Canucks getting hammered by virus; Brazilian variant discovered . . . Oil Kings d-man sets franchise record . . . AJHL shuts down a fourth team

By Friday afternoon, the Vancouver Canucks had seven players on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list and a taxi squad player identified as a close contact. There also was one unidentified coach who was confirmed nhl2as having tested positive.

A few hours later, it became apparent that things are going to get worse for a team that is headquartered in B.C., a province that is having serious issues with COVID-19. How bad is it? Well, we won’t really know until Tuesday because government and health officials don’t provide briefings or news releases on weekends, and this is the Easter weekend. The virus, however, doesn’t take weekends off and this is turning out to be a rough one for the Canucks.

Late Friday night, Darren Dreger of TSN tweeted that “as expected, additional positive cases have been determined with the Vancouver Canucks. It’s also believed a variant has been identified in some of the cases.”

TSN’s Farhan Lalji tweeted that “Brazilian P.1 variant likely in play here,” something that later was confirmed by Patrick Johnston of Postmedia.

Lalji also tweeted he was told “that in some cases team medical staff may have gone to the homes of players to administer IV treatments.”

As Johnston wrote: “That variant has been growing in number in B.C. over the past month and was recently identified as a major driver of an outbreak that originated in Whistler. Some research has shown the P.1 variant is as much as 2.5 times more transmissible than earlier strains of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.”

There have been various reports that more positive tests among the Canucks are expected to be revealed on Saturday.

F Adam Gaudette went on the COVID-19 protocol list on Tuesday, with D Travis Hamonic joining him on Wednesday. Since then, D Alex Edler, G Braden Holtby, D Quinn Hughes, F Zack MacEwen and F Antoine Roussel all have gone on the list.

The NHL has postponed four Vancouver games, and it’s likely that there will be more. The Canucks are scheduled to next play on Thursday and April 10 in Calgary against the Flames.


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The WHL said Friday that it had eight positives from 897 tests that were administered from March 27 through Friday. . . . The Kelowna Rockets experienced seven of those positives — four players and three staff members — so all team activities have been shut down for 14 days.

The WHL also said that one of its on-ice officials, who hasn’t worked a game since March 20, tested positive on one test, but was negative on a second test.

The league added that it is “awaiting test results for the Brandon Wheat Kings, Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders and Regina Pats” and will provide an update when they become available.

Through Friday, the WHL has had nine positives from 4,991 tests.

Also on Friday, the WHL announced some schedule changes. You are able to find those changes on the WHL’s website.

Meanwhile, there were six games on Friday . . .

G Gage Alexander turned aside 31 shots to lead the Winnipeg Ice to a 3-0 victory over the Prince Albert WinnipegRaiders in Regina. . . . Alexander, 18, from Okotoks, Alta., earned his first career shutout in his 12th career appearance, five of them this season. . . . He is 3-2-0, 2.01, .926 this season. . . . The Ice (7-4-0) scored the game’s first two goals after Raiders F Dallyn Peekeekoot was tossed with a charging major. . . . F Cole Muir (4) scored at 2:51 of the second period and F Owen Pederson made it 2-0 just 35 seconds later. . . .  The Raiders are 3-6-2. . . . G Max Paddock stopped 15 shots for the Raiders in his first appearance since March 22. While Paddock was sidelined, the Raiders were down to one goaltender. That changed on Friday when they signed Max Hildebrand and had him on the bench in support of Paddock. That mean that Carter Serhyneko was given the night off. . . . Hildebrand, 16, is from Martensville, Sask. He was a 13th-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. His father, Steve, is the Saskatoon Blades’ associate general manager. . . .

G Boston Bilous stopped 29 shots as the Moose Jaw Warriors beat Saskatoon, 4-0, in Regina, handing the Blades (9-1-1) their first regulation loss of this season. . . . The Warriors (5-6-1) went into the game having lost six in a row; the Blades had won seven straight. . . . Bilous, who turned 20 on Feb. 2, has four career shutouts, one of them this season. He had been yanked from each of his previous two starts, stopping four of 10 shots in a total of 10 minutes of play. . . . D Cole Jordan (2) scored the game’s first goal at 16:31 of the first period. . . . The Warriors put it away with three third-period goals, with D Denton Mateychuk and D Lucas Brenton both scoring his first WHL goal. . . . The game was played in 2 hours 7 minutes, the quickest game this season. . . . After the game, Les Lazaruk, the Blades’ radio voice, wrote at cjwwradio.com: “To say that (Blades’) head coach Mitch Love wasn’t happy is severely understating the fact. His post-game media availability lasted for just three questions and 42 seconds in total.” . . .

F Simon Knak scored twice, including his third shorthanded goal of the season, to lead the host Portland PortlandAlternateWinterhawks to a 6-2 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . The Winterhawks lead the WHL with five shorthanded goals. . . . Portland (4-1-2) scored the game’s last five goals. . . . Knak has seven goals this seaosn. . . . F Seth Jarvis (3) had a goal and two assists for Portland. . . . F Sasha Mutala (3) scored twice for the Americans (2-4-0). His second goal, 19 seconds into the second period, gave Tri-City a 2-1 lead. . . . F Jaydon Dureau (1) tied it on a PP at 15:22 of the second and Knak gave Portland the lead at 16:28, also on a PP. . . . D Nick Cicek also had a goal and two assists for Portland. . . .

The Everett Silvertips scored two third-period goals to skate away with a 3-1 victory over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . F Payton Mount (2) gave the Thunderbirds (4-3-0) a 1-0 lead on a PP at 6:27 of the first period. . . . Everett D Gianni Fairbrother (1) tied it on a PP at 8:11 of the second period and F Jacob Wright (3) broke the tie 49 seconds into the third. . . . F Cole Fonstad (4), who also had two assists, got the empty-netter. . . . Everett improved to 6-1-0. . . .

F Lucas Svejkovsky scored the game’s last two goals to help the host Medicine Hat Tigers to a 4-1 victory Tigersover the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Goals from F Ryan Chyzowski (6) and F Corson Hopwo (8) gave the Tigers (8-3-0) a 2-0 lead after one period. . . . F Josh Prokop (5) got Calgary to within one at 14:23 of the second. . . . Svejkovsky, who has eight goals, put it away with a pair of third-period PP scores. . . . The Hitmen are 5-6-1. . . . D Carlin Dezainde made his WHL debut with the Tigers. He is a grandson of Brian Carlin, who played one season (1970-71) with the Tigers. Carlin also played three seasons (1967-70) with the Calgary Centennials. . . . According to Bob Ridley, the veteran play-by-play voice of the Tigers, Medicine Hat has added a familiar name to its coaching staff. Ridley tweeted on Friday that “alumni Derek Dorsett has joined the Tigers’ coaching staff.” Dorsett, 34, played three seasons (2004-07) with the Tigers before going on to a pro career that included 515 NHL games. A neck injury forced him into retirement. He last played in 2017-18 with the Vancouver Canucks. . . .

The Edmonton Oil Kings scored the game’s last nine goals and beat the host Red Deer Rebels, 9-2. . . . The EdmontonOil Kings’ night included four goals in 82 seconds in the third period and a power-play that was 4-for-5. . . . The Oil Kings (10-1-0) have beaten the Rebels four times in this shortened season. Go back to last season and Edmonton has beaten Red Deer 15 straight times. . . . The Rebels now are 2-7-2. . . . Edmonton got a single-game franchise-record six points, including four assists, from D Logan Dowhaniuk, and a goal and three helpers from D Matthew Robertson. . . . Dowhaniuk now holds the franchise record for most points by a defenceman in one game. . . . F Josh Williams, F Jalen Luypen, F Carter Souch and F Jake Neighbours each had a goal and two assists. . . . The online game sheet shows Dowhaniuk with five points. However, Andrew Peard, the Oil Kings’ play-by-play voice, said an assist will be added to Dowhaniuk on Neighbours’ goal. . . . Dowhaniuk, an 18-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., has a goal and nine assists in 11 games. He had six points, including five assists, in 33 games his freshman season (2018-19), then put up two goals and 10 assists in 62 games in 2019-20. . . . Edmonton was without F Scott Atkinson, its captain, with an undisclosed injury. . . . The Rebels played a lot of the game with five defenceman after Blake Gustafson left with an undisclosed injury. Red Deer already was without D Chase Leslie and D Kyle Masters, both of whom are listed as week-to-week with undisclosed injuries.


The AJHL now has four teams locked down, with the Okotoks Oilers the latest to experience a positive test. ajhlThe AJHL revealed on Friday that “as the result of a positive COVID-19 test by a member” of the Oilers, team activities had been suspended for at least 14 days. . . . That resulted in the Oilers’ games of April 2, 4 and 6 being cancelled. . . . The Oilers, who last played on Sunday when they edged the visiting Brooks Bandits, 2-1, joined the Drayton Valley Thunder, Grande Prairie Storm and Whitecourt Wolverines, who also have been shutdown because of positive tests. . . . The AJHL has yet to release a schedule of games after April 6.


The BCHL, which hadn’t played any games since Nov. 19, was back in action on Friday, with five games in bchlfive different communities. It was playing only exhibition games when things came to a halt in November. . . . Now it’s playing what it is calling a “pod season” with Friday’s games in Alberni Valley, Burnaby, Chilliwack, Penticton and Vernon. . . . On Thursday, the BCHL announced that there weren’t any positives from the first round of testing. All told, 439 players and staff were tested.


MLB announced on Friday that it had scrubbed the entire opening series between the New York Mets and Washington due to testing and contact tracing involving the Nationals. As of Friday afternoon, the Nationals had four players with positive tests, and five others and one staffer in quarantine after contact tracing. . . . The Mets and Nats were to have played in Washington on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. . . . The Mets will spend the weekend there, working out at Nationals Park, before leaving for Philadelphia on Sunday where they are scheduled to open against the Phillies on Monday. . . . The Nationals are scheduled to play host to the Atlanta Braves on Monday.


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Zoom

A summer without Wimbledon seems likely . . . And what about the CFL season? . . . BCHL coach of year unemployed


Make sure you watch the video because that will explain the second tweet . . .


Here is why we love Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon. His Monday posting contained a considerable amount of writing about the chances of the pro leagues and/or college football resuming/starting their seasons. As he pointed out, it’s awfully hard to practise physical distancing in a sporting facility that contains 106,572 fans.

He finished with this:

“Baseball has had some experience dealing with crowds where social distancing can be maintained:

“Spread out the attendees at a typical Miami Marlins home game and social distancing is not a challenge.

“Look at the fans sitting behind home plate in Yankee Stadium. The cost of those seats has effected social distancing by economic measures and not medical ones.”

Look him up at sportscurmudgeon.com for more fun.

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BTW, here’s Jack’s Thought of the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “Our public men are speaking every day on something, but they ain’t saying anything.”


Weather


The Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames announced cutbacks on Monday. . . . Edmonton has reduced its staff by 139 employees with all others taking a “compensation rollback,” which is fancy-speak for a pay cut. . . . As well, senior hockey and business executives are taking a 50-100 per cent cut. . . . The Flames cut their workforce by 150 employees, or 50 per cent, hitting them with a 60-day temporary layoff. The rest of the staff will see 10-25 per cent cuts in pay. . . .

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The CFL has postponed the start of training camps that were to begin in May. In some instances, rookie camps were to start on May 11 and main camps on May 17. . . . The B.C. Lions were to train in Kamloops from May 13 through June 3. . . . The CFL’s regular season is scheduled to begin on June 11, but that obviously is in doubt. . . . There already is speculation out there about whether the CFL will be able to get in a 12- or even an eight-game regular-season schedule. . . .

Farhan Lalji of TSN tweeted that sources have told him everyone in the Calgary Stampeders “organization, including all football ops/coaches, have been told by ownership that they will be taking pay cuts. Range is 10-25 per cent and will be re-evaluated in three months.” . . . That would take them to July 1. . . .

Sky Sports reported that German Tennis Federation vice-president Dirk Hordoff told it that Wimbledon organizers will announce the cancellation of the tournament this week. The tournament’s scheduled dates are July 29 through July 12. . . . While the French Open has been postponed from May until late September, Wimbledon would be cancelled because it has just two covered courts and it isn’t possible to play on the grass courts that late in the season. . . . Mark Masters of TSN has more on the Wimbledon situation right here with an interesting interview with Grant Cantin of Stony Plain, Alta., who was on the grounds crew for 17 years. . . .

Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics have rescheduled the Summer Games and now they are to open on July 23, 2021, and run through Aug. 8. They had been scheduled to open on July 24, 2020, and go through Aug. 9. . . . The Paralympics now are scheduled to run from Aug. 24 through Sept. 5, 2021. . . .

In golf, the Irish Open, set for May 28-31, has been postponed, meaning the next scheduled European Tour men’s event is the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco, June 4-7. . . .

The seven-team Western Women’s Canadian Football League has cancelled its 2020 season, which would have been No. 10. The league’s teams: Calgary Rage, Edmonton Storm, Lethbridge Steel, Manitoba Fearless, Regina Riot, Saskatoon Valkyries and the Winnipeg Wolfpack. . . .

The 2020 Saskatchewan Marathon has been cancelled. It was to have been held in Saskatoon on May 31. . . .

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The International Boxing Hall of Fame has cancelled its 2020 Hall of Fame weekend. . . . What should have been this year’s inductees will be part of the celebrations in 2021. . . . The Hall of Fame and Museum is located in Canastota, N.Y. The big weekend had been scheduled for June 11-14. . . . From wktv.com: “This class makes history, featuring the first enshrined females in the Hall of Fame’s 31 years of existence. The women’s Trailblazer category gains Barbara Buttrick, while the Modern category adds ‘The Coal Miner’s Daughter’ Christy Martin, and ‘The Dutch Destroyer’ Lucia Rijker. Other inducted boxers include lightweight champion Frank Erne in the Old Timer category, and Paddy Ryan to the Pioneer category.”


While there have been lots of postponements and cancellations, the NFL is going ahead with its annual draft. . . . That has irked Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle, who points out that a lot of people have learned a lot over the last while, “everyone except, apparently, Roger Goodell.”

Killion continued:

“Commissioner Tone Deaf now has turned into Dictator Obtuse. In announcing that the NFL draft would take place as planned April 23-25, Goodell also sent a memo warning teams not to criticize his decision.

“The memo, as reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, said in part ‘public discussion of issues relating to the Draft serves no useful purpose and is grounds for disciplinary action.’

“We know how hard the hammer can fall in the NFL. Just ask old friend Colin Kaepernick.

“There’s no place for personal opinion or free speech in the No Freedoms League.”

Killion’s complete column is right here.


This one actually had me chuckling out loud, while watching The Pride of the Yankees on Sunday night . . .

https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/1244459963558264832?s=20


The Tri-City Americans announced the departure of associate coach Brian Pellerin in a terse two-sentence news release on Monday afternoon. . . . Pellerin, the pride of Hinton, Alta., which is just west of Old Drinnan Town, spent six seasons with the Americans, one as assistant coach and the last five as associate. . . . The 50-year-old Pellerin played four seasons (1987-91) with the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . He also worked four seasons (2004-08) as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks.


The Philadelphia Hockey Club has signed Rylan Ferster as one of its head coaches for 2020-21. Ferster will be involved with the Tier-2 team in the National Collegiate Development Conference. . . . Ferster is a veteran of the junior A ranks, especially in the BCHL where he recently spent seven seasons with the Westside/West Kelowna Warriors, guiding them to a national championship in 2015-16. . . . In December, the PHC hired Troy Mick, another former BCHL coach, as the general manager of the Tier-2 program and the head coach of the U-16 teams. . . .


The BCHL’s reigning coach of the year no longer is with the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express. . . . Jason Fortier had signed a three-year contract in November 2017 when he replaced Barry Wolff. . . . Veteran BCHL observer Brian Wiebe (@Brian_Wiebe) first tweeted the news on Monday, adding later in the day that “Express assistant coaches Jamie Jackson and Sam Waterfield are no longer with the team either. Jackson was brought on board in November 2017, while Waterfield was with Coquitlam since June 2019.”