Border closure forces WHL schedule changes . . . Blazers cancel two home exhibition games . . . Brandon honours Don Dietrich

If you weren’t aware that Larry Walker was in camp with the Regina Pats — actually, he was in camp with the Pats on two occasions — there’s a piece right here that Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post wrote on Jan. 22, 2020.


If it wasn’t apparent before, it is now — the WHL’s 2021-22 regular-season WHL2schedule is as fluid as the South Thompson River and it likely will continue that way for a while yet. . . . From a WHL news release that was issued on Wednesday: “Due to ongoing border restrictions preventing non-essential bus travel from Canada to the U.S., WHL clubs in the U.S. Division will compete exclusively against U.S. Division opponents, while WHL clubs in the B.C. Division will compete exclusively against B.C. Division opponents during the month of October.” . . . The original plan was to have teams in each conference playing only within their conferences in 2021-22. That plan remains in place for the 12 Eastern Conference teams. . . . As things now stand, the U.S. and B.C. division teams will play within their divisions until Nov. 3 when the Kamloops Blazers are scheduled to visit the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Unless COVID-19 decides otherwise, of course. . . . Fans of the 10 Western Conference teams are advised to consult online schedules for changes that have been made. . . .

Steve Ewen of Postmedia points out that the changes mean the Vancouver Giants, who were to have opened against the host Victoria Royals on Oct. 2, now will start their season in Kelowna against the Rockets on Oct. 1. But the Giants still are to play in Victoria on Oct. 2. No, they aren’t likely to fly from the Little Apple to B.C.’s capital. . . .

Another result of these changes is that the Royals and Prince George Cougars will play six straight games against each other. They are to meet Oct. 16 and 17 in Prince George, Oct. 22 and 23 in Victoria, and Oct. 26 and 27 back in Prince George.


Genetics


The Kamloops Blazers cancelled a pair of home-ice exhibition games, while Kamloopsscheduling another one in Prince George against the Cougars. . . . Interior Health, which covers Kamloops, won’t allow more than 50 fans to attend indoor events. Northern Health, which governs Prince George, will allow teams to play in front of crowds that are 50 per cent of capacity. . . . Why the difference? How do they get the caramel in the Caramilk bar? . . . Anyway, Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, told Radio NL in Kamloops that “this is why we’re bringing in the vaccine card. So that if we’re going to Blazer games — and there will be people going to Blazer games this year — will be able to do so safely. Knowing that everyone in the rink is vaccinated . . . vaccine cards don’t stop people from doing things, they enable people to do things.” . . . It all means that the Victoria Royals won’t play in Kamloops on Sept. 15, and the Cougars won’t visit on Sept. 17. . . . The Blazers, however, will play in Prince George on Sept. 15. Kamloops also will play in Prince George on Sept. 18 in a game that was on the original exhibition schedule.


Bugs


The BCHL also has had to adjust its schedule in the hopes of having the bchlWenatchee, Wash., Wild play a complete season after sitting out what there was of a 2020-21 regular season. . . . The Wild is the BCHL’s only American franchise. . . . The league announced Wednesday that because the U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential travel going north, the Wild will play only road games “in the early part of the season.” That means its four scheduled October home games have been dropped, hopefully to be rescheduled later in the season. . . . The Wild will open the season on Oct. 9 in Penticton against the Vees. It then will play five more road games from Oct. 16 through Oct. 30 and two in Vernon against the Vipers on Nov. 5 and 6. The Wild now is scheduled to play its home-opener on Nov. 12 against the West Kelowna Warriors. . . . “The BCHL’s Return to Play Task Force continues to investigate solutions if the land border remains closed beyond October,” the league said in a news release.


It was precisely the issue with the border that resulted in the junior B Spokane kijhlBraves pulling out of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League for a second straight season. . . . If you’re a regular here, you will recall a piece I posted here on Aug. 29 that included snippets of a conversation between Bruce Hamilton, the owner of the Kelowna Rockets and chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, and Regan Bartel, the radio voice of the Rockets. In that conversation, Hamilton said that having teams cross the U.S.-Canada border remains “in question.” He added: “To have our team travel (to the U.S.), we would have to take a rapid test going down and a PCR test coming home, so you are looking at $5,000 to $6,000 each time for every trip you make across the border.” . . . Taking Note was told that KIJHL teams weren’t about to pay that kind of money to go south, and that contributed in large part to the Braves’ decision. . . . You can bet that expense will impact WHL and BCHL teams, too, if the U.S. chooses not to open the border to Canadians for non-essential travel over the next two or three months.


FiveGuys


Former Brandon Wheat Kings D Don Dietrich, who died earlier this year at 59, is Brandonto have a street in the Wheat City named after him. City Council has voted unanimously to honour Dietrich by naming a street in the Bellafield development after him. . . . Dietrich was from Deloraine, a community south of Brandon. He spent three seasons with the Wheat Kings (1978-81), playing on a WHL championship team in 1978-79 and captaining the club in 1980-81. . . . According to the Brandon Sun, Coun. Shawn Berry said: “This was a man who through his life battled cancer twice and Parkinson’s disease most of his life from 30 on, and never once felt pity or sorry for himself. He went back to his hometown, gave back to the community, started a breakfast program for kids to come out and learn hockey before school started on his own time. . . . He left us way too young, but even through he wasn’t a Brandon boy, Don’s legacy in Westman is well known and I know the short time he was in Brandon here he was very well respected.” . . . Brandon also is home to other streets named after former Wheat Kings, including forwards Ray Allison, Laurie Boschman, Ron Chipperfield, Bill Fairbairn and Ray Ferraro, and G Glen Hanlon. . . . Interestingly, there doesn’t appear to be a street named after the late Brad McCrimmon. Perhaps the City of Brandon is preparing to name its next new development after the McCrimmon brothers, Brad and Kelly.


A tip of the Taking Note fedora to Señor Froggy Restaurant, which has two FroggyKamloops locations. . . . Ownership is closing both restaurants from Sept. 13 through Sept. 20 for “a mental health break.”

“We’re all exhausted. Staff and owners alike,” management posted on social media. “Something critically important to our local business is putting our people first. So as we ease into fall and before the rush of school fundraiser lunches begins, we are practising what we believe in and will be closing for a one-week ‘mental health break.’

“This decision was made with the input and support of our team. (Don’t worry — we are taking care of our staff to thank them and ensure time off doesn’t impact their ability to pay their bills.)

“We know this temporary closure may inconvenience some and for that, we apologize and hope you’ll come back when we re-open.”

No apology necessary, and we’ll see y’all when you get back.




JUST NOTES — With the NFL regular season scheduled to open tonight (Thursday), I believe that only three teams — the Las Vegas Raiders, New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks — have told fans they will have to have proof of vaccination or a recent negative test in order to be admitted to games. . . . It’s Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the visiting Dallas Cowboys in the NFL opener. Are you aware that Brady is 44 years of age? . . .

Steve Ewen of Postmedia reports that Swedish G Jesper Vikman, 19, has arrived in Vancouver and will be with the Giants until Tuesday when he heads to camp with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. He is expected back with the Giants before Oct. 1, however. According to Ewen, the Giants still expect to see Swedish F Fabian Lysell, 18, and Slovak D Marko Stacha, 19, who was with them last season, in camp. Yes, WHL teams may keep only two imports. . . .

According to Rick Dhaliwal of The Donnie and Dhali Show, D Viktor Persson, a draft pick of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks who will be 20 this season, “will be flying into Kamloops next week.” . . . The Kelowna Rockets have added to their staff by signing Quintin Laing as an assistant coach. Laing, now 42, played 260 regular-season games over four seasons (1996-2000) with the Rockets. Of late, he has been coaching with the Kelowna Minor Hockey Association, something he will continue to do. With the Rockets, Laing will work with head coach Kris Mallette, assistant Josh MacNevin and goaltending coach Adam Brown.


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Unvaxxed

A pandemic check in WHL territories as new season nears . . . Pats, Thunderbirds swing deal . . . Nachbaur not afraid of some Heat

Bridge


Teams in the WHL are about three weeks from opening training camps, and about four weeks from the start of the exhibition season. . . . While the OHL and QMJHL have adopted mandatory vaccination policies, it would appear that the WHL has no such plan because there hasn’t been a peep out of the Calgary office about it. . . . The WHL and its teams also have yet to announce any plans, protocols or anything else regarding fans in any of the arenas in the four provinces and two states in which the franchises operate. Perhaps the league and its 22 teams are still in discussions with provincial and state health officials on that subject. . . . Anyway, here’s a look at some of Tuesday’s pandemic related news from WHL country . . .

The New York Times — Oregon is preparing to restore a statewide mandate on Wednesday, ordering both vaccinated and unvaccinated people to use face coverings when gathering indoors. . . . Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon, a Democrat, said on Tuesday that she would formally announce the return of the mask mandate on Wednesday. She said that masks were needed to fight rising caseloads driven by the Delta variant, and that face coverings were a simple tool to help keep schools and businesses open.

CBC Kamloops — 7-day average nearly doubles in 1 week as B.C. records 395 new cases of COVID-19. . . . The seven-day rolling average of new cases has nearly doubled in one week from 196 on Aug. 3 to 383. . . . (Note: 187 of the new cases revealed Tuesday were in Interior Health, an expansive region that is home to Kamloops and Kelowna, and where numbers haven’t been good for the past while.)

Tri-City Herald — Franklin County has highest COVID rate in 4 Western states. Benton County 2nd in WA. . . . The number of people hospitalized locally for COVID-19 continues to climb, matching the previous high during the past 12 months, based on Tri-City Herald records. . . . The 74 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment Tuesday accounted for nearly 20% of the 380 patients in the Richland, Kennewick, Pasco and Prosser hospitals. Hospital officials and doctors are urging Tri-Cities area residents to be vaccinated, saying almost all COVID-19 patients they are treating in hospitals have not been vaccinated against COVID-19. . . . (Note: Kennewick, home of the Tri-City Americans, is in Benton County. Pasco and Richland, which with Kennewick comprise the Tri-Cities, are in Franklin County.)

KOMO News — Snohomish County held a briefing Tuesday, where it announced a mask directive for anyone indoors older than five. This includes both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. (Note: Everett is located in Snohomish County.)

Tina Karst, CJOC Lethbridge — Lethbridge COVID stats for Aug 9 (released today): 14 new cases out of 37 in the South Zone; no deaths; no recoveries; active cases up by 14 to 80 — the highest count since June 4 (84).

CBC News — Alberta reported 279 net new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and two additional deaths. . . . The number of known active cases rose by 83 since the last update to 3,463. . . . Four more Albertans have been admitted to hospital to be treated for COVID-19 since the last update. There are now 133 hospitalizations, including 29 patients in intensive care units. . . . There were 5,424 tests conducted Monday. The province’s test positivity rate is 5.25 per cent.

CBC News — Manitoba’s COVID-19 website shows 31 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths on Tuesday. . . . The current five-day test positivity rate in Manitoba is 2.7 per cent, up from 2.5 on Monday. 

CBC News — Saskatchewan reports 2 additional deaths and 65 new cases of COVID-19. That pushes the 7-day case average to 80; a week ago it was 51.

Oregon Public Broadcasting — Masks are back. Beginning this Friday, all people in Multnomah County (including Portland) will be required to wear a mask in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status. This applies to everyone age 5 or older.



Snowman


The Boston Bruins have signed Swedish F Fabian Lysell, 18, to an entry-level Vancouvercontract (ELC). The Bruins selected him in the first round, 21st overall, of the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . The Vancouver Giants grabbed Lysell’s major junior rights in the CHL’s 2021 import draft and have been hoping that the Bruins might steer Lysell their way. . . . Because he was drafted out of Europe, Lysell is eligible to play in the NHL, AHL or WHL. That means the Bruins could choose to assign him to the AHL’s Providence Bruins. . . . He had three goals and six assists in seven games for Sweden at the 2021 IIHF U-18 World Championship in Texas. . . . Lysell is seen as a tremendous skater with a great work ethic who is a real offensive threat. . . .

Meanwhile, Joshua Critzer, who covers the Portland Winterhawks for Portland@pnwhockeytalk, tweeted on Monday afternoon that he is “hearing Jesper Wallstedt and the Minnesota Wild have informed” the WHL team that “he will not be reporting.” . . . Wallstedt, a native of Västerås, Sweden, who will turn 19 on Nov. 14, was selected 20th overall by the Wild in the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . The Winterhawks acquired the rights to Wallstedt from the Moose Jaw Warriors on June 7, giving up a sixth-round pick in the WHL’s 2023 draft. . . . In 2020-21, Wallstedt was 12-10-0, 2.23, .908 with Lulea HF of the SHL, Sweden’s top pro league. . . .

On Tuesday, the Winterhawks announced that F Dawson Pasternak, 18, “will be joining our roster from the Chicago Steel of the USHL.” . . . From Winnipeg, Pasternak had six goals and 17 assists in 61 games with the Steel in 2020-21, up from five and nine in 35 games in 2019-20. . . . The Winterhawks selected him in the fourth round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.


The Regina Pats have added some size and experience to their roster with the Patsacquisition of D Luke Bateman, 19, from the Seattle Thunderbirds for a sixth-round selection in the WHL’s 2021 draft. . . . That draft, which normally is held in the spring, is scheduled for Dec. 9, thanks to the pandemic. . . . The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Bateman was picked by Seattle in the fourth round of the 2017 bantam draft. . . . From Kamloops, he has two goals and 16 assists in 83 regular-season games. . . .

Thom Beunig, the long-time radio voice of the Thunderbirds, pointed out on Twitter that Seattle has only six defencemen on its roster at the moment — Tyrel Bauer, 19; Ryan Gottfried, who turns 20 on Aug. 21; Jeremy Hanzel, 18; Kevin Korchinski, 17; Spencer Penner, 17; and recent Import selection Leon Okonkwo Prada. From Colchester, England, Okonkwo Prada played last season in Sweden. He has signed with the Thunderbirds after being selected in the CHL’s 2021 import draft.


Time


Sir Vincent Rogers Sr., a 35-year-old offensive lineman with the CFL’s Edmonton Elks, tested positive and has a few things he wants to say about his experience . . .


Dusty Imoo, 51, is a former WHL goaltender from New Westminster, B.C. He played four seasons (1987-91) with the New Westminster Bruins, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Regina Pats. . . . He went on to a pro career that included 13 seasons in Japan. He also played for Japan in three IIHF World Championships and in the 1998 Olympic Winter Games. . . . Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun has more right here.


Chris Moulton, a long-time WHL scout and front-office type, now is director of player personnel with the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . It’s not even the middle of August and he has a rather pertinent message for parents and young players . . . 


Ethan in the below tweet is former Seattle Thunderbirds D Ethan Bear, who was traded by the Edmonton Oilers to the Carolina Hurricanes last month . . .


Don Nachbaur has left the Tri-City Americans for the AHL’s Stockton Heat. Nachbaur, the third-winningest head coach in WHL history, joined the Americans as associate coach in February. Now he is off to the Heat as an assistant coach where he will work alongside new head coach Mitch Love, who signed on after spending the previous three seasons as the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Nachbaur has had a couple of other AHL coaching stints, as the head coach of the Binghamton Senators (2009-10) and as an assistant with the Philadelphia Phantoms (2000-02). . . . From a Heat news release: “In his 26-year coaching career, Nachbaur has accumulated 20 seasons of WHL experience, three campaigns in the AHL, two behind an NHL bench as an assistant with the Los Angeles Kings (2017-19) and one with HKM Zvolen in Slovakia. He won the WHL’s Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy, awarded to the league’s coach of the year, three times (2010-11, 2007-08, 1994-95) and had a role with Canadian national junior teams at the 2011-12 U-18 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and 2012-13 World Junior Championship.”


Earth


Jason Benetti, the TV play-by-play voice of the Chicago White Sox, is on the sidelines after testing positive. He had been at the Tokyo Olympics for NBC-TV, calling baseball and softball. Benetti is fully vaccinated and has said that he is “mildly symptomatic.”

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NewsRadio 610 KONA — Washington will soon require most state employees, on-site contractors, and workers in private healthcare to be vaccinated as a condition of employment. Governor Jay Inslee says they’ll have until October 18 to do so.

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“A charity hockey tournament at Abbotsford’s The Rinks at Summit Centre has been flagged by Fraser Health as having a COVID-19 public exposure,” reports Ben Lypka of the Abbotsford News. . . . Lypka’s complete story is right here.

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Lamar Jackson, the starting quarterback for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, has returned to practice after testing positive for the second time in eight months. No, he isn’t vaccinated. . . . His plan is, uhh, to “keep learning as much as I can about it. We’ll go from there.” . . . Jamison Hensley of ESPN wrote: “Jackson said last December that he ‘wouldn’t wish (COVID) on anybody’ and reiterated that Monday. But he still wouldn’t budge on whether he would get the vaccine, even when pressed that it puts the Ravens at a competitive disadvantage.” . . . According to head coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens went into training camp with 90 per cent of their players fully vaccinated, meaning Jackson is one of a relatively few who aren’t vaccinated.

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U of Ottawa — University of Ottawa announces that vaccination will be mandatory for all students, faculty, staff, and anyone returning to or visiting campus as of September 7th, 2021.

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The New York Times — A Dallas school district announced that everyone — students, employees and visitors — must wear a mask while on school property starting Tuesday, defying an executive order by Gov. Greg Abbott that bans school districts from requiring masks.

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CBC News — Anyone wanting to go to a restaurant, bar, theatre, festival or gym in Quebec will have to produce a vaccine passport as of September 1.

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CBS News — Pentagon announces COVID-19 vaccines will be mandatory for troops by mid-September.

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In the west, we’ve had the pandemic and a heatwave or two, wildfires that have all but destroyed two B.C. communities, and now we’re in the middle of a drought. How bad is it? . . . A ski resort in Manitoba announced on Monday that it won’t be opening for the 2021-22 season. Holiday Mountain, located southwest of Winnipeg at La Rivière. . . . A tweet from the resort: “We use 17 million gallons of water for snowmaking and the Pembina River is so dry you can walk across it. No chance of that kind of recovery in the next few months. We’re talking 10+ feet below normal.” . . . The plague of locusts is expected to arrive by month’s end.

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Pete Muntean, CNN — Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines will NOT REQUIRE employees to get vaccinated, breaking with United Airlines’ mandate that workers get vaccinated by October 25th or face getting fired.

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Rolling Stone — Jason Isbell’s upcoming shows will require proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test. “If the venue won’t allow that, we won’t play,” performer says.

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Sign

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Rolling Stone — The Eagles have added an additional Seattle date to their rescheduled Hotel California tour, but unlike the other shows, attendees will have to provide proof of vaccination upon entering. The November 5th show at Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena requires that guests be fully vaccinated 14 days prior to the show, while children under 12 years old may show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test. Tickets go on sale Friday at 1 pm E.T.

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Rolling Stone — Stevie Nicks has withdrawn from her upcoming festival appearances due to the spread of the Delta variant. Nicks was slated to headline the Jazz Aspen Festival and BottleRock Napa Valley early next month; Chris Stapleton will be replacing her for the latter. She was scheduled to perform both weekends at Austin City Limits in October, but the Texas festival has yet to announce a replacement. (Nicks was also on the bill for the New Orleans Jazz Fest, but the event was cancelled just the other day.) “These are challenging times with challenging decisions that have to be made,” Nicks tells Rolling Stone. “I want everyone to be safe and healthy, and the rising Covid-19 cases should be of concern to all of us. While I’m vaccinated, at my age, I am still being extremely cautious and for that reason have decided to skip the five performances I had planned for 2021.”

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Rolling Stone — A group of Nashville clubs has announced new Covid-19 rules: to enter, fans must show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test.

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Ana Cabrera, CNN — Average pace of new vaccinations (people getting their first shot) tops 500,000 people per day for first time since June, CDC data shows.

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Rolling Stone — Milwaukee’s Summerfest 2021 joins the growing list of events requiring a Covid-19 vaccine or negative test for entry.

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Rolling Stone — Bonnaroo just released a statement announcing that it will require attendees to show proof of vaccination or a negative test.

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Rolling Stone — The Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam, a country-music festival set for Labor Day weekend in Florida, has been postponed until next year, as Covid cases spike across the state.


Bell


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Jake Wagman, who had been Kelowna’s director of video and hockey operations, is leaving the Rockets to join the NHL Arizona Coyotes organization. He will be the video coach for the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners, replacing Brady Morgan, who now is a video assistant with the NHL’s Seattle Kraken. Morgan spent one season as a hockey operations assistant with the Seattle Thunderbirds before joining Tucson.


Batman