Warriors win battle of East titans . . . Rebels are in; Ice is out . . . Raiders’ run reaches nine


F Geordie Wudrick (Swift Current, Kelowna, 2005-11) has signed a one-season contract with the Sydney Ice Dogs (Australia, AIHL). This season, he played for the Berlin Blues (Germany, Regionalliga Ost). In eight games, he had a team-high 12 goals, along with seven assists. The AIHL regular season starts on April 21. . . . Wudrick holds the single-season points record in AIHL with 91 and the single-season goal record (44) in 28 games. He set those in 2015 with the Newcastle North Stars. Wudrick played the last two AIHL seasons with CBR Brave Canberra.


The Victoria Royals had their Organ Donor Awareness Night on Friday when they entertained the Prince George Cougars.

You can bet it was a special night for the Soy family.

Tyler, of course, is 20 and in his final season with the Royals. His mother, Sandy, had a VictoriaRoyalskidney transplant in November 2010 after suffering complete kidney failure due to complications from lupus in 2004. She spent six years doing peritoneal dialysis, hooking up to a machine called a cycler every night and using it to do a fluid exchange to get the toxins out of her body.

When you do PD, you get a truckload of supplies every four weeks, all of which must be stored in your home.

Five years ago, Sandy’s husband, Michael, told me: “We became used to the routine . . . Tyler had to grow up very fast . . . as he carried boxes, re-filled supplies and watched every night as his mom connected to a machine that kept her alive . . .“

In the end, Sandy received a kidney through what was then the Living Donor Paired Exchange registry — it now is the Kidney Paired Donation program. In that process, Michael donated a kidney to an anonymous recipient, with Sandy getting a kidney from an anonymous donor.

“It showed me how strong they are,” Tyler told me of his parents after a game in Kamloops in January 2013. “For my dad to give up one of his kidneys so my mom could get one is really special.”

You likely are aware that my wife, Dorothy, underwent a kidney transplant, too. That was on Sept. 23, 2013. It came through the Living Donor Exchange registry, too, after she had spent four years on peritoneal dialysis.

In the middle of all this, we reached out to Sandy and she was a big help as we travelled down a similar road to the one with which she was so familiar.

Her day was made that much more special when Tyler scored the tying goal at 17:03 of the third period before the Royals won the game in overtime.

You can see more right here.

I hope that stories like this will help you understand why the involvement of the WHL and its 17 Canadian teams — along with RE/MAX — in this Organ Donor Awareness promotion is so important to so many people.

Look, I love to read. I always seem to have four or five books on the go, and often think there aren’t enough hours in the day to allow me to read as much as I would like to do. Yes, the need for sleep often gets in the way, too. . . . I’m also a baseball fan, and happen to think that Ichiro Suzuki is one of the most-intriguing personalities to have appeared in MLB over the past few years. . . . On Saturday, thanks to Twitter, I came upon a simply brilliant essay on Ichiro, who “is haunted by the life he can’t escape.”  It was written by Wright Thompson and it’s right here. My, but this is so good!

Once you have read the piece on Ichiro, pour another cup of Sunday morning coffee and dig into this essay right here. Written by Roy MacGregor of The Globe and Mail, it is headlined ‘When NHL rinks outlast their usefulness’, and deals with the situations surrounding the NHL’s Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators and their home arenas.

Allistair Chapman, 25, is “a Calgary man accused of running a prolific multimillion-dollar, city-based international drug cartel — one investigators believe linked to both Mexican narcotics rings and a brazen 2017 double homicide,” reports Bryan Passifiume of Postmedia. . . . Chapman also is a former junior hockey player who was selected by the Swift Current Broncos in the fifth round of the WHL’s 2007 bantam draft. He never played in the WHL, topping out with a couple of stints in the AJHL. . . . Passifiume’s complete story is right here.



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 Moose Jaw, F Branden Klatt scored twice to help the Warriors to a 4-2 victory over the Swift Current Broncos. . . . Moose Jaw (50-15-3) leads the overall standings by three points MooseJawWarriorsover the Broncos. . . . Swift Current (47-16-6) has lost two in a row and has three games remaining. . . . The Warriors went 4-2-2 in the season series; the Broncos were 4-4-0. . . . The Warriors have won 50 games for the first time in franchise history. The previous record of 45 victories was set in 2011-12, when they finished atop the East Division and then bowed out in the conference final. . . . Klatt, who is from Moose Jaw, went into the game with 11 goals in 179 regular-season WHL games. This season, he now has five goals and eight assists in 65 games. . . . Klatt opened the scoring at 5:00 of the first period and F Jayden Halbgewachs made it 2-0, on a PP, at 16:20. He has a WHL-high 67 goals. . . . F Justin Almeida (41), who also had two assists, gave the Warriors a 3-0 lead at 7:36 of the second period. . . . F Kaden Elder (16) got Swift Current’s first goal at 2:02 of the third period. . . . Klatt got that one back at 11:03. . . . The Broncos’ second goal came from F Beck Malenstyn (16), on a PP, at 17:53. . . . F Tristin Langan had two assists for the Warriors. . . . F Aleksi Heponiemi had two assists for the Broncos. . . . Swift Current was 1-5 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 1-8. . . . The Warriors got 21 saves from G Brody Willms. . . . G Stuart Skinner started for the Broncos and was beaten three times on 21 shots in 27:36. Joel Hofer finished up by stopping 17 of 18 shots in 31:00. . . . The Warriors took 57 of the game’s 107 penalty minutes. . . . Moose Jaw F Barrett Sheen was tossed with a charging major and game misconduct at 4:59 of the third period. . . . The Broncos lost F Giorgio Estephan for a few shifts after he was struck in the ice by an errant puck in the first period. . . . Also in that first period, the Warriors lost D Brandon Schuldaus and D Dmitri Zaitsev to undisclosed injuries. . . . The Warriors were without F Brayden Burke for a third straight game. . . . Swift Current F Glenn Gawdin, the WHL’s leading scorer, is ill and missed his second game in as many nights, as did freshman D Jacson Alexander. . . . Gawdin has 124 points, two more than Halbgewachs and seven more than Heponiemi. Burke is fourth, with 113. . . . Announced attendance: 4,765.

At Prince Albert, D Brayden Pachal scored in OT to give the Raiders their ninth straight victory, this one 4-3 over the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Prince Albert (32-25-11) holds down the PrinceAlbertEastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, seven points ahead of Saskatoon, which has four games remaining. . . . Calgary (21-36-11) is 1-0-1 in its past two games. It had won 5-4 in OT in Saskatoon on Friday night. . . . The Hitmen took a 1-0 lead at 13:46 of the first period as F Mark Kastelic scored. . . . The Raiders tied it at 1:27 of the second period as F Jordy Stallard scored No. 43. . . . F Carson Focht (13) gave the Hitmen a 2-1 lead at 16:13. . . . The Raiders went out front 3-2 on third-period goals from D Vojtech Budik (14), on a PP, at 5:51, and F Cutis Miske (26), at 6:38. Miske also had two assists. . . . Kastelic forced OT with his 20th goal, on a PP, at 9:02. . . . Pachal won it at 4:09 of OT when he scored his seventh goal of the season. . . . Stallard also had two assists, as he finished the night with 201 regular-season points in 234 games. This season, he has 43 goals and 46 assists in 68 games. . . . The Hitmen got two assists from F Tristen Nielsen. . . . Each team was 1-3 on the PP. . . . G Ian Scott earned the victory with 20 saves. . . . Calgary G Matthew Armitage was busier, with 40 saves. The Raiders held a 26-2 edge in shots in the third period. . . . Prince Albert’s franchise record for longest winning streak is 15 games, from 1985-86. . . . Announced attendance: 2,326.

At Saskatoon, the Brandon Wheat Kings clinched a playoff spot with a 4-2 victory over the Blades. . . . Brandon (37-26-5) has won three in a row. It is fourth in the East Division, BrandonWKregularthree points behind Regina. The Wheat Kings also hold down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, four points ahead of Prince Albert. . . . Brandon will play its first-round home games in Dauphin, Man., because the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair will be in Westoba Place at the same time. . . . Saskatoon (32-32-4) is seven points from a playoff spot with four games to play. . . . Brandon leads the season series, 5-2-0; the Blades are 2-5-0. . . . Last night, the Wheat Kings got the game’s first two goals, from F Stelio Mattheos (41), at 19:13 of the first period and F Linden McCorrister (18), at 9:38 of the second. . . . F Michael Farren (10) got the Blades to within a goal at 12:58. . . . Brandon F Luka Burzan (13) restored the two-goal lead at 15:27. . . . F Josh Paterson’s 31st goal, on a PP, left Saskatoon trailing by one at 6:47 of the third period. . . . F Cole Reinhardt (18) got the empty-netter for Brandon at 19:42. . . . McCorrister and Reinhardt each had an assist. . . . Saskatoon was 1-5 on the PP; Brandon was 0-4. . . . G Dylan Myskiw stopped 29 shots for the Wheat Kings. . . . G Nolan Maier stopped 12 shots for the Blades in his ninth straight start. . . . G Logan Thompson was among Brandon’s scratches. He left Friday’s 6-3 victory over visiting Swift Current after two periods because of an apparent leg injury. . . . The Wheat Kings had Ethan Kruger, 16, backing up Myskiw. He was a fifth-round pick in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. Kruger, from Sherwood Park, Alta., played this season with the midget AAA Sherwood Park Kings. . . . Announced attendance: 5,826.

At Lethbridge, the Regina Pats opened up a 4-0 lead en route to a 5-3 victory over the Hurricanes. . . . Regina (38-25-6) has won five in a row. It is third in the East Division, ReginaPats100three points ahead of Brandon. . . . Lethbridge (32-30-6) has lost five straight. It is second in the Central Division, eight points behind Medicine Hat and five ahead of Red Deer. . . . F Koby Morrisseau (6) opened the scoring at 3:29 of the first period, with F Jesse Gabrielle (13) making it 2-0, on a PP, at 8:48. . . . F Nick Henry (13) scored at 1:20 of the second, and F Robbie Holmes (16) made it 4-0 at 9:55. . . . The Hurricanes got to within a goal as F Brad Morrison scored at 14:35 of the second; D Calen Addison (10) counted two minutes later; and Morrison added another, his 27th, at 17:18 of the third. . . . Regina F Sam Steel (31) iced it with an empty-netter at 19:04. . . . Gabrielle added two assists to his goal. . . . D Igor Merezhko had two assists for Lethbridge. . . . Regina was 1-2 on the PP; Lethbridge was 0-2. . . . There weren’t any penalties issued after the first period. . . . G Max Paddock stopped 27 shots for Regina. . . . Lethbridge got 38 stops from G Reece Klassen. . . . Regina went 7-1-0 on an eight-game road trip. The Pats were away from home because the Tim Hortons Brier (the Canadian men’s curling championship) is being contested in the Brandt Centre. . . . Announced attendance: 4,234.

At Red Deer, F Brandon Hagel scored three times to lead the Rebels to a 5-2 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Red Deer (26-30-13) clinched a playoff spot in the Central Red DeerDivision, meaning the idle Kootenay Ice (25-38-5) was eliminated. . . . “You look back to Jan. 24, we were 12 points out of a playoff spot and to accomplish what we accomplished says a lot about the kids inside the room,” Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ general manager and head coach, told Greg Meachem of redddeerrebels.com. “It was about just staying with it and believing as a group that we can have some success if we play the game the right way.” . . . Medicine Hat (35-26-8) continues to lead the Central Division, by eight points over Lethbridge. . . . The Rebels, with three games left, are five points behind the Hurricanes. . . . Red Deer went 3-2-1 in the season series; Medicine Hat was 3-3-0. . . . D Kristians Rubins (7) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 5:37 of the first period. . . . Hagel tied it at 6:05. . . . The Tigers went ahead 2-1 at 3:42 of the second period on F Bryan Lockner’s 13th goal. . . . The Rebels scored the game’s last four goals, all in the third period. . . . F Kristian Reichel tied the score at 2:39, and Hagel gave his guys the lead, on a PP, at 15:50. . . . Reichel, who has 32 goals, scored on another PP, at 19:08, and Hagel who has 17 goals, completed his hat trick into an empty net, at 19:21. . . . F Mason McCarty had two assists for the Rebels, with Hagel adding one for a four-point night. . . . Red Deer was 2-3 on the PP; Medicine Hat was 1-4. . . . G Ethan Anders earned the victory with 34 saves, seven more than Medicine Hat’s Michael Bullion. . . . D Joel Craven, who returned to Medicine Hat’s lineup on Friday after being out since Jan. 27, was scratched from this one. . . . During the game the Rebels revealed that “we raised $22,000 in support of @kidneycanada organizations through tonight’s jersey auction.” . . . Announced attendance: 6,100. . . . Meachem’s story is right here.

At Portland, G Patrick Dea stopped 38 shots to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 6-2 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . Tri-City (34-24-9) has won two straight. It is fourth in the U.S. TriCity30Division, six points behind Spokane. The Americans hold the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, three points ahead of Seattle with each team having five games remaining. . . . Portland (42-21-5) had points in each of its previous eight games (7-0-1). The Winterhawks are second in the U.S. Division, six points behind Everett. . . . Portland went 7-3-0 in the season series; Tri-City was 3-6-1. . . . Tri-City got out to a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from F Michael Rasmussen, on a PP, at 15:00, and D Juuso Valimaki (13), at 18:26. . . . Portland F Alex Overheard (15) but into the lead 27 seconds into the second period, but the Americans got the next three goals. . . . F Isaac Johnson got his 17th at 7:39. . . . Rasmussen (27) got another PP goal at 1:40 of the third period, and former Winterhawks F Brett Clayton (4) scored at 4:55. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld (24) got Portland’s second goal at 10:27. . . . F Riley Sawchuk (13) scored Tri-City’s final goal at 17:17, into an empty net. . . . Tri-City got three assists from F Morgan Geekie and two each from F Sasha Mutala, for his first three-point game, and Valimaki. . . . Overhardt added an assist to his goal. . . . Tri-City was 2-3 on the PP; Portland was 0-2. . . . Dea got off to a great start with 18 saves in the first period. . . . Portland starter Shane Farkas surrendered five goals on 23 shots in 44:55. Cole Kehler came on to stop all five shots he faced in 14:35. . . . Prior to the game, the Winterhawks the 1998 Memorial Cup-winning team, and inducted D Andrew Ference, F Marian Hossa, F Brenden Morrow and F Todd Robinson into their Hall of Fame. . . . Announced attendance: 8,463.

At Kelowna, G James Porter stopped 18 shots to help the Rockets to a 4-0 victory over the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Kelowna (40-22-7) has points in three straight (2-0-1). It leads the KelownaRocketsB.C. Division, by five points over Victoria. . . . Kamloops (29-35-5) has lost three in a row. It was eliminated from the playoff chase when it lost, 4-2, to the visiting Rockets on Friday. . . . The Rockets have won 40 games for a sixth straight season. . . . Kelowna went 8-0-0 in the season series; Kamloops was 0-7-1. . . . F Leif Mattson gave the Rockets a 1-0 lead at 13:28 of the first period. . . . D Gordie Ballhorn (5) upped that to 2-0 at 14:30. . . . Mattson’s 23rd goal, shorthanded, made it 3-0 at 9:46 of the third period, and F Dillon Dube (34) rounded out the scoring at 11:05. . . . Dube and Ballhorn also had an assist each. . . . Kelowna was 0-3 on the PP; Kamloops was 0-7. . . . Porter, a freshman from Bonners Ferry, Idaho, has three shutouts this season. . . . The Blazers got 27 saves from G Max Palaga. Kelowna F Liam Kindree wasn’t able to beat Palaga on a second-period penalty shot. . . . The Blazers scratched G Dylan Ferguson, who appeared to injury his right hip in a goal-mouth collision at 14:22 of the second period on Friday night. He stayed in and was able to finish the game, but there were times when he appeared to be favouring his right side. . . . Announced attendance: 5,607.

At Kent, Wash., F Bryce Kindopp scored twice to lead the Everett Silvertips to a 3-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Everett (45-18-5) has won four in a row. It leads Everettthe Western Conference, by six points over Portland. . . . Seattle (32-26-10) had won its previous two games. It holds the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, three points behind Tri-City. . . . Everett went 6-2-2 in the season series; Seattle was 4-4-2. . . . Everett got first-period goals from F Matt Fonteyne (33), on a PP, at 3:41, and Kindopp, at 13:38, to go up 2-0. . . . F Nolan Volcan (31) scored for Seattle, on a PP, at 11:03 of the second period. . . . Kindopp (22) gave Everett a two-goal lead at 15:02 of the third period. . . . Seattle D Austin Strand (24) made it a one-goal game at 17:56. . . . F Donovan Neuls had two assists for Seattle. . . . Everett F Patrick Bajkov drew an assist on Fonteyne’s goal. Bajkov now has 93 points, tying him with F Zach Hamill (2006-07) and F Josh Winquist (2013-14) for the franchise’s single-season record. . . . Each team was 1-2 on the PP. . . . G Carter Hart stopped 33 shots for Everett. He is 28-4-4, 1.54, .950 this season. . . . Seattle G Liam Hughes turned aside 34 shots. . . . Everett D Ondrej Vala was given a cross-checking major and game misconduct for a hit on Seattle F Zack Andrusiak at 19:29 of the second period. Andrusiak returned to the game in the third period. . . . Announced attendance: 6,039.

At Spokane, F Dawson Holt scored the only goal of a shootout to give the Vancouver Giants a 6-5 victory over the Chiefs. . . . Vancouver (35-24-9) is third in the B.C. Division, Vancouverthree points behind Victoria. . . . Spokane (39-23-6) has lost two in a row (0-1-1). It is third in the U.S. Division, five points behind Portland. . . . The Chiefs took a 1-0 lead at 11:43 of the first period on a goal by F Jake McGrew (17). . . . Vancouver F Aidan Barfoot (5) tied it at 12:16. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (37) put the Chiefs back in front, on a PP, at 16:28. . . . The Giants tied it when F Tyler Benson scored at 12:27 of the second period. . . . But the Chiefs went back out front at 15:14 when F Hudson Elynuik scored No. 30. . . . F Riley Woods gave Spokane a two-goal lead, on a PP, at 4:58 of the third period. . . . Holt (12) pulled the Giants back to within a goal, at 4-3, on a PP, at 11:31, only to have Woods (24) restore the two-goal margin at 12:43. . . . The Giants then got two PP goals to force OT. F Tyler Popowich (8) scored at 14:26, and Benson (26) followed at 17:39. . . . Holt won it with a second-round goal in the shootout. . . . Vancouver was 3-5 on the PP; Spokane was 2-6. . . . G Trent Miner stopped 29 shots for the Giants. . . . The Chiefs got 24 stops from G Dawson Weatherill. . . . Vancouver F Ty Ronning left the game with a clipping major and game misconduct for a hit on Spokane F Ethan McIndoe at 2:42 of the third period. . . . The Chiefs continue to play without injured F Zach Fischer. . . . The Giants scratched F Milos Roman, who had played Friday night in a 6-3 loss to the host Tri-City Americans for the first time since Jan. 9. He had been out with an ankle injury. . . . Announced attendance: 10,508.

SUNDAY (all times local):

Brandon at Moose Jaw, 4 p.m.

Prince George at Victoria, 2:05 p.m.

Kootenay at Edmonton, 4 p.m.

Everett at Portland, 5 p.m.

Vancouver vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 5:05 p.m.



Two WHLers get NHL deals . . . Warriors add first-rounder to their roster . . . Gilhooly writes about James, abuse


F Tomáš Plíhal (Kootenay, 2001-03) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Heilbronner Falken (Germany, DEL2) after being released  by mutual agreement by Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga). He had three goals and 12 assists in 45 games, and was an alternate captain. . . . Znojmo has two games left in its playoff round and cannot advance. Heilbronn has two games left and is in the 10th and last playoff spot, three points ahead of 11th-place Weisswasser. If Znojmo doesn’t make the playoffs, Heilbronn will play in the ‘playdowns’ or relegation series. . . .

F Robin Soudek (Edmonton, Chilliwack/Victoria, 2008-12) has signed  a contract for the rest of the season with Eispiraten Crimmitschau (Germany, DEL2) after being released by mutual agreement from Épinal (France, Ligue Magnus). In 42 games, he had 17 goals and 17 assists. . . . Épinal has five games left in its playdown series and cannot be relegated. Crimmitschau has two games left, is in ninth place, and has either playoffs or playdowns remaining. . . .

D Alex Roach (Calgary, 2010-14) has been released by Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL). He had three assists in 25 games. He also had two assists in eight games while on loan to Eispiraten Crimmitschau (Germany, DEL2).


The Vancouver Canucks have signed F Kole Lind of the Kelowna Rockets to a three-year entry-level NHL contract. Lind, 19, has 85 points, including 35 goals, in 51 games this season, his third in Kelowna. . . . He scored the game’s first three goals on Wednesday night in Prince George, but his Rockets went on to lose, 7-6 in OT, to the Cougars. . . . During his career, he has 214 points, including 79 goals, in 197 regular-season games. . . . From Shaunavon, Sask., Lind was a second-round pick by the Canucks in the 2017 NHL draft.

F Brayden Burke of the Moose Jaw Warriors has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes. Burke was a free agent. This season, Burke, who turned 21 on Jan. 1, has 112 points, 81 of them assists, in 59 games. He is second in the WHL in assists and points. . . . Burke, who was never drafted by an NHL team, is from Edmonton. He has 337 points, 252 of them assists, in 236 regular-season WHL games. He also has played with the Red Deer Rebels and Lethbridge Hurricanes.

The Moose Jaw Warriors have added F Brayden Tracey to their roster for the remainder of the season. Tracey, 16, was a first-round selection in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. . . . From Calgary, he had 52 points, including 21 goals, in 30 games with the midget AAA Calgary Northstars this season, finishing third in the Alberta Midget Hockey League scoring race.

F Ryan Robinson, a 16-year-old from Plano, Texas, has committed to Arizona State for the 2020-21 season. Robinson has 19 goals and 23 assists in 36 games with the Dallas Stars U-16 team. . . . He was a seventh-round selection by the Everett Silvertips in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft.

Tyler Metcalfe was a terrific player through five WHL seasons, all of them with the Seattle Thunderbirds. These days, you are able to find Metcalfe coaching a high school team in Winnipeg — the Sturgeon Heights Huskies.

On Wednesday, the Huskies were involved in a game that ended prematurely when Metcalfe chose have it called.

“The game was getting out of control at that point, it seemed,” Metcalfe told CBC News. “It’s 5-0 and you don’t expect big hits to come when the game is essentially out of reach for us.

“I think it was the right call for all parties involved to call it quits at that point of the game. There’s nothing to gain other than to put more kids at risk.”

By that stage, one of Metcalfe’s players had left on a stretcher after behind hit from behind, and the St. Paul’s Crusaders also had a player who needed help getting back to the bench.

The full CBC story is right here.

The teams played the third game of the best-of three Tier 1 final on Thursday, with St. Paul’s winning, 2-1.

“More than 200 current and retired National Hockey League players have taken concerns about existing or potential brain injuries into their own hands by visiting a neurosurgeon in Kingston, Ont., for MRI brain scan procedures,” writes Rick Westhead of TSN. “Dr. Douglas James Cook says at least 120 former and some 80 active NHL players have undergone the scans over the past two years. He said that about 50 active players combined from the Ontario Hockey League and Western Hockey League have also been tested at Queen’s University over the same time frame.” . . . That complete story is right here.

In 2010, Graham James was charged with sexual abuse of Theo Fleury, Todd Holt and Greg Gilhooly. James pleaded guilty to the Fleury- and Holt-related charges; the charge involving Gilhooly was stayed. . . . Gilhooly now has written a book and the title says it all — I Am Nobody: Confronting the Sexually Abusive Coach Who Stole My Life. . . . I haven’t yet read Gilhooly’s book, but Ken Campbell of The Hockey News has, and his review is right here.



Saskatoon/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



No Games Scheduled.

FRIDAY (all times local):

Prince Albert at Swift Current, 7 p.m.

Lethbridge at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.

Moose Jaw at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.

Calgary at Edmonton, 7 p.m.

Kootenay at Red Deer, 7 p.m.

Vancouver at Kamloops, 7 p.m.

Seattle at Portland, 7 p.m.

Victoria at Prince George, 7 p.m.

Spokane vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.

Kelowna at Everett, 7:35 p.m.


Pats extend coaching staff . . . Season over for two Oil Kings . . . Heponiemi burning it up


F Linden Vey (Medicine Hat, 2006-2011) signed a contract for the rest of the season with the ZSC Lions Zurich (Switzerland, NL A) after being released by Barys Astana (Kazakhstan, KHL). He had 17 goals and 35 assists in 50 games with Barys Astana. Vey was third in the KHL in assists and points. Astana has been eliminated from KHL playoff contention.


The Regina Pats have signed John Paddock, their general manager and head coach, Dave ReginaPats100Struch, the assistant GM and assistant coach, and assistant coach Brad Herauf to multi-year contract extensions. . . . No further details were released, but Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post reported that all three extensions were “for three-plus years.” . . . Paddock joined the Pats prior to the 2014-15 season. In three-plus seasons, he has a regular-season record of 149-83-31 and the Pats have reached at least the second round of playoffs each season. In 2016-17, the Pats set a franchise record with 52 regular-season victories, before losing out in the WHL’s championship series. He has twice been named the WHL’s coach of the year. . . . Struch is in his 12th season as a WHL coach. Like Paddock, he came to Regina prior to the 2014-15 season. . . . Herauf, a former head coach of the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians, is in his third season with the Pats.

The Edmonton Oil Kings revealed via Twitter on Thursday that two players — G Travis Child and F Andrei Pavlenko — will miss the remainder of this season “due to shoulder surgery.” . . . Child, from Killam, Alta., is a 20-year-old so the injury means his junior hockey career is over. He got into 23 games with the Oil Kings this season, last playing on Dec. 15 when he left after the first period of a 5-0 loss to the visiting Tri-City Americans. . . . Pavlenko is a 17-year-old freshman from Minsk, Belarus. He had three goals and an assist in 20 games, but hasn’t played since Nov. 14.

F Aleksi Heponiemi of the Swift Current Broncos ran his point streak to 25 games in Wednesday’s 3-2 overtime victory over the host Tri-City Americans. He had two goals, SCBroncosincluding the winner, and an assist in the victory.

In the 25 games, he has 19 goals and 43 assists. He has had two five- and two four-point games. There have been seven three-point outings, including each of the past two. He has enjoyed two-point games on nine occasions, and five times has had one point.

The Broncos will play Game 2 of a U.S. Division trek tonight in Portland.

Heponiemi last went pointless on Oct. 13 in a 1-0 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. The Finnish sophomore missed 10 games while playing at the WJC in Buffalo.

The longest point streak in WHL history lasted 56 games. F Jeff Nelson of the Prince Albert Raiders put up 108 points from Oct. 24, 1990, through March 6, 1991.

Second on the list is 47 games, which two members of the Regina Pats — Jock Callander (141 points) and Wally Schreiber (99 points) — did in 1981-82.

In 1980-81, Portland D Jim Benning had a 45-game streak during which he had 95 points.

A couple of notes from info supplied by Geoffrey Brandon (@GeoffreyBrandow):

F Matthew Phillips of the Victoria Royals had a goal and two assists Wednesday’s 4-2 VictoriaRoyalsvictory over the Winterhawks in Portland. He now has 31 goals this season, the third straight season in which he has scored at least 30. He also has 40 assists for a second straight season.

In his last 15 games, during which he has been blanked twice, Phillips has 10 goals and 14 assists.

Meanwhile, F Tyler Soy of the Royals scored his 20th goal of the season in Portland. He is the first play with four straight 20-goal seasons since Tyson Baillie (Kelowna Rockets), Jackson Houck (Vancouver Giants/Calgary Hitmen), Luke Philp (Kootenay Ice/Red Deer Rebels) and Brayden Point (Moose Jaw Warriors) all did it from 2012-16.

If you would like to contact Taking Note with information, have a question or just feel like commenting on something, feel free to send an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com. I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).

If you enjoy stopping by here, and even if you don’t, feel free to make a donation to the cause by visiting my old site, taking note.ca, and clicking on the DONATE button. Thank you, in advance.



No Games Scheduled.

FRIDAY (all times local):

Moose Jaw at Regina, 7 p.m.

Kamloops at Calgary 7 p.m.

Prince Albert at Red Deer, 7 p.m.

Edmonton vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m.

Swift Current at Portland, 7 p.m.

Lethbridge at Prince George, 7 p.m.

Brandon vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.

Victoria vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7:30 p.m.

Kelowna vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:35 p.m.


A return to Scattershooting . . . Ice sweep Hitmen . . . Pats’ struggles continue . . . Giants really playing large


We’re back and we’re scattershooting on a Sunday night while watching the Dallas Cowboys and the Raiders playing in Los Angeles, and what a day it was for whacky NFL happenings:

Thanks to all who contacted me over the past day or two. I especially like the note that referred to Taking Note’s return as a Christmas miracle. Uh, no. But I do live with a miracle.

While I was on hacker-enforced hiatus, the Saskatoon Blades issued an injury report that actually specified the injuries. Yes. Seriously. According to the Blades, G Ryan Kubic (knee), F Gage Ramsay (groin) and F Caleb Fantillo (knee) all were sidelined. . . . Of course, by the time the WHL office posted its weekly roster report, all three were out with “lower body” injuries.

The day may come when the WHL realizes that a renewed emphasis on transparency might translate to more fans in the stands.

According to the WHL standings, the Seattle Thunderbirds have a .515 winning percentage. But their record is 15-14-4, which means they have lost three more games than they have won. Sorry, but that doesn’t compute to a .500 record. Oh, and don’t bother telling me that it has to do with loser points, something that has bastardized standings and the record book unlike anything else in sporting history.

The Regina Pats were one of those bogus .500 clubs going into Sunday’s games. They were 16-16-3, which the WHL claims is .500, before losing 3-1 to the host Saskatoon Blades on Sunday. The Pats now are 16-17-3, which the WHL claims is .486.

The Pats, of course, are the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup. With 36 games remaining in a 72-game schedule, they have lost four more games than they have won. Yes, their fans are in a tizzy. Should they be? No, not yet. They need to relax, enjoy Christmas and check back about Jan. 17. By that time, the trade deadline will have come and gone, meaning general manager/head coach John Paddock will have played out his hand, the World Junior Championship will be over, and there will be few remaining distractions. That’s when what Regina fans see is what they’ll get.

In the meantime, Regina hockey fans will be hoping their bankers all are friendly and that interest rates stay low, what with two outdoor games, an Eagles concert and the Memorial Cup all quickly approaching.

While Regina fans have their hands hovering over the panic button, followers of the Portland Winterhawks are staying away from bridges, and fans of the Red Deer Rebels are wondering what happened to their season.

Brent Sutter’s Rebels snapped an 11-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat on Friday night. Prior to the start of this season, who saw Red Deer with an 11-game losing streak included in its record? The Rebels are 10-18-6, leaving them seven points out of a playoff spot. They are 1-4-5 in their past 10 games.

Don Hay, the head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, goes into the Christmas break with 736 regular-season victories. He needs six more to get to 742, which will move him into a tie with the retired Ken Hodge for the WHL’s career record.

The Blazers will come back from the Christmas break to play 13 games, seven on the road, from Dec. 27 through Jan. 21. That crazy WHL schedule then calls for them to play Portland three times in fewer than 48 hours, meeting in Kamloops on Jan. 26 and 27, and in Portland on Jan. 28. Of course, Hodge put up most of his coaching victories while with the Winterhawks.

You may have noticed that Portland F Cody Glass wasn’t able to crack the roster of Canada’s national junior team. That means that the Canadian team must be pretty darn good. . . . F Matthew Phillips of the Victoria Royals didn’t even get invited to the selection camp. . . . Yes, Canada must be really, really good.

The Vancouver Giants go into Christmas having won six straight games, including home-and-home sweeps of Portland and Victoria. The Giants now are 18-13-4 — that’s a legitimate plus-500 — and only three points out of first place in the B.C. Division. That’s rarified air for a team that won 20 games last season and has made the playoffs once in the past five seasons.

With a new year on the horizon, the WHL’s 2017-18 Official Guide remains, well, unavailable. This is the second season in a row in which the WHL hasn’t been able to make the Guide available in a timely fashion.

ICYMI, the home arena of the Everett Silvertips underwent a name change while I was on hiatus. What once was Xfinity Arena now is . . . wait for it . . . Angel of the Winds Arena. The Angel of the Winds Casino Resort is paying US$3.4 million over a 10-year agreement for the naming rights. The casino is operated by the Stillaguamish Tribe. . . . Apparently, there wasn’t enough support to have the facility renamed The House That Kevin Left.

If you weren’t aware, the WHL now is shut down for Christmas. Most players will return to their teams on Boxing Day (aka Black Tuesday), with all 22 teams scheduled to play on Dec. 27. All 22 teams also will be in action on Dec. 30, after which each team will have returned from the break to play three games in four nights. Six teams — Brandon, Moose Jaw, Portland, Tri-City, Spokane and Seattle — also will play on Dec. 31, meaning those players have four games in five nights to think about while trying to enjoy Christmas.


At Calgary, D Jonathan Smart scored 30 seconds into OT to give the Kootenay Ice a 4-3 victory over the Hitmen. . . . The Ice (15-17-2) has points in three straight (2-0-1) and is tied for Kootenaynewsecond with the Lethbridge Hurricanes (15-16-2) in the Central Division. . . . Kootenay won 14 games all of last season and 12 in all of 2015-16. . . . The Hitmen (10-18-5) have lost two in a row (0-1-1), both to the Ice. . . . Calgary is eight points out of a playoff spot. . . . On Sunday, the Hitmen took a 3-1 lead into the second period. . . . F Jakob Stukel (15) gave the home side a 1-0 lead at 5:28. . . . The Ice tied it at 6:09 as F Michael King (6) scored. . . . The Hitmen then got goals from F Andrew Fyten (4), at 9:32, and F Mark Kastelic (8), shorthanded, at 17:36. . . . F Cameron Hausinger (9) pulled the Ice to within a goal, on a PP, at 5:18 of the second period. . . . Kootenay F Alec Baer forced OT with his 13th goal at 16:47 of the third period. . . . Smart, who was acquired from the Regina Pats on Nov. 14, won it with his fourth goal of the season on the only shot of OT by either team. That was his second score in 13 games with the Ice. . . . F Colton Kroeker drew an assist on each of his side’s last two goals. Baer also had an assist on the winner. . . . Kootenay was 1-6 on the PP; Calgary was 1-1. . . . Kootenay got 18 saves from G Duncan McGovern. . . . Calgary G Nick Schneider stopped 17 shots. . . . Announced attendance: 6,269.

At Saskatoon, the Blades scored the game’s first two goals and went on to a 3-2 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Saskatoon (15-17-3) is tied with the Prince Albert Raiders (13-14-Saskatoon7) for the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card playoff spot. . . . The Pats (16-17-3) have lost four straight (0-3-1). The host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup holds down the conference’s first wild-card spot. Regina is fourth in the East Division, 14 points behind the third-place Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . On Sunday, the Blades took a 2-0 lead on first-period goals from F Braylon Shmyr (15), on a PP, at 11:08, and F Chase Wouters (7), at 19:35. . . . F Matt Bradley (22) got the Pats to within one, on a PP, at 4:43 of the second period, only to have Saskatoon F Josh Paterson (12) get it back, on a PP, at 15:42. . . . F Jake Leschyshyn pulled the visitors back to within a goal at 14:40 of the third period. . . . Shmyr also had two assists as he figured in each of Saskatoon’s goals. . . . Saskatoon also got two assists from F Kirby Dach. . . . Saskatoon was 2-4 on the PP; Regina was 1-6. . . . G Nolan Maier stopped 27 shots to earn the victory. . . . Regina got 22 stops from G Tyler Brown. . . . The Pats were without F Sam Steel and D Josh Mahura, both of whom are with Canada’s national junior team. Mahura had been among the players cut from the selection camp, but was recalled to the team on Saturday following an injury to D Dante Fabbro of Boston U. Fabbro suffered an undisclosed injury in an exhibition game against Denmark on Friday. If Fabbro isn’t able to play, Mahura is expected to be named to the 22-man roster on Dec. 25. . . . Announced attendance: 3,534.

At Everett, the Silvertips moved past Portland and into first place in the U.S. Division with a resounding 8-3 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . The Silvertips (21-13-2) have Everettwon two straight and are 9-1-0 in their past 10. They lead the Winterhawks (21-11-1) by one point atop the U.S. Division. They also lead the Western Conference, by one point over Portland, the Kelowna Rockets (20-11-3) and Victoria Royals (20-13-3). . . . The Winterhawks have lost two in a row and are 2-7-1 in their past 10. . . . On Sunday, the teams were 2-2 going into the second period where the hosts exploded for five goals. . . . Portland F Skyler McKenzie, who has 23 goals, scored twice in the opening period, sandwiched around Everett goals from F Bryce Kindopp and F Luke Ormsby (1), who is from Monroe, Wash. That was Ormsby’s first goal since he was acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Kindopp (11) snapped the 2-2 tie at 5:20 of the second period to start the onslaught. . . . Before the period was over, Everett had goals from F Martin Fasko-Rudas (1), F Akash Bains (2), F Patrick Bajkov (20) and F Riley Sutter (13). . . . F Jake Gracious (5) of Portland and Everett F Brandson Hein (2) exchanged third-period goals. . . . Everett got two assists from each of D Montana Onyebuchi, F Reece Vitelli and F Connor Dewar, with Fasko-Rudas, Ormsby, Sutter and Bains getting one apiece. . . . Everett was 0-3 on the PP; Portland’s PP unit didn’t get on the ice. . . . G Dustin Wolf stopped 26 shots for the Silvertips. . . . Portland starter Shane Farkas allowed five goals on 24 shots in 29:15. Cole Kehler, who turned 20 on Sunday, came on to stop 12 of 15 shots in 30:45. . . . Portland F Ryan Hughes played his second game after returning from surgery to repair a broken leg suffered on Oct. 10. . . . Everett was playing its third game in fewer than 48 hours. It went 2-1-0. . . . Announced attendance: 3,817.

At Spokane, F Nikita Malukhin scored his first two WHL goals to help the Thunderbirds to a 10-3 romp over the Chiefs. . . . Seattle (15-14-4), the WHL’s defending champion, has Seattlewon two in a row and holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, five points behind Spokane (18-13-3), which now is 17-2-1 when scoring at least three goals. . . . Malukhin, a freshman from Kazan, Russia, went into the game with one assist in 18 games. . . . F Blake Bargar, who has seven goals, and F Zack Andrusiak, who has 18, also had two goals each for Seattle. . . . Andrusiak opened the scoring 20 seconds into the game. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan, on a PP, tied it for Spokane at 3:14. . . . The Thunderbirds took control by scoring the next five goals. . . . F Nolan Volcan (13), who drew four assists, and D Austin Strand (12) scored before the first-period ended, and Bargar, Malukhin and Andrusiak added second-period goals. . . . Spokane got to within three goals, at 6-3, as Anderson-Dolan (16) scored, on a PP, at 7:12 of the third period and F Riley Woods (13) counted at 8:37. . . . But the Thunderbirds wrapped it up with the game’s last four goals, from Bargar, F Matthew Wedman (4), D Reece Harsch (6) and Malukhin. . . . Wedman added two assists to his goal, with Strand, Harsch, Bargar and Andrusiak each getting one. . . . D Ty Smith had two assists for the Chiefs. . . . The Thunderbirds were 2-3 on the PP; the Chiefs were 2-4. . . . G Matt Berlin earned the victory with 31 stops. . . . Spokane starter Donovan Buskey was beaten five times on 19 shots in 34:50. . . . G Campbell Arnold, 15, made his WHL debut with the Chiefs, coming on in relief at 14:50 of the second period. He allowed five goals on 10 shots in 25:10. Arnold, from Nanaimo, B.C., was added on Friday after the Chiefs returned G Declan Hobbs, 19, to the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks. Hobbs, whose rights were acquired from the Kootenay Ice in July, had been with the Chiefs since Dec. 1. Arnold has been playing for the prep team at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C. The Chiefs selected him in the second round of the 2017 bantam draft. . . . Announced attendance: 4,042.

At Langley, B.C., the Vancouver Giants ran their winning streak to six games with a 2-0 victory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . The Giants (18-13-4) are 8-2-0 in their past 10 Vancouvergames. They are third in the B.C. Division, just three points out of first place. . . . The Cougars (12-17-5) are last in the Western Conference. They are four points out of a wild-card spot and 11 points behind Vancouver. . . . D Bowen Byram (2) broke a scoreless tie at 11:31 of the third period. . . . F Ty Ronning scored Vancouver’s second goal, an empty-netter, at 19:00. He has 32 goals in 35 games; last season, he totalled 25 goals in 68 games. In 2015-16, he had 31 scores in 67 outings. In his career, he has 98 regular-season goals in 250 games. . . .  Ronning also drew an assist on Byram’s goal. . . . G David Tendeck stopped 40 shots for his second shutout of the season. He is 12-6-1, 2.90, .913. . . . The Cougars got 31 saves from G Tavin Grant. . . . Vancouver was 2-5 on the PP; Prince George was 0-2. . . . The Giants went 3-0-0 as they played three games in fewer than 48 hours. They swept the Victoria Royals in a home-and-home set. . . . The Cougars went 0-3-0 in playing three games in fewer than 48 hours. They lost 4-0 in Everett on Saturday, meaning they have been blanked in two straight games. . . . The Cougars return from the Christmas break to play four road games — in Victoria on Dec. 27 and 28, and back in Langley on Dec. 30 and Jan. 1. . . . Announced attendance: 4,088.

If you would like to contact Taking Note with information, have a question or just feel like commenting on something, feel free to send an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com. I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).


The Book Shelf, Part III


As most of you will be aware, my original site got hacked late in November and I have been idle since then.

Tonight, I have opened a new site that may be temporary. If the other site is repaired soon, I will move back there.

But I wanted a spot to post these book notes — Parts I, II and III.

I am sorry they are so late but, hey, stuff happens.

In the meantime, enjoy!

What follows is the third of three parts.

Enjoy, and please keep on reading!

Morning Miracle: Inside the Washington Post a Great Newspaper Fights for its Life — Late in 2016 came news that the Washington Post was making money, again, and was soon to hire as many as 60 journalists. Written by Dave Kindred, who is best known as a sports columnist, this is a tremendous look at the inner workings of one of the world’s best newspapers as it fights for its life. Kindred was given access to every nook and cranny, and the book reads like it. Published in 2010, it is as relevant today as it was then. There also is a world of hurt here, as journalists continue to do what they do, while their world collapses around them.

My Song: A Memoir of Art, Race, and Defiance — You may know Harry Belafonte best as a singer — Day-O, Island in the Sun, Man Smart (Woman Smarter), etc. — or perhaps even as an actor. After reading his memoir, written with Michael Schnayerson, you will come to realize that Belafonte, 90, was one of the most important civil rights activists of our time. He was there with Martin Luther King Jr., and with Nelson Mandela and behind the scenes when so much more history was written. This is an amazing book, with Belafonte leaving no stone unturned, personal or otherwise. I was reading this book as January turned into February, which made it that much more relevant.

Night of Thunder: A Bob Lee Swagger Novel — This is the fifth of author Stephen Hunter’s nine (so far) books that detail the fictional exploits of Bob Lee Swagger. Night of Thunder takes place around Bristol Motor Speedway and a NASCAR race, with a family of crooks working to rip off the joint. Unfortunately, they involve Swagger’s daughter, Nikki, who is a reporter for a local newspaper. The rest is gunfire, helicopters and explosions. You’ll have to guess who wins in the end, though.

Night School — This is book No. 21 in the best-selling Jack Reacher series, which is written by Lee Child. The story, which is set in 1996, this time takes Reacher to Europe, mostly Hamburg, Germany, as he works to untangle a mess that involves terrorism and all kinds of federal and foreign agencies, including, yes, the CIA and FBI. Unfortunately, taking Reacher to Europe just doesn’t work. Something is missing here. Perhaps not enough bad guys got their heads banged by Reacher. Or, perhaps, Child simply ran out of Reacher-related ideas. While we hope this was a one-off, we will wait to see what’s next in the adventures of Jack Reacher.

North River — This is a novel about Dr. Jim Delaney, who works in an Irish-dominated neighbourhood in Brooklyn in the latter part of the Great Depression, prior to the Second World War. He comes home one day to find his three-year-old grandson on the doorstep and the child’s mother long gone. But this book is so much more than that because author Pete Hamill, a legend in the world of New York City’s newspapers, brings that city to life like no other writer. What’s that on your tongue? The grit and soot from the streets of New York. . . . Damn, this is a good one. I didn’t want it to end.

One Night Only: Conversations with the NHL’s One-Game Wonders — As of the writing of this book, there were, according to author Ken Reid, “about 350 men, give or take” whose entire NHL careers comprised one game. Reid, an anchor at Sportsnet, talks with 39 of those men in this book. As the title infers, the book features conversations as opposed to story-telling. Reid spoke with many of his subjects via telephone, so there isn’t a lot of up close-and-personal here and, after a while, the stories start to run together. Still, it’s especially interesting to read how these men felt as they realized the dream of playing in the NHL, and then later realized that, just like that, it was over. There is one horrible editing error — the chapter on Dave Chartier, who played with the Brandon Wheat Kings, features a photo of Dave Chartier, a player of the same name who played for the Saskatoon Blades.

The Pride of the Yankees: Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper, and the Making of a Classic — Author Richard Sandomir, who writes for The New York Times, has written a wonderfully interesting book that chronicles the last days of Gehrig’s career with the Yankees and all that went into making the movie that followed his death. Sandomir details the search for actors to play Gehrig and his wife, Eleanor, and all that went into getting the movie to the big screen in a hurry. Interestingly, MGM boss Samuel Goldwyn wasn’t a baseballer; he wanted a love story. Gary Cooper, who plays Gehrig, wasn’t a baseballer, either. In the end, there was little about baseball in the movie. Still, the movie is a classic and this book tells the story of how it came to be.

Rink Burgers — Author Todd Devonshire was born, raised and played his minor hockey in Big River, Sask. He and his wife, Dawn, go home for a weekend and open boxes and memories, almost all of which are connected to his days as a minor hockey player. This book is rich in reminiscing and will result in a lot of smiles, especially if you have ever been in a small-town arena that was awash in the smells that come with rink burgers and fried onions.

The Sisters Brothers — A weirdly comic western by Patrick deWitt features a pair of bad brothers — Charlie and Eli Sisters — although one is quite a bit badder than the other. They are assassins for hire and their latest job takes them from Oregon City into California in search of their next target. The humour, you should know, is darker than midnight. In the end, though, the Sisters brothers prove that even the bad guys can go home again.

Stick a Fork in Me: A Novel — Pete Wallace is the athletic director at Western Ohio University and he’s closing in on retirement. Author Dan Jenkins uses Wallace’s reminisces and all kinds of characters to skewer the NCAA, professors, coaches, husband/wife relationships (his wife has a serious case of golf) et all. This is a quick read, but it’s Jenkins at his sarcastic and hilarious best.

Testimony — Imagine being a teenager fresh out of Toronto and finding yourself in Arkansas playing the dives and juke joints with Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks? That’s how Robbie Robertson got his start in the music business, and he tells us all about it in Testimony, an amazing memoir. Robertson now is 74 years of age; this book ends with The Last Waltz, the final concert in the volatile run of The Band, on Nov. 25, 1976. All that transpired between Arkansas and The Last Waltz is between the covers of this book and a lot of it isn’t pretty. That includes a European tour as Bob Dylan’s backup band as Dylan was going electric. Robertson packed a lot into the 33 years covered by this book and he introduces the reader to a whole lot of music history.

Time of Departure — I picked this book because the author, Douglas Schofield, is from Kamloops. A crown prosecutor-turned-writer, he now lives in the Cayman Islands, where he writes and practises law. This book is a crime mystery wrapped around Claire Talbot, who works in Florida and has recently been promoted to Felony Division Chief. I can’t reveal too much without ruining it for future readers, but it’s all about the unsolved murders of nine young women, and there is quite a twist in this story.

War Room: The Legacy of Bill Belichick and the Art of Building the Perfect Team — This one of the best football books that I have read. Author Michael Holley delves into the Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots in explaining how the organization got to the top of the NFL ladder and how it manages to stay there. Holley also looks at how Scott Pioli and Thomas Dimitroff left the Patriots’ front office to join the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons, respectively. There is lots of inside football stuff between these covers.

The Whistler — Disbarred lawyers. A casino on Native American land in Florida. Organized crime. A crooked judge. What could go wrong? There’s all that and more in the latest work from John Grisham. Maybe it was just me, but this one really didn’t grab me. It’s pretty straight-forward with few surprises.

— This is book No. 21 in the series of books by Michael Connelly that features Harry Bosch. He now is retired from the LAPD but has his private investigator’s ticket and also is freelancing on cold cases for the San Fernando Police Department. That means that in The Wrong Side of Goodbye, Bosch is working two cases — he’s looking for a serial rapist and, at the same time, searching for a possible heir to a fortune — both of which have the usual twists and turns. This is more good reading from Connelly.

(Part 3 of 3)

Here are the top 11 books that I read over the past year, in no particular order (I attempted to limit the list to 10 but I just couldn’t do it):

Indian Horse, by Richard Wagamese

North River, by Pete Hamill

Billy Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius, by Bill Pennington

Testimony, by Robbie Robertson

My Song: A Memoir of Art, Race, and Defiance, by Harry Belafonte, with Michael Schnayerson

The Miracle Mile: Stories of the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, by Jason Beck

Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann

A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles

Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen

The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse, by Tom Verducci

Game Change: The Life and Death of Steve Montador, and the Future of Hockey, by Ken Dryden

The Book Shelf, Part II


As most of you will be aware, my original site got hacked late in November and I have been idle since then.

Tonight, I have opened a new site that may be temporary. If the other site is repaired soon, I will move back there.

But I wanted a spot to post these book notes — Parts I, II and III.

I am sorry they are so late but, hey, stuff happens.

In the meantime, enjoy!

What follows is the second of three parts.

Enjoy, and please keep on reading!

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis — Author J.D. Vance is a hillbilly and damn proud of it. He also is one of the fortunate sons who was able to escape before the vicious circle consumed him. He got out by joining the U.S. Marines and then going to Ohio State U, and followed that up by earning a law degree at Yale. In this telling book, he bares his family’s soul and, in the process, helps explain today’s political situation in his country.

Hockey Talk: Stories Behind the Voice — Dr. Gordon Hunter of the U of Lethbridge has put together a book in which 49 men tell their stories. Each of them is, or was, the play-by-play voice of a major junior or junior A hockey team. Each of them has a unique story, although almost all of them are at least in part about being in the right place at the right time. Hockey Talk is available from the U of Lethbridge bookstore, with all royalties going to Kid Sport Canada.

The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley and the Unlikely Ascent of Hallelujah — A song that received little exposure when it was first released by Leonard Cohen, Hallelujah has become an anthem of our times. Author Alan Light, a former editor-in-chief of Spin and Vibe magazines, examines the song, modifications and covers, and everything else around it. If you’ve heard the song — and you know you have — this is an engrossing read.

The Hot Line: How the Legendary Trio of Hull, Hedberg and Nilsson Transformed Hockey and Led the Winnipeg Jets to Greatness — Phew! That’s a title. . . . Author Geoff Kirbyson provides a real feel for what Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson went through when they joined the WHA’s Winnipeg Jets. Because of the beauty they brought to the North American game, it’s easy to forget the abuse they absorbed, but it’s all right here. Also here are plenty of well-deserved accolades from all kinds of hockey people. Thankfully, Kirbyson didn’t forget the other terrific Europeans who also were with the Jets, players like Lars-Erik Sjoberg, who quietly may have been the best of them all, Dan Labratten, Willy Lindstrom, Kent Nilsson et all. . . . I read a Kindle edition and it really needed an editor as there were a number of spelling errors, especially when it came to names. I would hope they don’t appear in the print edition.

Indian Horse — Saul Indian Horse, an Ojibway survivor of the residential school system, finds escape from his nightmare on the ice as a hockey player. He is a dynamic player, too, but what happens when what he thinks is his game turns out to be white, just like the ice? Author Richard Wagamese has written a wonderful book, one that will drag you through a gamut of emotions and one that will stay with you for a long time. If you haven’t yet read Indian Horse, get a copy and put it on top of the pile. It is that good; in fact, I would go so far as to say this one is unforgettable. The movie is on its way and if it’s half as good as the book, well, look out.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI — Oh boy, did this one stay with me after I finished it! The Osage Indian nation of Oklahoma found itself awash — really, really awash — in oil money in the 1920s, but not one member of the tribe could have envisioned the blood bath that would follow. Author David Grann has investigated what went on and what he discovered is mind-boggling and heart-shattering. Countless members of the tribe were killed — the exact number never will be known — by white men after their fortunes. Most anyone who may have been charged with investigating seems to have been bought off, which brings us to J. Edgar Hoover. The FBI was in its infancy and this case, with a man named Tom White assigned to head it up, did wonders for its reputation. . . . This book is one of the best reads this year, without a doubt.

The Late Show — Michael Connelly, the author who brought us Harry Bosch, uses The Late Show to introduce us to Renée Ballard, a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department. Due to an incident with a higher-up, Ballard works the night shift (aka The Late Show) and really doesn’t mind it. Like Bosch, she has an independent mind and doesn’t mind going around the speed bumps in order to get the job done. But while Bosch is a lone wolf trying, and struggling, to keep up with the times, Ballard is up to speed on everything in today’s world. She also sleeps on the beach, surfs and, well, if you like cop books give this one a read.

Leo Durocher: Baseball’s Prodigal Son — In baseball’s long and glorious history there may have been no figure who was more polarizing than Leo Durocher. Here was a manager who during his days with the Chicago Cubs chose to demean Ernie Banks and Ron Santo, perhaps the two most-loved figures in that franchise’s history. If you are like me and love the stories and anecdotes from our sporting history, you will enjoy author Paul Dickson’s in-depth look at Durocher and his life on and off the baseball diamond. Don’t forget that Durocher was great friends with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Danny Kaye and George Raft, and his third wife was Laraine Day, a big-name movie star back in the day. Yes, Dickson had lots to write about and he did it well.

Life — There is a meme kicking around the internet that reads: “We need to start worrying about the kind of world we are going to leave for Keith Richards.” Dig into Life, the memoir written by the Rolling Stones’ guitarist, singer and co-founder, and about halfway through you start to think that meme hits the nail squarely on the head. Richards, now 73, should have been dead a dozen times over, if not more. Oh boy, what a life this man has led, and he chronicles every inch of it between the covers of Life. The drugs, the women and, yes, his relationship with Mick Jagger . . . it’s all there.

The Miracle Mile: Stories of the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games — This truly is an important book, one that should take its place on the shelf with others that dig deeply into events that were important to Canada’s history. Author Jason Beck, who is curator and facility director at the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in Vancouver, started researching this book in August of 2006; it was published in 2016. The important thing to understand is that this work is about so much more than the Miracle Mile and its two primary participants — Roger Bannister and John Landy. It is full of the history of the 1954 BECG — how did they land in Vancouver, the decision-making process in selecting sites, what being the host city meant, etc. The research is impeccable and the stories about an untold number of athletes are invaluable. It also is the story of a city on the cusp of becoming an international showpiece. This book is, in a word, a masterpiece.

Mississippi Blood — This is book No. 3 in a trilogy that began with Natchez Burning and continued with The Bone Tree. If you read the first two, you won’t want to miss this one. If you like long reads that draw you in and give you a front row seat these are terrific, and Mississippi Blood doesn’t disappoint. Author Greg Iles tells the story of Penn Cage, the mayor of Natchez, Miss., his family — his father, Dr. Tom Cage, is much beloved in Natchez, especially by the black community — and so much more. Believe me when I say it’s all multi-layered and oh, so readable.

(Part 2 of 3)

The Book Shelf, Part I


As most of you will be aware, my original site got hacked late in November and I have been idle since then.

Tonight, I have opened a new site that may be temporary. If the other site is repaired soon, I will move back there.

But I wanted a spot to post these book notes — Parts I, II and III.

I am sorry they are so late but, hey, stuff happens. I am stumbling along trying to get this stuff posted, so, at least for now, this site will be all about words. OK?

In the meantime, enjoy!

American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst — If you don’t remember, Patty Hearst —  yes, of that Hearst family — was kidnapped by a rag-tag outfit that called itself the Symbionese Liberation Army on Feb. 4, 1974. Author Jeffrey Toobin, who is a senior legal analyst with CNN and who also wrote The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson, provides us with an engrossing tale of all that followed the kidnapping. It’s all here, from the bank robberies to the strangeness of attorney F. Lee Bailey to Hearst’s trial and everything in between. Remember as you read this book that there was nothing resembling social media in 1974, and the FBI, well, it couldn’t have found its butt with either hand.

Anatomy of a Song — Author/music historian Marc Myers has written columns for the Wall Street Journal that feature interviews with singers, song writers, musicians et al. In effect, he has been writing about the stories behind the songs. In this book, he expands on that theme to profile 45 songs, all of them big-time hits that live on. Why 45? Remember when you purchased music on 45s? Included are tunes by Otis Redding, Elvis Presley, Bonnie Raitt, Merle Haggard, The Neville Brothers, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, Rod Stewart, Joni Mitchell and on and on. The stories behind these songs are mesmerizing.

Behind the Bench: Inside the Minds of Hockey’s Greatest Coaches — Craig Custance, a hockey writer with ESPN, sat down with 10 successful coaches — Mike Babcock, Dan Bylysma, Bob Hartley, Ken Hitchcock, Claude Julien, Todd McLellan, Joel Quenneville, Mike Sullivan and John Tortorella, and Ron Wilson — and watched video from a key game in each of their careers. Custance then wrote about what he witnessed and the chatter that went on in each session. You may not learn anything that really is earth-shattering, but this is interesting stuff. If you weren’t aware, successful coaches are intense individuals, something that really stands out here. . . . One word of caution: Best to read this book in six or more sittings so that the chapters don’t run together. . . . One other thing: I found it odd that Custance didn’t even make reference to McLellan’s six seasons as the general manager and head coach of the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos and how much that meant to his career. After all, McLellan, then 27, took over from the soon-to-be disgraced Graham James as the Broncos’ GM and head coach.

Billy Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius — In the days when the New York Yankees seemed to be defined by the actions of George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin, Bill Pennington covered the American League team for the Bergen Record and The New York Times. That means that Pennington was an eyewitness to a lot of what happened in what came to be known as the Bronx Zoo. Pennington was in a lot of the bars that were frequented by Martin, who had a propensity for finishing scraps that he may not have started, and he was at most of the games in which Martin’s baseball genius was on display. This is an entertaining read, one that reads as though the author was there, which, of course, he was.

The Bone Tree — It started with Natchez Burning and author Greg Iles continues the story with The Bone Tree. If you like long reads, these two books are for you. But note that each runs more than 800 pages in paperback. Still, they are well worth it, with Iles bringing in JFK, the KKK, the FBI and a whole lot more as he explores what once was a way of life in the Deep South.

Born to Run — It took more than seven years for Bruce Springsteen to write his autobiography; it would have been worth the wait had it taken him 14 years to produce what is an extraordinary book. This is the story of a legendary music man who really is just like the rest of us. He had issues with a father, who obviously had his own problems, and there are battles with anxiety and depression. Springsteen writes of all that, along with life, death, love and, yes, the E Street Band, and he does it without any puffery. This is easily one of the top books that I read in 2017. In fact, this was so good it took me a month to read it. I didn’t want it to end, so I would pick it up, read a few pages, then put it down, savour it for a few days, and do it all again.

The Chemist — Her name is Alex — or is it Juliana? — and she is a seeker of truth by any chemical means necessary. She is well-educated and well-trained and really, really good at her job. But now the very government that employed her is hunting her down. Written by Stephenie Meyer — yes, that Stephenie Meyer, who wrote the Twilight franchise — this isn’t science fiction or fantasy, just good escapism.

The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse — Author Tom Verducci received an amazing amount of access to the Chicago Cubs as they won the franchise’s first World Series title in 108 years in 2016. He used that access to tell the story of how the championship roster was built, in the process telling the stories of many of the participants. This is an enjoyable read and one that provides a whole lot of insight, especially into manager Joe Maddon and how he looks at the game of baseball.

Burning Bright — If you like the Jason Bourne movies, or the Jack Reacher and Harry Bosch books, you will enjoy reading author Nick Petrie’s works that feature Peter Ash, an Afghanistan veteran who battles white noise — his PTSD includes claustrophobia — and bad guys. This is good escapism for those smoky summer days or chilly winter nights. . . . Burning Bright is the second book in the Ash series; The Drifter came before it..

Game Change: The Life and Death of Steve Montador, and the Future of Hockey — This is a book about Steve Montador, who never was a top-end player on any of the teams on which he played. But he was the kind of player every team needs — one who does the dirty work and never complains. Montador died in 2015 and an examination of his brain showed CTE. Ken Dryden, who also wrote The Game, which is in the discussion as one of the best sports books ever written, has done it again. His examination of Montador’s life shows the stresses with which a depth player must learn to cope as he struggles to get to the NHL and then works to stay there. Everyone loved Montador and yet he was a loner, but Dryden is able to get close to him and give the reader a real feel for him. As the book nears its end, Dryden, a former NHL goaltender, offers up two ways — really simple ways — to save hockey from this kind of story. Unfortunately, the Gary Bettmans and Ron Robisons of the hockey world, the men who wield the power, won’t be impacted by books and stories of this nature. So the battle to lessen the number of brain injuries in hockey will continue.

A Gentleman in Moscow — It is 1922 and Count Alexander Rostov has been sentenced by a Bolshevik tribunal to house arrest in the Metropol, a hotel that just happens to be right by the Kremlin. But this is a grand hotel . . . as in really, really grand. That is the basis for a truly glorious book by Amor Towles, an author whose writing is rich and enjoyable and fun. The reader encounters twists and turns and glorious characters. My goodness, but this is a great book.

The Gray and Guilty Sea — This is the first in a series of Garrison Gage mysteries written by Scott William Carter. Gage is a private investigator who has retired to the coast of Oregon — to a town called Barnacle Bluffs — in a bid to escape from memories and lose himself where nobody knows his name. That lasts until the body of a young girl washes up on a beach. Gage is a likeable character, albeit with plenty of snark to him, and that makes it all work.

(Part 1 of 3)