Bilous, Bruins win Game 7 . . . Ice opens by beating Warriors . . . Bankier streak to 15 as Blazers dump Giants

The host Estevan Bruins won the SJHL championship on Friday night, taking Game 7, 4-0, over the Flin Flon Bombers. G Boston Bilous earned the shutout with 29 saves. . . . Both teams will play in the 10-team Centennial Cup, though, because the Bruins are in as the host team. The national junior A championship tournament runs from May 20 through May 29.


The Brandon Wheat Kings announced Friday that general manager Doug Gasper Brandonhas chosen to leave the organization “for personal reasons.” . . . Gasper joined the Wheat Kings as assistant GM on Aug. 15, 2019, and was named GM on April 16, 2021. . . . Gasper took over from Darren Ritchie, who moved on to the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs as an amateur scout. . . . According to the news release, Gasper “will transition out of his current position over the coming weeks and will assist in hiring his replacement.” . . . Kelly McCrimmon was the Wheat Kings’ general manager for 27 seasons before leaving to join the front office of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. Since 2016, Grant Armstrong, who now scouts for the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, Ritchie and Gasper have held the position.


With 14 of the WHL’s 22 teams having had their seasons reach the end of the road, you can bet that the coaching carousel is soon to start spinning.

For starters, the Spokane Chiefs introduced Matt Bardsley as their new general Spokanemanager this week, and you have to think there might be a coaching change in the offing there.

Ryan Smith has been the Chiefs’ interim head coach since head coach Adam Maglio was fired on Feb. 10. Smith had been the club’s associate coach.

Should Bardsley choose to hire his ‘own’ coach, you have to think Kyle Gustafson, who just completed his first season as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, will be in the running. Gustafson had been on the Portland Winterhawks’ coaching staff since 2003 when he chose to join former Winterhawks associate coach Travis Green with the Canucks. Of course, Green was fired as head coach by the Canucks early in the season. Gustafson finished up the season under head coach Bruce Boudreau, who replaced Green.

Bardsley spent 18 seasons in the Winterhawks’ front office, so he and Gustafson are quite familiar with each other. In fact, early in Bardsley’s stint as general manager of the Kamloops Blazers, he offered the Blazers’ head-coaching job, and a four-year contract, to Gustafson.

There are expected to be changes in the Canucks organization and the coaching staff likely won’t escape unscathed. Thomas Drance of The Athletic tweeted on Friday that amateur scouts Brandon Benning, Pat Conacher, Tim Lenardon and Derek Richard have been dropped by the Canucks. Patrick Johnston of Postmedia added that Ted Hampson, another amateur scout, also is gone.

With change in the wind, perhaps Gustafson might be interested in making a pre-emptive move by returning to the WHL. Should that happen, expect Smith to stay on with the Chiefs as associate coach.

Meanwhile, the owners of the Regina Pats would seem to have a coaching Reginadecision on their hands, too.

You will recall that John Paddock, already the vice-president of hockey operations and general manager, took over as head coach after the firing of David Struch on Nov. 18. At the time, ownership stated that Paddock would be the head coach through the 2022-23 season. However, assistant coach Brad Herauf ended up the interim head coach from Feb. 11 through season’s end as Paddock was forced to deal with some health concerns.

It will be worth watching to see if Paddock, who will turn 68 in June, will remain the head coach.


Your daily reminder that the pandemic isn’t over, this one from The New York Times: “George Cheeks, the president and chief executive of CBS, tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, just days after sitting beside President Biden at the White House Correspondents Dinner, the network confirmed on Friday.”


Gift


There were two WHL playoff games on Friday night as the Winnipeg Ice and WHLplayoffs2022Kamloops Blazers opened best-of-seven conference semifinal series with victories. . . . The pace will pick up tonight with all eight remaining teams in action. . . . In the Eastern Conference, the No. 1 Ice will again play host to the No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors, who fell 6-1 last night, while the No. 3 Red Deer Rebels visit the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings, who hold a 1-0 edge. . . . In the Western Conference, the No. 2 Blazers and No. 8 Vancouver Giants will meet again in Kamloops, where the home team won, 3-1, last night, while the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks and No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds open their series in Kent, Wash.

——

FRIDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference

In Winnipeg, the No. 1 Ice scored in the first minute of each period en route to a WinnipegIce6-1 victory over the No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Ice leads the conference semifinal, 1-0, with Game 2 set for tonight in Winnipeg. . . . F Owen Pederson (4) gave the Ice a 1-0 lead 18 seconds into the first period. . . . F Jakin Smallwood (4) upped it to 3-0 just 57 seconds into the second period. . . . F Mike Milne (6) made it 6-0 at 0:11 of the third period. . . . Pederson finished with two goals, giving him five in these playoffs, and an assist, while Milne added two assists to his goal. . . . Winnipeg G Daniel Hauser stopped 18 shots. He lost his shutout bid when F Brayden Yager (3) scored at 17:48 of the third period. . . . Winnipeg was 2-for-4 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 0-for-4.

Western Conference

In Kamloops, F Caedan Bankier had a goal and an assist, running his point Kamloopsstreak to 15 games in the process, as the No. 2 Blazers opened with a 3-1 victory over the No. 8 Vancouver Giants. . . . Game 2 will be played in Kamloops tonight. . . . Bankier (2) opened the scoring, on a PP, at 18:28 of the first period. . . . Bankier, who put up 60 points in 68 regular-season games, has quietly put together a 15-game point streak. He finished the regular-season on a 10-game tear (five goals, 11 assists) and has put up two goals and six assists in five playoff games. . . . F Reese Belton (1), at 2:43, and F Ethan Rowland (1), at 16:29, gave the Blazers a 3-0 lead with second-period goals. . . . F Adam Hall (8) got the Giants on the board at 7:04 of the third. . . . Kamloops G Dylan Garand stopped 30 shots. In these playoffs, he is 5-0, 0.80, .968. . . . The Blazers lost F Luke Toporowski late in the first period with what appeared to be an injury to his left shoulder. F Daylan Kuefler moved into his spot on the team’s top line, alongside Logan Stankoven and Drew Englot. . . . Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week tweeted later that Shaun Clouston, the Blazers’ GM/head coach, said the “early feel” is that Toporowoski’s injury isn’t long-term, that he’s “sore,” and that he’ll be re-evaluated Saturday. . . . Toporowski missed the last 12 games of the regular season with a knee injury. . . . On the same stoppage during which Toporowski left, the Giants lost D Mazden Leslie, who left while favouring his right leg.


JUST NOTES: Greg Brown is the new head coach of the Boston College Eagles men’s hockey team. After spending 14 seasons as an assistant coach or associate coach with the Eagles, he now takes over from the retiring Jerry York. Brown also played at BC before going on to a pro career that included 94 games in the NHL and eight seasons in Europe. . . .

Manny Viveiros was back behind the Henderson Silver Knights’ bench for an AHL playoff game on Friday night. Viveiros, a former WHLer, had been away from the team while undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. In his absence, Jamie Heward, another former WHLer, handled the head-coaching duties. . . . Viveiros was the general manager and head coach, and Heward his assistant, with the Swift Current Broncos when they won the 2017-18 WHL championship. . . . Last night, the host Colorado Eagles beat Henderson, 5-2, thus winning the best-of-three first-round series, 2-0.


Donut


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

——

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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Will

The summer of ’01: Where are the locusts? . . . SJHL keeping Chow in commish’s office . . . AJHL will look at 1-on-1 in exhibition OT

At 7:30 p.m., it was 43C in Kamloops. By 8:35, the temperature had retreated to 39C. We had hit our high at 5 p.m. — 46.4C. Hey, Jack, that’s 115.5F.

Environment Canada is calling for a high of 43C on Wednesday.

The overnight low was 24.6C at 5 a.m. You can’t even open windows and catch a fresh breeze. Our skylights are covered. The wall-to-wall windows on the east side of our kitchen are covered by vertical blinds with sheets over top of them. And still the A/C can’t keep up.

I should mention, too, that the South Thompson region, which includes Kamloops, is under a severe thunderstorm warning with the “potential for severe thunderstorms with very strong wind gusts, intense lightning and brief bursts of heavy rain.”

Did I mention there could be intense lightning?

Because the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy has issued a bulletin calling for smoky skies in the South Thompson region.

“The region is being impacted or is likely to be impacted by wildfire smoke over the next 24-48 hours,” reads a statement that was issued Tuesday at 2:49 p.m.

Yes, wildfire season also is upon us with a vengeance. As of Tuesday evening, there are two huge blazes, one of them more than 3,700 hectares, located to the west of us. 

The last thing we need at this point in time is lightning.

In what used to be normal times, we might see 40C for a day or two in July, and the fire season didn’t really get roaring until August. Now we’ve got everything at once.

And if you haven’t heard there have been have been dozens of heat-related deaths in the Lower Mainland, and you can bet that the number will rise province-wide over the next few days.

The intense heat has sped up the snowmelt in some areas so there are flood concerns.

It seems that the only thing missing right now are the locusts. But, then, the murder hornets are said to be on their way.


As a reminder that the pandemic isn’t completely behind us, Baseball Manitoba announced Tuesday that it has cancelled all of its 2021 provincial championships. . . . From a news release: “The decision was made with the safety and development of our members as the top priority. Provincial championships create environments with large gatherings with people from across the province. Also, by cancelling provincial championships, we believe that there is more opportunity for a longer season for more players, as they compete late into summer within their regions.”


Newsflash



If anyone wants it, the title of the hardest-working person in the WHL is up for grabs for the first time in years. That’s because Rick Dillabough no longer is employed by the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun has more on Dillabough and his decision to walk away right here, and it’s great to see former owner Kelly McCrimmon singing the praises of his long-time employee and friend.


ICYMI, Bruce Springsteen was back on Broadway on Saturday night, and Peter Marks, the Washington Post’s theatre critic, was there for the district’s first full-length performance in 15 months. He wasn’t alone.

As Marks wrote, “His curation includes one of the key requirements for admission: a vaccination card. ‘It’s great,’ he remarks. ‘Unmasked, sitting next to each other.’ Bizarrely, theatergoers were greeted outside the St. James by a cadre of screaming, placard-waving anti-vaccination protesters, who feel aggrieved by the fact that the government wants to save their lives. Their rage is a bewildering counterpoint to the joy inside the theater at the freedoms the vaccines have given back to us. The demonstration is as out-of-touch as ‘Springsteen on Broadway’ feels in-touch.”



The SJHL’s board of governors and Bill Chow, the league’s commissioner, have sjhlagreed on a contract extension that will run through the 2022-23 season. Chow is preparing for his 11th season as commissioner. . . . Chow, who spent 10 seasons scouting for the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, was announced as SJHL president in May 2011. That was after he had retired from the Prince Albert Police Service, where he had spent almost 30 years. . . . With the SJHL, Chow took over from Laury Ryan, who had been in place for eight years.


Meat


The AJHL held its AGM on Saturday and decided on a 60-game regular season ajhlthat will have each of the 16 teams playing 16 interlocking games. The addition of the expansion Blackfalds Bulldogs brings the roster to 16 teams. . . . Interestingly, the AJHL will experiment in its exhibition season with an overtime format that will end with teams playing 1-on-1. After each exhibition game, teams will play a six-minute OT period, starting with 3-on-3. At the first whistle after the four-minute mark, it will shift to 2-on-2. And it’ll be 1-on-1 at the first whistle after the two-minute mark. If there aren’t any goals, a “best-of-three” shootout will be held. . . . The AJHL’s complete news release is right here.


Peter Anholt, the general manager of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, has been named to Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence management group. Anholt will oversee the U-18 program. . . . Philippe Boucher, the general manager of the QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs, will guide the U-17 program, with James Boyd, the general manager of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s, doing the same for the U-20s. . . . There is a complete news release right here.


USA Hockey has invited 44 players to the 2021 World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Mich., July 24-31. None of the 44 players were on a WHL team roster in 2020-21. . . . The Showcase will feature three teams this time around, with Finland and Sweden also to appear. The event is used to evaluate players who are eligible for the 2022 IIHF World junior championship that is scheduled for Edmonton and Red Deer, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. . . . USA Hockey’s camp roster is right here.


Ding


The Edmonton Oil Kings announced Tuesday that Czech D Simon Kubicek has Edmontoncommitted to play for them in 2021-22. Kubicek, who will turn 20 on Dec. 19, has played 113 regular-season WHL games, all with the Seattle Thunderbirds, putting up 16 goals and 39 assists. . . . On Jan. 25, the Oil Kings acquired Kubicek from Seattle for F Vladimir Alistrov, 20, of Belarus. The teams also swapped undisclosed conditional picks in the WHL’s 2023 prospects draft. . . . Alistrov spent 2020-21 with Dinamo Minsk of the KHL. . . . Kubicek played at home in 2020-21, with Motor Ceske Budejovice of the Czech ELH. He also had a goal and an assist in four games at the IIHF World Junior Championship. . . . Kubicek is the lone import on the Oil Kings’ roster, with the CHL import draft scheduled for today (Wednesday).


——

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: The SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves have hired Kyle Schneider, 22, as their new assistant coach. Schneider, who played for the Ice Wolves as recently as 2019-20, takes over from Gaelan Patterson, now the head coach of the junior B Port Alberni Bombers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . The USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints have signed Greg Brown as their head coach. He takes over from Oliver David, who now is an assistant coach with EHC Biel of the Swiss National League. Brown, 53, spent the previous three seasons as an assistant coach with the NHL’s New York Rangers. . . . The BCHL’s Salmon Arm SilverBacks have signed Tyler Shattock, their assistant GM and head coach, to a two-year extension. Shattock, 31, took over as head coach in the middle of the 2019-20 season. From Salmon Arm, he has been with the team since signing on as an assistant coach in October 2018. . . . Simon Ferguson now is the general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors. He has signed a three-year deal that runs through June 2024. Ferguson took over as interim head coach in January 2020, not long after the franchise changed hands. The interim part of his title was dropped in March 2020. His staff includes assistant coach Ayrton Nikkel, Josh Gorges, assistant coach and player development director, goaltending coach Chad Carter and athletic therapist Michael Bois.


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