Had you suggested to me in January that I would have two shots of Pfizer in me by now, I would have told you that you were nuts. But that’s the case. I got Pfizer’d for a second time on Saturday, 10 days after Dorothy got her second dose. . . . We got all four of our shots at the Tournament Capital Centre in Kamloops and, let me tell you, the operation there was running like a a well-oiled machine. On Saturday afternoon, I had a 2:15 appointment. I walked in the door at 2 o’clock. Got my shot at 2:06. Was on my way out the door at 2:21.
On the way home, I made one stop, ducking into a small grocery store to get some plastic utensils. You know . . . just in case.
Here are a few notes of interest from Tyler Kepner of The New York Times, from a piece on the website on Tuesday: “In the 2016 season, there were 3,294 more hits than strikeouts in the majors. By 2018, strikeouts had narrowly overtaken hits. And if the 2021 numbers continue at the current rates, there will be about 5,200 more strikeouts than hits this season.” . . . Yes, MLB has a problem.
It was with some interest that I noticed Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was given a three-year contract extension by the board of governors the other day, and that the pooh-bahs had voted unanimously in favour of it. He has been in his office for 21 years, which is as long as Ed Chynoweth ruled the league, albeit in two separate stints. Interestingly, I don’t ever recall Chynoweth having unanimous support when it came time for a new deal. . . . In fact, I can remember one time, in March of 1976, when Chynoweth actually offered up his resignation. “It isn’t a play for money,” he said. “It is simply that there is too much hassle. It is starting to bother me that all my friends in Saskatoon are going to the airport to take flights out for winter holidays. I go to the airport and fly to Flin Flon.” . . . No, his offer wasn’t accepted.
Time out. My ears are ringing. I just gotta answer this one. It might be an incoming call from Bill Gates. Be right back . . . Ahh, it was only another coal train — or maybe it was an oil train — on the CP mainline across the river.
First it was Dominique Ducharme, the Montreal Canadiens’ interim head coach, testing positive for COVID-19, while every other team member has come up negative. . . . And then word came on Sunday that Kelly McCrimmon, the general manager of the Vegas Golden Knights, also has tested positive and is in self-isolation in Montreal. Apparently, no other team member has tested positive. . . . How does it happen that only one person in a team situation like this tests positive? Or is this all of this just an example of COVID-19’s quirky sense of humour? . . . BTW, that fourth Wheat Kings goaltender in the tweet at the top of this post is actually D Ryan Pulock, now of the New York Islanders. He made a game-saving stop on Saturday as the Islanders beat the Tampa Bay Lightning. . . . When McCrimmon was running the Wheat Kings, he drafted Pulock and helped turn him into the player he is today. McCrimmon, of course, also has had a thing or two to do with putting together the Golden Knights. What this means is that McCrimmon could end up having something to do with two teams reaching the NHL final.
A lot will be said and written about Kevin Durant’s airball at the conclusion of Saturday night’s Milwaukee Bucks’ OT victory over the New Jersey Nets. But not enough will be said and written about the defence provided by Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday on the play. He was on Durant like you’re supposed to be and he did it within the rules. . . . BTW, Durant played all 53 minutes. He was 0-for-6 from the field in the OT period. Might his legs have left him?
It was Herb Brooks who told his 1980 U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team that “the legs feed the wolf.” That might well have been proven on Saturday night when the Nets didn’t eat.
In mentioning here last week that the WHL’s board of governors had scrubbed inter-conference play at least for 2021-22, I suggested that it likely was done in an effort to cut costs because teams haven’t had any revenue coming since mid-March of 2019. . . . Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the Vancouver Giants, doesn’t see it that way. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia wrote: “Toigo balked at the idea that cost-cutting was the main factor in the league’s decision to do away with these road trips for a season. He says that it’s more about extended travel coming out of these COVID-19 times.” . . . Ewen then quoted Toigo as saying: “I think you want to do what you know you can count on being able to do. I think it’s logistical more than anything. We’re going to do more games with the U.S. teams. There’s good teams in the U.S. The more you see them, the more intense the games get, and the better the rivalries get.”
A NBA-related note from Janice Hough, aka the Left Coast Sports Babe: “A Twitter pal said ‘John Stockton’s stupidity has jinxed the Jazz.’ Hey, as good an explanation as any how a No. 1 seed with a 22-point lead against the Kawhi-less Clippers could not only blow a lead but lose by 12.” . . . She added: “For those who missed it, Stockton appeared in an anti-vaccine video.”
Things I wonder about at 3 in the morning . . . How is the WHL going to deal with league and team officials, on-ice officials and players in regards to vaccinations in the lead-up to and during the 2021-22 season? . . . What if the Toronto Blue Jays had a bullpen? . . . How is construction on that new arena that is to house the Winnipeg Ice coming along? Will it be done in time for the 2021-22 season? . . . What’s happening with the lease-related lawsuit the City of Cranbrook filed against the WHL and the Ice’s owners in January? . . . Is it time for the NHL to go back to having one referee on the ice? Or maybe games should play without any as they seemed to be doing for much of Sunday’s game between Vegas and host Montreal. Either way, the two-man system just doesn’t seem to be doing the job, does it? . . . More than two months have passed us by since the BCHL confirmed that it was leaving the umbrella of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. When will it let the world in on its plans for the immediate future?
Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton): Man gets away with murder after eyewitness turns out to be NHL referee.
On Thursday, Brazil’s health ministry said there had been 66 positive tests among people involved with the Copa America soccer tournament. By Friday, that number had grown to 82. . . . Gee, maybe it wasn’t a good idea to move the tournament into one of the world’s hotspots? . . . Don’t forget that tournament organizers had said that it would be “the safest sporting event in the world.”
Soccer’s World Cup is to be decided in Qatar in 2022 and the country’s government has announced that spectators will have to have been vaccinated in order to be admitted to venues. . . . To date, Qatar has experienced 220,800 positive tests and 585 deaths. . . . The World Cup is scheduled to open on Nov. 21, 2022.
Look, everyone knows that baseball is full of enough numbers to choke a calculator. But this from Dan Shulman, the sometimes voice of the Toronto Blue Jays, about blew me away: “On the heels of (Saturday’s) nine-pitch AB, how about this — Bo Bichette has fouled off 278 pitches this season, more than anyone in baseball . . .” So that got me to wondering if there’s a post-season award for that?
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At some point in the late 1990s, while I was the sports editor at the Regina Leader-Post, I put together a brief history of the Western Hockey League. I had pretty much forgotten about it until recently when I was asked if I might post it again. So I am doing just that. . . . As you read each piece, please remember that I wrote them more than 20 years ago and they cover only the league’s first 25 years. It isn’t an all-encompassing history, but hits on some of the highlights and a few lowlights. . . . The stories are pretty much as originally written. . . . Here is Part 3. . . .
The mid-1970s belonged to the Ernie McLean-coached New Westminster Bruins. They were the Western Canada Hockey League’s most-dominant team.
If you didn’t believe that, well, they would convince you of it. And they’d do that any way they felt like it.
The Bruins ran their string of WCHL titles to four, and won the Memorial Cup the last two seasons, in 1976-77 and 1977-78. But by the time the 1980-81 season ended, the bloom was off the rose in New Westminster. Little did anyone know that it never would return.
Prior to the start of the 1976-77 season, the WCHL instituted a rule calling for an automatic game misconduct to any player who initiated a fight. Ironically, the first player stung was Brandon Wheat Kings starry centre Bill Derlago. He got the heave-ho after starting a scrap with Brian Schnitzler of the Saskatoon Blades in a season-opening 3-0 Brandon victory.
Two coaches felt WCHL president Ed Chynoweth’s wrath on Nov. 2. Ivan Prediger of the Kamloops Chiefs was suspended for 20 games, while Ken Hodge of the Portland Winter Hawks got 10 games. Prediger apparently struck Hodge during an altercation between the benches on Oct. 24.
There was joy in Regina on Jan. 27 when the Pats scored a 3-2 victory over visiting Portland. It ended a 36- game Regina winless streak that covered 96 days. “I hope the players don’t become satisfied with the win,” said Lorne Davis, who had taken over as GM/head coach from Del Wilson and Bob Turner with the Pats at 2-32-5.
A nine-hour meeting in Calgary resulted in a new playoff format. Under the original format, the Flin Flon Bombers, third in the East, were 20 points ahead of Regina and all but had a playoff spot locked up. Suddenly, there was a new format and the Bombers were fighting for a spot. Oh yes, they were also on a 15-game West Coast road trip.
“In this league, you need two pieces of equipment,” said Flin Flon boss Mickey Keating. “You need a face-guard when you play some of the teams on the ice and a back protector for the committee room. I had inklings that there may be changes in the playoffs but I had confidence there were intelligent hockey men in this league. I was shown different.”
In Portland, the Winter Hawks were beginning to carve out a niche, which resulted in this March 1 comment from GM Brian Shaw: “We’re selling the all-American boy image. Our players are all properly dressed in public. They all have respectable hair lengths. We feel image is important. Our players have become our outstanding selling point, and they have actually played much better because of the great acceptance which now is blossoming in Portland.”
In mid-April, Kamloops majority owner Ephram Steinke admitted the franchise would likely move to Spokane over the summer. The reasons? Steinke blamed almost $500,000 in losses over four years, and the city’s refusal to construct a new arena.
On May 12, the Calgary Centennials signed Bob Strumm as general manager. One of Strumm’s first moves was to confirm that a move to Billings was being contemplated.
Strumm, who had been Chynoweth’s executive assistant, was, at 29, the WCHL’s youngest GM. He would be one of the league’s most-prominent figures through the mid-1980s.
The Calgary move became official on May 19. Eleven days later, Kamloops moved to Seattle and became the Breakers under new owner John Hamilton.
On July 19, at the annual meeting in Calgary, the transfer of the Winnipeg Monarchs to Calgary was approved. Del Wilson, president and governor of the Pats, was named chairman of the board, replacing Bill Burton.
When Winnipeg moved to Calgary and became the Wranglers, owner Gerry Brisson named Doug Barkley as GM. The coach? It was Brisson. Would the GM be able to fire the owner/coach.
The 1977-78 regular season hadn’t even started when McLean was in trouble. It stemmed from an exhibition game against the host Victoria Cougars when midway in the second period he ventured into the stands to tangle with a fan who was taunting him. For his troubles, McLean got a gash on his forehead and, later, a $250 fine. This would serve as an omen.
A fierce rivalry was building between Regina and the Brandon Wheat Kings. After one early-season game, Davis had this to say: “If (Dave) Semenko would have been close enough to the box I would have swung at him . . . he came over by our bench trying to intimidate us.” To which Brandon coach Dunc McCallum responded: “How can a 220-pound man be held back by a stick boy?”
A few days later, Semenko joined the WHA’s Edmonton Oilers. A couple of years later, Davis joined the Oilers as a scout.
Derlago, perhaps the best pure offensive talent this league has seen, had a 40-game point streak end on Nov. 9 when he left a game with a thigh injury during his first shift. One month later, he blew out a knee in an exhibition game against the Moscow Selects. Had Derlago not been hurt, who knows what kind of numbers he would have put up? When he was injured, he had 48 goals and 80 points in 26 games. He was on pace for 133 goals, three more than the then-CMJHL record of 130 held by Guy Lafleur.
On Feb. 3, Jack McLeod resigned as coach of the Saskatoon Blades. He stayed on as GM, but put Garry Peters behind the bench. In Calgary, Barkley, the GM, took over as coach from Brisson, the owner.
More bad ink, and lots of it, in early February when McLean was slapped with a 25-game suspension for allegedly hitting an official. He returned for the playoffs.
“Our league has long been accused of protecting either our coaches or, more particularly, owner/coaches, but there is no way one coach or one franchise is bigger than the league,” Chynoweth said. “I can live with the so-called violence on ice, as projected by the media, but when it comes to our officials, qualified or unqualified, I look at things much differently.”
More bad ink in the first round of the playoffs. Yes, it emerged from a round-robin series. This one featured Brandon, Flin Flon and Regina in a double home-and-home series. When it got to the final game, Flin Flon at Regina, the Pats had to beat the Bombers by at least six goals to eliminate Brandon and set up a Regina-Flin Flon division final. Regina won 10-4 and the high-powered Wheat Kings, led by the likes of Derlago, Brian Propp, Laurie Boschman and Ray Allison, were done like so much burnt toast.
“For us to say anything is stupid. You saw what happened,” Flin Flon defenceman Ray Markham said after the game.
Ultimately, Flin Flon, New Westminster and Billings advanced to the WCHL’s round-robin semi-final to eliminate one team and put the other two in the championship final. Out went Flin Flon. New Westminster then swept Billings in the final. It was the Bruins’ fourth straight WCHL title and they would win their second consecutive Memorial Cup.
The Bruins, a power for oh, so long, would rarely be heard from in a positive light again.
On May 22, Flin Flon governor Gord Mitchell revealed that the community-owned team would cease operations. “I hate to see it go,” Mitchell said. “It’s certainly not the fault of the league. The league’s not kicking us out. But there comes a time when something like this seems to be the most reasonable thing to do. We’re a small centre and it got to the point where the league had outgrown us.”
A week later, Chynoweth, who had threatened to resign, announced he would remain as president, thanks to a promise from the governors that an executive assistant would be provided to help with such things as discipline. Wilson, the part-owner of the Pats, filled the bill as vice-president and referee-in-chief. Shaw replaced Wilson as chairman of the board.
On June 1, Gregg Pilling was named GM/coach in Regina, replacing Davis who, in a surprise move, was fired. Davis professed sadness, saying he had worked awfully hard and that all of that work would bear fruit in two years. Which is exactly what happened — two years later the Pats were in the Memorial Cup. But Pilling was gone by that point.
It was during the summer of 1978 when Chynoweth began talking of an education program. On July 4, he announced a program whereby teams would provide a year’s tuition and books at a recognized post-secondary institution for every season a player was in the league.
On Aug. 16, Chynoweth announced an Edmonton group headed by Bill Hunter had purchased the Flin Flon franchise from the league. Hunter would be president and governor, Vic Mah would be first vice-president.
The 1978-79 season began with news of a name change and ended with a new champion for the first time since the spring of ’74.
With three of 12 teams situated in the U.S., the WCHL was no more. Now it was the Western Hockey League.
The goofiness started on Oct. 22 when Pilling went into the penalty box at the start of the third period of a game in Calgary. He said he would serve a bench minor handed him for delay of game at the end of the second period in what would be an 8-1 loss. Pilling also alternated goaltenders Jeff Lastiwka and Gregg Dumba every shift change after a brawl at 2:52 of the second. Changing goalies ended 30 seconds into the third period when, with the faceoff outside Regina’s blueline, Dumba lined up behind his net. He was given a gross misconduct.
Chynoweth, who fined Pilling $1,000, said: “I thought it was a circus. I wouldn’t blame anybody if they didn’t go back.”
This was to be the season of McCallum’s Wheat Kings. That much was evident when Brandon ran its two-season unbeaten streak to a WHL-record 49 games and its single-season streak to 29 games. Brandon finally lost, going down 9-4 in Edmonton on Dec. 13 with the Oil Kings scoring all nine goals with the man advantage.
There was more news from Brandon on Jan. 11 when GM Jack Brockest, one of the WHL’s most likeable people, bought the team.
If any team could match Brandon it was Portland. The Winter Hawks had a 19-game unbeaten streak ended when visiting Brandon won 7-4 to go to 42-3-7.
In mid-March, rumours had the Edmonton franchise, which was averaging about 500 fans a game, moving to Great Falls, Montana, or Red Deer.
Things got ugly on March 22 in New Westminster when an incident involving the Bruins and Portland resulted in McLean’s being suspended indefinitely and seven of his players being charged by police. A game-ending brawl broke out, but this one was different because, while the Bruins left their bench, Hodge managed to keep his players under control.
On March 27, Wilson said McLean would not be allowed to coach during the playoffs, nor would he be allowed to communicate with the bench from the press box as he had done during previous suspensions.
McLean apologized for the brawl at a Vancouver press conference: “I have to take the full load, the full responsibility for what happened . . . when I look at it, maybe the game has gone by me. Maybe my coaching style isn’t what’s needed anymore. I’m an old horse that’s been at it for 25 years and it’s tough to change your thinking. The game is changing — maybe I haven’t changed with it.”
On April 4, GM Bill Shinske and McLean announced the Bruins were for sale, for $350,000.
The Winter Hawks got a small measure of revenge, beating the visiting Bruins 5-3 on April 8 to eliminate them from post-season play.
But this sad episode would drag on through the summer.
Meanwhile, Brandon was finishing with a 58-5-9 record, setting or tying 19 records.
The Oil Kings were sold on April 10, with ownership handed over to a Portland group headed by Bob Cooper and Tom Gauthier, who said they would move the franchise to Great Falls. “I guess sports is not my bowl of rice,” said Mah, an Edmonton restauranteur. It was Mah’s second go-round as an owner in Edmonton, and he wouldn’t give up. He would try and try again and again to get another franchise for the Alberta capital.
On April 20, charges of common assault were filed against seven Bruins — J.P. Kelly, Terry Kirkham, Bruce Howes, Rick Amann, Boris Fistric, Rob Roflik and Bill Hobbins. In August, the seven pleaded guilty. Judge James Shaw — no relation to the Portland general manager — granted conditional discharges to all seven, then banned them from league games at any level until Dec. 1. McLean said Shaw was “trying to be the judge who is going to clean up hockey. I’m worried about the affect on the game because the judge’s ruling makes a hip-check a criminal offence.”
Portland and Brandon ended up in the final, with Brandon winning in six games.
And, on May 28, Chynoweth resigned, effective June 30. This time he would leave, becoming part-owner of the Wranglers. “It’s more than 25 per cent and less than 50,” said majority-owner Jim Morley.
In late May, Pat Ginnell, who had been with the Lethbridge Broncos, moved north to take over the Medicine Hat Tigers. Mike Sauter would replace him in Lethbridge. Dave King left as coach in Billings to become head coach at the University of Saskatchewan.
The Pats were sold on June 8, with Wilson, Bill Patton, Gord Wicijowski, D.K. MacPherson, Wilf Degelman and Bob Babchuk selling to the Pinders — father Dick and sons Herb, Gerry and Tom. The price was believed to be near $300,000. Strumm was named GM, governor and part-owner.
Strumm later signed Bryan Murray as head coach and one of the great turnarounds in WHL history was under way.
But before that got started, Dave Descent was chosen to run the WHL. In his third season with the Canadian Amateur Wrestling Association at the time, Descent had lots of hockey experience at various levels in the OHA. “This job is an opportunity to get back into hockey, which is my chosen sport, and advance my sporting career,” he said.
Regina, which finished 18-47-7 (last in the East, second-worst in the league) in 1978-79, would go 47-24-1 in 1979-80 to win the division.
It was obvious early that the Bruins were going to pay a steep price for the brawl against Portland. They got their first point, after 13 losses, with a 5-5 tie in Great Falls on Oct. 31.
And on Nov. 16 McLean was at it again. And again it involved Portland.
McLean got tangled up with a fan at a game in Portland and was charged with fourth-degree assault. In one of the most ironical situations in WHL history, McLean was in jail until Brian Shaw posted his bail of $525. Charges were later reduced to harassment and it was all cleared up when a civil compromise was signed, ending the criminal case.
In mid-December, Descent’s title was changed from executive director to president. And concern was being shown about Great Falls, which was 2-22-1 and hurtin’ at the gate. The Americans folded on Dec. 13.
On March 2, McLean threw a 30-gallon garbage can onto the ice to protest the work of referee Ken Wheler during a game against visiting Portland.
The next day, Descent announced his resignation. Said Descent: “Speaking honestly, I’ve enjoyed my stay and feel it was a positive experience. But for personal reasons I’ve decided to take a different career path which is something I’m not at liberty to discuss now.”
Shaw said a five-man board would run the league, and that McLean would be suspended for three games for throwing the can. Oh yes, McLean was later named acting chairman of the management committee.
On March 24, McLean said he was leaving the Bruins. “I’ve made up my mind,” he said. “I’ve worn out my welcome. I will not be in New Westminster next year. We built a dynasty here but it’s time to move on.” All this after the Bruins set a WHL record with 61 losses. It was the first time in 18 seasons that McLean had missed playoffs.
On April 17, Vancouver businessman Nelson Skalbania bought out McLean and Shinske for slightly more than $300,000.
A week later, the WHL announced that Winnipeg would have an expansion team for 1980-81 and that the owners were former Pats star Fran Huck, his law partner Gerald Gunn and Winnipeg businessmen Harry Buekert, Arnold DeFehr and Marsdon Fenwick. Buekert would be GM, with Huck as coach.
On April 27, Regina beat visiting Victoria, 5-4, to win the WHL final, 4-1. The 1980 Memorial Cup, which would be won by the Cornwall Royals, opened in Brandon and closed in Regina.
During the Memorial Cup it became apparent the major juniors were terribly concerned with NHL’s practice of drafting 18-year-olds.
Chynoweth said: “I understand the legal problems the NHL has, although I don’t sympathize with it . . . at this rate, the pros will be scouting midgets soon.”
McLeod remembered the 1979 draft: “Back in June one NHL general manager said there was nothing to worry about, that only seven or eight under-ages would be taken. When they took 58, we were a little disturbed. Once they got into it, they just kept going.”
Junior teams were to be paid $50,000 to $65,000 for under-age players who stuck in the NHL.
Some NHL people said they weren’t in favour of the 18-year-old draft, either.
“The general managers unanimously fought to the 11th hour to avoid drafting under-ages,” said Washington GM Max McNab. “We were going to get caught in a lawsuit. But the NHL is like the government in the eyes of the public here. We’re going to get shot at in any decision.”
On May 15, the WHL announced that the dormant Great Falls franchise would relocate to Spokane with Cooper remaining as majority owner.
On June 26, Skalbania, already the owner of New Westminster and the NHL’s Calgary Flames, bought 50 per cent of the Wranglers. Skalbania explained: “It’s a sympathetic thing. I said when we bought the Flames that we’d support junior hockey in Calgary and I can’t think of a way we’d be supporting it any more than owning the team. I just hope we don’t lose that much money with them.”
Pat Shimbashi, a minority owner in Lethbridge, bought the other 50 per cent of the Wranglers from Jim Morley and Chynoweth, which meant that the latter would return as WHL president.
On June 27, Skalbania completed his purchase of the Bruins, buying 100 per cent for $325,000. McLean stayed as GM, while Skalbania’s 20-year-old daughter, Rozanda, was named president.
McLean resigned a couple of weeks later and Tracy Pratt was named GM. “I’d like to forget about the big bad Bruins of the past,” Pratt said, “and I’d like to think of them as the scrappy Bruins in the future. My concern is putting families back in the building. There was a shade too much violence in past years and many people became very bitter about what happened at Queen’s Park Arena.”
The league lost its referee-in-chief on Aug. 8 when Wilson announced he would scout for the Montreal Canadiens, a team with which he had long been associated.
The 1980-81 season opened quietly enough, but the silence was shattered on Dec. 1 with a shakeup in Saskatoon. McLeod and coach Lorne Frey ended their association with the Blades. Majority owner Nate Brodsky bought McLeod’s share (20 per cent) and named Daryl Lubiniecki GM and coach.
Lubiniecki began shaking things up when, on Jan. 15, he traded one player — centre Rocky Trottier — to Billings for six players — Pat Rabbitt, Dave Brown, Brad Duggan, Dave Chartier, Lyndon Byers and Al Acton.
Fighting was still a concern and on Dec. 17 Chynoweth announced that teams would be fined $2,500 if their players fought before games or between periods. Players who started the fights or were main combatants would get a minimum of five games.
A black cloud continued to follow the Bruins. A labour dispute forced them to play their last 29 games on the road. Their last 13 home games were played in such places as Bellingham, Wash., Kamloops, Trail, Duncan, B.C., and Coleman, Alta. The Bruins set a WHL record by losing 25 in a row and had to give season-ticket holders a refund for the 13 home games that were moved.
There were rumblings out of Swift Current that the locals were interested in a WHL franchise. John Rittinger, president of the SJHL team there, was trying to raise money for the venture. “I can’t give you a figure at this time,” he said on April 1, “but, personally, I feel there has been insufficient support.”
The juniors were beginning to realize they were going to have to live with the 18-year-old draft. Said Chynoweth: “The under-age situation is a problem but also a fact of life. The law of the land says at 18 you can fight for your country, drink and get married. Consequently, they’re also eligible to be drafted and play for NHL teams.”
The WHL had a new referee-in-chief — Richard Doerksen — and he was in the news in the playoffs after Strumm grabbed him in the press box during a game. Strumm was slapped with a two-game suspension and a $1,000 fine.
Victoria, under coach Jack Shupe, would win the WHL championship in 1980-81. Trailing Calgary 3-1, the Cougars bounced back and wrapped it up on May 1, beating the visiting Wranglers, 4-2, in Game 7.
Singing a song that would become popular in NHL circles in years to come, Calgary coach Doug Sauter explained: “(Goaltender Grant) Fuhr was the difference.”
John Hudak, who was the spokesperson for the Green Bay Committee that attempted to help keep the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, won a seat on Cranbrook’s City Council in a by-election that was completed on Saturday. . . . Final preliminary results, as released by the City of Cranbrook, had Hudak with 1,115 votes (45.9 per cent of the vote), well ahead of Ron Miles, who was second at 518, and three other candidates. . . . The by-election was the result of Danielle Eaton having resigned in January. . . . A retired RCMP officer, Hudak was part of the Green Bay Committee, a group comprising mostly local businessmen who offered to sell sponsorships and season tickets in an attempt to benefit the Ice. However, the committee, which said it quickly sold $50,000 worth of sponsorships and tickets, disbanded when it realized that it wasn’t going to get any co-operation from the WHL team’s owners. . . . The Ice relocated to Winnipeg when its season ended.
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The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies won the QMJHL championship with a 4-0 victory over the host Halifax Mooseheads on Saturday. The Huskies won the series, 4-2. . . . Huskies G Samuel Harvey stopped 28 shots to earn the shutout. Harvey, who is in his fifth season with the Huskies, has 20 career shutouts — 15 in the regular season and five in the playoffs. He put up four of those playoff shutouts in these playoffs. . . . Both teams will appear in the Memorial Cup as the Mooseheads are the host team. . . . This is the 11th straight season in which the host team for the Memorial Cup hasn’t been able to win its league championship.
NOTES: The Prince Albert Raiders and Vancouver Giants arrived back in Prince Albert on Saturday afternoon and will resume the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup with Game 6 tonight (Sunday) at the Art Hauser Centre. . . . The Raiders lead the series, 3-2, and can win the second championship in franchise history — the first came in 1985 — with a victory tonight. . . . Should the Giants win tonight — and they won Game 5, 4-3, on Friday in Langley, B.C. — Game 7 would be played on Monday night in Prince Albert. . . .
Following the conclusion of Game 5 in Langley on Friday, fans in Prince Albert began lining up at the Art Hauser Centre at 11 p.m., with tickets for Games 6 and 7 going on sale Saturday morning. . . . Late Friday night, the Raiders advised fans via Twitter: “Tickets for Game 7 are non-refundable. If a Game 7 isn’t necessary, the tickets can be used as a voucher for any regular-season game in the 2019-20 season.” . . . Now I don’t know how much a ticket to Game 7 was selling for, but I have to think one of those tickets would be worth a whole lot more than one regular-season game. Wouldn’t it? . . .
If the Giants are to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup, they are going to have to do something that has been accomplished only once before in WHL history. . . . There have been 11 championship finals go to Game 7; the first 10 were won by the home team. The last final to need Game 7 was in 2014 when the Edmonton Oil Kings became the first team in WHL history to win Game 7 on the road. They beat the Portland Winterhawks, 4-2. . . .
Here is a look at the previous WHL championship series that have been decided in Game 7 . . .
1975 — The Saskatoon Blades actually won the first two games of what was an eight-point final — in other words, no OT — beating the New Westminster Bruins twice in legendary Queen’s Park Arena. The Bruins then won twice in Saskatoon, before the Blades won Game 5 at home. Back in New Westminster, the Bruins won, 4-1 and 7-2, to take the series, 8-6.
1976 — This also was an eight-point series featuring the Saskatoon Blades and New Westminster Bruins. The teams played to a 3-3 tie in Game 6 in New Westminster and the Bruins won Game 7, 3-1, the next night, winning the series, 9-5.
1981 — The Calgary Wranglers led the Victoria Cougars, 3-1, before the bottom fell out. The Cougars came back with 7-4 and 4-2 victories in Calgary, then won Game 7 at home, 4-2. This is the series that featured goaltenders Grant Fuhr (Victoria) and Mike Vernon (Calgary).
1984 — The Regina Pats won the middle three games at home to go ahead of the Kamloops Blazers, 3-2. The scene shifted to Kamloops where the Blazers won, 4-3 in OT and 4-2. In Game 6, the Pats were 12 seconds from winning the championship when Kamloops F Dean Evason tied the game. F Ryan Stewart later won it at 13;13 of OT.
1987 —The Medicine Hat Tigers and Portland Winterhawks played a 3-3-1 format and were all even going back to Alberta for Game 7 after the Tigers won Game 6, 4-3. Back home, the Tigers won Game 7, 6-2.
1992 — The Kamloops Blazers took a 3-1 lead over the Saskatoon Blades in a final that used a 3-3-1 format. The Blades won Games 5 and 6 (5-1 and 4-3) at home. The Blazers won it all by taking Game 7, 8-0, at home.
1993 — The Portland Winterhawks led the series, 3-2, over the Swift Current Broncos after a 3-1 victory in Game 5 in Oregon. The Broncos won Game 6, 7-5, in Portland, then went home and posted a 6-0 victory in Game 7.
1994 — For the third straight season, the WHL final went seven games, and for the second time in three seasons it featured the Kamloops Blazers and Saskatoon Blades. Using a 2-3-2 format, Kamloops won twice at home and then took Game 4 in Saskatoon for a 3-1 lead. The Blades tied it by winning 3-2 at home and 2-1 in Kamloops, but the Blazers took Game 7, 8-1, at home.
2007 — For the first time in 13 years, the WHL final went seven games. This time, it featured the Vancouver Giants and Medicine Hat Tigers. The Giants took a 3-2 series lead on the strength of three shutouts — 1-0, 4-0 and 3-0 — from G Tyson Sexsmith. But the Tigers went home for the last two games and won them both — 4-3 and 3-2 in double OT, the latter on a goal by F Brennan Bosch.
2012 — The Edmonton Oil Kings won Game 5, 4-3, at home to take a 3-2 lead over the Portland Winterhawks, who went home and won Game 6, 3-2, two nights later. The series shifted to Edmonton for Game 7 and the Oil Kings won, 4-1.
2014 — It was the Edmonton Oil Kings and Portland Winterhawks one more time. Portland won twice at home, then Edmonton did the same. The Oil Kings won Game 5, 3-2, in Portland, only to have the Winterhawks go into Edmonton and win Game 6, 6-5 in OT. The Oil Kings won the final with a 4-2 road victory in Game 7. The WHL’s first season was 1966-67. The Oil Kings are the only team in the league’s history to have won Game 7 of a championship series on the road.
(NOTE: Thanks to Dean (Scooter) Vrooman, the legendary former play-by-play voice of the Winterhawks, for laying the groundwork for all of this.)
Can someone explain to me why @HockeyCanada did not re-brand the National Jr Championship as the Centennial Cup Instead going with @HC_NJAC ? Tons of history and tradition with Centennial Cup and seems now would have been perfect time since @RBC pulled the pin on sponsorship.
D Rasmus Rissanen (Everett, 2009-11) signed a two-year contract with Örebro (Sweden, SHL). This season, he had three assists in 31 games with Jokerit Helsinki (Finland, KHL).
The WHL’s deadline for teams to declare an official interest in bidding to be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament was May 31.
The Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets and Victoria Royals had made no secret of the fact that they were all-in. The Blazers and Rockets made their intentions known at news conferences; Victoria didn’t hold a news conference but general manager Cam Hope said on numerous occasions that his organization would bid.
However, May 31 came and went and there was nary a word from the WHL. June 1 . . . June 2 . . . June 3 . . . nothing.
On the morning of Monday, June 4, Bruce Hamilton broke the silence. Hamilton is the president and general manager of the Rockets; he also is the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors.
Hamilton told Kelowna radio station AM 1150 that four teams had filed letters of intent with the WHL office and that those four teams were Kamloops, Kelowna Victoria . . . and the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Hamilton even went out of his way to point out that the Hurricanes “will have a good opportunity. They will have a real good hockey team.”
Until that moment, there hadn’t been even the smallest of hints that would have indicated the Hurricanes had an interest in bidding on the event.
On Monday, a WHL spokesperson told me that the league “will be issuing a release on this matter at the appropriate time.”
As of Tuesday evening, there hasn’t been anything official from the Hurricanes or from the WHL office.
In fact, the only thing that I have seen from Lethbridge came in the form of a Tuesday tweet from Kaella Carr of CTV-Lethbridge.
So we are left to wonder if Hamilton spoke out of turn, or is there more to this than meets the eye?
One supposes that we will find out whenever it is deemed to be the appropriate time.
One team that apparently didn’t express official interest in bidding on the 2020 Memorial Cup was the Everett Silvertips.
It’s really too bad that American teams seem to be on the outside looking in when it comes to bidding on the Memorial Cup, because it would be interesting to see how fans in the Everett area would respond.
According to figures compiled by the WHL, the Silvertips averaged 5,686 fans through 12 home playoff games this spring, trailing only the Regina Pats (6,484 for three games) and Victoria Royals (5,726 for six games).
In the regular-season, Everett’s announced average attendance was 5,129, good for seventh in the 22-team league. That was up from 4,865 in 2016-17.
This season, the Silvertips finished atop the 10-team Western Conference, then reached the WHL championship final where they lost in six games to the Swift Current Broncos.
On Tuesday, Zoran Rajcic, the COO of Consolidated Sports Holdings, which owns the Silvertips, released a statement that read, in part:
“This last Saturday, we experienced a response and demand in Silvertips hockey from our community like we’ve almost never seen before.
“Our commitment to providing a first-class service to our season-ticket holders resulted in a projected boost of 500 new season tickets, adding to a 92 percent retention from this last season. It’s proof that our region’s thirst for the game has developed into a full passion.”
The Silvertips play in the Angel of the Winds Arena, which, according to the WHL Guide, has a capacity of 8,149.
Apologies to members of the 1980-81 Victoria Cougars, who won the WHL championship. In a piece I posted here Monday night, I made mention of the fact that Victoria had never played in a Memorial Cup tournament. That was in error. . . . The Cougars won a thrilling seven-game championship series from the Calgary Wranglers that spring. . . . Here’s what I wrote as part of an essay on the 1981 Memorial Cup that was played in Windsor:
Jack Shupe, a veteran of the western Canadian coaching wars, was running the Cougars. Shupe had last been to the Memorial Cup tournament in 1973 with the Medicine Hat Tigers.
The Cougars actually trailed the Calgary Wranglers 3-1 in the WHL’s best-of-seven final before rallying. They didn’t win the WHL title until Terry Sydoryk broke a 2-2 tie at 18:07 of the third period of Game 7. An empty-netter by Grant Rezansoff made the final score 4-2.
The Cougars had finished on top of the West Division, their 121 points (60-11-1) leaving them eight ahead of the Portland Winter Hawks.
The Cougars’ offensive leader was centre Barry Pederson, whose 147 points left him third in the scoring race, just 13 points off the lead.
Pederson added 36 points in the playoffs, second behind the 43 points put up by Calgary’s Bill Hobbins.
Pederson was supported by Rezansoff, who totalled 27 playoff points after a 97-point regular season, Rich Chernomaz (113 regular-season points), Torrie Robertson 111), Brad Palmer, Paul Cyr, Bud McCarthy and Mark Morrison. This was a team that could score — witness its league-high 462 goals.
But it was Fuhr who dominated this team. He was the primary reason for it surrendering only 217 regular-season goals, 49 fewer than any other team.
The Cougars opened the playoffs by sweeping the Spokane Flyers in four games. They then took apart the Winter Hawks in four straight.
That sent them into the final where they fell behind the Doug Sauter-coached Wranglers, who featured goaltender Mike Vernon, 3-1 in games before roaring back to win their first WHL championship since they entered the league in 1971.
“Fuhr was the difference,” Sauter said. “There’s no doubt he’s an all-star.”
This would also mark the first Memorial Cup appearance for a team from Victoria.
The Portland Winterhawks have signed F Gabe Klassen and G Lochlan Gordon to WHL contracts. . . . Klassen, from Prince Albert, will turn 15 on June 30. He was taken in the first round, 19th overall, of the 2018 bantam draft. This season, he had 52 goals and 37 assists in 31 games with the bantam AA Prince Albert Mintos. He led the league in goals and points. . . . Gordon, from Edmonton, was a third-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. Gordon, 15, played this season with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team, going 12-5-0, 2.68, .891, with four shutouts in 18 games.
WHL teams that have signed 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:
1 Edmonton — F Dylan Guenther.
2. Kootenay — D Carson Lambos.
3. Prince Albert — D Nolan Allan.
4. Calgary — F Sean Tschigerl.
5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.
6. Saskatoon — F Colton Dach.
8. Lethbridge — F Zack Stringer.
11. Medicine Hat — F Cole Sillinger.
12. Vancouver — F Zack Ostapchuk.
14. Tri-City — D Marc Lajoie.
15. Brandon — F Jake Chiasson.
17. Spokane — D Graham Sward.
19. Portland — F Gabe Klassen.
20. Edmonton — D Keegan Slaney.
The WHL teams that have yet to sign their 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:
7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.
9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.
10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.
13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.
16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.
18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong.
21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.
22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.
The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed F Conner Roulette to a WHL contract. Roulette, a 15-year-old from Winnipeg, was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, he played for the bantam AAA Winnipeg Hawks, putting up 52 goals and 49 assists in 34 games. He led his league in goals, assists and points.
Inde Sumal, the president and CEO of a Vancouver-based private equity firm, is leading the charge to build a new arena on B.C.’s Lower Mainland. Sumal sees a facility with about 10,000 seats somewhere in Surrey, which has a population of more than 500,000 people. . . . Kenneth Chan of dailyhive.com has more right here.
Ben Simon is the new head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. He takes over from Todd Nelson, who left last week to join the NHL’s Dallas Stars as an assistant coach. . . . Simon, 39, is from Shaker Heights, Ohio. He spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the Griffins.
The San Antonio Rampage, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, have signed Drew Bannister as their head coach. He had been the head coach of the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds. Bannister spent three seasons as the Greyhounds’ head coach and is the CHL’s reigning coach of the year. The Greyhounds were 136-50-18 under Bannister, winning two division titles and, this season, the OHL’s regular-season championship. This season, they set franchise records with 55 victories and 116 points.
The 2019 World men’s curling championship will be played at the ENMAX Centre in Lethbridge, running from March 30 through April 7. That means that the Lethbridge Hurricanes will have to take their show somewhere else should they be in the playoffs at that time. . . . The World women’s curling championship was played in the same facility in 2012. The Hurricanes co-operated that spring by not making the playoffs.
Two goaltenders with ties to the WHL will be inducted into the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame this year. Grant Fuhr and Mike Vernon are among the class of 2018 that officially will be inducted on July 22 in Canmore. . . . Fuhr, who won five Stanley Cups with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, played for the Victoria Cougars (1979-81). Vernon, a two-time Stanley Cup winner, once each with the Calgary Flames and Detroit Red Wings, played for the Calgary Wranglers (1980-83). Vernon also was with the Portland Winterhawks as they won the 1983 Memorial Cup. A roster addition, he ended up as the tournament MVP. . . . Also to be inducted are broadcaster Ron MacLean and long-time hockey coach Wally Kozak, who spent one season (1986-87) as the Wranglers’ head coach.
IF THE PLAYOFFS OPENED TODAY …
Prince Albert at Moose Jaw
Brandon at Medicine Hat
Regina at Swift Current
Red Deer at Lethbridge
Seattle at Everett
Tri-City at Kelowna
Spokane at Portland
Vancouver at Victoria
At Regina, F Jesse Gabrielle scored the lone goal of a shootout to give the Pats a 3-2 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Regina (39-25-6) has won six in a row. The Pats are third in the East Division, three points ahead of Brandon with each having two games remaining. . . . Prince Albert (32-25-13) has points in 11 straight (9-0-2). The loss means the Raiders will finish in the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot and will meet the Moose Jaw Warriors in the first round of playoffs. . . . Regina was 8-0-0 in the season series; Prince Albert was 0-4-4. . . . F Jordy Stallard (44) gave the Raiders a 1-0 lead at 11:16 of the first period. . . . Regina tied it at 4:51 of the second period as F Sam Steel got No. 32. . . . The Raiders went ahead 2-1 at 11:24 on F Regan Nagy’s 25th goal. . . . Regina F Cam Hebig (41) tied it, shorthanded, at 11:51. . . . Gabrielle, the shootout’s second shooter, scored the only goal of the skills competition. . . . Prince Albert was 0-3 on the PP; Regina was 0-4. . . . The Pats got 31 saves from G Max Paddock, who continues to be the starter with Ryan Kubic injured. On the season, Paddock is 18-7-2, 2.94, .902. . . . The Raiders got 33 stops from G Curtis Meger. . . . Announced attendance: 6,484.
At Swift Current, F Max Gerlach scored twice, giving him three straight 30-goal seasons, as the Saskatoon Blades dumped the Broncos, 5-2. . . . Saskatoon (33-33-4) had lost it previous three games (0-2-1) as it fell out of playoff contention. . . . Swift Current (47-17-6) has lost three in a row (0-3-0). It will finish second in the East Division and meet either Regina or Brandon in the first round. . . . Saskatoon went 4-3-1 in the season series; Swift Current was 4-4-0. . . . F Kirby Dach, who also had three assists, got the Blades started as he scored his seventh goal at 19:45 of the first period. . . . F Braylon Shmyr (37) made it 2-0 at 4:47 of the second period. . . . The home side tied it on second-period goals from F Kaden Elder (17), at 5:32, and F Matteo Gennaro (41), on a PP, at 12:38. . . . F Michael Farren (11) broke the tie, on a PP, at 19:51. . . . Gerlach, who has 31 goals, scored twice in the third period, at 1:14 and 7:02, the latter on a PP. . . . Gerlach had 30 goals as a freshman in 2015-16 with Medicine Hat, then added 34 goals last season. This season, he had 16 goals in 35 games when Medicine Hat dealt him to Saskatoon. He has 15 goals in 28 games with the Blades. . . . D Dawson Davidson drew two assists for Saskatoon, with Gerlach getting one. . . . Saskatoon was 2-4 on the PP; Swift Current was 1-3. . . . G Tyler Brown stopped 42 shots for the Blades. At the other end, G Stuart Skinner made 22 saves. . . . The Broncos were without F Glenn Gawdin, who now has missed three games with an illness; F Tyler Steenbergen, who took a nasty hit from Moose Jaw F Barrett Sheen on Saturday; and F Tanner Nagel, who sat out the first game of a three-game suspension. . . . D Zach Ashton, 16, made his WHL debut with the Blades. A third-round pick in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft, he played the past two seasons with the midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes. . . . Announced attendance: 2,890.
At Calgary, the Hitmen scored three shootout goals to beat the Kootenay Ice, 3-2. . . . Calgary (23-36-11) has won four in a row (3-0-1) and moved into a tie with the Ice for 10th spot in the Eastern Conference. . . . Kootenay (25-38-7) has lost 11 in a row (0-7-4). . . . Kootenay won the season series, 5-1-1; Calgary finished 2-3-2. . . . The Ice got out to a 1-0 lead as F Brett Davis (25) scored at 10:13 of the first period. . . . Calgary took a 2-1 lead on second-period goals from F Mark Kastelic (21), at 1:17, and F Riley Stotts (18), at 2:41. . . . Kootenay F Alec Baer (28) tied it, on a PP, at 2:37 of the third period. . . . D Martin Bodak had two assists for the Ice. . . . F Jake Kryski, Stotts and F Jakob Stukel scored shootout goals for Calgary, with Davis the lone Ice shooter to score. . . . Kootenay was 1-2 on the PP; Calgary was 0-1. . . . Matthew Armitage stopped 25 shots for the Hitmen. . . . G Jesse Makaj made his first career start for the Ice, and made 29 saves. He was a second-round selection in the 2016 WHL bantam draft. This season, he played for the major midget Greater Vancouver Canadians. . . . Announced attendance: 6,849.
At Red Deer, F Kristian Reichel scored twice and added two assists to help the Rebels to a 5-2 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . This was a meeting of two teams that will clash in the first round of the playoffs. The only thing left to decide is who has home-ice advantage. . . . Red Deer (27-30-13) is third in the Central Division, three points behind Lethbridge (32-32-6), which has lost seven in a row. Each team has two games left to play. . . . Lethbridge went 4-2-0 in the season series; Red Deer was 2-2-2. . . . Reichel opened the scoring at 12:45 of the first period, with F Josh Tarzwell (10) making it 2-0, on a PP, at 1:04 of the second period. . . . Lethbridge F Zane Franklin (14) cut into the lead, on a PP, at 5:52. . . . The Rebels got the next two goals, from Reichel (34), on a PP, at 14:33, and F Brandon Hagel (18), at 3:37 of the third. . . . F Jake Elmer (18) got the visitors to within two at 6:40. . . . F Reese Johnson (23) scored Red Deer’s final goal, at 16:07. . . . Red Deer got two assists from F Mason McCarty, with Hagel and Tarzwell each getting one. . . . Red Deer was 2-5 on the PP; Lethbridge was 1-2. . . . G Riley Lamb earned the victory with 32 stops, 12 more than Reece Klassen of the Hurricanes. . . . D Tate Olson and F Dylan Cozens were among Lethbridge’s scratches. . . . Announced attendance: 3,858.
At Kamloops, F Ty Ronning scored his 60th goal of the season as his Vancouver Giants skated to a 4-1 victory over the Blazers. . . . Vancouver (36-25-9) is third in the B.C. Division, three points behind Victoria with each team having two games remaining. . . . Kamloops (29-36-5) has lost four straight. . . . Vancouver won the season series, 5-3-0. . . . F Jermaine Loewen (35) gave the home team a 1-0 lead at 11:51, but it wouldn’t score again. . . . F Davis Koch (22) got the Giants even, at 15:13, and Ronning got No. 60 at 1:13 of the second period. That turned into his ninth game-winner of the season, tying him for the team lead with F James Malm. . . . F Milos Roman (9) scored on a PP at 4:00 to stretch Vancouver’s lead to 3-1. . . . Roman hadn’t scored since Dec. 1, but this was only his ninth game since then, thanks to playing for Slovakia at the World Junior Championship and an ankle injury. . . . F Tyler Benson (27) got the empty-netter at 19:46. . . . Malm finished with two assists, with Benson and Koch adding one apiece. . . . Vancouver was 1-5 on the PP; Kamloops was 0-3. . . . G Trent Miner was shaky on the Blazers’ lone goal, but finished with 39 saves in a strong outing. He was named the game’s first star. . . . G Dylan Ferguson stopped 30 shots for Kamloops. . . . The Giants are without G David Tendeck, who may not play again until the playoffs begin. . . . Also among the Giants’ scratches were D Dylan Plouffe and D Matt Barberis. . . . Bill Wilms, the analyst on Giants’ radio broadcasts, worked his 2,000 WHL game. . . . Announced attendance: 4,050. . . . This was the 10th time the announced attendance in Kamloops has been at least 4,000. The Blazers are 1-8-2 in those games.
At Kelowna, the Rockets scored five times in the third period to beat the Prince George Cougars, 6-3. . . . Kelowna (41-22-7) has points in four straight (3-0-1). With the victory, it wrapped up the seventh B.C. Division title in franchise history. . . . Prince George (23-38-9) has lost six in a row (0-5-1). . . . Kelowna won the season series, 6-2-0; Prince George was 2-4-2. . . . F Aaron Boyd (14) gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead at 13:30 of the first period. . . . Kelowna F Nolan Foote (13), who had missed 17 games with an undisclosed injury, tied it at 17:07. . . . F Brogan O’Brien (15) gave the visitors a 2-1 lead at 17:45 of the second period and they took that into the third period. . . . The Rockets tied it at 0:23 as D Kaedan Korczak scored his fourth goal. . . . D Cal Foote snapped the tie at 6:08, and F Dillon Dube (35) upped it to 4-2 at 14:00. . . . Foote (19) added a second goal at 14:29, and D Braydyn Chizen (6) counted at 16:27. . . . D Ryan Schoettler (8) scored for the Cougars at 17:56, on a PP. . . . The Rockets got two assists from each of F Kole Lind and F Leif Mattson, with Nolan Foote, Cal Foote and Dube getting one apiece. . . . O’Brien added an assist for the Cougars. . . . Prince George was 1-4 on the PP; Kelowna was 0-8. . . . The Cougars took 62 of the game’s 114 penalty minutes. . . . Kelowna G James Porter stopped 15 shots. . . . The Cougars got 44 saves from G Taylor Gauthier. . . . The Cougars had two players ejected at 8:41 of the third period. D Joel Lakusta took a headshot major and game misconduct, while D Cam MacPhee was hit with a match penalty for attempt to injure. . . . At one point early in the third period, according to the Prince George Citizen, Prince George Richard Matvichuk let referees Mark Pearce and Colin Watt know his feelings by waving a white towel. . . . Prior to the game, Regan Bartel, the radio voice of the Rockets, tweeted: “My good friend Bob Tory, GM of the Americans, is in the house to do some pre-scouting on a possible opening round matchup.” . . . Announced attendance: 4,561.
At Spokane, the Seattle Thunderbirds broke a 3-3 tie with three second-period goals to beat the Chiefs, 6-3. . . . Seattle (33-26-10) holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, five points behind Tri-City with three games to play. . . . Spokane (39-24-6) has lost three in a row (0-2-1). . . . The Spokane loss means that Portland, which is second in the U.S. Division, has clinched home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. . . . Seattle went 5-2-1 in the season series; Spokane was 3-5-0. . . . Spokane jumped out to a 1-0 lead when F Jaret Anderson-Dolan scored at 3:30 of the first period. . . . Seattle scored three times before the period ended. F Sami Moilanen, who has 21 goals, scored twice, at 8:59 and 12:19, and F Samuel Huo (2) found the range at 13:38. . . . The Chiefs climbed into a 3-3 tie on PP goals from F Hudson Elynuik (31), at 19:50, and Anderson-Dolan (39), at 2:04 of the second period. . . . Seattle D Jake Lee (4) broke the tie at 3:29, and F Matthew Wedman (17) made it 5-3 at 13:15. Seattle got its last goal from F Zack Andrusiak (34) at 15:20. . . . F Nolan Volcan had two assists for Seattle, with Moilanen and Andrusiak adding one each. . . . The Chiefs got two assists from each of F Kailer Yamamoto and F Ethan McIndoe. . . . Spokane was 2-5 on the PP; Seattle was 0-1. . . . Seattle G Liam Hughes stopped 37 shots. . . . Spokane starter Dawson Weatherill allowed four goals on 12 shots in 23:29 before Bailey Brkin came on to finish up, giving up two goals on 17 shots in 36:31. Brkin was added to the Chiefs’ roster this week after playing with the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats. . . . Announced attendance: 4,734.
THURSDAY (all times local):
No Games Scheduled.
FRIDAY (all times local):
Brandon at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.
Swift Current at Regina, 7 p.m.
Saskatoon at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.
Kootenay at Red Deer, 7 p.m.
Medicine Hat at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.
Seattle at Portland, 7 p.m.
Prince George at Kamloops, 7 p.m.
Tri-City at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.
Kelowna vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7:30 p.m.
Victoria at Everett, 7:35 p.m.
SATURDAY (all times local):
Regina at Swift Current, 7 p.m.
Prince Albert at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.
Moose Jaw at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.
Calgary at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
Red Deer at Kootenay, 7 p.m.
Lethbridge at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.
Kamloops at Prince George, 7 p.m.
Vancouver at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.
Portland vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 6:05 p.m.
Spokane vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.
Everett at Victoria 7:05 p.m.
SUNDAY (all times local):
Edmonton at Calgary, 2 p.m.
Spokane at Portland, 5 p.m.
Seattle vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 5:05 p.m