Chiefs (2-5-3) finished the scoring with two goals in the final 36 seconds. . . . Portland F Simon Knak (8) was credited with the game-winner and it was rather fitting that it came into an empty net. . . . F Seth Jarvis (6) had two goals and an assist for the winners, with F Jaydon Dureau (3) adding a goal and two helpers. . . . F Adam Beckman ran his goal-scoring streak to four games with his sixth of the season. . . . The Chiefs’ last two goals came from F Ty Cheveldayoff and D Chase Friedt-Mohr, the first WHL score for each. . . .

The Tri-City Americans scored the game’s first three goals and the last three to Americanstake a 6-2 victory over the visiting Everett Silvertips. . . . F Samuel Huo (7) and F Jake Sloan (2) each had a goal and two assists for the Americans (5-5-0). . . . Everett (9-2-0), which had won its previous four games, got PP goals from F Cole Fonstad (7) and G Gage Goncalves (8) in the second period to get within a goal. . . . But F Booker Daniel (2) restored Tai-City’s two-goal lead at 16:07 of the second and Huo scored shorthanded at 11:16 of the third. . . .

F Jonny Hooker had a goal and three assists as the Prince George Cougars skated PGto a 6-3 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Kamloops. . . . Hooker drew the lone assist on F Craig Armstrong’s first goal, shorthanded, that broke a 2-2 tie at 4:40 of the second period. . . . Hooker (3) scored on a PP at 19:55, and D Hudson Thornton (1) made it 5-2 at 9:55. Thornton scored in his first WHL game. . . . D Mazden Leslie, who turns 16 on Thursday, had two goals for the Giants. He has four goals in his first six WHL games. . . . F Eric Florchuk drew three assists for Vancouver. . . . F Ethan Browne (3) scored for Prince George at 8:43 of the first period. That ended G Trent Miner’s shutout string at 234:31. Each of his previous three starts had ended in a shutout. Chris Worthy of the 1967-68 Flin Flon Bombers holds the record (265:13). . . . The Cougars (2-2-2) had lost their previous three games (0-1-2). . . . The Giants (5-2-0) had won five straight. . . . G Tyler Brennan stopped 26 shots for the Cougars. It was his final WHL game of this season as he now will join Canada’s U18 team at the IIHF World championship that opens in Frisco and Plano, Texas, on April 26.


The NHL has decreed that the Vancouver Canucks, who are still recovering from Canucksan ugly run-in with COVID-19, will return to game action on Friday. Yes, this Friday. . . . They are to play host to the Edmonton Oilers that night, and it is to start the Canucks on a schedule that calls for them to play 19 games in 31 nights. Seriously! . . . The Canucks last played on March 24. . . . The Canucks had seven games postponed. Their schedule now is to end on May 16. . . . The Canucks still had 19 players on the COVID-19 protocol list on Saturday and some of them, judging from reports, have been quite ill. If Saturday’s tests come back OK, the Canucks will re-open their facilities today, 12 days after F Adam Gaudette was identified as the first of their positive tests. . . . Today’s activities are to include some training and individual practice sessions. The team isn’t likely to practice as a team until Wednesday. . . . All told, the organization had 21 players and four coaches test positive.


joy


The UMass Minutemen won the NCAA men’s hockey championship on Saturday, beating the St. Cloud State Huskies, 5-0, in the final game in Pittsburgh. . . . This was UMass’s first NCAA hockey title. . . . Anthony Travalgia of College Hockey News has all the details right here.


If everything falls into place, the World men’s curling championship, which postponed all of Saturday’s games in its Calgary bubble, could hold three draws today. . . . The competition ground to a halt after four people from three different teams tested positive for COVID-19 during exit testing. Participants have to be tested before leaving the bubble, and they can’t go without a negative result. . . . Players on four other teams were deemed close contacts. Some of those teams were to have played on Saturday had play gone on as scheduled. . . . Still to be played are a qualification game between Switzerland and the U.S., the semifinals, a third-place game and the championship game. . . . The tests carried out on Friday were the first in the bubble since April 1. Dr. Bob McCormack, the event’s chief medical officer, was asked if there should have been more testing. His response: “What I would say to that is that we had a lot of discussion with experts and also Alberta Health to come up with the protocols that we felt were safe to establish a clean bubble. The bottom line is the protocols were established with experts and Alberta Health, saying this is reasonable, appropriate and safe.” . . . There are three more events scheduled for the Calgary bubble — two Grand Slam of Curling competitions and the World women’s championship that is to run from April 30 through May 9.


The Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association was to have held a Secret Dream Gap Tour showcase in St. Louis this weekend, but it had to be postponed because “of a COVID exposure one of our teams,” according to the PWHPA. The St. Louis event was to have included two games. It is expected to be rescheduled.


DST


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.


HorseGames

Scattershooting on a Sunday night following an NFL weekend and with Alabama-OSU yet to come . . .

Scattershooting2

Whatever it was that the WHL was selling on Friday — hope? — F Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers and F Conor Geekie of the Winnipeg Ice WHL2were buying. Both players have decided to stay put rather than play in a U.S. junior league. . . . The deadline for players released by Hockey Canada to move south was Sunday. . . . Stankoven chose not to join the USHL’s Fargo Force. He told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV that he made his decision on Friday night. . . . “I decided (Friday) night to stay in town,” Stankoven, who is from Kamloops, told Seitz, “and stick with the Blazers since the WHL came out with a statement (Friday) night saying that we’ll be having a 24-game season starting in February.” . . . The WHL said Friday that it had “made a commitment” to play a 24-game season, but didn’t indicate a potential starting date, saying that would be determined once health officials “in each provincial and state jurisdiction” give the OK for a return to play. . . . Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reported that Geekie, the second overall pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft, had offers from two USHL and two NAHL teams. Geekie, who is from Strathclair, Man., got into nine games with the MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals this season, scoring once and adding four assists. . . .

The Dubuque Saints announced on Jan. 5 that they were adding Ice F Matt Savoie. Savoie, the No. 1 pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft, didn’t play in either of Dubuque’s two weekend games and, in fact, hadn’t been added to the team’s roster as of Sunday night. . . . A notice on the Dubuque website: “Our offices have been closed temporarily due to recommendations from the CDC in regards to COVID-19.”

——

The WHL has done the smart thing in moving away from declaring potential starting dates for a new season. Here’s Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, in an Oct. 15 Zoom call with media:

“We just felt that at some point we needed to create some certainty around the start of the season. We had announced already two tentative target dates but this is not a tentative date, this is a firm date. We are going to start on Jan. 8.”


From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “The 6-10 Giants think they got hosed by missing out on an NFL playoff berth? ‘Cry us a river,’ said the 10-6 Miami Dolphins.


After Trump’s stormtroopers stormed the gates on Wednesday, wouldn’t it have been nice to have heard from the likes of Brett Favre, Jack Nicklaus and/or Bobby Orr, all of whom were proud to be seen as Trump supporters before the November election? You may recall that Orr took out a full-page ad in the New Hampshire Union Leader, stating that Trump was “the kind of teammate I want.” . . . Really, Bobby? He wasn’t anywhere near the joint as his troopers were storming the gates. Some teammate!

And let’s not forget that it was Nicklaus who wrote in a tweet about Trump: “His love for America and its citizens, and putting his country first, has come through loud and clear.” . . . Yeah, hasn’t it!

——

Meanwhile, I wake up every morning and wonder how it is that the United States of America could experience what it did on Wednesday and still have the same orange clown operating out of the White House five days later.

——

Here’s Steve Kerr, the always thoughtful head coach of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors: “A legitimate election is suddenly questioned by millions of people, including many of the people who are leading our country in government, because we’ve decided to, over the last few years, allow lies to be told. So this is who we are. You reap what you sow.”

If you aren’t familiar with Kerr’s background, well, Google is your friend.

——

And here is Draymond Green, a veteran forward with the Warriors: “Through social media and all these different tools we have at our fingertips today, we’re more aware. But nothing’s changed. We’re still the same America that it’s been. It’s no different. I’ve seen a lot of (statements) of ‘shoot (the protestors) like (Black people) would’ve been shot.’ Nah, I don’t think that’s the right thing to do. Stop shooting us. That’s more the battle cry than necessarily shoot them like we would’ve been shot. Just stop shooting us.”

——

Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, has a question: “While he’s banned from most sites has anyone checked to see if Trump is trying to sell the White House china on eBay?”



A big thank you to the NHL and TSN or whoever was responsible for blacking out the Toronto Maple Leafs’ scrimmage that was held on Saturday night. It was live on TSN-4 and, had it been available here, I may have watched it, all the while wondering if I wouldn’t have been better off playing solitaire. . . . Update: Later Saturday night, I stumbled on replays on two separate Sportsnet channels. I watched about three minutes of it and, yes, play-by-play voice Joe Bowen was in Game 7 form.

——

So . . . why wasn’t the Montreal Canadiens’ Sunday night scrimmage available on TSN or Sportsnet?


If you’re a football fan, please allow me to suggest that you make Jack Finarelli’s Football Friday a regular stop. Finarelli (aka The Sports Curmudgeon) dropped a terrific all-encompassing read on his website last Friday. Take a look right here and I think you’ll agree that it should become a habit.


The Pittsburgh Steelers, who were 11-0 at one point and had a quarterback being mentioned as a potential MVP, finished 1-5. . . . BTW, that quarterback’s cap hit next season is to be more than US$41 million.


Leftfield


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: As of Sunday, more than 90 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 49.8 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 case tracking tool. The global death toll stood at more than 1.9 million.

CBC News: As of 8:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had reported 660,289 cases of COVID-19, with 84,567 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 16,950.

CBC News: Ontario registered 3,945 new cases and 61 additional deaths. The new cases mark a single-day record for the province.

CBC News: Quebec reported 2,588 new cases and 39 new deaths, a day after it topped 3,000 new cases for the first time. Recent projections suggest Montreal’s hospitals could soon exceed capacity.

CNN, Sunday, 7:15 p.m. PT: 374,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Sunday, 3:15 p.m. PT: 22.3 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

——

The Vancouver Canucks cancelled their Sunday on-ice sessions because of a possible exposure to someone in their organization. They are due back on the ice today (Monday) and are to start the regular season in Edmonton against the Oilers on Wednesday and Thursday. . . . The Canucks are the fourth team to have cancelled training camp sessions, after the Dallas Stars, Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins. Of the four clubs, though, only the Stars have reported positive tests — six players and two staffers. . . .

The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat were to have played an NBA game on Sunday night. However, one of the Heat players had an inconclusive test. That result and contact tracing left the Heat without the required eight players needed in order to play a game. The Celtics had eight players available after nine were ruled out because of protocols. . . . On Saturday night, the Philadelphia 76ers played despite having only seven healthy players, and lost to the visiting Denver Nuggets. Philadelphia lost Seth Curry to a positive test on Thursday and four teammates were out due to contact tracing. . . . Tim Bontemps of ESPN has a great look at the NBA’s situation right here.


Shopping


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.


Cxn

Ice’s Savoie joins USHL team; will Geekie follow his lead? . . . ‘Canes lose assistant to AHL . . . Flockhart, former WHLer, dies at 64


F Matt Savoie of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice has joined the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints. Savoie, 16, was denied exceptional status by Hockey Canada prior to the 2019-20 season, something that would have allowed him play full-time with the Ice. As it was, the Ice still got him into 22 games — he had seven assists. . . . The Ice selected him with the first overall pick of the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had three goals and three assists in four games with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders. . . . From a Fighting Saints news release: “Savoie is expected to join the Saints shortly. The team is in action again on Friday and Saturday in Youngstown as they take on the Phantoms.” . . . Savoie will be eligible for the NHL’s 2022 draft. . . . Prior to the 2019-20 season, Savoie, who is from St. Albert, Alta., was in training camp with Dubuque, as was his older brother, Carter, who now is a freshman at Denver U. In fact, Carter was named the NCHC’s rookie of the month for December after putting up 12 points, including seven goals, in 11 games. . . . Dubuque is 5-11-0 and in fifth place in the six-team Eastern Conference. . . .

Interestingly, F Cole Sillinger of the Medicine Hat Tigers had made plans to join the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede to at least start their season. However, it didn’t work out. Here’s what Sillinger told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post:

“I’m a dual citizen so that was a decision I had made to go down there in early October. Long story short, my transfer from Hockey Canada to USA Hockey wasn’t accepted. I couldn’t play any games so I had to come home. I was down there for about 2 ½ weeks just skating and practising, which was still very good. I was able to get into a routine and got to be a part of an actual team again.”

Sillinger, the son of former WHL/NHL F Mike Sillinger, had 53 points, including 22 goals, in 48 games with Medicine Hat last season. He is eligible for the NHL’s 2021 draft.

——

Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reported that F Conor Geekie of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, the No. 2 pick in the 2019 bantam draft, “is considering offers from USHL and NAHL teams.” . . . Sawatzky quoted Craig Geekie, a former WHLer and Conor’s father: “I’m not going to say that missing a year is going to hurt him but it will, to me, just set him back in a minor way. (It will help) if he can just play, even if it’s for two or three months.”

——

The USHL’s Lincoln Stars have four players off the Portland Winterhawks’ roster on their list. However, Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ GM and head coach, has told Joshua Critzer that the WHL hasn’t released any of the four players and that won’t happen unless the WHL season is cancelled.

——

Meanwhile, according to a tweet from the Tri-City Americans, D Andrej Golian “has arrived after competing with Slovakia” at the World Junior Championship in Edmonton.

At the same time, Seattle-based hockey writer Andy Eide tweeted that F Simon Kubicek of the Seattle Thunderbirds, who played for Czech Republic at the WJC, has headed home “for the time being.” . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia reported that D Marko Stacha, who played for Slovakia at the WJC, “is in Vancouver and the Giants say the plan is for him to stay.” . . . And according to Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, D Inaki Baragano, who played for Switzerland at the WJC, is in Kamloops in anticipation of playing for the Blazers.


Men


With the three major junior leagues not operating at the moment, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet had an interesting item in his first 31 Thoughts posting of 2021:

“The NHL’s biggest priority right now is starting the season, but, at some point, teams are wondering if there will be any changes to the draft. Selecting 18-year-olds is already a crapshoot. Now it’s going to be even harder with so few opportunities to scout them. Hopefully, the CHL finds a way (more for the kids’ sake than anything), but, if not, I wonder if regional combines featuring scrimmages are created a few months down the road to give everyone an opportunity to see and be seen.” . . . The entire column is right here.




Three of the AHL’s 31 teams have opted out of playing this season, which the league hopes to get started on Feb. 5. The Charlotte Checkers, who are affiliated with the NHL’s Florida Panthers, Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators) and Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis Blues) won’t participate in a new season. . . . John Greenberg, the Admirals’ president, said: “Right now, we’d be able to have 10 fans at the game watching our teams play, and that’s really no way to run a business.” . . . And here’s Michael Kahn, the Checkers’ owner: “There are several travel, safety and player supply challenges to consider. Those, coupled with the increasing number of new (COVID-19) cases in our area, make it very unlikely that we will be able to host fans at our games in the near future.” . . . As things now stand, the AHL will operate with five divisions of three, four, six, seven and eight teams. The Canadian Division will feature the Belleville Senators, Laval Rocket, Manitoba Moose and Toronto Marlies.


Andrew Doty, an assistant coach with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, has left to join the coaching staff of the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights. . . . Doty, 30, was the Hurricanes’ video coach and will fill that same role with the Silver Knights. He had been with the Hurricanes, in one role or another, since the start of the 2014-15 season. In Henderson, Doty will be working with two former WHL coaches — Manny Viveiros is the Silver Knights’ head coach, while Jamie Heward is an assistant coach.



Rob Flockhart, a former WHL player who went on to play 55 NHL games, died on Saturday of an apparent heart attack. He was 64. . . . A native of Sicamous, B.C., he spent three seasons (1973-76) with the Kamloops Chiefs. In his third season, he totalled 51 goals and 47 assists in 72 games. . . . He played 55 NHL games over five seasons, split between the Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota North Stars. He retired after playing two games with the AHL’s New Haven Nighthawks and 14 with that league’s Springfield Indians in 1984-85. . . . The Canucks selected him in the third round of the NHL’s 1976 draft. He also was selected by the Cleveland Crusaders in the sixth round of the WHA’s 1976 draft. . . . Rob was the older brother, by four years, of former NHLer Ron Flockhart.


NotAboutYou

THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Quebec gov’t mulling harsher restrictions, including a curfew and extending school closures, amid soaring COVID-19 cases.

Public Health Agency of Canada, Tuesday, 4 p.m. PT: Canada has 78,849 active cases, with 523,564 recoveries. There have been 16,233 deaths.

CNN, Tuesday, 1:30 p.m. PT: 356,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Tuesday, 5:20 p.m. PT: 357,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

——

BC Hockey announced Tuesday that it has cancelled the 2021 Cyclone Taylor Cup and 2021 Coy Cup events. . . . The Cyclone Taylor Cup is the junior B provincial championship that features three league champions and a host team. . . . The Coy Cup is the province’s senior men’s AA championship. . . . There is a news release right here. . . .

The Cleveland Browns will be without three coaches, including head coach Kevin Stefanski, and at least two players when they face the host Pittsburgh Steelers in a playoff game on Sunday. . . . Pro Bowl G Joel Bitonio and WR KhaDarel Hodge tested positive, as did defensive backs coach Jeff Howard and tight ends coach Drew Petzing. . . . It meant that the Brown were forced to shut down their facility on Tuesday for the fifth time in 10 days. . . . Cleveland was without six starters and three coaches due to COVID-19 protocols when it beat the Steelers on Sunday.

There are reports that the Ohio State Buckeyes football team is dealing with COVID-19 issues but as of Tuesday evening it didn’t appear that the NCAA championship game was in jeopardy. The Buckeyes are to meet the Alabama Crimson Tide in Miami on Monday. . . .

The 2021 Canadian National Taekwon-Do championships have been cancelled. They were to have been held in Vernon, B.C., April 24 and 25. . . .

Bentley U, which is located in Waltham, Mass., has paused its hockey program because of positive tests within the program. All team activities have been halted until further notice. . . . Bentley plays in the Atlantic Hockey Association.


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Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

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JUST NOTES: Of the sporting events I have watched on TV over the past few months, none missed fans as much as the IIHF’s World Junior Championship. Not having flag-waving, hyped-up fans in attendance really cooled off that event. . . . I didn’t watch a lot of the WJC, but Tuesday night’s championship game was a terrific advertisement for the best that hockey has to offer. . . . If you missed it, there are rumours that the NBA will offer up a couple of expansion franchises and use the fees to help overcome losses caused by the pandemic. The whispers have Louisville and Seattle in line, with the price tag somewhere around US$2.5 billion per franchise.


Blizzard

Cranbrook says ‘no’ to KIJHL team. . . . It’s official! Willie’s back in The Hat. . . . Scooter scoots into retirement. . . . Ice, Wheaties sign first-round picks


MacBeth

D Linden Springer (Prince George, Portland, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Glasgow Clan (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, with the Manchester Storm (England, UK Elite), he had four goals and nine assists in 51 games. . . .

D Jason Fram (Spokane, 2011-16) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). This season, in 28 games with the U of Alberta (USports, Canada West), he had nine goals and 21 assists. . . .

F Justin Maylan (Moose Jaw, Prince George, Prince Albert, 2007-12) has  signed a one-year contract with the Dundee Stars (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, with Villach (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had two goals and three assists in seven games. He didn’t sign with Villach until Feb. 9. . . .

F Carter Ashton (Lethbridge, Regina, Tri-City, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). This season, with Severstal Cherepovets (Russia, KHL), he had nine goals and five assists in 36 games.


ThisThat

A hearty welcome to all the new readers who have found us here over the past day or two. . . . Hope you enjoy what you find here and that you will spread the word. . . . Enjoy!


It would seem that the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League won’t be setting up kijhlshop in Cranbrook, at least not in time for the 2019-20 season. . . . Taking Note was told on Thursday that a group of 10 investors had reached a deal in principle to purchase the junior B Kelowna Chiefs and move the franchise to Cranbrook. . . . The team would have played out of Western Financial Place, which had been home to the WHL’s Kootenay Ice until that franchise moved to Winnipeg after its 2018-19 season ended. . . . The Ice’s lease with the City of Cranbrook runs through the 2022-23 season and a settlement hasn’t yet been negotiated. So the group had cut a deal with the Ice to sublease and, according to a source, the deal “guaranteed the city WHL rent for the next four years.” . . . However, the city rejected the sublease proposal late Thursday night, meaning the arena is one step close to not having a primary tenant for the 2019-20 season. . . .

“Our deadline for any relocation is May 31,” KIJHL president Larry Martel told Jeff Johnson of The Drive FM in Cranbrook. “Because of the medical situation in Kelowna, we’re still looking at a possibility, but we need to get our scheduling done so the league is moving on as of (Friday).”

Grant Sheridan, the Chiefs’ president and general manager, was admitted to hospital late in March after being diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.

As for a KIJHL team moving into Cranbrook, Martel said that isn’t likely to happen in the near future.

“There’s an existing rink deal with the former team, the Western Hockey League’s Kootenay Ice,” he said. “So until that’s been negotiated and cleared up, no other junior team will be moving into Cranbrook as far as I’ve been told. But I have not been involved with any talk with the City of Cranbrook or anybody involved with that.”

Johnson’s story, along with a statement from The Chiefs, is all right here.


As expected, the Medicine Hat Tigers introduced Willie Desjardins as their new general manager and head coach on Friday morning, less than 24 hours after announcing that Tigers Logo Officialthey had parted company with Shaun Clouston. . . . Clouston, 51, had been with the Tigers since 2003-04, working as an assistant coach and associate coach before succeeding Desjardins as head coach prior to the 2010-11 season. Clouston had been GM and head coach since 2012-13. . . . Desjardins’ contract terms weren’t revealed but you get the feeling that he has the job for as long as he wants. . . .

Desjardins, 62, spent three seasons (2002-05) as the Tigers’ head coach and five (2005-10) as GM/head coach. With Desjardins running things, the Tigers won WHL championships in 2004 and 2007. They also won four straight Central Division titles, two Eastern Conference championships and one Scotty Munro Trophy as the top regular-season team. . . . After leaving the Tigers, Desjardins spent two seasons (2010-12) as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Dallas Stars, two as head coach of the AHL’s Texas Stars, three as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, and one with Team Canada. This season, he took over as the interim head coach of the Los Angeles Kings in November, but was released at season’s end. . . .

One of Desjardins’ responsibilities may be to stop the bleeding at the gate. When the Tigers played in The Arena, regular-season games were sold out (4,006) for a number of seasons. The Tigers moved into the 7,100-seat Canalta Centre in time for the 2015-16 season. They average 4,248 fans for that season, but in subsequent seasons the attendance declined to 3,586, 3,295 and 3,121.

This season, the Tigers had announced attendances of fewer than 3,000 for 16 of their 34 homes games.

The Tigers finished 35-27-6 in what turned out to be Clouston’s final season as head coach. They made the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card team and lost a first-round series, 4-2, to the Edmonton Oil Kings.

In the previous three seasons in the Canalta Centre, the Tigers went 30-37-5, 51-20-1 and 36-28-8. They missed the playoffs in 2015-16, lost in the second round in 2016-17, and were ousted in the first round in 2017-18.


Dean (Scooter) Vrooman ended his 32-year career with the Portland Winterhawks on Friday by strolling off into retirement. . . . Vrooman joined the team in 1982 as its play-Portlandby-play voice and primary sponsorship salesperson, roles he held for 25 years. He left the organization briefly in 2007 to work in the banking industry. He returned to the Winterhawks in 2012 as the director of corporate sponsorships. . . . As the voice of the Winterhawks, Vrooman handled more than 2,000 games, including the 1982-83 and 1997-98 Memorial Cup championship seasons. . . . Of course, retirement doesn’t mean Vrooman won’t be somewhere near the Winterhawks at times. As he put it in a news release: “Overall, I have been a part of the organization for 32 years and I am going to be 66 years old in December so I thought this was the right time to move out of the realm of working full time in corporate sponsorships. I absolutely love the team and the WHL and will still be coming to a lot of games, perhaps helping out with some broadcasting occasionally, and working with the Winterhawks alumni and other isolated projects as they arise. I am so fortunate to have worked with so many great people, players, sponsors and fans for so many years.  It has been a lot of work, but it has also been a lot of fun.”


The NHL’s Edmonton Oilers released two assistant coaches on Friday, both of them former WHL players and coaches. . . . Manny Viveiros spent one season with the Oilers Oilersafter working for two seasons as the Swift Current Broncos director of player personnel and head coach. He helped lead the Broncos the WHL championship a year ago. Viveiros played four seasons (1982-86) with the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Trent Yawney, a veteran coach, also spent just one season with the Oilers, after working as an assistant coach with the Anaheim Ducks for four seasons. There is speculation that he could be joining the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach. Todd McLellan, who was fired by the Oilers early this season, is the Kings’ new head coach. . . . Yawney played three seasons (1982-85) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Glen Gulutzan will be staying with the Oilers as an assistant under new head coach Dave Tippett. Gulutzan has completed one season with the Oilers and working as the Calgary Flames’ head coach for two seasons. As a player, he skated for two seasons (1989-91) with the Brandon Wheat Kings and one (1991-92) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . There is speculation that Jim Playfair will be joining the Oilers’ staff as an assistant coach. Playfair worked with Tippett for six seasons (2011-17) when the latter was the head coach of the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes.


The Regina Pats have signed Dale McMullin, their director of scouting, to an extension. The length of the contract wasn’t revealed, other than to report that it is a “multi-year extension.” . . . McMullin has been the Pats’ director of scouting for eight seasons. . . . Before joining the Pats, McMullin was part of the Red Deer Rebels’ scouting staff for nine seasons. . . . McMullin is a former WHL player, having put up 418 points, including 168 goals, in 309 games (1971-76) with the Brandon Wheat Kings.


The Winnipeg Ice has signed F Conor Geekie to a WHL contract. Geekie, from Strathclair, Man., was the second-overall selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had 49 goals and 37 assists in 31 regular-season games with the bantam AAA Yellowhead Chiefs. . . . His older brother Morgan played three seasons (2015-18) with the Tri-City Americans and now is in the AHL’s Calder Cup final with the Charlotte Checkers. Their father, Craig, played two seasons (1991-93) with the Brandon Wheat Kings and one (1993-94) with the Spokane Chiefs.

——

The Brandon Wheat Kings owned three first-round selections in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft that was held in Red Deer on May 2. On Friday, the Wheat Kings announced the signings of all three players — F Nate Danielson, who was the fifth-overall pick, F Tyson Zimmer, who went sixth, and F Rylen Roersma, who was No. 16. . . . Danielson, from Red Deer, had 26 goals and 33 assists in 29 games with the bantam AAA Red Deer Rebels and was named the Alberta league’s top forward and MVP. . . . Zimmer, from Russell, Man., played for the OHA bantam prep team in Penticton, putting up 22 goals and 30 assists in 26 games. . . . Roersma, from Raymond, Alta., had 23 goals and 21 assists in 29 games with the bantam AAA Lethbridge Golden Hawks.

——

With the signings announced Friday by the Winnipeg Ice and Brandon Wheat Kings, WHL teams have signed 12 of the 22 first-round selections from the 2019 bantam draft. Here’s a look at who has signed and who hasn’t . . .

UNSIGNED:

1. Winnipeg — F Matthew Savoie

3. Prince George — D Keaton Dowhaniuk

4. Prince George — F Koehn Ziemmer

7. Kamloops — D Mats Lindgren

11. Moose Jaw — D Denton Mateychuk

14. Swift Current — F Matthew Ward

15. Spokane — F Ben Thornton

19. Victoria — D Jason Spizawka

20. Kamloops — F Connor Levis

21. Swift Current — D Tyson Jugnauth

——

SIGNED:

2. Winnipeg — F Conor Geekie

5. Brandon — F Nate Danielson

6. Brandon — F Tyson Zimmer

8. Seattle — F Jordan Gustafson

9. Saskatoon — F Brandon Lisowsky

10. Seattle — D Kevin Korchinski

12. Medicine Hat — F Oasiz Wiesblatt

13. Calgary — D Grayden Siepmann

16. Brandon — F Rylen Roersma

17. Regina — D Layton Feist

18. Edmonton — F Caleb Reimer

22. Prince Albert — F Niall Crocker


The Kelowna Rockets have signed D Elias Carmichael to a WHL contract. From Langley, B.C., Carmichael was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had three goals and 11 assists in 27 regular-season games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s prep team.


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Tweetoftheday

Have Rockets lost key d-man to Iles? . . . Kelowna, Seattle cut major trade. . . . Hitmen acquire Woo from Warriors. . . . Ice makes big noise in bantam draft


MacBeth

F Dylan Stanley (Tri-City, 2000-05) has signed a one-year contract extension with Feldkirch (Austria, Alps HL). This season, he had 18 goals and 39 assists in 40 games. He led the team in assists and was second in points. He was second in the league in assists and fifth in points. . . . Stanley also was the team’s skills coach and director of player development for the Feldkirch minor hockey program this season and will continue in those roles next season. . . .

F Brett Breitkreuz (Kelowna, Edmonton, Vancouver, 2006-10) has signed a one-year contract with the Bietigheim Steelers (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Löwen Frankfurt (Germany, DEL2), he had 16 goals and 17 assists in 42 games. Next season will be his 10th in Germany. He holds dual German-Canadian citizenship. . . .

G Chet Pickard (Tri-City, 2005-09) signed a two-year contract with Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL). This season, with Adler Mannheim (Germany, DEL), he was 19-4-0, 1.96, .914, with three shutouts, in 24 games. He was second in the league in GAA and sixth in save percentage. He holds dual German-Canadian citizenship.


ThisThat

Part I: Some trades and odds and ends from the WHL’s bantam draft. . . .

I would suggest that the biggest news came from the camp of the Kelowna Rockets, and it didn’t have anything to do with a deal that was struck with the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Rather, it involved Finnish D Lassi Thomson.

In fact, there are reports that Ilves of Finland’s top pro league has a deal with Thomson that includes an option for him to stay through the 2021-22 season.

Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager, had this to say in a news KelownaRocketsrelease: “We’re aware of the report that was released today. We were somewhat surprised; however, Lassi has always been under contract to Ilves as they had to release him to play for us this season. We look forward to the NHL draft (in) June. We are hopeful that whichever NHL team drafts him and his club team Ilves decides that playing for the Rockets is in his best interest.”

Hamilton also told Regan Bartel, the Rockets’ radio voice: “Once he is picked, the NHL team will have input on where he goes anyways. I think the NHL team will want to see him play in North America so they see him as much as they want. They can have their developmental people with him and have him playing on a North American ice sheet.”

Thomson, who had a one-year contract to play over here, was the Western Conference nominee as rookie of the year after a season in which he put up 17 goals and 24 assists in 63 games. You can bet the Rockets were looking to him to run their first PP unit as they prepare to be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup.

From Tampere, Finland, Thomson won’t turn 19 until Sept. 24.

At home, he played in the Ilves system for four seasons — U-16, U-18 and U-20 — before joining the Rockets.

——

Meanwhile, the Rockets made a splash on draft day by cutting a major trade with the Thunderbirds. . . . Kelowna acquired D Jake Lee, F Dillon Hamaliuk and G Cole SeattleSchwebius, giving up F Conner Bruggen-Cate, the 10th-overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft — the Rockets had acquired it earlier in the day from the Brandon Wheat Kings — a second-round pick in 2021 and Kelowna’s first-rounder in 2022. . . . The Rockets didn’t make the playoffs this season and are in the early days of a massive rebuild as they attempt to get competitive for a season that will end with them as the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . .

Lee, who is to turn 18 on July 13, is from Sherwood Park, Alta. He was the 18th-overall pick in the 2016 bantam draft. This season, his second in Seattle, he put up three goals and 21 assists in 67 games. . . . Hamaliuk, who will turn 19 on Oct. 30, is from Leduc, Alta. He was a sixth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. His season was ended by injury after 31 games, as he finished with 11 goals and 15 assists. . . . Schwebius, a 10th-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft, is from Kelowna. This season, he was 5-8-2, 3.89, .886 in 17 games with Seattle. . . .

Schwebius, 18, leaves the Rockets with three goaltenders on their roster, joining Roman Basran, who is to turn 18 on July 26, and James Porter, 19. This season, Basra was 20-19-4, 2.79, .906 in 51 games; Porter went 8-13-4, 3.32, .899 in 30 appearances.

Bruggen-Cate, who is heading into his 20-year-old season, is from Langley, B.C. He has played three seasons in Kelowna, totalling 26 goals and 46 assists in 200 games. Kelowna selected him in the sixth round of the 2014 bantam draft.

Seattle’s 20-year-old group now includes Bruggen-Cate, F Jaxan Kaluski, Slovakian F Andrej Kukuca, D Jarret Tyszka and F Matthew Wedman,


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Seattle, having dealt Schwebius to Kelowna, turned around and acquired G Blake Lyda of Edmonton from the Everett Silvertips for a third-round pick in the 2021 bantam draft. . . . That selection had originated with Everett, moving to Seattle in a Jan. 1 deal that had F Zack Andrusiak move to the Silvertips. . . . Lyda, who will turn 17 on May 21, was a fourth-round pick by Everett in the 2017 bantam draft. He was with the midget AAA Edmonton CAC Canadians, although he missed much of the season due to injury. . . . Right now, Lyda and Roddy Ross, who is to turn 19 on July 4, are the top two goaltenders on Seattle’s depth chart.


Kelowna acquired the 10th-overall pick, along with the WHL rights to D Sean Comrie, BrandonWKregularfrom Brandon for the fifth-overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Comrie, 19, is from Edmonton. The Wheat Kings selected him in the second round of the 2015 bantam draft. Comrie was a freshman this season with the U of Denver Pioneers, after playing two seasons with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints. This season, he had seven goals and 27 assists in 34 games. . . . The deal left Brandon with the fifth and sixth selections, the first time it held two top six picks since 2013 when it took F Nolan Patrick fourth overall and D Kale Clague with the sixth pick. . . . This time, the Wheat Kings took F Nate Danielson of Red Deer with the fifth selection and F Tyson Zimmer of Russell, Man., in the six hole. . . . Danielson had 26 goals and 33 assists in 29 games with the bantam AAA Rebels this season, while Zimmer had 22 goals and 30 assists in 26 games with a bantam team at the OHA in Penticton.


The Winnipeg Ice acquired the third-overall selection and D Reece Harsch, 20, from the wpgiceSaskatoon Blades for four draft picks — the ninth- and 24th-overall picks in the 2019 bantam draft, as well as a 2020 second-round pick and a fifth in 2021. . . . That ninth-overall pick and the second-round selection in 2020 originated with the Red Deer Rebels; the fifth started with the Blades and was dealt to the Ice for F Cyle McNabb in January. . . . The Ice then cut a deal with the Prince George Cougars, giving up the third-overall pick and a third in 2020 that originated with the Moose Jaw Warriors for the second-overall selection in 2019. . . . Winnipeg selected F Matt Savoie of St. Albert, Alta., with the first pick, and then took F Conor Geekie of Strathclair, Man., with the second selection. . . . Savoie has made a verbal commitment to the U of Denver Pioneers starting with the 2021-22 season. His brother, Carter, was the AJHL’s rookie of the year with the Sherwood Park Crusaders. He has committed to the Pioneers for the 2020-21 season. . . . Interestingly, the Ice recently acquired Carter’s WHL rights from the Regina Pats. . . . The Ice brought the Savoies to Winnipeg in mid-April to show them around and seriously begin their sales pitch. . . . Geekie’s father, Craig, played in the WHL with the Brandon Wheat Kings and Spokane Chiefs (1991-94). Conor’s brother Morgan played three seasons (2015-18) with the Tri-City Americans, while another brother, Noah, was a second-round pick by the Calgary Hitmen in 2015 but has chosen to pursue a career in baseball. . . . Harsch, from Grande Prairie, Alta., was acquired by the Blades from the Seattle Thunderbirds this season. He totalled four goals and 16 assists in 57 regular-season games. In three full WHL seasons he has 17 goals and 40 assists in 178 games. He was a part of the Seattle team that won the Ed Chynoweth Cup two years ago.

——

In the fourth round, Winnipeg grabbed F Rieger Lorenz of Calgary. He had 11 goals and 25 assists with the bantam prep team at the Edge School in Calgary this season. . . . Lorenz has committed to the U of Denver Pioneers for the 2022-23 season.

——

Winnipeg also made a deal with the Tri-City Americans in which the Ice acquired F Isaac Johnson, 20. . . . Winnipeg gave up a fourth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft in the exchange. That pick originated with Spokane, moving to the Ice in a deal made in June in which D Bobby Russell went to the Chiefs. . . . From Andover, Minn., Johnson had 12 goals and 20 assists in 31 games with the Americans this season when he left the team and apparently retired. At the time, Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager, told Taking Note that Johnson had retired for personal reasons. . . . In 2017-18, Johnson had 17 goals and 31 assists in 68 games with the Americans. . . . The Ice roster now includes three 20-year-olds — Johnson, F Davis Murray and D Chase Hartje.


The Kamloops Blazers had two first-round selections for the first time in franchise  Kamloops1history. They took D Mats Lindgren out of the Burnaby Winter Club with the seventh-overall selection, then picked F Connor Levis of the St. George’s Academy in Vancouver with the 20th pick. . . . Both players have committed to the U of Michigan Wolverines for 2022-23. . . . Lindgren’s father, Mats, is a former NHLer. . . . In 2016, the Blazers used the 15th-overall pick on F Massimo Rizzo, who just completed his second season with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees and has committed to the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks. . . . In 2017, the Blazers took F Josh Pillar with the 14th selection. In 2018, they grabbed F Logan Stankoven with the fifth pick. . . . Pillar showed dramatic improvement with the Blazers as this season wore on, while Stankoven lit up the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League with the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers and will be a big part of the Kamloops scene over the next few seasons.


Before the draft got started, the Calgary Hitmen made a huge splash by acquiring Jett CalgaryWoo, one of the WHL top defencemen, from the Moose Jaw Warriors in exchange for D Vladislav Yeryomenko, F Ryder Korczak, the 11th-overall pick in the 2019 draft and a second-rounder in 2021. . . . Woo, the fourth-overall pick in the 2015 draft, was a second-round selection by the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL’s 2018 draft. He has signed a three-year entry-level deal with Vancouver. . . . From Winnipeg, Woo is to turn 19 on July 27. He just completed his third season with Moose Jaw, and has 114 points, including 26 goals, in 178 games. This season, he finished with 12 goals and 54 assists in 62 games. . . .

“This was our No. 1 priority in getting a puck moving defenceman,” Jeff Chynoweth, Calgary’s general manager, said in a news release. “To add a player of his calibre, one of the top scoring defencemen in the WHL, a player who plays hard at both ends, is huge for our club.

“He’s a legitimate No. 1 defender and to get him for a whole season instead of after the trade deadline is an added bonus.”

The deal also signals that the Hitmen have their eyes on the prize for 2019-20 and won’t be content just being one of the players.

Yeryomenko, 20, is from Mishutki, Belarus. He was a fifth-round pick by the Nashville MooseJawWarriorsPredators in the NHL’s 2018 draft but has yet to sign a pro deal. This season, his third with Calgary, he had seven goals and 26 assists in 33 games. In 188 regular-season games, he has 26 goals and 72 assists.

The Warriors have two other Belarusians on their roster — F Yegor Buyalski, 18, and F Daniil Stepanov, 18.

There have been rumblings that the rule involving 20-year-old import players may be about to change, perhaps with the removal of the two-spot designation. It could be that a team will be allowed to have three imports on its roster, if one of them is a 20-year-old. This deal may signal that Moose Jaw general manager Alan Millar is expecting that rule to be changed.

Korczak, who is to turn 17 on Sept. 23, is from Yorkton, Sask. The younger brother of Kelowna Rockets D Kaedan Korczak, he had eight goals and seven assists in 50 games as a freshman with the Hitmen.


The Vancouver Giants didn’t have a first-round pick, and took D Joshua Niedermayer, a Vancouverson of former WHL/NHL D Scott Niedermayer, with the 30th overall selection. A native of Newport Beach, Calif., Joshua had 10 goals and 12 assists in 27 games with the bantam prep team at OHA in Penticton, B.C. . . . His brother, Jackson, 18, is a forward with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees and has committed to Arizona State U and the Sun Devils for 2021-22. . . . Jackson was a fifth-round pick by the Calgary Hitmen in the 2016 bantam draft. . . .

The Giants used their second pick in the draft, No. 43, to take F Bowden Singleton of Calgary. He had 42 goals and 24 assists in 29 games with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team, but has committed to the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks for 2022-23. . . .

In the fifth round, the Giants took F Colton Langkow of Scottsdale, Ariz. His father, Daymond, played four seasons (1992-96) with the Tri-City Americans while an uncle, Scott, spent three seasons (1992-95) tending goal for the Portland Winterhawks.


JUST NOTES: Kamloops took G Dylan Ernst from the Weyburn, Sask., bantam AA Red Wings with the 28th overall pick. He was the first goaltender taken in the draft. Dylan’s brother Ethan, 17, just finished his freshman season with the Kelowna Rockets. After Dylan was drafted, their mother, Bonnie, tweeted: “It’s hard enough to watch him in net, let alone playing against his brother. And that many times.” . . .

The Blazers used a seventh-round pick to take F Nash Bamford of Lacombe, Alta. He had eight goals and 12 assists in 33 games with the bantam AAA Red Deer Rebels. His father is country music star Gord Bamford, who was born in Australia and raised in Canada. He has 26 CCMA awards to his credit. . . .

The Everett Silvertips took F Austin Roest of Vernon, B.C., in the third round. His father, Stacy, played four seasons (1991-95) with the Medicine Hat Tigers and now is the director of player development with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning. . . .

The Moose Jaw Warriors selected D Carson Brisson of Edmonton in the fifth round. He had 18 goals and 19 assists in 32 games with the minor midget Leduc Oil Kings this season. He has committed to the U of Denver Pioneers for 2023-24. . . .

The Seattle Thunderbirds used an eighth-round pick to take F Cruz Lucius of Grant, Minn. He played this season with the U-15 team at Gentry Academy, putting up nine goals and 32 assists in 13 games. He has committed to the U of Minnesota Gophers for 2022-23. . . . His brother, Chaz, was taken in the fourth round a year ago by the Portland Winterhawks. Chaz is poised to enter the U.S. National Team Development Program after putting up 39 goals and 23 assists in 13 games with the U-15 team at Gentry Academy. He is committed to Minnesota for 2021-22.

If you know of any other hockey bloodlines from the draft or have any tidbits you would like to share, email Taking Note at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.

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