Ousted in Everett, Davidson lands in Calgary . . . Hurricanes swing pair of deals . . . Rebels, Wheat Kings add to front offices

Garry Davidson has joined the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen as their director of player Calgarypersonnel. . . . Davidson has been a free agent since May 21 when the Everett Silvertips announced that his contract wouldn’t be renewed after nine mostly successful seasons. . . . In Calgary, Davidson replaces long-time WHL player, scout and executive Dallas Thompson, who had been Calgary’s director of player personnel since July 11, 2017. The Hitmen announced on May 26 that “Thompson will not be returning next season.” . . . Prior to signing with Everett, Davidson spent four seasons with the Portland Winterhawks, serving as director of player personnel and head scout. . . . “With the number of drafts in the WHL this year,” Hitmen general manager Jeff Chynoweth said in a news release, “scouting is more important than ever and we are thrilled to add Garry Davidson to our organization. He has a tremendous amount of experience, a winning pedigree and a diverse background with a proven track record of not only identifying but also recruiting players.” . . . The Hitmen also announced that Gary Michalick will be back for a five season. He is the organization’s travelling scout. . . . Thompson, 47, played three seasons (1992-95) with the WHL’s Tacoma Rockets. He later spent 16 seasons with the Prince George Cougars, 10 as general manager. He spent two seasons (2015-17) as Calgary’s director of scouting before being named director of player personnel.


TV


The Victoria Royals and Lethbridge Hurricanes got together on a trade on LethThursday, one in which the rights to F Chase LaPinta, an unsigned prospect from Frisco, Texas, moved to Vancouver Island. . . . The Royals got LaPinta and a seventh-round pick in the WHL’s 2022 prospects draft, an eighth-round pick in 2022 and a second-rounder in 2024. The eighth-rounder originated with Victoria, so the Royals actually got back a pick that they had traded away. . . . In exchange, the Hurricanes acquired D Nolan Bentham (2003). . . . Bentham, from Victoria, was the 13th overall pick in the 2018 WHL bantam draft. As a freshman, he had one goal and two assists in 52 games with the Royals in 2019-20. He didn’t play with them in 2020-21. . . . LaPinta, a 2004-born skater, had six goals and six assists in 12 games with the 16U AAA Dallas Stars elite team this season. Lethbridge had selected him in the eighth round of the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . However, on Oct. 5, LaPinta announced his commitment to play NCAA Division 1 hockey at Arizona State for 2022-23. He also is an affiliate with the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints. . . .

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes also dealt G Carl Tetachuk, 20, to the Moose Jaw Warriors for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2024 prospects draft. Tetachuk, who is from Lethbridge, went 50-28-11, 3.06, .901 in 95 regular-season appearances over the past three seasons with the Hurricanes. . . . He tweeted on Thursday evening that he is “excited to be a part of the Moose Jaw Warriors and look forward to playing for such a great organization.” . . . The Warriors finished 2020-21 with Boston Bilous and Brett Mirwald as their goaltenders. Bilous is heading into his 20-year-old season, while Mirwald will turn 18 on Sept. 13. . . . Lethbridge has two goaltenders on its roster — Jared Picklyk, 18, and Bryan Thomson, 19. . . . Randy Palmer of moosejawtoday.com reported that that Warriors also regained the WHL rights to G Brock Gould, 20, whom they had dealt to the Portland Winterhawks for the 2020-21 season. Palmer wrote that the Warriors “have since chosen to waive him.” . . . Palmer’s story is right here.


Brad Larsen has signed a three-year contract as head coach of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. He replaces John Tortorella, who had been in the position for six seasons. . . . Larsen, who will be 44 on June 28, was an assistant coach in Columbus for seven seasons. . . . He also spent two seasons (2012-14) as the head coach of the Springfield Thunderbirds, the Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate. . . . A native of Nakusp, B.C., Larsen played four seasons (1993-97) with the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos. His 12 season pro career included 294 NHL regular-season games, split among the Colorado Avalanche and Atlanta Thrashers.


Bard


The Red Deer Rebels announced Thursday that Troy Gillard has joined the RedDeerorganization as the director of broadcasts and media. He had been filling the role on an interim basis following the departure of Cam Moon, who now is with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . Gillard was the play-by-play voice for the Rebels’ 23 games in the 2020-21 season. . . . He has been the news and sports director for Jim Pattison Media in Red Deer since 2012, during which time he also served as the host of the Rebels’ broadcasts. . . . Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com has more on Gillard’s move right here.


The Brandon Wheat Kings beefed up their front office on Thursday by making Brandonfour additions. . . . Branden Crowe steps in as director of social sales and strategic marketing. He also is the team’s play-by-play voice and will remain in that role. . . . Grady Manson, a former WHL player, now is the Wheat Kings’ director of corporate sales. He spent four seasons in the WHL (Moose Jaw Warriors, Tri-City Americans, 1992-96). He has spent the past 24 years in the golf and hospitality industry, most recently with the Wheat City Golf Course. He also has worked with the Clear Lake Golf Course in Onanole, Man., Bel Acres Golf Course in Winnipeg and the Elkhorn Resort, which also is in Onanole. . . . Wyatt Garden and Jordan Kaspick, both with ties to the Wheat Kings, have signed on with the Wheat Kings as account executives. Garden is the son of former Wheat Kings F Graham Garden. Of late, Wyatt has been in real estate and also owns The Media Garden, a video marketing frm. . . . Kaspick’s older brother, Tanner, is a former Wheat Kings captain and has been working in sales and marketing with the Wheat City Golf Course. . . . The complete news release is 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.


Bar

Konowalchuk returns to coaching game . . . President Piper leaving Winterhawks . . . QMJHL rocked by sexual assault investigation

The WHL’s only head-coaching vacancy was filled on Tuesday when the Red RedDeerDeer Rebels announced they had hired Steve Konowalchuk to replace Brent Sutter, who remains the franchise’s owner, president and general manager. . . . Sutter stepped aside on April 11. At the time, assistant coaches Alex Colville and Brad Flynn, along with assistant GM Shaun Sutter, took over the coaching duties. After the season, the Rebels chose not to renew the contracts of Flynn and goaltender coach Kraymer Barnstable. . . . Konowalchuk, 48, spent six seasons as the head coach the Seattle Thunderbirds and guided them to the WHL championship in 2016-17. He followed that with one season as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. He has spent the past three seasons scouting for the New York Rangers. . . .

“I enjoyed that, but there was always a part of me that wondered which path to follow — to stay on the management side or the coaching side,” Konowalchuk told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com. “I guess there are pros and cons to both.”

Konowalchuk added: “I saw a while back that Red Deer was looking for a coach and that got me thinking. With the reputation the organization has and with all Brent’s done in the game, it was intriguing for me because I want to be in a place where I can grow as a coach.

“You always want to go to a place where you can learn, just like when I was with the Rangers I was learning about scouting and management. I know when I was coaching in Seattle that Red Deer was always considered to be one of the teams that had a chance to win all the time.”

Meachem’s complete story is right here.


Doug Piper, the president of the Portland Winterhawks, has left PortlandAlternatethe organization after being an integral part of it since 2008. The Winterhawks, who have been under new ownership since Jan. 1, announced his resignation on Tuesday morning. . . . Bill Gallacher purchased the Winterhawks early in the 2008-09 season, with the team coming off 17- and 11-victory seasons. Piper provided a steady hand atop the organization as it rebuilt. From a news release: “During Doug’s tenure, the team consistently sat atop the WHL in wins, attendance, sponsorship sales and overall revenues. In the decade from 2010 to 2020 the Winterhawks had more wins than any other team in the Canadian Hockey League. In addition, during the past 13 years, the team won the WHL Championship in 2013, two Scotty Munro Memorial Trophies, and four Western Conference titles.” . . . Of late, Piper has been leading the Winterhawks’ side of the conversation that is likely to lead to the official dumping of the franchise’s longtime Indian head logo. . . . Joshua Critzer (@jjcritzer) of pnwhockeytalk.com added via Twitter that “Kelly Robinett is no longer with the organization full time.” Robinett, who has been with the Winterhawks for more than 20 years, has been the senior vice-president of operations and marketing. . . . The Winterhawks now are owned by Winterhawks Sports Group, which is controlled by investment banker Michael Kramer and Kerry Preete, a retired Monsanto executive.


Two players from the Victoriaville Tigres were arrested on Tuesday as part of a qmjhlnewsexual assault investigation involving a party on Saturday following the team’s victory in the final game of the QMJHL’s championship final. . . . Felix Seguin of Le Journal de Montreal reported that the party was held “at the Entourage sur-le-Lac hotel located in Lac-Beauport. This is where the team that had just won its first QMJHL title in 19 years was housed.” . . . As of Tuesday evening, formal charges hadn’t been filed. . . . Gilles Courteau, the QMJHL’s longtime commissioner, said the league will hold its own internal investigation into the situation.


The 12-team SJHL announced on Tuesday that it plans on opening its 2021-22 regular season on Sept. 24. . . . The SJHL’s 2020-21 season was limited to 29 games because of the pandemic. Five teams played six games each, with one getting in only two. . . . Its 2021-22 regular season is scheduled to conclude on March 4, with the playoffs getting started on March 11. . . . There is a complete news release right here.

——


Facebook


As much as we would like to think the worst of the pandemic is behind us, there always are little reminders that it’s still hanging around. . . . On Tuesday, the Falkland, B.C., Stampede announced that it was cancelling the 2021 rodeo. It had already lost the 2020 Stampede to the pandemic, and had postponed the 2021 rodeo to Aug. 27-29. But the Falkland Community Association, which runs the popular event, has decided to cancel it. . . . The Stampede, which was first held in 1919, usually is held on the Victoria Day long weekend. . . .

Also on Tuesday, Lacrosse Canada announced the cancellation of the 2021 Minto Cup, the junior A national championship. “This decision,” reads a news release, “follows Lacrosse Canada’s announcement last month of the cancellation of 10 national championships.” . . . Lacrosse Canada pointed out that “this is not a cancellation of the lacrosse season in Canada.” The B.C. junior A league, the Rocky Mountain league and the Ontario junior A league all are “planning modified seasons in accordance with their provincial health and safety regulations.”


Books


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: Castan Sommer, who left his job as an assistant coach with the Seattle Thunderbirds last week, has joined the College of the Holy Cross Crusaders in Worcester, Mass., as an assistant coach. He had been with Seattle through four seasons. Sommer attended Holy Cross and played there while his father, Roy Sommer, was the head coach of the AHL’s Worcester Sharks. . . . The 2021 U-18 Hlinka Gretzky Cup is scheduled for Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia, Aug. 2-7, but it’ll be played without a Canadian entry. Instead, Bernd Freimueller (@bfreimueller) reports that Germany will get into the tournament. The 2020 tournament was to have been played in Edmonton and Red Deer, but was cancelled by the pandemic. . . . Randy Hansch, a former WHL player, executive and scout, has joined the amateur scouting staff of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes. He scouted for the Buffalo Sabres from 2018-20. Hansch was a WHL goaltender (Victoria Cougars, Kamloops Blazers, 1982-86). He later spent 10 seasons as the Blazers’ director of player personnel. He also spent 11 seasons (2007-18) with the Edmonton Oil Kings, the last five as general manager.


Bears

Sutter steps down as Rebels’ head coach . . . Winterhawks win a wild one . . . Cougars end Miner’s shutout streak

I’m guessing that Brent Sutter went to bed on Friday night and spent the next few hours arguing with himself.

His Red Deer Rebels had been beaten, 6-3, by the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes a few hours earlier, their seventh straight loss dropping their record to 2-10-2.

After the game, Brent talked with Shaun Sutter, a nephew who is the Rebels’ RedDeerassistant general manager and director of personnel, and Merrick, his son who is the senior vice-president. The decision for him to step aside, Brent said, basically was reached at that time.

But there still was time for him to change his mind. After all, he’s the boss and he was born to coach.

As Sutter tossed and turned, the owner, governor, president and general manager titles were perched on one shoulder; on the other was the coach.

The argument, I’m thinking, raged all night long.

Sutter has owned the Rebels since 1999. He has been their head coach for all but five seasons since then. He spent two seasons (2007-09) as the head coach of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. And for the following three seasons, he was the Calgary Flames’ head coach.

This season, though, has been unlike any other. On the ice, it started in February for the Alberta teams. But for the likes of Sutter, with all their titles and responsibilities, it started long before then and it has gone on seemingly forever.

And then COVID-19 found the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks and Sutter’s son, Brandon, ended up sick — perhaps with the P.1 variant — and quarantined in his basement, with a pregnant wife and two children, ages 2 and 3, upstairs. There isn’t a more-helpless feeling than being the parent of an ailing child, even a 32-year-old NHL player, and being unable to provide help.

Combine everything — oh, and I should mention that the injury bug has hit the Rebels hard, leaving them almost out of defencemen — and it could be that Brent Sutter simply wore down.

As he told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com: “Everthing (negative) that could happen has happened.”

So, at some time in the wee hours of Saturday, Sutter, the husband and father, the owner, governor, president and general manager, won out over the coach.

Early Saturday afternoon, the Rebels announced that Sutter was out as the team’s head coach. Shaun will join assistant coaches Ryan Colville and Brad Flynn in running the coaching side of things.

Once the organization gets this season behind it, a decision will be made on the next head coach.

“You have to put so much time into it, and when you’re doing that plus the management side of it . . . because you’re so dialled in on the coaching side you’re not there to help out with some of the other side,” Sutter told Meachem. “Mentally it’s been really tough for everyone with the whole environment we’re in. We need to get the players upbeat again.”

Including this screwy season, Sutter has 526 regular-season WHL coaching victories, eighth on the all-time list. The Rebels won the Memorial Cup under him in 2001.

Sutter also won back-to-back World Junior Championship gold medals in 2005 and 2006 as the head coach of Canada’s national team.

“I’ve been coaching for 22 years and two months and I’ve been so dialled into it, so passionate about it,” he told Meachem. “Yet you can’t be selfish. The players and the front of the jersey always come first, no matter what. The right thing for this hockey team and this organization is for me to step down right now. For me personally, it’s the right thing.”


Spy


Please don’t forget that Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant more than seven years ago, is preparing to take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. Unfortunately, it will be a virtual walk for a second straight year, but that won’t keep her from fund-raising on behalf of the Kidney Foundation. If you would like to help her out, you are able to make a donation right here.


LethOn the ice, the Rebels were involved in one of six games played in the WHL on Saturday night. Playing in Lethbridge, the Rebels dropped a 5-2 decision to the Hurricanes, who got a goal, his third, and three assists from F Liam Kindree. . . . Lethbridge (5-6-2) has points in three straight (2-0-1). . . . The Rebels (2-11-2) have lost eight in a row. . . . If you’re wondering, the online game sheet didn’t list a Red Deer head coach. . . . F Logan Barlage scored his fourth goal and added two assists for Lethbridge, which also got goal No. 9 and two assists from F Justin Hall. . . . The Rebels lost D Trey Patterson, perhaps for the remainder of this season, with an undisclosed injury in Friday’s 6-3 loss to the visiting Hurricanes. The Rebels, with nine games remaining, are down to four healthy defencemen — Kyle Masters, Joel Sexsmith, Mason Ward and Jace Weir. Due to COVID-19 protocol, they aren’t able to bring in reinforcements, either. . . .

F Conor Geekie scored at 2:13 of OT to give the Winnipeg Ice a 4-3 victory over Winnipegthe Prince Albert Raiders in Regina. . . . Geekie’s fifth goal allowed Winnipeg (11-4-0) to run its winning streak to five games. . . . The Raiders (4-9-2), who have lost three straight, had erased a 3-1 deficit with second-period goals from F Michal Horon (2) and F Evan Herman (4). . . . F Peyton Krebs scored his ninth goal for the Ice, running his point streak to 14 games. He was blanked in the season’s first game, and has nine goals and 19 assists in his past 14 games. . . . Ice F Zachary Benson, 15, had a goal and an assist. The 14th overall pick in the 2020 bantam draft, he’s got six goals and seven assists in 15 games. . . .

F Tristen Robins scored twice and added an assist to help the Saskatoon Blades Bladesto a 4-2 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors in Regina. . . . F Brayden Yager (4) gave Moose Jaw (7-8-1) at 1-0 lead at 9:01 of the first period. . . . Robins, who has 10 goals, tied it at 10:20 and gave the Blades (11-2-2) the lead at 14:11. . . . F Wyatt McLeod (2) upped the lead to 3-1 at 1:25 of the second. . . . F Tate Popple (5) got the Warriors to within a goal at 17:57, but Saskatoon F Kyle Crnkovic (6) scored shorthanded at 1:10 of the third. . . .

On most nights, you would think a five-goal period would guarantee a team PortlandAlternatevictory. That wasn’t the case with the host Spokane Chiefs who, despite scoring five times in the third period, dropped a 7-6 decision to the Portland Winterhawks. . . . The Winterhawks (5-4-2), who had lost three straight, scored three second-period goals and took a 4-1 lead into the third. . . . The Chiefs tied it by scoring three times in 2:19 early in the period. . . . Portland responded with three straight goals to take a 7-4 lead. . . . The Chiefs (2-5-3) finished the scoring with two goals in the final 36 seconds. . . . Portland F Simon Knak (8) was credited with the game-winner and it was rather fitting that it came into an empty net. . . . F Seth Jarvis (6) had two goals and an assist for the winners, with F Jaydon Dureau (3) adding a goal and two helpers. . . . F Adam Beckman ran his goal-scoring streak to four games with his sixth of the season. . . . The Chiefs’ last two goals came from F Ty Cheveldayoff and D Chase Friedt-Mohr, the first WHL score for each. . . .

The Tri-City Americans scored the game’s first three goals and the last three to Americanstake a 6-2 victory over the visiting Everett Silvertips. . . . F Samuel Huo (7) and F Jake Sloan (2) each had a goal and two assists for the Americans (5-5-0). . . . Everett (9-2-0), which had won its previous four games, got PP goals from F Cole Fonstad (7) and G Gage Goncalves (8) in the second period to get within a goal. . . . But F Booker Daniel (2) restored Tai-City’s two-goal lead at 16:07 of the second and Huo scored shorthanded at 11:16 of the third. . . .

F Jonny Hooker had a goal and three assists as the Prince George Cougars skated PGto a 6-3 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Kamloops. . . . Hooker drew the lone assist on F Craig Armstrong’s first goal, shorthanded, that broke a 2-2 tie at 4:40 of the second period. . . . Hooker (3) scored on a PP at 19:55, and D Hudson Thornton (1) made it 5-2 at 9:55. Thornton scored in his first WHL game. . . . D Mazden Leslie, who turns 16 on Thursday, had two goals for the Giants. He has four goals in his first six WHL games. . . . F Eric Florchuk drew three assists for Vancouver. . . . F Ethan Browne (3) scored for Prince George at 8:43 of the first period. That ended G Trent Miner’s shutout string at 234:31. Each of his previous three starts had ended in a shutout. Chris Worthy of the 1967-68 Flin Flon Bombers holds the record (265:13). . . . The Cougars (2-2-2) had lost their previous three games (0-1-2). . . . The Giants (5-2-0) had won five straight. . . . G Tyler Brennan stopped 26 shots for the Cougars. It was his final WHL game of this season as he now will join Canada’s U18 team at the IIHF World championship that opens in Frisco and Plano, Texas, on April 26.


The NHL has decreed that the Vancouver Canucks, who are still recovering from Canucksan ugly run-in with COVID-19, will return to game action on Friday. Yes, this Friday. . . . They are to play host to the Edmonton Oilers that night, and it is to start the Canucks on a schedule that calls for them to play 19 games in 31 nights. Seriously! . . . The Canucks last played on March 24. . . . The Canucks had seven games postponed. Their schedule now is to end on May 16. . . . The Canucks still had 19 players on the COVID-19 protocol list on Saturday and some of them, judging from reports, have been quite ill. If Saturday’s tests come back OK, the Canucks will re-open their facilities today, 12 days after F Adam Gaudette was identified as the first of their positive tests. . . . Today’s activities are to include some training and individual practice sessions. The team isn’t likely to practice as a team until Wednesday. . . . All told, the organization had 21 players and four coaches test positive.


joy


The UMass Minutemen won the NCAA men’s hockey championship on Saturday, beating the St. Cloud State Huskies, 5-0, in the final game in Pittsburgh. . . . This was UMass’s first NCAA hockey title. . . . Anthony Travalgia of College Hockey News has all the details right here.


If everything falls into place, the World men’s curling championship, which postponed all of Saturday’s games in its Calgary bubble, could hold three draws today. . . . The competition ground to a halt after four people from three different teams tested positive for COVID-19 during exit testing. Participants have to be tested before leaving the bubble, and they can’t go without a negative result. . . . Players on four other teams were deemed close contacts. Some of those teams were to have played on Saturday had play gone on as scheduled. . . . Still to be played are a qualification game between Switzerland and the U.S., the semifinals, a third-place game and the championship game. . . . The tests carried out on Friday were the first in the bubble since April 1. Dr. Bob McCormack, the event’s chief medical officer, was asked if there should have been more testing. His response: “What I would say to that is that we had a lot of discussion with experts and also Alberta Health to come up with the protocols that we felt were safe to establish a clean bubble. The bottom line is the protocols were established with experts and Alberta Health, saying this is reasonable, appropriate and safe.” . . . There are three more events scheduled for the Calgary bubble — two Grand Slam of Curling competitions and the World women’s championship that is to run from April 30 through May 9.


The Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association was to have held a Secret Dream Gap Tour showcase in St. Louis this weekend, but it had to be postponed because “of a COVID exposure one of our teams,” according to the PWHPA. The St. Louis event was to have included two games. It is expected to be rescheduled.


DST


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.


HorseGames

Rebels almost back on ice; players to be housed in arena suites . . . Virus keeping NHL busy with schedule . . . Bell tolls for Oil Kings’ radio voice


The Red Deer Rebels have 25 players in town, all of them holed up in a hotel as Red Deerthey complete their quarantine before hitting the ice. Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com reports that all players and coaches were tested Monday and will go through it again on Thursday. If all tests are negative, they’ll be on the ice Sunday or Monday. . . . Interestingly, Meachem reports that the players “will be housed in the Centrium suites.” . . . Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ owner, general manager and head coach, explained: “Their mental health is something that’s important to me. I was concerned that the kids would have to be in their bedrooms at billet houses. If other people were in the house, they couldn’t be hanging around the house, they would have to be in their rooms. We have things set up on the (Centrium) concourse . . . ping pong tables, basketball hoops, things like that. And we’ve moved our gym equipment upstairs because we can only have so many people in a room.” . . . Meachem’s complete story is right here.



Sportsnet was to have shown an NHL game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals on Tuesday night. However, that game was scratched after the Flyers added F Claude Giroux and D Justin Braun to their COVID-19 protocol list, joining D Travis Sanheim. . . . That brought the NHL’s list of postponed games this season to 34. . . . Earlier, the NHL has scrubbed two other games — St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild and Arizona Coyotes at Colorado Avalanche — from Tuesday night’s schedule. . . . The NHL announced some scheduling changes on Monday, and the new schedule results in St. Louis and Arizona facing each other in seven straight games. They met Feb. 2, 4, 6 and 8, and will play each other again on Friday, Saturday and Monday. . . . The Wild added G Cam Talbot to its protocol list on Tuesday; it now has 12 players on the list. The New Jersey Devils have 19 players listed; the Buffalo Sabres are at nine. . . . All told, there were 48 NHL players from six teams on the protocol list yesterday. . . . The NHL also has two linesmen sidelined due to protocol. Linesmen Kory Nagy and James Tobias worked two games between Buffalo and New Jersey last week. . . . How long before the NHL comes down hard on coaches who keep pulling masks under noses and even to chins in order to address players?


Update


By now, you will have heard that there were even more cuts to the Canadian sports media scene on Tuesday as all-sports stations in Vancouver, Hamilton and Winnipeg were rebranded with a whole lot of jobs lost in the process. It certainly hasn’t taken Bell Media long to rebrand itself as Bell (No) Media. . . . While the Hamilton station is switching to an all-business format, the other two apparently are to become all-comedy stations. That would seem to be in recognition of these truly hilarious times in which we now find ourselves living.


I don’t know how many people were dumped by Bell from its all-sports station in Edmonton, but Corey Graham was one who was dismissed. He was the play-by-play voice of the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . If you’re not aware of his story, it’s worth reading right here.


A tip of the hat to Mark Cuban, the owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. He decided that the U.S. national anthem no longer would be played prior to home games. Interestingly, it seems to have taken 13 home games before anyone noticed. Might be a message in there somewhere.


Braces


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Public Health Agency of Canada, Tuesday, 4 p.m. PT — Total cases: 810,797. . . . Active cases: 39,179. . . . Deaths: 20,909.

CNN, Tuesday, 4:14 p.m. PT — 467,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Tuesday, 10:59 a.m. PT — 27.1 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine numbers — Global cases: 106,902,907. . . . Global deaths: 2,340,407.

CBC News — Manitoba reports 75 new cases of COVID-19 and 3 additional deaths, as province’s chief public health officer announced the presence of the coronavirus variant first seen in the U.K. Province set to reopen restaurants, gyms, places of worship this weekend.

CBC News — Saskatchewan is reporting 80 new COVID-19 cases. It’s the 1st time all year the number has fallen below 100, and marks the lowest daily total since November 13. Health authorities also say the virus has caused 5 additional deaths.

CBC News — Alberta is reporting 195 new COVID-19 cases, 12 more deaths.

CBC News — B.C. records 435 new cases of COVID-19 and 4 more deaths. There are 241 people in hospital with the disease, 68 of whom are in intensive care.

CBC British Columbia — B.C.’s provincial health officer seeks injunction against churches for defying COVID orders.

CBC News — Ontario reports 1,022 new cases of COVID-19. That’s the lowest daily total in a week and brings the 7-day average down to 1,369. The hot spots continue to be Toronto (343 new cases), Peel Region (250) and York Region (128). There are 17 additional deaths.

CBC News — Quebec has 826 new COVID-19 cases, 2nd day in a row below 900 and lowest daily total since November 26. 31 more deaths are being attributed to the virus. The number of hospitalizations continues to drop, reaching levels not seen since mid-December.

CBC News — New Brunswick reports 15 new COVID-19 cases after 2 days of single digit growth. The province’s 7-day average is now  10 cases. Comes after government loosened restrictions in the Moncton and Edmundston health regions.

CBC News — N.L. reports 30 new cases of COVID-19, no new deaths and no new recoveries. This is the highest single-day case total since March 25, 2020. Modified lockdown for St. John’s region. . . . Travellers arriving in N.S. from N.L. must now quarantine for 14 days.

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The 2021 world women’s curling championship that was to have been held in Switzerland won’t be happening. It was to have run from March 19-28. . . . You may recall that the 2020 event was to have been held in Prince George, but it, too, was cancelled. . . .

FC Chambly, a second-division soccer team in France, has had nine players test positive for the British variant of the coronavirus. It also has three staff members and one person in management who have tested positive for that variant. . . .

The Saskatchewan-based Sask East Hockey League, which features nine teams, has cancelled its 2020-21 season. It has teams in Bredenbury, Canora, Esterhazy, Hudson Bay, Ituna, Langenburg, Moosomin, Rocanville and Theodore. . . .

Padraig Harrington has withdrawn from the PGA Tour’s stop at Pebble Beach this week after testing positive. . . . He is the fifth PGA player to test positive in 2021. . . .

Howard University, which is based in Washington, D.C., has cancelled the remainder of its men’s basketball season. Howard (1-4) last played on Dec. 18 and had several players test positive in January. . . .

From the opening of training camp (Aug. 1) through Saturday, the NFL had 262 players and 464 other personnel test positive. All told, 959,860 tests were administered. . . . There was one positive test during Super Bowl week, and that wasn’t to a player.


Do good, feel good! Register to be an organ donor and get that warm fuzzy feeling. 1 organ donor can save up to 8 lives. Taketwominutes.ca #TakeTwoMinutes 

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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

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Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Texas

Rebels give Sutter victory No. 500. . . . Almeida gets NHL deal, then leads Warriors to win. . . . Blazers closing in on Rockets


ThisThat

Brent Sutter, the owner, general manager and head coach of the Red Deer Rebels, is the newest member of the WHL’s 500 club.

Sutter recorded his 500th regular-season victory as a WHL head coach on Saturday night whlwhen the Rebels dumped the visiting Kootenay Ice, 8-4.

It was only fitting that Sutter should reach the milestone on Country and Western Night at the Centrium. From Viking, Alta., Sutter and his brothers are just as comfortable on the ranch as they are in the arena.

“I never thought about it until I came off and they told me to go back on the bench,” Sutter told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com. “I don’t know. Just been around a long time. It’s really that at the end of the day.”

Sutter, 56, went into this season with 468 regular-season coaching victories, and the Rebels now are (32-25-6). However, Sutter missed one victory this season while on a father-son junket with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. His son, Brandon, plays for the Canucks, although he is injured right now.

If you are wondering, that victory was credited to assistant coach Brad Flynn.

Sutter is in his 20th season as the Rebels’ owner and general manager,  and his 15th as head coach. He started in 1999-2000 and was there through 2006-07. He then had stints as head coach with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and Calgary Flames. Sutter was back in Red Deer for the 2012-13 season, and he replaced head coach Jesse Wallin on Nov. 14, 2012.

Sutter is ninth on the WHL’s all-time list.

Sutter is the second WHL coach to reach 500 victories this season. Marc Habscheid, the head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders, got there on Feb. 9 with a 6-5 victory over the host Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Habscheid, who now is at 508, celebrated by taking his club to a Dairy Queen in Lethbridge before heading home to Prince Albert.

Taking Note pointed that out to Sutter via text last night and asked how he planned to celebrate. His response was: “Haha . . . McDonald’s.”

In all likelihood, the next WHL head coach to get to 500 victories will be Shaun Clouston. He has 389 victories as he puts the wraps on his ninth regular-season as the Tigers’ head coach.

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Here’s a look at the 23 WHL head coaches who have more than 300 regular-season victories to their credit after Saturday’s games:

1. Don Hay (Kamloops, Tri-City, Vancouver) 750

2. Ken Hodge (Edmonton, Portland), 742

3. Don Nachbaur (Seattle, Tri-City, Spokane) 692

4. Lorne Molleken (Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Regina, Vancouver) 626

5. Mike Williamson (Portland, Calgary, Tri-City) 572

6. Ernie McLean (Estevan, New Westminster) 548

7. Pat Ginnell (Flin Flon, Victoria, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, New Westminster) 518

8. Marc Habscheid (Kamloops, Kelowna, Chilliwack, Victoria, Prince Albert) 508

9. Brent Sutter (Red Deer) 500

10. Peter Anholt (Prince Albert, Seattle, Red Deer, Kelowna, Lethbridge) 466

    Jack Shupe (Medicine Hat, Victoria) 466

12. Kelly McCrimmon (Brandon) 465

      Dean Clark (Calgary, Brandon, Kamloops, Prince George) 465

14. Bob Lowes (Seattle, Brandon, Regina) 453

15. Doug Sauter (Calgary, Medicine Hat, Regina, Brandon) 417

16. Marcel Comeau (Calgary, Saskatoon, Tacoma, Kelowna) 411

17. Bryan Maxwell (Medicine Hat, Spokane, Lethbridge) 397

18. Shaun Clouston (Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 389

19. Mike Johnston (Portland) 354

20. Graham James (Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Calgary) 349

21. Bob Loucks (Lethbridge, Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 340

22. Willie Desjardins (Saskatoon, Medicine Hat) 333

23. Kevin Constantine (Everett) 326


F Justin Almeida of the Moose Jaw Warriors has signed a three-year entry-level contract NHLwith the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. He was a fifth-round selection by Pittsburgh in the NHL’s 2018 draft. . . . Almeida, who turned 20 on Feb. 6, is from Kitimat, B.C. . . . He has 100 points, including a WHL-leading 70 assists, in 60 games. . . . In 252 career regular-season games, he has 232 points, including 146 assists. . . . The Prince George Cougars selected Almeida with the fifth-overall pick in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. They traded him to Moose Jaw on Jan. 5, 2017, in a deal that had F Nikita Popugaev go to the Cougars. The Warriors also got F Yan Khomenko and two bantam draft picks — a second-rounder in 2018 and a fifth in 2017.


The Seattle Thunderbirds were without freshman F Andrej Kukuca on Saturday night as they entertained the Everett Silvertips in Kent, Wash. . . . Kukuca, a 19-year-old Slovakian freshman, returned to his home country in order to write an exam. He has 54 points, including 25 goals, in 57 games this season. . . . I don’t remember this kind of thing happening in previous seasons, but the Kootenay Ice is without D Martin Bodak and the Vancouver Giants are without F Milos Roman for the same reason.


SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Justin Almeida, who signed an NHL contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier in the MooseJawWarriorsday, scored two goals and added an assist to lead the Moose Jaw Warriors to a 6-1 victory over the visiting Regina Pats. . . . Moose Jaw (36-19-8) has won two in a row. The Warriors will finish third in the East Division and open a first-round series against the Blades in Saskatoon on March 22. . . . Regina (18-44-3) has lost six straight. . . . Moose Jaw won the season series with Regina, 7-1-0. . . . Almeida got the Warriors started, on a PP, at 3:25 of the first period, and F Brayden Tracey made it 2-0 at 11:51. . . . Moose Jaw went ahead 3-0 at 11:46 of the second period on a goal from F Daniil Stepanov, who had gone 18 games without a point. . . . Tracey (35) made it 4-0 at 1:27 of the third period. . . . F Garrett Wright (7) got Regina’s goal at 9:40. . . . Almeida’s 30th goal, into an empty net at 17:17, gave him 100 points this season, the third WHLer to get there. . . . F Luke Ormsby (8) got the Warriors’ final goal at 17:52. . . . D Jett Woo had three assists for the Warriors, while Tracey added an assist for a three-point game. . . . Moose Jaw was 2-6 on the PP; Regina was 0-2.


The Saskatoon Blades broke open a scoreless game with three second-period goals and Saskatoonwent on to a 6-1 victory over the visiting Swift Current Broncos. . . . Saskatoon (43-14-8) has won five straight games. It will finish second in the East Division and meet the Moose Jaw Warriors in the first round. Games 1 and 2 are to be played in Saskatoon on March 22 and 23. . . . Swift Current (10-48-6) has lost 17 in a row (0-14-3). The Broncos completed a seven-game road trip at 0-6-1 and were outscored 48-10 in the process. . . . Saskatoon took the season series, 7-0-1; Swift Current was 1-7-0. . . . Saskatoon got started when F Tristen Robins (9) scored, on a PP, at 6:43 of the second period. . . . F Kristian Roykas Marthinsen (13), at 7:34, and F Ryan Hughes, at 19:15, made it 3-0. . . . Hughes made it 4-0 with his 29th goal just seven seconds into the third period. . . . D Dawson Davidson (12) made it 5-0 at 6:59. . . . The Broncos, without a goal in nine straight periods, finally scored at 12:41 when F Matthew Culling got his 11th. That ended the Broncos’ goal drought at 209 minutes. . . . F Kirby Dach (25) got Saskatoon’s last goal at 17:40. . . . The Blades got three assists from F Eric Florchuk. . . . G Dorrin Luding earned the victory with 16 saves. . . . Broncos D Matthew Stanley totalled 32 penalty minutes — one minor, two misconducts and a game misconduct — as he twice tried to instigate a fight. . . . Things don’t get any easier for the Broncos, who are to entertain the Prince Albert Raiders this afternoon. The Broncos played twice in Prince Albert this week, losing 6-0 and 8-0.


F Taylor Ross scored his club’s first three goals and added an assist to lead the Lethbridge LethbridgeHurricanes to a 7-4 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . Lethbridge (38-17-10) has won six in a row. It now sits atop the Central Division standings, two points ahead of the idle Edmonton Oil Kings. Lethbridge has two games remaining; Edmonton has four left. . . . Calgary (36-24-6) has lost two in a row. It appears headed to a third-place finish in the Central Division. . . . Lethbridge won the season series, 5-1-0. . . . F Sean Tschigerl gave the Hitmen a 1-0 lead with his first career WHL goal at 11:12 of the first period. . . . Ross then struck for his second career hat trick, getting goals at 14:23 and 19:49 of the first period, and 1:16 of the second. He’s now got 35 goals. . . . The Hurricanes went ahead 5-1 on goals from F Jackson Shepard (5), at 7:18, and F Jake Elmer (38), at 11:08. . . . F Riley Fiddler-Schultz (3) scored for the Hitmen, shorthanded, at 9:33 of the third period. . . . F Jordy Bellerive, who has 32 goals, struck twice for Lethbridge, at 11:57 and 13:29, before F James Malm (34) and D Vladislav Yeryomenko (7) scored PP goals for Calgary. . . . Bellerive finished with five points, as he also had three assists. . . . Elmer ran his point streak to 16 games with a goal and an assist, while Lethbridge F Dylan Cozens had three assists and is on a 14-game point streak.


F Brandon Hagel scored once and added three assists in leading the host Red Deer Rebels Red Deerto an 8-4 victory over the Kootenay Ice. . . . Red Deer (33-25-6) has won two in a row. It is tied with the Medicine Hat Tigers for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots, four points ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings, who have three games remaining. . . . Kootenay (12-43-10) has lost four in a row. . . . With one game remaining, Red Deer is 5-0-0 in the season series; Kootenay is 0-3-2. . . The Rebels jumped out to an early 3-0 first-period lead on a goal from F Cam Hausinger (19) and two from F Reese Johnson, who has 24. Johnson’s first goal was shorthanded; the second one came via the PP. He also had an assist for a three-point night. . . . Kootenay F Nolan Orzeck (3) made it 3-1 at 13:24. . . . The Rebels went up 5-1 on second-period goals from D Chad Leslie (1), at 2:14, and F Jeff de Wit (25), at 4:55. . . . F Jaeger White (27), at 7:18, and F Connor McClennon (13), at 10:16, on a PP, got the Ice to within two goals. . . . F Zak Smith (12) restored Red Deer’s three-goal lead at 14:42, only to have F Jakin Smallwood (13) get one back for the Ice, on a PP, at 15:33. . . . Hagel got his 40th goal, on a PP, at 19:34, and F Josh Tarzwell (10) closed out the scoring at 17:43 of the third period. . . . McLennon added two assists to his goal. . . . Red Deer was 2-4 on the PP; Kootenay was 2-5. . . . The Rebels were without D Alex Alexeyev, who appeared to suffer a knee injury in the third period of Friday’s 5-3 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Red Deer lost F Alex Morozoff to a boarding major and game misconduct at 8:55 of the second period. . . . Brent Sutter, Red Deer’s owner, general manager and head coach, earned his 500th regular-season WHL coaching victory with this one.


F Ryan Jevne’s two goals and an assist helped the host Medicine Hat Tigers to a 4-2 Tigers Logo Officialvictory over the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Medicine Hat (33-26-6) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). It is tied with the Red Deer Rebels for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots, four points up on the Wheat Kings. . . . Brandon (30-27-8) has lost three straight. It is four points from a playoff spot with three games left to play. . . . The teams split the season series, 2-2-0. . . . Brandon went 1-4-1 on a six-game Central Division swing. . . . Jevne gave his guys a 1-0 lead with a PP goal at 16:16 of the first period, only to have Brandon F Stelio Mattheos (43) tie it 28 seconds later. . . . F Ryan Chyzowski (24) gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead at 7:53 of the second period, and Jevne’s 30th goal, shorthanded, made it 3-1 at 12:53. . . . The Wheat Kings got back to within a goal at 13:22 when D Chad Nychuk (3) scored on a PP, his second goal in two games. . . . Medicine Hat got insurance from F Hayden Ostir (11) at 13:33 of the third period. . . . The Tigers were 1-7 on the PP; Brandon was 1-2. . . . Medicine Hat got 28 saves from G Mads Søgaard. . . . Brandon G Jiri Patera made 30 stops. . . . F Cole Sillinger, who has played three road games with the Tigers, played his first WHL game in Medicine Hat. The son of former NHLer Mike Sillinger, Cole had two assists in those first three games.


F Jermaine Loewen broke a 1-1 tie in the third period to give the Kamloops Blazers a 2-1 Kamloops1victory over the Rockets in Kelowna. . . . Kamloops (25-32-7) has won two in a row. . . . Kelowna (27-31-7) had points in each of its previous three games (1-0-2). . . . The Rockets are third in the B.C. Division, four points ahead of the Blazers. Kelowna has three games remaining — at home to Spokane, then a home-and-home with Vancouver. Kamloops has four to play — at home to Spokane, Victoria and Prince George, and one in Prince George. . . . On Friday, the Blazers beat the visiting Rockets, 2-1, in a shootout. . . . Kamloops went 6-3-1 in the season series; Kelowna wound up 4-4-2. . . . F Kyrell Sopotyk (11) gave the Blazers a 1-0 lead at 6:00 of the second period. . . . Kelowna got even at 13:04 when F Kyle Topping (22) scored. . . . Loewen won it with his 25th goal, at 9:01 of the third period. . . . Kamloops D Montana Onyebuchi took the game’s only penalty, a roughing minor at 8:25 of the first period. . . . The Blazers got 27 saves from G Dylan Garand. . . . The Blazers remain without G Dylan Ferguson, so have Rayce Ramsay on the bench. He plays for the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, who are to begin their playoff run on Friday night. . . . G Roman Basran blocked 27 shots for Kelowna. . . . The Rockets were without D Lassi Thomson, who left Friday’s game after taking a hit from Loewen. . . . Kelowna F Mark Liwiski sat out the second of a three-game suspension.


The Prince George Cougars ended a 13-game home-ice losing skid with a 5-2 victory over PrinceGeorgethe Portland Winterhawks. . . . Prince George (18-40-8) had lost its past six games (0-5-1). . . . Portland (39-20-6) had beaten the Cougars, 3-2, on Friday night. Portland is second in the U.S. Division, three points ahead of the Spokane Chiefs. Portland and Spokane will meet in the first round, but home-ice advantage has yet to be decided. . . . The Cougars hadn’t won at home since beating the Kelowna Rockets, 4-0, on Jan. 12. . . . Portland won the season series, 3-1-0. . . . D Clay Hanus (7) gave the Winterhawks a 1-0 victory at 3:22 of the second period. . . . The Cougars got the game’s next four goals, from D Austin Crossley (3), at 8:31 of the second period; F Vladislav Mikalchuk (22), on a PP, at 5:20 of the third; F Connor Bowie (3), at 12:25; and F Josh Maser, on a PP, at 14:32. . . . F Cross Hanas (8) scored for Portland at 15:48, before Maser got his 30th, into an empty net, at 18:58. . . . Prince George was 2-4 on the PP; Portland was 0-4. . . . The Cougars had a season-high 49 shots on goal. . . . Prince George got 37 saves from G Taylor Gauthier. . . . The Winterhawks again were without F Cody Glass, F Seth Jarvis, D Matt Quigley and D John Ludvig, all of whom are injured.


F Nolan Volcan scored twice and G Roddy Ross blocked 46 shots to help the Seattle SeattleThunderbirds to a 2-1 victory over the Everett Silvertips in Kent, Wash. . . . Seattle (28-28-8) has points in seven straight games (5-0-2). . . . Everett (46-15-4) had points in its previous eight games (7-0-1) and had won five in a row. . . . Everett finished the season series, 7-2-1; Seattle was 3-5-2. . . . Volcan gave Seattle a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 9:34 of the second period. . . . F Robbie Holmes (12) got Everett into a 1-1 tie at 14:37. . . . Volcan broke the tie with his 23rd goal, at 17:39 of the third period. . . . D Simon Kubicek drew an assist on each of Volcan’s goals. . . . Ross was stellar as his guys were outshot 47-20, including 16-3 in the first period. . . . Seattle was 1-1 on the PP; Everett was 0-3. . . . Everett G Dustin Wolf stopped 18 shots. . . . Seattle D Jarret Tyszka left in the second period after being struck in the face by a shot off the stick of Everett F Bryce Kindopp. . . . F Max Patterson was among Everett’s scratches with an undisclosed injury.


F Adam Beckman scored twice and added two assists to lead the host Spokane Chiefs to a SpokaneChiefs6-1 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . Spokane (37-20-7) has won two in a row. It is third in the U.S. Divsion, but now is three points points behind the Portland Winterhawks. Spokane has four games remaining, while Portland has three. . . . Victoria (33-28-4) has lost three straight. It will finish second in the B.C. Division. . . . Spokane won the season series, 3-1-0. . . . First-period goals by F Ethan McIndoe (14), at 1:59, and Beckman, at 7:23, got the Chiefs started. . . . Victoria cut into the lead at 7:06 of the second period when F Brandon Cutler (12) scored. . . . The Chiefs closed it out with goals from F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (17), Beckman (29), on a PP, D Filip Kral (9), who also had two assists, and D Ty Smith (7). . . . Beckman, a 17-year-old freshman from Saskatoon, has 56 points, including 29 goals, in 64 games. . . . Anderson-Dolan now has goals in seven straight games. . . . The Chiefs got 21 saves from G Bailey Brkin. . . . Victoria F Kaid Oliver is awaiting shoulder surgery and won’t play again this season. Oliver, who last played on Feb. 23, leads the Royals in goals (27) and points (49). . . . The Royals also are without D Matthew Smith, F Kody McDonald, F Tyus Gent, F Sean Gulka and D Jake Kustra, all of whom are injured.


D Bowen Byram set a WHL record with another OT goal as the Vancouver Giants beat the VancouverTri-City Americans, 4-3, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Vancouver (46-15-4) now is tied with the Everett Silvertips atop the Western Conference. Each team has three games remaining. . . . Tri-City (34-26-5) is going to finish in the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . Vancouver went 4-0-0 in the season series; Tri-City was 0-2-2. . . . Byram scored his sixth OT goal of the season at 2:28 of extra time. That is one more OT goal than F Deven Sideroff scored with the 2016-17 Kamloops Blazers and F Eric Fehr had with the 2004-05 Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The Giants led this one 3-0 late in the second period. They got goals from F Tristen Nielsen (14), at 4:59 of the first period; F Davis Koch (28), at 18:32; and F Justin Sourdif (21), at 6:22 of the second. . . . The Americans roared back, getting two goals from F Parker AuCoin (40), at 16:39 of the second and 7:00 of the third, and F Krystof Hrabik (19), at 18:11 of the third period. . . . Vancouver G David Tendeck stopped 30 shots, eight fewer than Tri-City’s Beck Warm.


Tweetoftheday

Questions and food for thought . . . Vandervlis prepping for return . . . Fans gone missing . . . Leason, Fix-Wolansky penning great stories


MacBeth

F Jeremy Williams (Swift Current, 2000-04) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL). An alternate captain, he has 14 goals and 15 assists in 30 games. He leads the Tigers in goals, assists and points, and is fifth in the league’s scoring race.


ThisThat

On the 10th day of our annual Christmas countdown, if you click right here you’ll find GENTRI — The Gentlemen Trio — with a neat version of Little Drummer Boy.


F Ryan Vandervlis, 20, who played 162 games over the past four seasons with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, is joining the junior B Red Deer Vipers. . . . The Vipers, who play in the Heritage Junior B Hockey League, announced the move via Twitter on Friday. . . . Vandervlis hasn’t played since suffering severe burns to 60 per cent of his body during a campfire incident in June. . . . Sean McIntosh of the Red Deer Advocate has more right here.


D James Miller of the BCHL’s Penticton Vees has committed to the Northern Michigan Wildcats for next season. Miller, 20, was a sixth-round pick by the Kamloops Blazers in the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft. . . . Miller, from Spruce Grove, Alta., actually played two games with the U of New Hampshire Wildcats in 2017-18 before returning to Penticton. . . . He went into Friday’s action with 15 goals and 29 assists in 36 games with the Vees. Miller’s 44 points led all BCHL defencemen. . . . According to a news release from the Vees, Miller is the 18th player on their roster “with an NCAA Division 1 scholarship.”


A few WHL-related thoughts during the Christmas break . . .

Just the other day, I noticed this headline — Raiders win fight-fest in Swift Current — at paherald.sk.ca. The story was dated Dec. 14. I looked it up. There appear to have been five fights. Yes, the WHL has moved far away from the days when a fight-fest wasn’t a fight-fest unless the benches cleared and there was at least a 30-minute delay.

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Where have the hockey fans of Medicine Hat gone? Remember when the 4,006-seat Medicine Arena was sold out for every regular-season game? Now the Tigers play in the 7,100-seat Canalta Centre and the average announced attendance is 3,011 through 16 home games. What changed?

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On the same subject, the Saskatoon Blades appear to have turned the corner — finally! — and are a solid second in not only the East Division but the Eastern Conference. Their average announced attendance (AAA) is 3,658 through 15 games, which has them 14th in the 22-team league. Last season, the Blades finished with an AAA of 3,851 for 36 home dates.

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Will the Kelowna Rockets add an assistant coach over the holidays — to replace the departed Travis Crickard — and will it be former Rockets defenceman/captain Josh Gorges?

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Speaking of Crickard . . . was that him watching the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers practise one day this week?

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Really, there has been no better story in the WHL this half-season than the one written PrinceAlbertby F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders. He went into this season with 24 goals and 27 assists in 135 regular-season games. This season, in 31 games, he has 28 goals and 36 assists. Here’s hoping that a hand injury suffered while in camp with Canada’s national junior team last week in Victoria doesn’t slow him down, although it has kept him out of the pre-tournament games to date.

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There also is a great story in Edmonton where Oil Kings F Trey Fix-Wolansky has 64 EdmontonOilKingspoints, including a WHL-leading 43 assists, in 34 games. The Edmonton native is lighting it up at home and not a lot of players get to do that. The story, though, is that the 5-foot-7 Fix-Wolansky has had to fight the height-challenged battle his entire career. He should have been in the selection camp of Canada’s national junior team, but his invitation must have gotten lost in the mail. He’s now going to spend the second half of the season continuing to prove himself to the doubters.

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Greg Meachem is a former sports editor of the Red Deer Advocate, who now works for the Rebels and writes at reddeerrebels.com. . . . He’s worth reading, especially for the honesty in the quotes from Brent Sutter, the owner, general manager and head coach of the Rebels. Sutter never pulls any punches in his post-game comments.

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Is anyone else waiting for the Portland Winterhawks to run off about 10 victories in a row at some point after the break? Or is the competition in the U.S. Division simply to stiff for that to happen?

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Worth watching after the break . . .

In the East Division: The WHL record for fewest losses in one season belongs to the Brandon Wheat Kings, who lost five times in a 72-game season in 1978-79. The Wheat Kings finished 58-5-9 that season, one in which they settled for ties in lieu of OT. . . . The Prince Albert Raiders are halfway through their schedule with a 31-2-1 record, so depending upon your point of view they have lost either two or three games. . . . Of course, the Raiders are playing a 68-game schedule, so perhaps it’s time to open a new section in the record book.

In the Central Division: The Red Deer Rebels, having played 32 games, Lethbridge Hurricanes (33) and Edmonton Oil Kings (36) are tied for first place, each with 42 points. . . . Each of the three added major pieces prior to the break. Will one, two or three of them go shopping again before the Jan. 10 trade deadline?

In the B.C. Division: There are 12 division in the CHL’s three leagues and the B.C. Division has the 11th-poorest points percentage (.512), with a lot of that due to the of that due to the Vancouver Giants (22-8-2, .719). . . . The Kamloops Blazers hold down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, one point ahead of the Seattle Thunderbirds and two ahead of the Prince George Cougars. If the second half unfolds much like the first half, two of those teams will miss the playoffs; the other will meet the Everett Silvertips in the first round.

In the U.S. Division: The Portland Winterhawks and Spokane Chiefs are tied for second in the U.S. Division, each with records of 19-11-4. Everett is 14 points ahead; Tri-City is six points back. . . . How important is home-ice advantage in the playoffs to the Winterhawks and Chiefs? Portland is 2-1-0 in the season series, with three games remaining.

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How upset are you if you’re a follower of the Kootenay Ice who bought a season-ticket during the team’s Drive to 25 off-season promotion, only to watch so many veteran players quit or be traded amid signs your once-favourite club will move to Winnipeg at season’s end? . . . The Ice already has dressed 38 players this season. It has an 8-22-6 record, meaning it has won eight of 36 games, and is 14 points away from a playoff spot.

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Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, sounded most uncomfortable in responding to a DelisleChiefsquestion about the Kootenay Ice from Dean Millard of the TSN radio in Edmonton on Thursday night. Robison said there will be an announcement involving the Ice “very soon,” but wasn’t any more specific than that, nor did he shed any light on the situation. . . . I can’t imagine what might be in that announcement, but when the Chilliwack Bruins moved to Victoria after the 2010-11 season, the WHL didn’t confirm the much-rumoured move until almost three weeks after their season had ended.

Perhaps fans of the Ice can gain some solace from what Robison told Chilliwack fans after the Bruins left town: “We believe that under the right conditions Chilliwack can be a viable WHL market. We intend to give full consideration to returning should relocation occur in the future.”

One other thing about the Bruins’ move . . . While the WHL didn’t make an official announcement until April 20, 2011, it turned out that the Bruins’ owners and the WHL had agreed to sell the Chilliwack franchise on Jan. 13, 2011.


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Tory, Stasiuk together, again . . . Blazers add assistant coach . . . Rebels sign Russian forward


MacBeth

F Layne Ulmer (Swift Current, 1997-2001) signed a one-year extension with the Cardiff Devils (Wales, UK Elite). Last season, he had 18 goals and 35 assists in 55 games. . . .

F Joel Broda (Tri-City, Moose Jaw, Calgary, 2004-10) signed a one-year contract with Dornbirn (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had 20 goals and 27 assists in 54 games. . . . Rick Nasheim (Spokane Flyers 1980-81, Regina, 1982-83) is the assistant coach for Dornbirn. . . . For the curious ones out there, the Spokane Flyers began WHL life as the original Flin Flon Bombers, a charter member of the league in 1966. The franchise transferred to Edmonton for the 1978-79 season as the second version of the Edmonton Oil Kings. The franchise lasted one season in Edmonton, then was sold and moved to Great Falls MT, as the Great Falls Americans. The Americans ceased operations in December 1979 after 28 games. The franchise was re-activated as the Spokane Flyers for the 1980-81 season. The Flyers lasted one season plus a bit, folding 26 games into their second season in December 1981. . . .

F Brodie Dupont (Calgary, 2003-07) signed a one-year contract with Dornbirn (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with the Norfolk Admirals (ECHL), he had 21 goals and 47 assists in 68 games. The team captain, he led the Admirals in assists and points. He was pointless in one game while on loan to the Stockton Heat (AHL).


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The Tri-City Americans have hired Roy Stasiuk as their head scout, filling the spot in tri-citytheir front office that was created when Barclay Parneta, who had been the assistant GM, left to join the Vancouver Giants as general manager. . . . Stasiuk, 55, is quite familiar with the WHL, having worked with the Prince Albert Raiders, Red Deer Rebels, Calgary Hitmen and Edmonton/Kootenay Ice. . . . He spent 10 seasons (1995-2005) as the Ice’s head scout. While with the Ice, Stasiuk worked with Bob Tory, the Americans’ co-owner and general manager. . . . Stasiuk also worked as the Lethbridge Hurricanes’ general manager for four seasons (2005-09) and scouted for the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs (2009-15).


Dan Kordic, an assistant coach with the U of Alberta Golden Bears for the past two seasons, has signed on with the Kamloops Blazers as an assistant coach. . . . Serge Lajoie, the Golden Bears’ head coach for the past three seasons, joined the Blazers as their new head coach on June 25. . . . Kordic, 47, played four seasons (1987-91) with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers and won a Memorial Cup with them in 1988. He went on to a pro career that included 197 NHL games with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Meanwhile, the Calgary Hitmen and Tri-City Americans remain the only WHL teams without head coaches. Steve Hamilton, who was fired as head coach by the Edmonton Oil Kings on May 28, is believed to be in the mix in Calgary.


The Red Deer Rebels have signed Russian F Oleg Zaitsev, 17, who was selected in the CHL’s 2018 import draft. . . . “He’s an elite level player, a stud,” Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ Red Deerowner, GM and head coach, told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com. “Right now he’s the best Russian centre iceman in his age group. We’re very excited about adding him to our team. He’s signed a contract. He’s all in.” . . . Meachem reports that the Rebels likely will go with Russian D Alex Alexeyev, the Washington Capitals first-round pick in the NHL’s 2018 draft, and Zaitsev as their two imports. However, F Ivan Drozdov of Belarus, the Rebels’ other 2018 import draft pick, isn’t yet out of the picture.

Meanwhile, the Victoria Royals dropped F Jeff de Wit, 20, from their protected list and the Rebels have added him to their list. De Wit, who is from Red Deer, was a first-round selection by the Rebels in the 2013 bantam draft. Last season, he played with the Regina Pats, Kootenay Ice and Victoria.

Meachem’s complete story is right here.


Chris Beaudry, an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos last season, now is on the coaching staff of the Melville Millionaires. Beaudry wasn’t on the Broncos’ bus when it crashed on April 6. He was driving to that night’s playoff game in Nipawin and was about 20 minutes away when the accident occurred. . . . In Melville, Beaudry fills a vacancy created when Mark Chase left to join the junior B Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League as general manager and head coach.


Raelene and Russell Herold, and the estate of their son, Adam, who was killed in the crash of the Humboldt Broncos’ bus, have filed a statement of claim in Regina Court of Queen’s Bench. The lawsuit asks for an unspecified amount in damages, expenses, costs and interest, and names the driver of the big rig that was involved, along with the trucking company and the bus manufacturer. . . . Heather Polischuk of the Regina Leader-Post has more right here.


“At first,” writes Mike Aiken of drydennow.com, “it seems like he’s living the life of Riley. Joe Murphy works as a labourer, when he needs money, and he sleeps in a tent in a farmer’s field, when he needs shelter.

“During a short chat, he’ll talk about settling down a bit in an apartment. He says he now calls Kenora his home by the water, but finding affordable housing is next to impossible, not just because of the market.”

This would be the same Joe Murphy who was an NHL first-round draft pick and who played in the league for 15 seasons. Yes, his story now is about concussions.

Aiken’s complete story is right here.


John Branch of The New York Times has written a terrific essay that is headlined: Why the N.F.L. and the N.B.A. Are So Far Apart on Social Justice Stances. . . . This is a great look at the NFL and how it has reacted to its players social protests, and the NBA and how it backs its players and promotes its stars. . . . Pour a cup of coffee and enjoy this piece right here.


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