Blazers and Ice one victory from conference finals . . . Stankoven powers Kamloops past Giants . . . Memorial Cup host team ousted


The WHL’s best regular-season team in 2021-22 looks to move on to the WHLplayoffs2022Eastern Conference final when it plays host to a Friday night playoff game. Yes, the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice take a 3-1 series lead into Game 5 against the visiting No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Warriors will be without F Robert Baco, whose suspension for a charging major in Game 3 had been set at two games. . . . A Winnipeg victory would send the Ice into a series against the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings, who are 8-0 in these playoffs, having swept the No. 7 Lethbridge Hurricanes and No. 3 Red Deer Rebels. . . .

Meanwhile, in the Western Conference, the Kamloops Blazers hold a 3-1 lead over the Vancouver Giants and they’ll play Game 5 in Kamloops tonight. . . . At the same time, the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks have a 2-1 edge on the Seattle Thunderbirds as they meet in Kent, Wash. The Thunderbirds are coming off a 5-0 victory in Game 3 in Portland on Wednesday night.

——

THURSDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference

In Langley, B.C., F Logan Stankoven broke a 2-2 tie on a late third-period PP as Kamloopsthe No. 2 Kamloops Blazers skated to a 4-2 victory over the No. 8 Vancouver Giants. . . . The Blazers hold a 3-1 lead in the series, and they’re right back at it tonight as they meet in Game 5, this time in Kamloops. . . . The teams exchanged goals in this one, with F Luke Toporowski (6) giving Kamloops a 1-0 lead at 13:54 of the third period. . . . F Zack Ostapchuk (4) got the Giants even at 17:42. . . . The Blazers went back in front at 12:59 of the second period on a goal by F Caedan Bankier (4). . . . Ostapchuk (5) tied it again, this time at 6:21 of the third. . . . Stankoven’s eighth goal, at 17:23, was the game-winner. . . . The Giants were hit with a minor for too many men just 46 seconds after Stankoven’s goal. . . . Stankoven followed that with his ninth goal in eight games into an empty net with 7.9 seconds remaining. . . . Ostapchuk and linemate Fabian Lysell, who had two assists, lead the WHL playoff scoring race, each with 19 points, one more than Stankoven. . . . Kamloops was 2-for-3 on the PP; Vancouver was 0-for-1. . . . The Blazers got 18 stops from G Dylan Garand, while G Jesper Vikman blocked 34 for the Giants. . . . F Cole Shephard, who last played on March 16, was back in Vancouver’s lineup.


In all my years of covering junior hockey, I don’t know that I encountered a player with a bigger personality than Brandon Underwood. . . . He played five seasons (Kamloops Blazers, Regina Pats, Red Deer Rebels, 2008-13) in the WHL before going on to spend four seasons with the UBC Thunderbirds. . . . He now is a Vancouver firefighter. . . . On Thursday night, after former Moose Jaw Warriors F Brayden Point scored in OT to give the host Tampa Bay Lightning a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Underwood won Twitter . . . 


Music


We had a goalie goal on Thursday night. . . . Former WHLer Joel Hofer, now with the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds, lit the lamp in a 6-2 victory over the visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. . . . In his Calder Cup playoffs debut, he made 34 stops as the Thunderbirds took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five Atlantic Division semifinal. . . . Hofer, 21, is from Winnipeg. He played three seasons (2017-20) in the WHL, making stops with the Swift Current Broncos and Portland Winterhawks.


Julie Stewart-Binks had to cancel out of being part of ESPN’s coverage of Game COVID6 of the NHL playoffs series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the host Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night because she tested positive for COVID-19. “Thankfully through contract tracing everyone else is negative,” she wrote on Twitter. “I have been extremely diligent with safety protocols the entire pandemic. I am devastated not to work this game.” . . .

The Cleveland Guardians have at least seven members of their coaching staff in COVID-19 protocol after they tested positive — manager Terry Francona, bench coach DeMarlo Hale, hitting coach Chris Valaika, assistant pitching coach Joe Torres, first-base coach Sandy Alomar, third-base coach Mike Sarbaugh and hitting analyst Justin Toole.


Eye


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Saint John Sea Dogs, the host team for the 2022 Memorial Cup tournament, were eliminated from the QMJHL playoffs on Thursday night when they lost, 4-3 in OT, to the visiting Rimouski Oceanic. F Alexander Gaudio scored 30 seconds into extra time to give the Oceanic the series victory. The QMJHL is playing best-of-fives this time around and this was Game 5. . . . The Sea Dogs are next scheduled to play on June 20 when they get the Memorial Cup started with a game against the OHL champions. . . .

Three of the last four Memorial Cup host teams have lost out in the first round of playoffs — in 2017, the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires lost in seven games to the London Knights; in 2018, the Regina Pats were ousted by the Swift Current Broncos in seven games; and now the Sea Dogs are gone. . . . Windsor went on to win the Memorial Cup at home, while Regina lost out in the tournament final. . . . The Halifax Mooseheads were the host team in 2019; they reached the QMJHL final where they were swept by the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. . . .

The QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan and Halifax Mooseheads were to have played the fifth game in their best-of-five series on Thursday night. But, with Wednesday’s fourth game having gone into the third OT period, the league chose to move Game 5 to Friday night. Because of the length of Game 4 in Halifax and the fact the teams would have had to travel about five hours to Bathurst, N.B., for Game 5 “the league judged it prudent for the well-being and security of the players to postpone the game to Friday.” A tip of the fedora to the QMJHL for making such a decision. . . .

The AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks have signed Nick Prkusic as the organization’s first full-time assistant coach. He will be working alongside head coach Clayton Jardine. . . . Prkusic, who played in the AJHL with the Brooks Bandits, has been working as the head coach of the Caronport, Sask.-based Prairie Academy’s U-17 team.


Wallet


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, after the Golden State Warriors were whipped, 134-95, by the host Memphis Grizzlies in an NBA playoff game: “If Wednesday’s Game 5 box score was a report card, the Warriors would be grounded for a year. If the Warriors don’t respond in Game 6 Friday, that box score will become an autopsy report.”


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.

——

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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Shoe

Jets’ first-rounder could end up in Portland . . . Three WHL teams live to play another game . . . Winterhawks finish off Cougars


In a move that could have implications in the WHL, the Winnipeg Jets have signed F Chaz Lucius to a three-year entry-level contract that is to begin next WHLseason. . . . Lucius, who turns 19 on May 2, is from Lawrence, Kan. This season, as a freshman, he had nine goals and 10 assists in 24 games with the NCAA’s Minnesota Golden Gophers. Before that, he played two seasons in the U.S. National Team Development Program. . . . The Jets selected him with the 18th overall pick of the NHL’s 2021 draft. The Portland Winterhawks grabbed his major junior rights in the fourth round of the WHL’s 2018 draft. . . . Next season, assuming he doesn’t crack the Jets’ roster, Lucius will be eligible to play in the AHL, with the Manitoba Moose, or the Winterhawks. . . . Eric Vegoe, a freelance writer who follows the Gophers, tweeted: “I’d be absolutely shocked if Lucius went to the AHL. He’d be a phenomenal fit in Portland and be one of the league’s top scorers for a franchise that knows what (it’s) doing with prospects.” . . . Lucius’s brother, Cruz, 18, has committed to playing at Minnesota next season after spending the past two seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program. He was selected by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the eighth round of the WHL’s 2019 draft. With his brother no longer at Minnesota, you wonder if the younger Lucius might be rethinking his immediate future, too?



WEDNESDAY IN THE WHL:

There were six playoff games with four of the teams staring elimination squarely in the face. Three of those teams lived to fight another day, with only the Prince George Cougars having their season come to an end. . . . You should know, too, that only two teams in WHL history have come back from trailing 3-0 to win a series. . . . In 1996, the Spokane Chiefs beat the Portland Winterhawks in Game 7 at home. . . . In 2013, the Kelowna Rockets did the same thing against the Seattle Thunderbirds, winning Game 7 at home. . . . In tonight’s only game, the Edmonton Oil Kings take a 3-0 lead into Lethbridge against the Hurricanes. . . . Here’s a brief look at what happened last night. . . .

Western Conference

In Langley, B.C., the Everett Silvertips took a 2-1 series lead over the Vancouver EverettGiants with a 6-2 victory. . . . They’ll play again Friday in Langley, then head for Everett and Game 5 on Saturday. . . . Everett, which got two goals from each of Ryan Hofer (3), Niko Huuhtanen (5) and Matthew Ng (2), held period leads of 3-0 and 5-2. . . . Huuhtanen has nine points in the three games. . . . G Braden Holt stopped 32 shots to earn the win. . . . Vancouver G Jesper Vikman returned after missing Game 2 and blocked 18 shots. . . . Everett was without F Alex Swetlikoff, who was suspended for two games after taking a checking-from-behind major in Game 2 on Saturday. . . . Swetlikoff and F Jackson Berezowski, who is out with an undisclosed injury, were the Silvertips’ top two scorers in the regular season. . . . Vancouver F Tom Cadieux was tossed with an interference major at 12:50 of the third period. Then, at 19:00, F Matthew Edwards of the Giants left after taking a headshot major. . . . The Silvertips had Vancouver’s own Dave Sheldon handle the play-by-play “with Casey Bryant unavailable to travel.” Sheldon was part of the Everett broadcast crew back in the day (2003-06). These days, Sheldon is the team operations manager for the NLL’s Vancouver Warriors. . . .

In Prince George, the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks scored two first-period goals Portlandand hung on for a 2-1 victory over the No. 6 Cougars. . . . The Winterhawks swept the series, 4-0, and now go home to await and as-yet undecided second-round opponent. . . . F James Stefan (2) put the visitors out front at 8:22 of the first period and F Luke Schelter (1) made it 2-0 at 11:51. . . . The Cougars got to within a goal when F Jonny Hooker (1) scored at 6:55 of the third period. . . . Portland’s took the game’s only three minor penalties, the last one to D Cross Hanas for delay of game at 18:59 of the third period. With G Tyler Brennan on the bench, the Cougars held a 6-on-4 advantage but weren’t able to equalize. . . . G Taylor Gauthier stopped 29 shots for Portland, including 12 in the third period. He finished the series 4-0, 1.00, .965. . . . Brennan turned aside 40 shots. He got into all four games, going 0-2, 1.86, .954. . . . The Cougars had to scratch F Riley Heidt as he served a one-game suspension for the kneeing major and game misconduct he took in Game 3 on Tuesday. . . .

In Kelowna, F Adam Kydd scored in OT to give the Rockets a 3-2 victory over the KelownaSeattle Thunderbirds. . . . Seattle holds a 3-1 lead as the series returns to Kent, Wash., for Game 5 on Friday night. . . . The Rockets erased a 2-0 second-period deficit to get the game into extra time. . . . F Lucas Ciona (3) scored both Seattle goals, at 19:41 of the first period and 3:16 of the second. . . . G Gabriel Szturc (1) got the Rockets to within a goal, on a PP, at 6:28 of the second and D Noah Dorey (1) tied it at 12:45 as he ended a 43-game goal drought. . . . Kydd won it with his second goal of the series, on a PP, at 15:55 of OT. . . . F Andrew Cristall drew the primary assist on each of Kelowna’s last two goals. . . . The Rockets got 36 saves from G Talyn Boyko, who had watched Game 3 from the bench. . . . Kelowna was 2-for-5 on the PP; Seattle, which went into the game 10-for-19, was 0-for-3. . . . The Rockets were without F Mark Liwiski, who was suspended for two games after taking a headshot major and game misconduct in Game 3 on Tuesday. . . . F Matthew Rempe (undisclosed) was among Seattle’s scratches. . . .

——

Eastern Conference

In Prince Albert, G Tikhon Chaika stopped 25 shots to help the No. 8 Raiders to a PrinceAlbert3-1 victory over the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice. . . . The Ice now holds a 3-1 edge in the series, with Game 5 in Winnipeg on Friday night. . . . D Remy Aquilon (1), on a PP, at 1:53 of the second period, and D Eric Johnston (1), at 1:06 of the third, gave the home team a 2-0 lead. . . . Ice F Mikey Milne got his fourth of the series, on a PP, at 18:51, but F Sloan Stanick (1) iced it with the empty-netter. . . . Winnipeg was 1-for-3 on the PP and now is 9-for-18 in the series. The Raiders are 2-for-19. . . .

In Brandon, the No. 6 Wheat Kings scored the game’s last three goals to earn a Brandon3-1 victory over the No. 3 Red Deer Rebels. . . . The series is tied, 2-2, with Game 5 in Red Deer on Friday. Then they’ll return to Brandon for Game 6 on Sunday. . . . F Jace Isley (2) gave the Rebels the lead at 7:44 of the first period. . . . F Trae Johnson (1) tied it at 13:01. . . . The Wheat Kings won it on two PP goals from F Marcus Kallionkieli, at 18:24 of the second period and 19:22 of the third. The second one was an empty-netter. . . . Kallionkieli, a Finn who turned 21 on March 20, also drew an assist on Johnson’s goal.

In Saskatoon, F Kyle Crnkovic scored twice to lead the No. 5 Blades to a 5-3 Saskatoonvictory over the No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Moose Jaw leads the series 3-1 and can win it at home on Friday night. . . . The Blades actually coughed up 2-0 and 3-1 leads with Warriors F Ryder Korczak (2) getting his guys even, at 3-3, at 2:54 of the third period. . . . Saskatoon D Rhett Rhinehart (1) broke the tie at 8:37 and Crnkovic’s second goal of the game and series, an empty-netter, iced it at 19:31. . . . D Maximus Wanner (3) scored twice for Moose Jaw. . . . The Blades got 32 saves from G Nolan Maier.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Tri-City Americans have named D Marc Lajoie as the 33rd captain in franchise history. The Americans went without a captain this season as they didn’t qualify for the playoffs. Lajoie, the 14th pick in the 2018 WHL draft, has played three seasons with the Americans. . . .

Neil Pilon, who played 263 games over five seasons in the WHL, was named head coach of the Kamloops-based U-18 AAA Thompson Blazers on Wednesday. Pilon played with the Kamloops Junior Oilers, Kamloops Blazers, Moose Jaw Warriors and Seattle Thunderbirds (1983-88). . . . Pilon also is the greens superintendent at the Sagebrush Golf and Sporting Club, which is located near Merritt, B.C. . . .

Eric Thurston, the general manager and head coach of the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder, is leaving after four seasons with the organization. In a news release, the Thunder said it “regrets to announce” that Thurston is leaving. . . . The news release didn’t indicate any reason for Thurston’s departure. . . . This season, the Thunder was 33-17-10, good for fourth in the North Division, before being swept from a first-round series by the Spruce Grove Saints. . . .

Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks, N.D., Herald tweeted Wednesday afternoon that “Brad Patterson is out as head coach of the (USHL’s) Youngstown Phantoms.” . . . Their season ended with first-round playoff loss on Tuesday night. . . . Patterson had been on the Phantoms’ coaching staff since 2009-10, and was the head coach since 2016-17. . . .

The OHL’s Peterborough Petes and general manager Michael Oke have agreed on a two-year contract that will take them through the 2023-24 season. Oke has been the Petes’ GM since Feb. 14, 2013. He joined the organization as the director of player personnel in July 2010.


Child


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.


A note involving Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the Kamloops Blazers, from Elliotte Friedman’s weekly 32 Thoughts:

“During the second week of April, five Canadians lived atop five 40-foot flagpoles for 100 hours. The significance of that length is 100 years ago, Sir Frederick Banting and Charles H. Best discovered insulin to help manage diabetes. One of those five was Wilson Gaglardi, the 16-year-old son of Dallas Stars owner Tom Gaglardi. To donate toward a cure, please go to canadacuresdiabetes.ca.


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.


Restaurant

Broncos’ goaltender detailing U-18 team’s adventures . . . Zellweger, Toporowski expected back on Friday . . . Hlinka Gretzky Cup, WJC have their dates

The WHL’s Swift Current Broncos will have seven players off their roster playing in the IIHF’s U-18 World championship when it opens in Germany on HockeyCanadaSaturday. . . . Six of those players will skate with Team Canada, the first time one team has had that many players on the roster. G Reid Dyck, D Owen Pickering, F Josh Davies, F Josh Filmon, F Connor Hvidston and F Mathew Ward all are part of Canada’s 25-man roster. . . . D Rayan Bettahar of the Broncos is on the host team’s roster. . . . Other WHLers on Team Canada’s roster are G Ethan Buenaventura, Calgary Hitmen; D Lukas Dragicevic, Tri-City Americans; D Kalem Parker, Victoria Royals; D Grayden Siepmann, Calgary; F Connor Bedard, Regina Pats; F Tanner Howe, Regina; and F Brayden Schuurman, Victoria. . . . I will be curious to see how F Matthew Wood of the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies stacks up here. Wood, who turned 17 on Feb. 6, is from Lethbridge He led the WHL in goals (45) and points (85) in 46 games. He has committed to attend the U of Connecticut for 2023-24. The Regina Pats selected Wood in the second round of the WHL’s 2020 draft.. . . Canada will open Saturday against Team USA. . . . The tournament will be played in Kaufbeuren and Landshut, and is to run through May 1. . . . Team Canada’s roster is right here.

——

Team Canada already is in Germany, and G Reid Dyck of the Swift Current Broncos is blogging for the WHL team’s website, and his first posting is most entertaining and includes photos. He reports that Monday began with a 2:45 a.m. wakeup call in Regina. . . . You can read all about his day right here, a long travel day that ended when luggage belonging to Dyck and two teammates didn’t make it.



An email from a WHL fan who is a regular visitor to Taking Note:

“Your pet peeve loser points . . . Everett gets rewarded getting 10 loser points. Kamloops gets punished for having more regulation-time victories. . . . The WHL should do one or the other — copy the IIHF by giving the winner in regulation-time three points or go back and only give points to the winner.”

Or dump overtime and that silliness that is the shootout and bring tie games back into existence.

You ask, what’s this all about? It’s all about rewarding teams for losing — aka the loser point.

The Everett Silvertips finished atop the Western Conference with a record of 45-13-10. The two teams that finished one point behind them — the Kamloops Blazers and Portland Winterhawks — each had more victories (48 and 47) but far fewer loser points. While Everett cashed in 10 of those, Kamloops had three and Portland five.

Of course, Everett finished with fewer regulation-time losses (13) than Kamloops (17) and Portland (16).



F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats finished the WHL’s regular season with 51 goals. He was born on July 17, 2005, so hasn’t yet turned 17. As a result, he is the youngest player in WHL history to reach the 50-goal mark. . . . F Glen Goodall scored 63 goals with the 1986-87 Seattle Thunderbirds. He was born on Jan. 22, 1970, so had turned 17 before season’s end. BTW, he was a regular with Seattle at the age of 14, so already was in his third season when he hit for 63. . . . F Dan Lucas of the Victoria Cougars scored 57 goals in 1974-75. He was born on Feb. 28, 1958, so also had turned 17 before season’s end. That was his second season with the Cougars; he had played 29 games in 1973-74. . . . Bedard, of course, played with the Pats in the 2021 development season, scoring 12 goals in 15 games before heading off to play for Team Canada at the 2021 IIHF World U-18 championship in Texas. Canada won that tournament, beating Russia 5-3 in the final. Bedard had seven goals and seven assists in seven games.



Fred


The Everett Silvertips expect to have Olen Zellweger, the WHL’s highest-Everettscoring defenceman, back in the lineup on Friday when they open the playoffs against the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . “Olen will be set to play,” Dennis Williams, Everett’s general manager and head coach, told Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald. . . . Zellweger led defencemen in assists (64) and points (78), all in 55 games. . . . He hasn’t played since suffering an undisclosed injury on April 10. He sat out Everett’s last two games, both road losses — 5-1 to the Portland Winterhawks and 4-1 to the Tri-City Americans. . . . The Silvertips go into the playoffs having lost three in a row while being outscored 13-3. In fact, they are just 2-3-2 in their last seven outings.


The Kamloops Blazers expect to have F Luke Toporowski, 20, back in their Kamloopslineup when they open against the visiting Spokane Chiefs on Friday. Toporowski, who was acquired from the Chiefs on Jan. 17, has been out with a leg injury since March 11. In 22 games with Kamloops, he had 34 points, including 20 goals. . . . F Nick McCarry, who was part of the package that went to Spokane in that deal, put up 16 goals and 19 assists in 36 games with the Chiefs. . . . Interestingly, Ryan Smith, the Chiefs’ interim head coach, spent one season on the coaching staff of the Medicine Hat Tigers working alongside Shaun Clouston. At that time, Clouston was the Tigers’ general manager and head coach; today, he wears both hats for the Blazers. . . . Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week has a chat with Smith right here.


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.


Waldo


JUST NOTES: There now are official dates for the eight-team 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and the 10-team 2022 World Junior Championship. The former, for U-18 teams, is scheduled for Red Deer, July 31 through Aug. 6. Canada will be in Group A, along with Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland. Group B is to comprise Czechia, Finland, Germany and the U.S. The WJC is scheduled for Rogers Place in Edmonton, Aug. 9-20. You will recall that the WJC actually got started in December before a number of positive tests among players and on-ice officials resulted in its being cancelled. From a news release: “The results from games played in December will not be carried over to this summer’s World Juniors, and players born in 2002 or later will remain eligible to represent their respective countries.” Canada is to play in Group B with Czechia, Finland, Latvia and Slovakia. Group A is to feature Austria, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.S. . . .

Manny Viveiros, a former WHL player and coach, is on leave from his position as head coach of the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights as he progresses into “the next steps of his recovery,” according to a news release. Viveiros is fighting prostate cancer. . . . In his absence, assistant coach Jamie Heward takes over as interim head coach. . . . Viveiros was the general manager and head coach of the Swift Current Broncos, with Heward as assistant coach, when they won the WHL’s 2017-18 championship. . . .

D Gannon Laroque of the Victoria Royals will finish this season with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda. He could be in their lineup tonight against the host Bakersfield Condors. Laroque, from Edmonton, was a fourth-round selection by the San Jose Sharks in the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . F Tarun Fizer, the Royals’ 20-year-old captain, will finish up with the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies. . . . Adam Nugent-Hopkins has joined the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., as the head coach of the the U-18 prep team. He spent the 2021-22 season as head coach of the U-18 AAA Greater Vancouver Canadians. He is the older brother of Edmonton Oilers F Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.


Policy


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.


Eating

Dreger: NHL GMs want to talk about 19s in the AHL . . . Friedman: CHL to ban Belarusians, Russians from draft . . . Bananas skate to WHL victory

A couple of items that involve the WHL slipped through the cracks here this week, so allow me to touch on them now . . .

The NHL’s general managers met in Manalapan, Fla., early in the week.

Darren Dreger of TSN reported that there was some conversation about what CHLonce was known as the pro-junior agreement — the deal between the NHL and CHL that involves the 60 major junior teams. That contract expired a couple of years ago, and simply has been rolled over because of the pandemic. But it seems that the parties are getting closer to sitting down and hashing it out.

Dreger also reported: “The general managers coming out of Tuesday’s meetings want to talk more about 19-year-olds playing in the American Hockey League and it feels like every March, when we’re healthy enough to be in a face-to-face environment, that the topic comes up. I know Kelly McCrimmon of the Vegas Golden Knights gave a very passionate account — as the former owner of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings — to tell the general managers (there are 11 new guys in there) how devastating it would be to the CHL if they introduce 19-year-olds at the AHL level.”

The NHL and major junior operators love to talk about how the CHL teams are in the business of developing players. And that is true. But it is time for both parties to acknowledge that these teams, first and foremost, are in the entertainment business. If they don’t produce an entertaining product, they might not be in business.

There has long been chatter about the NHL teams wanting the OK to put 19-year-olds in the AHL. One school of thought has it that a 19-year-old who has been a first-round selection in the NHL draft should be able to be placed in the AHL.

As things stand now, an NHL team has two options with a 19-year-old whose rights it owns — keep him in the NHL or offer him to his major junior team.

These 19-year-olds are the best players in major junior hockey, the players people pay to watch. To take them away from CHL teams would be a real slap in the face to those teams and their fans.

——

Meanwhile, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet posted his weekly 32 Thoughts and it included this: “It’s not announced yet, but several CHL teams are indicating a ban will be enforced against selecting Russians and Belorusians in the upcoming import draft. Existing prospects will be grandfathered, allowed to return next (season).”

Here’s a look at Russian (3) and Belarusian (7) players on WHL rosters (age shown is as of start of this season):

Brandon — F Zakhar Polshakov, 18, Minsk, Belarus.

Calgary — F Anton Astashevich, 17, Minsk, Belarus; F Maxim Muranov, 17, Moscow, Russia.

Lethbridge — F Yegor Klavdiev, 18, Minsk, Belarus.

Medicine Hat — D Gleb Ivanov, 18, Moscow, Russia.

Prince Albert — G Tikhon Chaika, 18, Minsk, Belarus; F Vladislav Shilo, 18, Minsk, Belarus.

Saskatoon — F Egor Sidorov, 17, Vitebsk, Belarus.

Spokane — D Timafey Kovgoreniya, 18, Minsk, Belarus.

Swift Current — F Alexei Shanaurin, 17, Snezhinsk, Russia.


Sweater


FRIDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference:

F Matthew Savoie scored twice and added an assist, while G Daniel Hauser WinnipegIceearned the shutout as the visiting Winnipeg Ice dumped the Regina Pats, 7-0, for their 13th straight victory. . . . Savoie now has 32 goals and 52 assists in 60 games. . . . The Ice also got a goal, his 23rd, and three assists from F Zach Benson, with F Connor McClennon scoring his 40th goal of the season. . . . Hauser stopped 17 shots to put up his WHL-leading eight shutout of the season. He is 30-2-1, 1.97, .915 this season. . . . Winnipeg (49-9-5) is 15-0-2 in its last 17 games and leads the conference by eight points over the Edmonton Oil Kings, who have six games remaining. . . . Regina (24-32-5) is five points away from a playoff spot with seven games left. . . .

Bananas

In Saskatoon, F Egor Sidorov scored twice to lead the Blades to a 4-1 victory Saskatoonover the Moose Jaw Warriors in what may well have been a first-round playoff preview. . . . Sidorov, who has 21 goals, broke a 1-1 tie at 8:04 of the third period and added insurance at 14:36. . . . G Nolan Maier recorded the victory with 18 saves. That was the 119th victory of his career, one shy of the WHL record. . . . The Blades (35-24-4) are fifth, one point behind the Warriors (35-23-5). Each team has five games remaining. . . . The Blades rebranded themselves as the Saskatoon Bananas, complete with new sweaters, for this one. For more on that, check out the Blades’ website. . . . 

The Brandon Wheat Kings scored two empty-netters as they beat the Raiders, Brandon4-2, in Prince Albert. . . . F Nate Danielson got his 20th goal into an empty net and gave Brandon a 3-1 lead at 18:12 of the third period. . . . F Sloan Stanick scored his second of the game and 21st of the season at 19:03 to get the home team to within a goal. . . . Brandon F Chad Nychuk (19) iced it with another empty-net goal at 19:32. . . . F Nolan Ritchie scored his 30th goal of the season in the first period. . . . G Ethan Kruger stopped 35 shots for Brandon, which clinched a playoff spot. . . . The Wheat Kings (31-25-5) are sixth, seven points behind Saskatoon and eight ahead of Swift Current, which has only three games remaining. . . . Prince Albert (25-33-5) is three points from a playoff spot. . . .

In Swift Current, the Calgary Hitmen scored the game’s last three goals as they Calgarybeat the Broncos, 5-2. . . . F Sean Tschigerl (22) gave the Hitmen a 3-2 lead, at 15:38 of the second period, with his second of the game. He also had an assist. . . . F Cael Zimmerman, who has 14, scored Calgary’s last two goals. . . . The Hitmen (24-31-8) are ninth, three points behind the Broncos (26-32-7), who trail Lethbridge by a point. . . .

The Lethbridge Hurricanes erased a 2-0 deficit with five straight goals en route Lethbridgeto a 6-3 victory over the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . F Alex Thacker scored twice for Lethbridge, giving him 12. He got the Hurricanes even at 9:08 of the second period and scored the eventual winner, on a PP, at 15:51. . . . Lethbridge got three assists from F Yegor Klavdiev. . . . The Hurricanes (28-30-4) are seventh, one point ahead of Swift Current. . . . The Tigers (11-47-4) have lost six in a row. . . .

Western Conference:

F Andrew Cristall, F Pavel Novak and F Scott Cousins each had three points as Kelownathe host Kelowna Rockets dumped the Prince George Cougars, 9-2. . . . The Cougars scored the game’s first goal — D Jonas Brøndberg got his first of the season at 1:31 of the first period — but the Rockets took a 4-1 lead into the second period. . . . Cristall had two goals, giving him 23, and an assist, with Novak scoring his 26th goal and adding two assist, and Cousins getting No. 3 and two assists. . . . Kelowna was 3-for-4 on the PP. . . . The Rockets (36-19-6) appear headed to a fifth-place finish. . . . The Cougars (22-37-3) are eighth, two points ahead of Spokane and three behind Victoria. . . .

In Kamloops, the Spokane Chiefs took a 5-1 lead into the third period and hung Spokaneon for a 6-5 victory over the Blazers. . . . F Blake Swetlikoff (11) gave the visitors a 5-1 lead, on a PP, at 19:47 of the second period. . . . Kamloops outscored Spokane 4-1 in the third period, getting goals from D Logan Bairos (4), at 11:16, and F Daylan Kuefler (37), on a PP, at 13:10, to get within a goal. . . . F Nick McCarry, who started the season with Kamloops, had a goal, his 18th, and two assists for Spokane. He had 28 points in 34 games with the Blazers; he has 28 points in 30 games with Spokane. . . . Spokane was 3-for-5 on the PP. . . . The Blazers got a goal, his 41st, and two assists from F Logan Stankoven. . . . Kamloops, which is carrying three goaltenders, didn’t dress starter Dylan Garand. Dylan Ernst went the distance, with Jesse Sanche on the bench. . . . Mike Boyle, the radio voice of the Chiefs, called his 1,500th WHL game and you can bet it was one he’ll remember. . . . The Blazers (45-16-2) are second, three points behind Everett. . . . Spokane (20-37-5) is ninth, two points behind Prince George. . . .

F Cross Hanas ended a three-goal comeback in OT as the Portland Winterhawks Portlandbeat the Silvertips, 5-4, in Everett. . . . The Silvertips took a 4-2 lead on third-period goals from F Jackson Berezowski (44), at 12:58 and D Aidan Sutter (4), at 16:08. . . . F Marcus Nguyen (19) pulled Portland to within one at 16:29 and D Clay Hanus (18) tied it at 19:46. . . . Hanas, who also had two assists, won it with his 24th goal at 1:03 of extra time. . . . The announced attendance was 6,833, Everett’s third-largest crowd this season. . . . The Winterhawks (42-16-5), with five games left, are third, three points behind Kamloops and six in arrears of Everett (43-10-9). . . .

In Kent, Wash., the Seattle Thunderbirds opened up a 5-0 lead en route to a 6-4 Seattlevictory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . F Henrik Rybinski’s 19th goal gave Seattle a 5-0 lead just nine seconds into the second period. . . . The Americans scored the next four goals, getting started at 1:50 when F Jordan Gavin scored his first WHL goal in his sixth game. . . . Tri-City got to within a goal at 18:41 on D Marc Lajoie’s 11th goal, via the PP, but Seattle F Lukas Svejkovsky (32) put it away at 19:58 with his second of the game, this one into an empty net. . . . F Jared Davidson scored twice for the winners, giving him 35. . . . Seattle (40-17-6) is three points behind Portland. . . . Tri-City (18-40-5) is six points out of a playoff spot with five games remaining.


Mat


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: F Matthew Wood, a freshman with the Victoria Grizzlies, won the BCHL scoring title this season by putting up 85 points, including 45 goals, in 46 games. Wood, who turned 17 on Feb. 6, is from Lethbridge. He was selected by the Regina Pats in the second round of the WHL’s 2020 draft. However, he has committed to join the U of Connecticut Huskies in Hartford for 2023-24. . . . G Eve Gascon stopped 23 shots to earn the victory as the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques beat the visiting Drummondville Voltigeurs, 7-3, on Friday night. This was the first time a woman had posted a goaltending victory in the QMJHL since Charline Labonte did it with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in 2000. . . . It seems there might be at least three bids being prepared with aspirations to play host to the 2023 World Junior Championship. The NHL’s Ottawa Senators are partnering with Quebecor, which owns the arena in Quebec City, and the Quebec government on one bid. Things are moving in Regina and Saskatoon with another bid being prepared from there; city councils in both cities already have approved some funding. Meanwhile, Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reported that “the belief is the Halifax Mooseheads and the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League are working on a bid with officials from their respective cities to host the tourney.”


Three former WHL players — F Jared Aulin, F Jayce Hawryluk and D Brennan Menell — have signed with 3ICE, a 3-on-3 pro hockey league that is scheduled to begin play in Las Vegas on June 18. . . . Each of the league’s six teams will comprise seven players, including one goaltender. All six teams will be in action on nights when the tour stops in Las Vegas, Denver, Grand Rapids, Mich., Hershey, London, Ont., Pittsburgh, Quebec City and Nashville. The 3ICE championship is to be decided in Las Vegas on Aug. 20. . . . Aulin, 40, played with the Kamloops Blazers (1998-2002), while Hawryluk, 26, was with the Brandon Wheat Kings (2012-16), and Menell, 24, skated with the Vancouver Giants and Lethbridge Hurricanes (2014-17). Hawryluk and Menell still are active; Aulin last played in 2019-20 with the Elite Ice Hockey League’s Manchester Storm and actually announced his retirement on July 26, 2021.


Ink


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.


Birthday

Does Minten have WHL’s best hands? . . . Wheat Kings, Ice preparing for return to home ice . . . Hey, KIJHL, it’s about those coaches


F Fraser Minten, 17, is in his second season with the Kamloops Blazers. After scoring four goals and adding 14 assists in the developmental season of 2021, he has 27 points, including 16 assists, in 39 games this season. From Vancouver, he was a fourth-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 draft. . . . Whenever the pandemic loosens enough that the WHL will able to hold an awards luncheon, Minten will tickle the ivories in providing the pre-game entertainment. Hey, talk about good hands . . . 


The Brandon Wheat Kings will play a home game on Tuesday night for the first Brandontime since Dec. 30 when they dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to the Edmonton Oil Kings. The Manitoba government has had restrictions in place that limit teams in that province to 250 fans. That restriction will change to 50 per cent of capacity as of Tuesday. The Red Deer Rebels were to have played in Brandon on Jan. 1, but that was postponed to Feb. 7. That game now will be played on Tuesday. . . . The Winnipeg Ice last played a home game on Dec. 18 when it was beaten 4-2 by Brandon. The Ice is scheduled to entertain the Wheat Kings on Feb. 10.


Parachute


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, had some interesting numbers in his Wednesday musings . . .

“For the 2021 MLB season, teams paid out $$871,443,647 to 852 players who missed a total of 48,029 games due to placement on the Injured List. I believe my observation at the time was something like ‘that’s a lot of cheese. . . .’

“For the NBA season to date, there are similar staggering numbers. Spotrac.com makes a distinction in the case of the NBA that was not present in its MLB compilation — there are three lists: one is for players who are injured, another is for players who don’t play so they can ‘rest,’ and the third is for players who have missed games for ‘personal reasons’.

For games missed due to injury, 464 players have missed 4,631 games and have received $568,370,291 in salary. The NBA regular season is about 65% over so that salary number projects to be about $874M.

“For games missed due to ‘resting,’ 25 players have missed a total of 50 games and earned $4,010,706 while ‘resting.’ If that keeps on the same pace, that money projection is another $6.2M.

“For the ‘personal’ list, 27 players have missed 274 games while earning $81,809,966. That figure projects to be $126M at season’s end.

“So, the total amount of money paid to NBA players while not playing so far this year is $654,190,963. Using a crude linear extrapolation, the end of the regular season will see that total rise to $1.0B. Indeed, it looks as if the NBA teams will pay out more than the MLB teams did last year to non-performing players.”

The Sports Curmudgeon’s complete piece is right here.



“The NFL fined Kansas City Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill for using a cheerleader’s pom-poms to celebrate a touchdown,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “League bean-counter, penciling out the unsportsmanlike-conduct tally: “Two bits, four bits, six bits . . . $12,875.”

——

Perry, again: “The Beijing Winter Olympics have cut down on ticket sales because of the pandemic, NBC and ESPN are calling the action remotely from Connecticut and organizers have to import man-made snow because the real stuff is a no-show. Other than that, let the Games begin!”

——

And thanks to Perry for this one, which I had forgotten: “New York Islanders Hall of Famer Clark Gillies, who died at 67 on Jan. 21, when once asked where his native Moose Jaw was located: ‘Six feet from the moose’s ass.’ ”


Ignorance


If you’ve watched the NHL’s Minnesota Wild over the last while, you may have wondered about head coach Dean Evason’s complexion. Well, Wild GM Bill Guerin answered the question. Here’s what Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet wrote in his latest 32 Thoughts: “Guerin did answer one mystery: how does Evason have a tan wintering in Minnesota? ‘He plays 250 rounds of golf a year. It’s permanent.’ ” . . . Friedman’s latest good read is right here.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Dale Woodard, who among other things has covered the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes for the Lethbridge Herald, tweeted on Thursday: “An upcoming change at the Lethbridge Herald. After 13.5 great years, I will be stepping down. My last day is March 4. To my co-workers, colleagues/friends and all you amazing people I’ve been able to talk to: thank you all so much. You guys are the reason I love this city so much.” . . .

The Everett Silvertips have signed assistant coach Dean DeSilva to a two-year contract extension. He is in his first season working alongside head coach Dennis Williams and associate coach Louis Mass. From a news release: “DeSilva is primarily tasked with working with the Silvertips’ forward group, focusing on skill development, face-offs, individual video breakdown and pre-scout of opponents.” . . .

Congrats of some kind must be in order for the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Is there another junior league that can boast of having had seven head coaches suspended since Jan. 1? . . . Travers Rebman of the Kelowna Chiefs sat out two games for “harrassment of officials,” Chuck Wight of the Golden Rockets, Ty Valin of the Fernie Ghostriders and Derek Stuart of the Kimberley Dynamiters drew two games each for “failing to control the bench at the end of a period,” and Terry Jones of the Beaver Valley Nighthawks, Geoff Grimwood of the Kamloops Storm and Dave Hnatiuk of the Grand Forks Border Bruins drew three apiece for harassment of officials. . . . And that doesn’t even include Mason Spear, an assistant coach with Beaver Valley, who got five games for harassment of officials. He got game and gross misconducts at the time. . . . Might be time for the 19-team league to start giving its on-ice officials danger pay.


Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun listed his all-time favourite Penguins the other day: “Sidney Crosby, Mario Lemieux, Burgess Meredith, Jaromir Jagr, Bob Johnson and Danny DeVito.”


Elevator


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.


Kids

NHL’s Jets circling Saskatoon . . . WHL’s weekend schedule takes pounding . . . Maritime junior league shortens sked, pauses until February

Santa


The WHL’s Saskatoon Blades and NLL’s Saskatchewan Rush may be about to get some company in their home arena, SaskTel Centre. Elliott Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada tweeted on Thursday night:

“Earlier tonight, the Winnipeg Jets sent out a survey asking season-seat holders their opinion on the possibility of home games in another jurisdiction. It is believed the Jets are exploring playing some games at Saskatoon’s SaskTel Centre while there are attendance restrictions in Manitoba. That arena seats 15,000. At this point, Saskatchewan does not have restrictions. Obviously, there is work that needs to be done, and approvals to be secured. But the Jets are doing their legwork.”


The Portland Winterhawks boarded their bus on Thursday and headed for B.C., Portlandand what they thought would be a three-game weekend. They would meet the Blazers in Kamloops on Friday night, play the Rockets in Kelowna on Saturday and finish up in Langley against the Vancouver Giants on Sunday.

But . . .

The Winterhawks were about halfway to Kamloops when they found out that Friday’s game had been postponed due to an unknown number of positive tests in the Blazers organization.

So instead of having a morning skate in Kamloops today, the Winterhawks will have a full-blown practice.

As of Thursday night, Portland’s games in Kelowna and Vancouver remained on the schedule.

The Winterhawks listed six players in COVID-19 protocol when the WHL released its roster/injury report on Wednesday. They left four players in Portland and will add three new faces to their roster for the games in Kelowna and Langley.

G Taylor Gauthier, who was acquired from the Prince George Cougars on Dec. 27, likely will start one of the two games if they, indeed, get played. Gauthier, a 20-year-old veteran, has had three practices with his new club. He was in protocol, but is out, on the trip and ready to go.

The Blazers, meanwhile, are waiting for results of more tests before being able Kamloops1to decide what’s next for them. The schedule has them heading into the U.S. Division next week for games against the Winterhawks on Wednesday, the Tri-City Americans on Friday and the Spokane Chiefs on Saturday. Of course, a bunch of positive tests could put that trek in jeopardy.

The Rockets reported that their Friday game against visiting Vancouver had been postponed “as a result of multiple Giants players and staff being added” to the protocol list. The Giants listed four players in COVID-19 protocol in the WHL’s roster/injury report that was released on Wednesday. The Rockets said they don’t have any players in protocol.

Between COVID-19 and inclement weather, the WHL’s schedule has taken quite a beating.

Before Thursday was done, all 10 games scheduled for Friday night had been postponed, while eight of 10 games on Saturday’s schedule had met the same fate, as had two of three Sunday games. Yes, the WHL ended up postponing 20 of the 23 games that had been on the schedule.

The changes actually started rolling on Wednesday when the league postponed a doubleheader that would have had the Victoria Royals in Prince George. It also scrapped a home-and-home doubleheader between the Regina Pats and Saskatoon Blades.

Most of the postponements were for positive tests among players and staff with various teams. Some, however, were scrubbed due to miserable weather in the Pacific Northwest.

The Everett Silvertips were to have visited Spokane on Friday, Tri-City on Saturday, and then entertained the Americans on Sunday. But all three games have been postponed because of road closures, potential traffic delays and safety concerns. Also scrubbed is a Friday game that was to have had Seattle visit the Americans.

Games in Brandon and Winnipeg have been postponed because of provincial government-issued restrictions limiting attendance in facilities there. The hope is that the government eventually will lift those restrictions and the games can be rescheduled.

Meanwhile, the WHL issued its roster/injury report on Wednesday. WHLInterestingly, the WHL, before Wednesday, frequently stated in virus-related news releases that “in accordance with WHL policy” the teams involved and the WHL “will not be providing comment or identifying the individuals concerned.”

However, in its first roster/injury report since Dec. 14, the WHL identified the players who were in protocol and those who have come out of it with the 14 teams who filed the information with the league office.

Regina had one player in protocol, as did Saskatoon. The Saskatoon player is F Noah Boyko, who was acquired from the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who had 14 players/staffers go into protocol. At the same time, the Blades listed three players as having returned from protocol. The Prince Albert Raiders also showed one player in protocol — D Trevor Thurston, who was acquired from Lethbridge.

Prince George didn’t list any players in protocol, while Victoria showed seven. (On Thursday, the Royals announced they were shutting down their Team Store “until Jan. 11 or until further notice to help curb the spread of COVID-19 at” Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.)

All told, the report — it is available right here — showed 42 players in protocol with another six having come out of protocol. Seattle and Swift Current each listed eight players in protocol.

However, Brandon, the Calgary Hitmen, Edmonton Oil Kings, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat Tigers, Moose Jaw Warriors, Red Deer Rebels and Winnipeg Ice, all with no games on tap, didn’t report.

According to the report, the 14 teams that did report also had a total of four players out with undisclosed illnesses, with another seven having returned from being out with undisclosed illnesses.

What all of this means is that you should check your favourite team’s website to make sure a game still is on the schedule before you leave home and head for the arena.


Change


A chronology of the WHL’s battle with COVID-19 since the Christmas break ended:

Jan. 6 — The WHL announced the postponement of two games involving the CovidPrince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos “due to multiple players and staff being added” to the protocol list. . . . The league also announced the postponement of seven games, all of them involving Western Conference teams, “as a result of travel delays due to weather in the Pacific Northwest or multiple players and staff being added” to the protocol list.

Jan. 5 — The WHL announced the postponement of four games involving the Regina Pats, Saskatoon Blades, Victoria Royals and Prince George Cougars “as a result of multiple players and staff being added” to the protocol list.

Jan. 4 — The WHL announced that the Edmonton Oil Kings, Moose Jaw Warriors and Red Deer Rebels have paused all team-related activities “as a result of multiple players and staff” having been added the COVID-19 protocol list “due to exhibiting symptoms or having tested positive.” The Rebels say that they had eight players and/or staffers test positive as of Monday.

Jan. 1 — The WHL announced that it had shut down the Lethbridge Hurricanes “as a result of 14 players being” on the protocol list “due to exhibiting symptoms or having tested positive.”

Dec. 30 — The WHL announced that it had shut down the Swift Current Broncos “as a result of four players” being on the protocol list “due to exhibiting symptoms or having tested positive. . . . It is believed the exposure . . . occurred outside the team environment.”

Dec. 29 — The WHL announced the postponement of a game scheduled for that night that was to have had the Portland Winterhawks meet the host Tri-City Americans. The move was made “due to goaltenders on both clubs entering COVID-19 protocols and/or sustaining injuries.”

Dec. 27 — The WHL announced that “a total of 36 players or hockey operations staff” were added to the protocol list “as a result of displaying symptoms for COVID-19 or returning a positive test result.” The league reported that Spokane and Victoria each had four people in protocol, with Portland, Saskatoon, Vancouver and Winnipeg each at three; Brandon, Everett, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Regina each at two; and Kelowna, Moose Jaw, Red Deer, Seattle, Swift Current and Tri-City each at one. Calgary, Edmonton and Prince Albert didn’t have anyone in protocols, while Kamloops and Prince George had yet to report.


Noah


The OHL’s board of governors held a Wednesday meeting and later released a OHLstatement saying “the league has reaffirmed its commitment to continue the 2021-22 season.” . . . The OHL has 17 teams in Ontario and three in the U.S. At present, the OHL teams aren’t allowed to have fans attend their games, something that will continue for at least the next three weeks. . . . Later in the day, the OHL announced the postponement of seven more games due to COVID-19 protocol. At that point, the OHL had postponed 49 games, with 20 of those already having been rescheduled. . . . As of Thursday night, the OHL had postponed eight of the 24 games it has scheduled for this weekend.

——

The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League announced Thursday that it had postponed weekend games involving the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, Castlegar Rebels, Fernie Ghostriders and Kelowna Chiefs “due to a number of positive COVID-19” tests. . . .

The BCHL announced on Thursday that the Powell River Kings and Wenatchee Wild “have paused all team activities for the next five days per COVID-19 protocol and provincial health regulations.” . . . On Wednesday, the Victoria Grizzlies were shut down. . . . Earlier, the BCHL put four other teams on pause — the Cowichan Valley Capitals, Langley Rivermen, Penticton Vees and Trail Smoke Eaters. . . .

The Maritime Junior Hockey League has cut its regular season from 52 games to 42, and is paused until at least Feb. 2. . . . According to the league: “This decision is due to the amount of time remaining to play the season and playoffs, as well as the dates for both the Fred Page Cup in Summerside and the National Championship. This will remove one home game and one away game for every team against each of their divisional opponents.” . . .

The AJHL announced Thursday that five games involving the Lloydminster Bobcats have been postponed “due to COVID-related issues.” . . .


Meanwhile, even with all the uncertainty, teams in the OHL and QMJHL continue to shuffle the deck chairs. . . . In the QMJHL, there were 13 deals made on Thursday. The Saint John Sea Dogs, who will be the host team for the 2022 Memorial Cup, assuming COVID-19 gives its approval, were especially busy.




JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

The Kamloops Blazers will be out of their home arena, the Sandman Centre, for a couple of weeks in February 2023. That’s because the building will be home to the 2023 Canadian women’s curling championship, the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, from Feb. 17-26. . . . The Blazers also are expected to bid on the 2023 Memorial Cup, which is scheduled to be held in the home of a WHL franchise. . . .

Slovakian F Peter Repcik, who started this season with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, has signed on with the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles. Repcik, who will turn 18 on Jan. 9, had two assists in 25 games with Lethbridge. The Hurricanes grabbed him in the 2021 CHL import draft. Repcik helped Slovakia to a silver medal at the 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup with eight pints in five games. . . . Repcik lost his spot in Lethbridge when the Hurricanes claimed Swiss F Liekit Reichie, 18, off waivers from the Prince George Cougars.


Plunger


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.


Commit

WHL has hit pause button on five teams . . . NHL to Saskatoon? . . . VIJHL, Panthers in mourning

Omicron

——

According to statistics kept by Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Centre, the U.S. reported a single-day record 1,082,549 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, along with 1,688 deaths. . . . According to the Canadian government’s site that updates daily at 9 a.m., Canada had 35,618 new cases and 30 deaths on Monday.


The WHL doesn’t have any action scheduled until Friday, but with five teams WHLhaving paused activities because of COVID-19, three of the 10 games scheduled for that night have been postponed. So far . . .

Three of Saturday’s scheduled 10 games also have been postponed, as has one of three games scheduled for Sunday. One of the Friday postponements and one on Saturday is due to restrictions imposed on indoor gatherings by the Manitoba government.

On Tuesday, the league announced that the Edmonton Oil Kings, Moose Jaw Warriors and Red Deer Rebels had paused all activities “as a result of multiple players and staff” having been added the COVID-19 protocol list “due to exhibiting symptoms or having tested positive.”

The league didn’t provide any further information, although the Rebels said they had eight players and/or staffers test positive as of Monday.

The WHL’s Tuesday news release stated that the three teams “have paused all team activities, including on-ice practices and off-ice training, pending further test results. Additional test results are pending and the WHL provide further information when it is available.”

Shutting down those three teams resulted in the postponement of five weekend games.

Earlier, the WHL had put the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Swift Current Broncos on hold.

On Tuesday, Peter Anholt, the Hurricanes’ general manager, said in a statement that “our players and staff are okay. They are resting and recovering. We saw a wide range of symptoms, from a combination of headaches, runny noses sore throats, coughs and congestion, to no symptoms at all. Those who showed any symptoms were mild.”

Here’s a chronology of the WHL’s relationship with COVID-19 since Christmas:

Jan. 1 — The WHL announced that it had shut down the Lethbridge Hurricanes “as a result of 14 players being” on the protocol list “due to exhibiting symptoms or having tested positive.”

Dec. 30 — The WHL announced that it had shut down the Swift Current Broncos “as a result of four players” being on the protocol list “due to exhibiting symptoms or having tested positive. . . . It is believed the exposure . . . occurred outside the team environment.”

Dec. 29 — The WHL announced the postponement of a game scheduled for that night that was to have had the Portland Winterhawks meet the host Tri-City Americans. The move was made “due to goaltenders on both clubs entering COVID-19 protocols and/or sustaining injuries.”

Dec. 27 — The WHL announced that “a total of 36 players or hockey operations staff” were added to the protocol list “as a result of displaying symptoms for COVID-19 or returning a positive test result.” The league reported that Spokane and Victoria each had four people in protocol, with Portland, Saskatoon, Vancouver and Winnipeg each at three; Brandon, Everett, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Regina each at two; and Kelowna, Moose Jaw, Red Deer, Seattle, Swift Current and Tri-City each at one. Calgary, Edmonton and Prince Albert didn’t have anyone in protocols, while Kamloops and Prince George had yet to report.

The league has yet to update the Kamloops and Prince George results.

——

——

If you’re wondering about the QMJHL, it last played games on Dec. 18 and won’t be back on the ice for at least another two weeks. The plan right now is to bring back the players around Jan. 14 with the next games scheduled for Jan. 19.

——

In the BCHL, the Trail Smoke Eaters went into a holding pattern on Tuesday, pausing all team activities, according to the league, “for the next five days per BCHL COVID-19 protocol and provincial health regulations.” Trail’s games that were to have been played tonight (Wednesday), Friday and Saturday have been postponed.

On Monday, the BCHL shut down the Cowichan Valley Capitals, Langley Rivermen and Penticton Vees. The league said all team activities have been paused for five days, and six games involving those teams through Jan. 9 have been postponed.

——

The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League hasn’t escaped the wrath of COVID-19, either. A game that was to have been played Tuesday night between the North Okanagan Knights and host Kelowna Chiefs was postponed. According to the league, the postponement is “as the result of a number of positive test results by members of the Chiefs organization over the past 48 hours.” . . . The league added that those involved are “experiencing mild symptoms and self-isolating.”

——

And if you search the Internet you will find that COVID-19 is impacting NCAA hockey and basketball play. In hockey, for example, Dartmouth has postponed weekend games with Union and RPI, while Wisconsin, with protocols within its program, has done the same with Friday and Saturday games against Ohio State. Omaha, with issues in its program, has moved a weekend series with Denver to Feb. 4-5.


Love


It was almost 40 years ago when (Wild) Bill Hunter nearly had the NHL’s St. Louis Blues moving to Saskatoon. Yes, he did! Now with some Canadian provincial governments restricting attendances in some facilities, might the NHL look at having a Canadian team or two play some games in Saskatoon? Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet had this in his latest 32 Thoughts, which is right here:

“Interesting question posed by one executive: would any Canadian teams consider temporarily playing home games at the 15,000-seat SaskTel Centre, home of the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades? Saskatchewan is still allowing full capacity at this time. Obviously, the NHL, the NHLPA and the province would have to approve.”


The Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds will play their Feb. 26 game at SeattleClimate Pledge Arena, home of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken. The game originally was scheduled as a Thunderbirds’ home game to be played in the accesso ShoWare Centre in Kent, Wash. . . . Before being gutted and rebuilt as the home of the Kraken, what now is Climate Pledge Arena was KeyArena and was home to the Thunderbirds. They played their final game there on Dec. 30, 2008, beating the Chilliwack Bruins (hey, remember them?), 2-0. . . . The Feb. 26 game will be the ninth meeting of the season between the teams; the Silvertips hold a 5-1-0 edge at the moment.

——

Still with the Thunderbirds, the WHL’s Dept. of Discipline apparently has yet to drop the hammer — ch-ch-ching! — on head coach Matt O’Dette for his comments after a 2-0 New Year’s Eve loss to host Portland. According to Joshua Critzer of @pnwhockeytalk.com, O’Dette offered up: “I saw the worst officiated game in my nine years in the WHL, plain and simple. It is not an even standard out there. I feel for our guys. Our guys had a tough week with many different things happening . . . and we don’t get a fair shake (Friday). I feel for our guys. They put their hearts into this and work hard and we didn’t get a fair deal. Portland started to take over the game, but I thought we deserved a better fate as far as the officiating. Our goalie gets obliterated and we get the penalty. That is about as outrageous as it can get.” . . . The Thunderbirds next are up on Friday when they visit the Tri-City Americans. Gotta wonder if O’Dette is asked to cut a cheque before then. Also gotta wonder if the WHL sends referees Mark Heier and Ian Jendro, who did the game in Portland, into Kennewick on Friday.


Knife


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “Another reason it’s a shame actor John Candy died so young:  His outsized persona  would have been perfect for  ‘Boom! The John Madden Story.’ ”

——

Here’s Perry, with some notes “from the John Madden quotebook” . . . “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.” . . . “If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch.” . . . “Winning is a great deodorant.” . . . “Don’t worry about the horse being blind, just load the wagon.”


Terry Frei (@TFrei) pointed this out on Twitter on Tuesday night: “Both of acting (Denver) Nuggets head coach Popeye Jones’ sons, Seth and Caleb, play for the (Chicago) Blackhawks, the Avalanche’s opponent tonight. Popeye consulted Joe Sakic years ago when Seth expressed interest in playing hockey.” . . . The Jones boys both ended up playing with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. . . . Sakic, the former Swift Current Broncos star, is the Avalanche’s general manager. His guys posted a 4-3 OT victory over the host Blackhawks last night. You may want to check out the video of D Cale Makar’s game-winner.


Grant Gilbertson, an 18-year-old forward with the Peninsula Panthers of the junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, died in a two-vehicle collision on Monday. Pete Zubersky, the Panthers’ owner and general manager, told Wolf Depner of the Peninsula News Review that Gilbertson was on his way to practice when the accident occurred at about 6 p.m. . . . This season, Gilbertson had put up 16 goals and 25 assists in 38 games.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

Just a reminder that the WHL trade deadline, which under normal circumstances would fall on Jan. 10, will arrive on Jan. 17 this time around. You have to wonder how much of an influence the presence of COVID-19 will have on what will or won’t happen. . . .

The MJHL’s newest entry, a team that will call Niverville home starting next season, has signed Kelvin Cech as its first general manager and head coach. He is coaching this season at the West Vancouver Hockey Academy and will finish up there before starting in Niverville on April 1. . . . Cech was an assistant coach for three seasons with the UBC Thunderbirds, then spent 2019-20 as the head coach of the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers, and was honoured as the league’s coach of the year. . . . The Niverville franchise is excepted to announce its nickname at some point this month. . . .

The junior A Ontario Junior Hockey League said Tuesday that it is pausing its schedule from Jan. 5 through Jan. 26 due to the Ontario government’s decision to implement “a time-limited modified Phase 2 Reopening.” A number of Ontario arenas have had to close due to restrictions put in place by the provincial government. . . . Tom Annelin of the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal tweeted that “including the SIJHL, which is also based in the province, that’s 50 Jr. A teams, plus 3 U.S. clubs, not being allowed play. This despite an excellent record of negative tests, since the start of the season under very strict guidelines.”


Fir


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.


Divorce

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while watching Dean and Frank do the Christmas thing . . .

Scattershooting2

I spent some time running errands on Sunday afternoon, which means I stayed in the Tucson while Dorothy went in and out of a few stores. Why did I stay in the Tucson? So that I could listen to the CFL’s West final. It was the last game of Hall of Famer Bob Irving’s superb play-by-play career and he went out — as one might expect — by having an excellent game. . . . While he now may be official retired, he does have to be on the air at some point during the Grey Cup game’s national broadcast, doesn’t he?


Elf


It was Sunday at 5:05 p.m. PT when Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman tweeted: Canucks“Hearing tonight that Bruce Boudreau will be the next coach of the Vancouver Canucks.” . . . And the social media feeding frenzy was on. It continued for the better part of five hours until the Vancouver Canucks issued a news release at 10:30, confirming what had already been leaked, that general manager Jim Benning, assistant GM John Weisbrod, head coach Travis Green and assistant coach Nolan Baumgartner had been fired. . . . Stan Smyl now is the interim GM, with Ryan Johnson the interim assistant GM. Bruce Boudreau is the head coach, apparently signing on for the remainder of this season and 2022-23, with Scott Walker coming in as assistant coach. . . . If you think coaching is responsible for the Canucks’ woes, you really haven’t been paying attention. . . . BTW, Green is signed through next season. . . . Surely it is only a coincidence that the Canucks have been mostly dysfunctional since then-president Trevor Linden disappeared into the ether. . . . And here’s hoping the Canucks’ fans are prepared for another four- or five-year plan to be put into place because that’s where this is headed.


Denial


HEY, KID, SEAL THAT EDGE: Mike Vrabel, now the head coach of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, played for the New England Patriots and, according to former QB Matt Cassell, was on the phone while on the way home after a game in Kansas City. Cassell wrote at NBC.com that Vrabel was saying: “We’ve got to be better at the end of the line of scrimmage on the defensive side! . . . We’ve got to set the edge in the run game! The interior guys, look, we can set up some stunts!” . . . Cassell then pointed out that Vrabel “was talking to a fellow dad — about the Pee Wee team of 7- and 8-year-olds he was coaching.”


NYET, NYET: Bill Peters, once the head coach of the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, was fired on Tuesday by Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg. He was in his second season with the KHL team. . . . Avtomobilist signed Peters in April 2020. He had been head coach of the NHL’s Calgary Flames until resigning on Nov. 29, 2019 after he was alleged to have used racial slurs and been physically abusive with players while in the Chicago Blackhawks’ organization. . . . Avtomobilist was 14-15-5 and holding down the Western Conference’s last playoff spot when Peters was replaced by Nikolai Zavarukhin. . . . Peters, now 56, spent three seasons (2005-08) as the Chiefs’ head coach.




VIEW FROM BEANTOWN: I was watching the Detroit Red Wings and the Bruins from Boston on Tuesday night and Jack Edwards, the TV voice of the Beantowners, kept referring to F Brad Marchand as having been suspended for an “alleged” slewfoot when he took down D Oliver Ekman-Larsson of the Vancouver Canucks. And that’s when it dawned on me that Edwards really is “alleged” to be an NHL play-by-play guy. . . . Edwards wouldn’t even admit that there was a slew-foot after watching a replay, or maybe his Bruins toque had slid over his eyes.


Peanuts


HEADLINES: At AwfulAnnouncing.com — MLB insider Marcus Stroman breaks the news that he signed with the Cubs. . . . At fark.com: Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy tests positive for COVID-19, blames the officials.


PERRY TIME: “Oklahoma Sooners coach Lincoln Riley left Oklahoma to seek his fortune in California,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, who also supplied the above Headlines, “finding about $100 million when he got there. In other words, he fared a little better than Tom Joad.”

——

One more from Perry: “Topps, Donruss and Score are scrambling to produce the first fake Antonio Brown trading card. Or is it Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson?”


HEY, UNCLE, HOW’S THAT? D Graydon Gotaas, who scored the Edmonton Oil Kings’ Teddy Bear goal on Saturday night, is the nephew of Steve Gotaas, who put up 314 points in 266 regular-season games with the Prince Albert Raiders (1983-87). Graydon, 17, scored his first Edmonton goal in his first game with the Oil Kings, who acquired him from the Raiders in October. He had been playing for his hometown Camrose Kodiaks of the AJHL.


Empty


NOTHING WRONG HERE: Here’s Ken Campbell of Hockey unfiltered after Hockey Canada issued invitations to its national junior team’s selection camp:

“Connor Bedard is not a lock to make Canada’s World Junior team, but it would be a shock if he were not on the final roster. All Canada’s coaching staff has to do is go back and look at the tapes of both Bedard and Shane Wright in last summer’s World Under-18 championship and see what those two young men did with the maple leaf on their chests. Granted, there is a big difference between being 15 and playing against 17-year-olds and being 16 and playing against 19-year-olds, but still. People keep looking at the scoring totals put up by Bedard and Wright this season and continue to ask what is wrong. Nothing is wrong. These two young men are going to be just fine.”

——

In the same piece, Campbell also dropped this gem: “Patrick Roy claims the Montreal Canadiens have nothing to lose by making him the GM. That’s some sound reasoning right there.”


WHEELING AND DEALING: If you ever wondered what the best junior hockey Raidersplayer in the world might bring in a trade, well, we found out on Wednesday. That’s when the Prince Albert Raiders dealt D Kaiden Guhle, 19, to the Edmonton Oil Kings for F Carson Latimer, 18, D Eric Johnston, 17, and as many as four draft picks — a 2021 first that originated with the Kelowna Rockets, a 2023 first, a 2022 sixth and a conditional 2025 third. . . . The deal came just four days after Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid told Jason Kerr of the Prince Albert Daily Herald that Guhle “might be, for his age, the best player in the world. He’s a special player.” . . . Do you think Habscheid really meant it, or was he just trying to drive up the price?


Waldo


NOT A POSITIVE TIME: The OHL postponed a Saturday night game that was to have had the Mississauga Steelheads visit Peterborough after a Petes player came up positive. “Our actions were to hopefully alleviate concerns,” David Branch, the OHL commissioner, told the Peterborough Examiner. “There was a positive test, the numbers we’re not disclosing and the names we’re  not disclosing, and we took the action. The player are being tested once again and we’ll see how it evolves.” . . . Earlier in the week, the OHL had to shutdown the Sudbury Wolves after 12 positive tests.


ICYMI: G Nolan Maier made his 177th regular-season appearance for the Saskatoon Blades on Saturday night in a 6-2 victory over the Ice in Winnipeg. That equalled the franchise record that he now shares with Braden Holtby (2005-09). . . .

Some shutouts are more special than others. Right, Jackson Unger? Unger, a 16-year-old from Calgary, posted his first WHL victory and shutout — he stopped 30 shots — on Friday night when the Moose Jaw Warriors beat the Rebels, 4-0, in Red Deer. This one was extra special, though, because Unger blanked the Rebels in their Teddy Bear Toss game. . . . As for the Teddy Bears, the fans tossed them late in the game after the Warriors had scored their final goal into an empty net.


NO LOVE HERE: Olen Zellweger put up six points — a goal and five assists — Everettas the Everett Silvertips beat the visiting Tri-City Americans, 8-2, on Friday night. That set a club record for most points by a defenceman in one game, breaking the mark that had been held by fan-favourite Mitch Love, who had a goal and four assists in a 5-2 victory over the Blades in Saskatoon on Nov. 6, 2004. Interestingly, Love scored his goal on the PP and added three PP assists and one on a shorthanded EN goal. That was Love’s first WHL season — he finished with nine goals and 20 assists in 59 games. . . . Zellweger, 18, came out of his six-pointer with seven goals and 19 assists in 19 games. He went into this season with 25 points, including 21 assists, in 70 career games over three seasons. . . . No, he isn’t related to Renée.


THE COACHING GAME: The SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks fired Doug Johnson, their general manager and head coach, on Saturday. Johnson, 45, who played three seasons (1993-96) with the Hawks, had been with Nipawin since March 2010. He is a three-time SJHL coach of the year and the franchise’s winningest head coach. Assistant coach Tad Kozun, a 28-year-old Nipawin native, has been named interim head coach. At the time of the firing, the Hawks were 10-12-5, and tied for third in the four-team Sherwood Division, six points out of second.


Donuts


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.

COVID-19 forces OHL to shut down Wolves . . . Issues in NHL, AHL and MHL, too . . . Blazers, Rockets get good news . . . BCHL revamps schedule

Oh boy, COVID-19 has reared its ugly head all over the hockey world . . .

In the OHL, the Sudbury Wolves suspended all team activities after 12 players OHLtested positive. According to the OHL, “All players affected are currently asymptomatic or exhibiting mild symptoms. . . .” All of the players are fully vaccinated as per OHL regulations. As the league pointed out in a news release: “The Ontario Hockey League had previously incorporated specific COVID-19 protocols including mandatory vaccination for all members of the OHL Community including players, staff, officials and billets.” . . . The Wolves have had their next three games postponed — they were to have visited the Soo Greyhounds tonight, played host to the Barrie Colts on Friday and then played in Barrie on Saturday. . . .

——

With COVID-19 numbers seemingly on the rise, the NHL sent a memo to all 32 teams on Monday that puts new restrictions in place “due to the recent increase nhl2in the number of COVID-19 infections, the number of clubs under enhanced measures, and the temporary shutdown of two NHL clubs.” . . . Through this memo, the NHL instructed clubs to cancel all team-organized Christmas parties, speaking events, autograph sessions and any charity events that would have been open to the public. . . . The memo reads: “Players and staff are reminded to limit the amount of exposure they have to large groups over the holidays, including large family gatherings, in order to reduce the risk of introducing infection into their team.” . . .

If you have watched any NHL games on TV over the past couple of nights you will have noticed what appears to be an enhanced effort by coaches to properly wear their masks. Have to think the NHL has talked with its coaches about that, too. . . .

The Edmonton Oilers cancelled their Tuesday practice after placing D Cody Ceci in COVID-19 protocol. . . . The New York Islanders are in the midst of an outbreak and have had three games postponed. . . . The Ottawa Senators are trying to get back on track after at one point having 10 players and an assistant coach in protocol. They also had games postponed. . . . The Carolina Hurricanes have three players in protocol — D Ethan Bear, D Tony DeAngelo and D Brett Pence — while F Tyler Bozak of the St. Louis Blues also is in protocol. . . .

The Boston Bruins were without head coach Bruce Cassidy when they dropped a Covid2-1 decision to the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night game because he went into protocol. With Cassidy out, assistant coach Joe Sacco ran the bench. . . . The Bruins had F Jake DeBrusk in their lineup on Tuesday night despite acknowledging that he has asked to be traded; the Boston faithful welcomed him with some booing. The Bruins also were without F Brad Marchand, who has been suspended for three games after a slew-footing incident, and F Anton Blidh (injured). . . .  Boston general manager Don Sweeney said that the Bruins weren’t able to bring up anyone from the Providence Bruins because of COVID-19 issues with their AHL affiliate. Providence actually has ceased all team activities because of what is reported as a mounting number of cases.

——

The AHL also has shut down the Bridgeport Islanders, while a Wednesday night game that was to have had Hartford entertain the Springfield Thunderbirds was postponed because of COVID-19 issues involving the WolfPack. . . . The AHL also postponed a Wednesday game that was to have had the Bakersfield Condors visit the Stockton Heat. There is a COVID-19 issue with the Condors and the organization now is following enhanced protocols. . . . The Hershey Bears also have problems. They postponed a Nov. 27 game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and won’t play tonight in Lehigh Valley as they deal with COVID-19.

——

Let’s not forget that the NHL has a schedule that will free up players to skate at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing that aren’t that far away. . . . But, as Elliotte Friedman writes in his latest 32 Thoughts, “As the COVID cases grow, it’s harder and harder to be optimistic about Beijing.” . . . His complete column is right here.

——

The junior A Miramichi Timberwolves of the Maritime Junior Hockey League said Tuesday that a player on their roster tested positive on Saturday. That test resulted in the postponement of a game that night against the visiting Campbellton Tigers. The player in question took a rapid test on Saturday that came back positive; he later took a PCR test that came back positive on Monday evening. . . . The Timberwolves have also had to postpone a Thursday game against the visiting Fredericton Red Wings.

——

Despite all of the above and with the Omicron variant on its way, Dr. Bonnie WHLHenry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, lifted some restrictions in the Interior Health region on Tuesday, including one that limited indoor sporting events to 50 per cent capacity. That means the Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets now are able to have all the seats in their facilities available to fans who are fully vaccinated for the first time since March 2020. . . . At the same time, restrictions remain in place for the Northern Health region, so the Prince George Cougars remain limited to 50 per cent capacity in the CN Centre. . . . The Blazers’ next home game is scheduled for Saturday, when the Rockets visit. Kelowna is scheduled to entertain the Vancouver Giants tonight (Wednesday). . . . The Blazers will honour the memory of Don Moores during Saturday’s game. Moores, who was the club’s president and COO, died of a heart attack on June 30. Moores, 65, collapsed while on the course at the Kamloops Golf and Country Club.


IKEA


The BCHL has announced more schedule changes due to “travel issues and highway closures in the province.” . . . The league also announced that “due to ongoing floods, road closures and the approaching winter weather, the BCHL will remove all out-of-conference games for the remainder of the 2021-22 season.” . . . If you are planning to attend a game of any kind, it’s best to check a website or make a phone call to be sure that it’s still on the schedule. . . . The BCHL news release is right here.


COVID-19 didn’t ignore the NBA, either, as the Los Angeles Lakers were without LeBron James on Tuesday night when they met the Sacramento Kings. James had gone in to what the NBA calls its health and safety protocols. The Lakers went into Sacramento and beat the Kings, 117-92, without King James.


CIA


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: USA Hockey has announced a 31-player roster for its national junior team’s selection camp that is to open in Plymouth, Mich., on Dec. 12. There are three major junior players on the roster, all of them from the OHL. The roster is right here. . . . Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News has a look at the team right here. This year’s tournament is set to open in Edmonton and Red Deer on Dec. 26. . . . Hockey Canada is to announce its selection camp roster this morning and F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats is expected to be on it. . . .

The Portland Winterhawks are believed to have set a WHL record on Tuesday when they put letters on the sweaters of eight — yes, eight! — players. They named D Clay Hanus and F Tyson Kozak co-captains, with the alternates being Jonas Brøndberg, Jaydon Dureau, Robbie Fromm-Delorme, Cross Hanas, Gabe Klassen and Kurtis Smythe. You get a letter and you get a letter and you . . . well, not so fast. . . . According to a news release: “Hanus will begin wearing the ‘C’ when the Winterhawks wear their red and black jerseys and Kozak will act as captain when the team wears its white jerseys.” . . . The six alternates will, uhh, alternate at home and on the road. . . .

Jake Grimes has resigned as head coach of the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles, citing “personal/family reasons,” according to a team-issued news release. Assistant coach Matt Anthony has taken over as the interim head coach. Chris Culligan remains as assistant coach, with John Hanna now an interim assistant coach. . . . Grimes, 49, was in his second season as the Eagle’s head coach. Before joining the Eagles, he spent two seasons as associate coach with the Guelph Storm, helping it to the OHL championship in 2018-19. . . .

The website Victoria Cougars Hockey Project did a countdown of the defunct team’s “TOP 10 All-Time Moustaches.” . . . It was quite a ride. . . .


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.


Theory

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

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

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

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

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

Well, here’s how it went down . . .

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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

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


Meetings


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


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


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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

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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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