Seattle stares down elimination for fifth time . . . First team in WHL history to win two Game 7s on road . . . Championship series opens in Edmonton on Friday

The WHL’s championship final, featuring the Edmonton Oil Kings and Seattle WHLplayoffs2022Thunderbirds, will open in the Alberta capital with games on Friday and Sunday.

The series will follow a 2-2-3 format — yes, you read that correctly. Due to building availability issues — the arena is booked for graduation ceremonies from June 9-15 — in Kent, Wash., the Thunderbirds will get only two home games, although they will be designated as the home team for one of the possible five games in Edmonton.

They will play Games 3 and 4 in Kent on Tuesday and Wednesday (June 8), before returning to Edmonton, if necessary, to finish up. Those games would be played on June 11, 13 and 14, with the Thunderbirds the ‘home’ team for Game 6. TSN will televise the series, beginning with Game 3.

The Oil Kings, the Eastern Conference’s second seed, advanced to the final by taking out the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice in five games. Edmonton has been sitting and waiting for an opponent since eliminating the Ice on Friday.

The Thunderbirds, the Western Conference’s fourth seed, ousted the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers, winning Game 7, 3-2, on the road on Tuesday night.

The Oil Kings last reached the WHL final in 2014 when they beat the Portland Winterhawks in seven games en route to winning the Memorial Cup. That was the third of three straight WHL finals to feature Edmonton and Portland — the Oil Kings won in 2012 and 2014.

Edmonton is 12-1 in these playoffs, having swept the No. 7 Lethbridge Hurricanes and No. 3 Red Deer Rebels before taking out the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice in five games.

Seattle last appeared in the WHL final in 2017 when it won the championship by taking out the Regina Pats in six games. One year earlier, the Thunderbirds lost the final, 4-1, to the Brandon Wheat Kings.

In these playoffs, Seattle now is 12-7, having eliminated the Kelowna Rockets, 4-1, and then gone seven games with both Portland and Kamloops.

Interestingly, the Thunderbirds won Game 6 in both those series by a 2-1 count at home, then went on the road to win Game 7. In the process, they became the first team in WHL history — which begins in 1966-67 — to win two Game 7s on the road in the same playoff season.

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TUESDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference

In Kamloops, F Jared Davidson scored twice and linemate Lukas Svejkovsky drew three assists as the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Blazers, 3-2, in SeattleGame 7 of the conference final. . . . It was the fifth time the Thunderbirds faced elimination in these playoffs and they now are 5-0 in such games. . . . The Blazers opened the scoring for the sixth time in the series when F Fraser Minten (6) struck at 8:34 of the opening period. . . . Seattle F Lucas Ciona drilled the left post behind G Dylan Garand a few minutes later. . . . The Thunderbirds pulled even at 15:47 when Davidson (10) snapped one home from the right face-off dot just seven seconds into the game’s first PP opportunity. That would be the only PP by either team on this night. . . . Davidson (11) shot Seattle into the lead at 2:27 of the second period following another face-off win in the Kamloops zone. . . . The Thunderbirds went ahead 3-1 at 14:56 as F Henrik Rybinski (4) beat Garand by tipping in a shot by D Jeremy Hanzel. . . . Seattle G Thomas Milic preserved the two-goal lead with a big stop off Kamloops F Logan Stankoven through traffic to start the third period. . . . The Blazers finally got  to within a goal, but there were only 7.4 seconds left to play when F Daylan Kuefler (10) scored. . . . Milic finished with 33 saves, four fewer than Garand. . . . What was the key to Seattle’s series victory? Over the last four games of the series, the Thunderbirds held Stankoven, who leads the playoffs with 30 points, to three assists, while shutting out linemate Luke Toporowski, who finished with 23 points. Stankoven had scored hat tricks in Games 1 and 3, with Toporowski recording six helpers. . . . Meanwhile, Svejkovsky put up two goals and eight assists in six games, while Davidson had five goals and three assists in seven games, and Rybinsky, the third member of that line, played in only four games but had a goal and four assists.


Cyclops


The Minnesota Twins will be in Toronto for a weekend series with the Blue Jays, COVIDbut shortstop Carlos Correa, a two-time all-star with the Houston Astros, won’t be with them. He was placed on the COVID-19 restricted list on Tuesday after exhibiting symptoms on Sunday and getting worse on Monday. Also on that list are Joe Ryan, a right-handed started, and backup OF Gilberto Celestino. . . . According to Sportsnet, the Twins, who began the week in Detroit against the Tigers, “have already said they’ll have ‘a few’ players on the restricted list not travelling to Toronto. This generally means players unvaccinated against COVID-19.”


My wife, Dorothy, a kidney transplant recipient in 2013, will take part in the 2022 #kamloops Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year on Sunday. Yes, it’s virtual again. You are able to sponsor her right here.


Bank


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Beau McCue won’t be back as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, but he will be remaining with the organization. According to a news release, McCue, who played four seasons (2012-16) with the Americans, “will remain with the club in a supportive role within hockey operations.” . . . BTW, I asked American’s general manager Bob Tory, who is one of four co-owners, a while back if Stu Barnes would be back as head coach. The one-word response was: “Absolutely.” . . . Barnes, who also owns a piece of the Americans, now is preparing for his second season as the club’s head coach. . . .

The BCHL’s Surrey Eagles have added Matt Dawson as an assistant coach. A former Eagles defenceman, he played five seasons (2015-20) at the U of New Hampshire. In 2022-23, he was an assistant coach with the junior B Delta Ice Hawks of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. . . .

The junior B Westshore Wolves of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League have signed general manager and head coach Derek Sweet-Coulter to a three-year contract extension. He is preparing for his second season with the club. . . .

The junior B Revelstoke Grizzlies, the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s defending champions, have promoted Jiri Novak to assistant general manager and associate head coach. He is going into is fourth season on the coaching staff. . . .

Alex Mandolidis has signed on as the general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. He is coming off three seasons as an assistant coach with the Calgary-based Mount Royal U Cougars men’s hockey team. Before that, he was an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Calgary Mustangs for one season. . . . With the Blues, he takes over from Taras McEwen, who now is the director of hockey operations. . . . The Blues are owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment, which also owns, among other things, the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice and the MJHL’s Winnipeg Freeze.


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.


Sense

Where there’s smoke, there are fires. Lots of them . . . Moulton back in WHL . . . Flynn’s next stop is in OHL

Fires

If you are wondering how things are going in Kamloops and area, well, the map pictured above is from Friday evening. Each of the golden triangles represents one fire . . . Yes, all those fires are generating a lot of smoke. No, we don’t have any windows open today. . . . Looking like we have more than a few long, hot, smoke-filled days ahead of us. . . . The bags are packed; we’re ready to go . . . if the situation calls for it.


The Brandon Wheat Kings have hired Chris Moulton as their director of player Moultonpersonnel. He will work alongside general manager Doug Gasper. . . . Moulton spent 14 seasons (2005-19) with the Spokane Chiefs, filling the roles of director of scouting, director of player personnel and assistant general manager at one time or another. . . . He also spent three seasons (2012-15) as an amateur scout with the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. . . . Moulton also scouted for the Calgary Hitmen in the franchise’s early days. . . . Moulton left the Chiefs in July 2019 to join the Wasserman hockey division as Western Canada player recruitment and development advisor. Wasserman is a Los Angeles-based sports marketing and talent management company.


Brad Flynn, a former WHL assistant coach, has signed on as the associate coach Spiritwith the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit. Flynn, 26, spent the previous three seasons as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels. Prior to that he worked in the NAHL (Corpus Christi Ice Rays), QMJHL (Acadie-Bathurst Titan) and MJHL (Swan Valley Stampeders). . . . According to a Spirit news release: “Brad and his father, Danny, are the first ever father and son to coach in all three leagues of the Canadian Hockey League.” . . . Danny, a highly successful major junior coach, spent one season (2017-18) as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks. He now scouts for the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. . . . That news release is right here.



The junior B Westshore Wolves of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League Wolveshave been sold, with Shawn Vincent buying the franchise from a group headed by Ken Carson. . . . Vincent has hired Derek Sweet-Coulter as general manager and head coach. Sweet-Coulter, who is from Victoria, spent the previous two seasons as the GM and head coach of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials. . . . Ian Birnie will be staying on as assistant GM and director of player development. He has been with the Wolves for three years.


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.

Junior hockey coaching carousel starts spinning . . . Blazers, Rockets close WHL season with wins . . . Recchi commits to Thommies

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission tweeted on Wednesday: “Do not fill plastic bags with gasoline.” . . . Is this a great time to be alive, or what?


The MJHL’s Steinbach Pistons have signed Paul Dyck, their general manager Steinbachand head coach, to a contract extension running through the 2025-26 season. Yes, that’s a five-year extension. He started with the Pistons as assistant coach/director of sales and marketing in prior to 2010-11. He has been head coach since taking over on an interim basis during the 2011-12 season, and added the GM’s duties over the summer of 2012. From a news release: “Since 2012-13, the Steinbach native has guided his team to three regular season titles, one Addison Division title, four league finals appearances, two Turnbull Cups in 2013 and 2018, the ANAVET Cup championship in 2018, and an appearance at the Centennial Cup in 2018.” . . . Dyck, now 50, played two WHL seasons (1989-91) with the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Pistons’ news release is right here. . . .

In the BCHL, the Coquitlam Express has signed Brandon Shaw to a two-year Coquitlamdeal as head coach and assistant general manager. Shaw, 26, was the Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ associate coach and director of player development for two seasons. He was with the Merritt Centennials for three seasons before that, working as an assistant coach/scout and then assistant coach/director of scouting. . . . Shaw takes over from interim head coach Adam Nugent-Hopkins, who stepped in in March after Dan Cioffi, who was head coach/assistant GM, left the organization. . . . Brian Wiebe has more on the Express right here.

——

Meanwhile, two junior hockey coaches who were employed on Tuesday are free agents today. . . .

The QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes have fired head coach Ron Choules, who just completed his second season with them. The Cataractes had the third-best record (21-10-3) in the QMJHL’s regular season, then lost a best-of-five first-round playoff series, 3-2, to a Rimouski Oceanic team that went 13-22-4 in the regular season. Shawinigan held a 2-1 series lead before dropping the last two games — 4-3 and 2-0 — on home ice. . . .

The BCHL’s Merritt Centennials have decided not to renew head coach Derek Sweet-Coulter’s contract when it runs out on May 31. He took over the team early last season after Barry Wolff was fired and went 12-31-4. Merritt was 3-17-0 while playing in a just-completed pod in Chilliwack.


The San Diego Padres, who put three players on the injured list on Tuesday due to health and safety protocols, added two more on Wednesday. . . . INF Eric Hosmer and OF Wil Myers will sit for a while after SS Fernando Tatis Jr., INF Jurickson Profar and SS Jorge Mateo on the list. . . . Hosmer was identified as a close contact and was removed during a Tuesday game with the Colorado Rockies in Denver. Myers started that game in right field but was removed in the third inning after he was found to have tested positive. Tatis Jr. also tested positive, with Profar and Mateo later identified as close contacts.


Tent


The curtain came down on the WHL’s 2020-21 season on Wednesday night with games in Kamloops and Kelowna. . . . The WHL hopes there is some sense of normalcy back in our society by October when it wants to begin a 68-game regular season. . . .

In Kamloops, G Dylan Garand stopped 28 shots to lead the Blazers to a 4-0 Kamloopsvictory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . The Blazers completed an 18-4-0 season with six straight victories. . . . The Cougars (9-10-3) lost their last three. . . . Garand recorded his third shutout of the season and the eighth of his career. He finished this season 15-3-0, 2.15, .921. . . . F Josh Pillar (11) opened the scoring at 3:59 of the first period. . . . D Logan Bairos (1), D Ethan Brandwood (1) and F Orrin Centazzo (7) also scored. . . . Bairos, a second-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft, got his first WHL goal in his 19th game, 17 of them this season. . . . G Taylor Gauthier stopped 34 shots for the Cougars. . . . The game was played in 2 hours 4 minutes, which I believe ties it for the fastest game in the WHL this season. The Brandon Wheat Kings beat the Swift Current Broncos, 4-1, in an April 7 game that also was clocked in 2:04. . . . The Blazers completed their season without F Connor Zary, who missed the last seven games after taking a high hit on April 28. F Jonny Hooker of the Cougars served a four-game suspension for the hit. . . .

In Kelowna, the Rockets scored the game’s first two goals en route to a 3-2 Rocketsvictory over the Victoria Royals. . . . Kelowna, which played only 16 games because of COVID-19 issues, finished 10-5-1. . . . Victoria wound up at 3-17-2. . . . F Alex Swetlikoff (6) gave the Rockets a 1-0 lead at 6:45 of the first period, with D Noah Dorey (1) making it 2-0 at 16:12. . . . Dorey, a fourth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft, scored his first WHL goal in his ninth game. . . . F Ty Yoder (4) pulled Victoria to within a goal at 16:42. . . . D Jake Lee (3) restored Kelowna’s two-goal lead at 9:02 of the second period with what stood up as the game-winner. . . . F Brayden Tracey (9) scored the Royals’ second goal at 19:14 of the third period. . . . The Rockets got 28 saves from G Roman Basran, while Adam Evanoff stopped 35 at the other end.


Push


Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity.

——

If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: F Cameron Recchi of the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks said Wednesday that he has committed to play NCAA hockey for the U of St. Thomas Thommies of the CCHA. The school is based in St. Paul, Minn., with the hockey team to make its Division 1 debut in 2021-22. Recchi, 19, is the son of Hockey Hall of Famer Mark Recchi, who owns a piece of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers. . . . Jeff Harris has left the WHL’s Victoria Royals to join BC Hockey as executive vice president, communications. He spent the past 10 years with the Royals as assistant general manager, hockey operations and communications. While with Victoria he worked under Cameron Hope, who now is BC Hockey’s chief executive officer.


Bags

WHL’s governors next scheduled to discuss things on Tuesday . . . CJHL’s 10 leagues end seasons . . . Four more IIHF cancellations . . . and on it goes!

chart


The WHL’s board of governors is scheduled to talk on Tuesday, presumably to discuss 2020MCwhere things are with the suspension of play that was put in place on Thursday in reaction to the COVID-19 virus and also to take a look ahead. . . . “The plan is to pause, not cancel, not do anything other than that and see if the wave slows down a little bit for everybody,” Bruce Hamilton, the chairman of the board of governors and owner of the Kelowna Rockets, told David Trifunov of the Kelowna Daily Courier. “If we end up with a number of players with it, then it’s a bigger concern. We’ve got a couple of weeks to play with here, because we’ve got two weeks left in our season, really, and then we can make plans from there.” . . . At the same time, preparations are continuing for the Memorial Cup, which is scheduled for Kelowna, May 21-31. Hamilton told the Vancouver Province on Thursday that organizers are checking to see if Prospera Place, the home of the Rockets, might be available in June should the schedule need to be adjusted.


The Canadian Junior Hockey League, the umbrella organization under which 10 junior A leagues operate, made it official on Friday, cancelling the 2019-20 season. “All hockey-related activities, including respective league playoffs, the CJHL’s four regional championship events (Fred Page Cup, Dudley-Hewitt Cup, ANAVET Cup, Doyle Cup) and the Centennial Cup national junior A championship won’t be held. . . . The national final was to have been held in Portage la Prairie, Man.


Scott Wheeler of The Athletic put together a comprehensive look at various junior hockey leagues, what went into the decision to suspend operations, the impact all of his might have, and some ideas on what the future might hold. USHL president Tom Garrity, OJHL commissioner Marty Savoie and CJHL president Brett Ladds all were co-operative and open in their answers. . . . When it came to major junior hockey, though, Wheeler got this: “The statement the league issued this afternoon is our only position and comment at this time.” . . . That story, which is quite insightful, is right here.


John Forslund, the TV play-by-play voice of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, is self-quarantined in his home. Why? Because he ended up staying in the same Detroit hotel room as Rudy Robert of the NBA’s Utah Jazz. Gobert was the first NBA player to test positive for the coronavirus. . . . The Hurricanes moved into the Detroit Westin Book Cadillac on Sunday, one day after the Jazz left. . . . Luke Decock of the Raleigh News & Observer reported that Forslund has moved into the basement of his home and his wife Natalie “is leaving his meals at the basement door.” . . . “It’s different. It’s a long time,” Forslund told Decock. “Today it doesn’t seem like much. As the days march on here, you’re just hoping nothing happens. That’s different. Every time I sneeze or I cough, you wonder, ‘Where’s this going?’ ”


The International Ice Hockey Federation cancelled four more men’s championships on IIHFFriday — the Division II, Group A event that was to have been held in Zagreg, Croatia; the Division II, Group B event in Reykjavik, Iceland; the Division III, Group A tournament in Kockelscheuer, Luxembourg; and the Division III, Group B event in Cape Town, South Afrida. . . . The first three were to have run from April 19-25, with the one in Cape Town going from April 20-23. . . .

Still on the calendar: Division 1, Group B, Katowice, Poland, April 27 through May 3; Division 1, Group A, Ljubljana, Slovenia, April 27 through May 3; and the big one, the World championship, in Zurich and Lausanne, Switzerland, May 8-24. . . . The IIHF Council is to hold a conference call on Tuesday during which the status of these tournaments will be the main topic of conversation.


The 15-team Finish Ice Hockey League, perhaps better known as the SM-liiga), cancelled the remainder of its season on Friday and announced that it won’t name a champion. It is Finland’s top pro league. . . . The final round of the regular season was to have started today (Saturday) without fans in the arenas. . . . How quickly things change. The regular season was proceeding nicely on Tuesday, with fans in the arenas. On Thursday night, games were played without fans. On Friday, it all came to and end.


What is some of the impact of shutting down March Madness? Here’s a few notes from Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports:

Nevada sportsbooks took $498.7 million in wagers on college basketball and the NBA combined in March 2019 and won $36.5 million. An estimated 70 percent of that handle ($349 million ) was wagered on last year’s NCAA Tournament. . . .

For perspective, Nevada sportsbooks took a combined $154.7 million on last month’s Super Bowl — one of the biggest gambling events of the year — and won $18.8 million. . . .

Sportsbooks will have to refund any futures bets made since the conclusion of last year’s championship game when 2020 futures were posted. . . .

85 percent of the NCAA’s annual operating budget comes via revenue from the NCAA Tournament.

——

“The good news for you and me, though,” Blackburn points out, “is that we’ll probably have a few extra bucks in our pockets this March without the opportunity to lose bets or brackets. That just means more toilet paper we can afford to stock up on, I guess.”



The BCHL’s Merritt Centennials have signed Derek Sweet-Coulter, their general manager and head coach, through the 2020-21 season. Sweet-Coulter took over from Barry Wolff after the team opened this season by going 2-9.

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