Canucks to return on Sunday vs. Leafs . . . Wheat Kings get new GM . . . BCIHL may add some Heat

OK. We think that the Vancouver Canucks’ schedule has been settled on . . . at least for now.

The Canucks, who last played on March 24 and have been in the midst of a CanucksCOVID-19 outbreak since March 30, are to play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday and Tuesday nights. Earlier in the week, the schedule called for the Edmonton Oilers to visit Vancouver on Friday with the Maple Leafs there on Saturday.

The schedule, as it now sits, has the Canucks concluding their 56-game season by playing 19 games in 32 nights. They actually began the season by playing 19 times in 34 nights.

F Bo Horvat, the Canucks’ captain, addressed the media on Friday and provided some insight into what the club has been through.

“I’ve had the flu before,” he said, “and this doesn’t hit you like a normal flu. It’s not something you want to get, it’s not something you want your family go through either. I can’t stress enough to follow the protocols.”

Horvat also said that he had passed the virus on to his wife, Holly, and that “it hit her a little harder than it hit me.”

“I’m one of the lucky ones,” he said. “My symptoms were fairly mild . . . I’m not going to lie. It was tough to know my family got it from me.”

At the same time, Jim Benning, the Canucks’ general manager, confirmed that the team had been hit by the P.1 variant that originated in Brazil. It is more aggressive than the original virus, which explains why the Canucks, as a group, had so much more illness than any of the other teams that have been hit this season.

Benning also said that the Canucks have three or four players who may not be ready to return on Sunday, while head coach Travis Green, who also tested positive, has yet to return to the practice ice. The team is hopeful that he will be on the ice today.

Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet has more right here.

And there’s a story right here from Karen Larsen of CBC News.


Before Kelly McCrimmon left to join the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, he had been the Brandon Wheat Kings’ general manager since 1989, or for 27 seasons.

With Friday’s announcement that Darren Ritchie is leaving, the club promoted BrandonDoug Gasper, making him its third general manager since McCrimmon’s departure.

Grant Armstrong, who had been the Victoria Royals’ assistant GM, player personnel, succeeded McCrimmon as Brandon’s GM on Aug. 23, 2016.

The Wheat Kings announced on May 7, 2019, that they wouldn’t be renewing Armstrong’s contract.

On July 12, 2019, Ritchie was promoted to general manager. He will be leaving after the completion of this season to join the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs as an amateur scout. He spent 14 seasons with Brandon, moving up from assistant coach (2007-16) to director of scouting (2016-19) and then into the GM’s office.

Gasper, a familiar face in WHL circles, joined the Wheat Kings as assistant GM on Aug. 15, 2019. From Rosetown, Sask., he had been scouting for the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks before joining the Wheat Kings. He also spent six seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors, including a stint as their director of scouting (2015-17). Gasper also has scouted for the Prince Albert Raiders.

Ritchie will work for Toronto out of Brandon; Gasper will be relocating to Brandon from Saskatoon at some point in May.

The Wheat Kings’ news release is right here.

McCrimmon sold the franchise in September to the Brandon-based J&G Group of Companies, headed up by Jared Jacobson, the president and CEO.


The BCHL announced Friday that the Nanaimo Clippers “have been cleared to Nanaimoresume team activities.” The organization had been shut down Thursday to allow for further analysis of a COVID-19 test. It was found to be a negative, so the shackles have been removed. . . . The Clippers are scheduled to play the Victoria Grizzlies this afternoon in Port Alberni. Nanaimo’s Thursday night game against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs had been postponed because of the COVID-19 scare. . . . In that cohort on Friday night, Victoria beat the Cowichan Valley Capitals, 10-0.


The B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League is exploring adding an expansion franchise in Kelowna — the UBCO Heat, which would call UBC’s Okanagan campus home. . . . The Heat has put together a committee that, according to its Facebook page, “now is recruiting marketing staff and potential student-athletes to help build a new team for the BCIHL in Kelowna.” . . . The BCIHL is down to three active teams, with the Trinity Western Spartans moving to USport’s Canada West conference and Selkirk College having cancelled its hockey program. . . . You know that expansion will be on the agenda when the BCIHL holds is annual general meeting virtually on May 18 and 19.


Donuts


It would appear that Mark Rassell, a former WHLer, is thinking about a new career! A native of Calgary, he played four seasons (2014-18) with the Medicine Hat Tigers, then spent two seasons at the U of New Brunswick. . . . He doesn’t mention here whether he knows how to drive a bus, though.


The Kelowna Rockets are scheduled to return to game action tonight in Kamloops against the Prince George Cougars. The Rockets have played only two games in this developmental season, having been sidelined since March 28 because of a COVID-19 outbreak. While the original schedule had the Rockets playing 24 games, the one now on the WHL website has them with 13 games remaining. . . .

Meanwhile, there were four games played on Friday night . . .

F Owen Pederson broke a 3-3 tie at 10:27 of the third period and F Michael Milne Winnipegadded another at 12:30 as the Winnipeg Ice beat the Swift Current Broncos, 5-4, in Regina. . . . Pederson, who has 10 goals, and Milne, who has three, each scored twice in this one. . . . D Owen Williams (4) got the Broncos’ last goal at 15:57 of the third. . . . While the Ice improved to 13-5-0, the Broncos (3-14-1) have lost seven in a row. . . . Winnipeg F Peyton Krebs had his point streak snapped at 16 games. Krebs put up nine goals and 21 assists over that stretch. . . . Winnipeg F Connor McClennon, who had his 12th goal and an assist, ran his streak to 11 games. He has 12 goals and 15 assists in 18 games and has only been blanked twice. . . . G Daniel Hauser stopped 40 shots for Winnipeg. . . . Swift Current was presented with the only PP opportunities of the game, and went 1-for-5. . . . The Ice went into the game with a PP that was running at a 34.6 efficiency rate (27-for-78), behind only to the Medicine Hat Tigers (41.8). . . .

The Medicine Hat Tigers scored the game’s last four goals and beat the visiting TigersRed Deer Rebels, 4-2. . . . F Ben King scored both Red Deer goals, at 10:14 of the first period and 4:36 of the second. He has seven goals, and has put up four goals and five assists over his past five games. All told, he’s got seven goals and 10 assists in 15 games for a Red Deer team that now is 2-13-2 and has lost 10 in a row. . . . F Corson Hopwo (12) scored twice for the Tigers, getting them started at 13:34 of the second period and adding the insurance goal at 13:08 of the third. . . . Hopwo has goals in seven straight games. . . . F Brett Kemp (9) tied the game, at 3:29 of the third, and D Eric Van Impe (3) snapped the tie just 33 seconds later. . . . The Tigers, with points in seven straight (6-0-1), now are 10-3-1. . . . Medicine Hat was 3-for-5 with the man advantage. . . .

The Everett Silvertips scored three goals in the second half of the third period to Everettbeat the host Seattle Thunderbirds, 5-3. . . . Everett, which had lost two in a row, improved to 10-3-0. . . . Seattle, which had won its previous two games, now is 7-6-0. . . . F Gage Goncalves gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 17:20 of the third period and F Cole Fonstad made it 2-0 just 50 seconds later. . . . Seattle F Henry Rybinski (4) scored in his third straight game, getting his guys on the board at 10:03 of the second period. . . . F Jared Davidson (5) put Seattle out front with goals at 13:48 of the second and 9:25 of the third. Davidson also assisted on Rybinski’s goal. . . . The Silvertips tied it on F Jacob Wright’s fifth goal, at 10:15. . . . Goncalves, who has 10 goals, broke the tie at 11:17 and Fonstad, now with 10 goals, got the empty-netter. He also had an assist. . . . Goncalves also had two assists. He has 19 points in 13 games. . . . Everett G Dustin Wolf stopped 34 shots. He’s 9-2-0, 1.81, .938. . . . Seattle dressed 17 skaters, one under the maximum, with F Payton Mount sitting out this one. He was taken to hospital following a game on Tuesday after being struck on the head by a puck that glanced off the wall behind the Seattle bench. He was checked over and released on Wednesday morning. . . .

In Kelowna, F Jonny Hooker broke a 2-2 tie at 18:08 of the second period and PGthe Prince George Cougars went on to a 5-2 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . Victoria (1-8-1), which has lost five straight, led 1-0 after one period on a PP goal by F Brayden Tracey (6). . . . D Majid Kaddoura (1) pulled the Cougars even at 2:09 of the second period and D Keaton Dowhaniuk (1) gave them the lead just 1:14 later. . . . Dowhaniuk, the third overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft, scored his first WHL goal. . . . F Trentyn Crane, a fifth-round pick in 2018, got the Royals into a tie at 11:40 with his first WHL score. . . . Hooker broke the tie, and F Kuren Gronick (2) and F Tyson Upper (1) added insurance in the last minute of the period. . . . Prince George (4-3-2) outshot Victoria, 41-21, and had a 39-16 edge in the face-off circle.


Carpenter


My wife, Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant more than seven years ago, will take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk on June 6. 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.

——

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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Gaelan Patterson is leaving the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves to take over as director of hockey operations for the Nanaimo Minor Hockey Association. Patterson, 30, who played four seasons (2006-10) with the Saskatoon Blades, joined the Ice Wolves prior to the 2018-19 season. From La Ronge, he had been the Ice Wolves’ associate GM/associate head coach. . . . Blaine Gusdal won’t be returning for a 14th season as the head coach of the U of Alberta-Augustana Vikings. The school made the announcement on March 31. Gusdal, 53, is from Erickson, Man. He played two WHL seasons (1984-86), splitting time between the Prince Albert Raiders (one game), Moose Jaw Warriors (59) and Saskatoon Blades (34).


Brunch

Saskatchewan tragedy touches Humboldt Broncos . . . Evason on way back to NHL . . . Will Rockets be doing the haka?

MacBeth

F Brad Ross (Portland, 2007-12) signed a one-year contract extension with Heilbronner Falken (Germany, DEL2). Last season, he had 10 goals and 18 assists in 49 games. . . .

F Sergei Drozd (Tri-City, 2009-10) signed a one-year contract with Yunost Minsk (Belarus, Extraliga). Last season, with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL), he had two goals and four assists in 45 games. . . .

F Chris Langkow (Spokane, Saskatoon, Everett, 2005-10) signed a one-year contract with MAC Budapest (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). Last season, with the Worcester Railers (ECHL), he had 18 goals and 27 assists in 50 games. On loan to the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL), he had one goal and one assist in seven games. He was second on Worcester in assists and points.


Ex-Humboldt player, family killed in crash

Troy Gasper, a former Humboldt Broncos forward, his wife and their three young children were killed in a two-vehicle accident north of Elrose, Sask., on Friday afternoon.

Gasper, 26, his wife Carissa, 28, and their children — Kael, 6, Shea, 4, and Maks, 2 — were killed when two SUVs collided on Highway 4.

The driver of the other vehicle, a 71-year-old woman from Swift Current, also died in the accident.

The Gaspers were from Rosetown, which is just south of Elrose. Gasper played two seasons (2009-11) with the Broncos. He then played four seasons with the senior Rosetown Redwings. The Moose Jaw Warriors selected him in the ninth round of the WHL’s 2007 bantam draft, but he never played in the WHL.

Troy was a salesman at Western Sales Ltd., a John Deere dealership, while Carissa worked for her father’s accounting business.

Troy’s father, Doug, is a veteran scout. He joined the Moose Jaw Warriors in 2007, moved to assistant head scout in 2012 and was director of scouting for two seasons (2015-17). He left the Warriors last summer to join the scouting staff of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks.


Scattershooting

Somehow I missed a move back to the NHL by former WHL player and coach Dean Evason. After six seasons as head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Nashville Predators, Evason has signed on as an assistant coach with the Minnesota Wild. . . . Evason, 53, was the Kamloops Blazers’ head coach for three seasons (1999-2002) and the Vancouver Giants for two (2002-04), then spent 2004-05 with the Calgary Hitmen. He was an assistant coach for seven seasons with the NHL’s Washington Capitals before heading to Milwaukee. . . . While in Washington, he worked under head coach Bruce Boudreau, who now is the Wild’s head coach. . . . Evason was prolific scorer with the Kamloops Jr. Oilers, putting up 164 points, including 71 goals, in 70 games in 1982-83 and 137 points, 49 of them goals, in 57 games in 1983-84.


Karl Taylor is the new head coach of the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. He spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach with the Texas Stars, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. . . . In 2013-14, Taylor was an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks.



If you weren’t aware, Kelowna Rockets assistant coach Travis Crickard is spending part of his off-season in New Zealand. There is a rumour out there that this will lead the Rockets to perform the haka before home games in 2018-19.


Here is Jack Finarelli (sportscurmudgeon.com) with a couple of Detroit Lions-related notes:

“To give you an idea of the futility of the Lions as a franchise, the team has been in the NFL for 89 seasons (since 1930). Over that time, the Lions winningest coach is Wayne Fontes and Fontes’ career record with the Lions was 66-67-0.

“Here is another Lions’ oddity. Since the merger of the NFL and the AFL in 1970, no head coach of the Lions was ever a head coach for another NFL team after Detroit fired him. It is almost as if the rest of the league doesn’t want to risk that sort of taint on their franchise. Welcome to Detroit, Matt Patricia. . . .”


“Derek Jeter has put the 115-year-old Tiedemann Castle — his residence on Greenwood Lake, N.Y., during his Yankee playing days — on the market for US$14.75 million,” notes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “It features a 12,590-square-foot home, six bedrooms, 12 bathrooms, one pool, one lagoon and one replica of the Statue of Liberty but, alas, no gift baskets.”


Garrett Rank, an NHL referee, qualified for and played in golf’s U.S. Open earlier this year. At one point, he heard someone in the gallery yell: “Call more slashing on Pittsburgh!”


A note from Cam Hutchinson of the Saskatoon Express: “Ex-New England mafia boss Francis (Cadillac Frank) Salemme was convicted last week for the 1993 murder of a nightclub owner. I’ve always thought mobsters have the best nicknames.” . . . Methinks Hutchinson loved The Sopranos.


One more from Hutchinson: “A survey found 50 per cent of Internet users will quit waiting for a video to load after 10 seconds. I wait five — tops.”


Vancouver comic Torben Rolfsen wonders: “Does Barry Trotz get to rejoin the Capitals for their Kremlin visit?”


“The Milwaukee Brewers have promised their famous racing sausages will compete ‘beyond 2018’ with new sponsor Johnsonville,” reports RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com. “It reassured fans who had feared for the wursts.”


The Kansas City Royals are in the tank and soon to start wheeling and dealing as a rebuild gets started. As Currie puts it: “Call it the Royal weeding.”