Gaglardi ‘suspects’ Lajoie will be back. . . . Habscheid, Love in war of the words. . . . Ice, assistant coach go separate ways


MacBeth

F Aaron Gagnon (Seattle, 2001-07) has signed a one-year contract extension with Langnau (Switzerland, NL). This season, he had 14 goals and 14 assists in 39 games.


ThisThat

It seems that a lot of folks who follow the WHL are wondering about the coaching situation with the Kamloops Blazers. Specifically, they want to know if Serge Lajoie will be back for a second season as the head coach.

You will be aware that the Blazers went 28-32-8 this season, then beat the Kelowna Kamloops1Rockets in a tiebreaker to get into the playoffs, where they were beaten in six games by the Victoria Royals in a spirited first-round series.

Let’s break down the Blazers’ season a little bit.

Darryl Sydor, one of the franchise’s five owners, was named a full-time assistant coach on Feb. 12. A former Blazers defenceman who went on to play and coach in the NHL, Sydor is a two-time Stanley Cup winner and also won a Memorial Cup.

When the Blazers made that announcement, they were 20-27-5. With Sydor officially on board, they finished the regular-season 8-5-3, won that tiebreaker, then went 2-4 in the playoffs.

So, all told, they were 11-9-3 after the Sydor announcement.

Which brings us to an interview that Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week did with Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner. Here are three questions and answers:

Hastings: Will Serge be the head coach to start next season?

Gaglardi: I suspect so. He’s got a long-term contract and we haven’t had any conversation about anything other than that. We’re very happy with where we are. We had a great finish to the year and we’re excited about next season, but this week is just a week to lick our wounds. This is a series (vs. Victoria) we truly thought we could win.

Hastings: What do you think assistant coach Darryl Sydor brought to the team?

Gaglardi: Darryl really understands what it takes to win and what a successful bench feels like. He’s been a long-time player and had success at the junior level, had success at the NHL level, won a couple of Stanley Cups. He knows what benches need. I think he was really instrumental in figuring out what his role could be to help. Sometimes you’ve got a coach that’s a hard coach and the kids need to be brought up and built back, and Darryl really understands the ying and yang, the methods, and figured out a role that he could help in. He really worked hard to make sure the kids believed they could actually get the job done. He perhaps brought something to the staff that was missing. Darryl is a tremendous guy and I was thrilled when he agreed to join full-time and come on board and he made a difference.

Hastings: Does Darryl have what it takes to be a head coach here or somewhere else?

Gaglardi: I’ve got to think so, if that’s what he wants to do. He’s come home and I think he’d like to be involved in some way. We’ve had lots of talks around this for a long time. What this blossoms into, I’m not sure. He’s a tremendous guy and we’d love to have him involved. He’s got kids playing competitive hockey. I’m not sure where he’s going to be, in terms of level of commitment next year, whether he’s ready to step in and take on some sort of full-time role again with the club. I’m not sure. He did make a big difference to us down the stretch.

That complete interview is right here.

I don’t have any idea what the future holds here. I do know that in the 12 seasons under the ownership of Gaglardi, Sydor, Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla and Mark Recchi, the Blazers have gotten out of the first round twice, been a first-round casualty six times, and have missed the playoffs on four occasions.

Lajoie is the 10th head coach or interim head coach, including Guy Charron on two occasions, this franchise has employed over those 12 seasons.


It’s ‘Game On’ in the Eastern Conference seminal between the Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades.

The series resumes tonight in Saskatoon, with the Raiders holding a 2-0 lead. Game 3 will be televised by Sportsnet.

Other than the quotes in the above tweets, Ryan Flaherty of Global TV in Saskatoon also Saskatoontweeted this quote from Blades head coach Mitch Love:

“There was four head-whipping incidents (Sunday) night, three of which led to penalties on our side, by their players. So is that embellishment? I don’t know. Is it? I hope they’re getting their necks fixed over there today.”

You’ll recall that prior to the series Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, offered up PrinceAlbertthese thoughts to Darren Zary of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix:

“They embellish. That’s what they do. They led the league in drawing minors. It’s known around (the league) that they do that. Hopefully, that stops because it’s not a good thing. You look at a guy like Kirby Dach. He’s a good player. I met the young man at the Prospects game. A great kid, awesome kid and really great player. He doesn’t need to embellish. He’s better than that. He’s a good enough player. He doesn’t need to that.”

As Zary reports in a story posted on Monday evening, Love went so far as to suggest that the WHL office needs to be paying more attention to player safety.

“I really chose not to say too much about it up until this point,” Zary quotes Love as having said, “but after watching two games in which I felt there were several incidents — especially (Sunday night’s) hockey game where there was a lot of contact towards players’ heads — I know our league stresses player safety, so I think the real story here is how people have turned a blind eye to that kind of thing, based on comments that were made previously, prior to the start of the series.”

Zary’s story is right here.

And, in case you missed it, here’s some video of Habscheid off the Sportsnet telecast early in Game 2 on Saturday night. . . .


The Winnipeg Ice revealed via Twitter on Monday that the organization and assistant coach Gord Burnett “have agreed to part ways.” Burnett, a native of Regina, just completed his fourth season on the Ice’s coaching staff. . . . According to the Ice’s website, its coaching staff now comprises head coach James Patrick and associate coach Jon Klemm. . . . Patrick, from Winnipeg, and Klemm, who is from Cranbrook, have been with the Ice through two seasons.


F Kyle Olson of the Tri-City Americans has joined the San Diego Gulls, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, on an ATO. From Calgary, Olson was selected by the Ducks in the fourth round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. He hasn’t signed an NHL contract. . . . This season, Olson, who turned 20 on March 22, had 21 goals and 49 assists in 62 games with the Americans.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have signed D Matt Smith to a WHL contract. An Edmonton native, Smith was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . He played this season with the midget AAA Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., Rangers, recording two goals and 10 assists in 41 regular-season and playoff games.


Rick Westhead of TSN filed another story regarding the minimum-wage lawsuit on Monday, and this one really involves the WHL.

“A fight is unfolding in the Western Hockey League minimum-wage class-action lawsuit over the privacy of current and former players who pursue a claim against the league for minimum wage, back pay and overtime,” Westhead writes.

“A year and a half after an Alberta judge certified a minimum-wage lawsuit against the WHL, lawyers for the plaintiffs and the league are now battling over how to notify those players about their right to proceed with a case or, if they choose, withdraw from the litigation.

“The two sides will appear at a hearing in Calgary on Monday to make arguments about the notice the players will be given regarding the lawsuit.”

The complete story is right here.

Westhead also mentioned that “the CHL and its three leagues have been battling minimum-wage lawsuits for the past five years.”

It is hard to fathom that it already has been that long. Wouldn’t you like to know how much money the WHL has spent on legal fees over that time?


F Joachim Blichfeld of the Portland Winterhawks will play for Denmark’s national men’s team in a pair of exhibition games against visiting Finland this week. The games are scheduled for Thursday in Aalborg and Saturday in Vojens. . . . The Danish team, under head coach Heinz Ehlers, dropped eight players from its training camp after weekend workouts. . . . Blichfeld, who won the WHL scoring championship with 114 points in 68 games this season, is hoping to earn a spot on the national men’s A team that will play in the IIHF World Championship in the Slovakian cities of Bratislava and Košice, from May 10 through May 26.


Kevin Kaminski is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice larongeWolves. Kaminski, who is from Churchbridge, Sask., signed a three-year contract. . . . Kaminski, 50, spent three seasons (1986-89) with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades before going on to a pro career that included 139 games in the NHL. . . . For the past three seasons, he has been the head coach of the Western States Hockey League’s Fresno Monsters. . . . The Ice Wolves also announced that Gaelan Patterson, another former Blades skater, will be turning, but as associate GM and associate coach. Patterson finished the season as the team’s interim head coach after the firing of Evan Vossen. . . . The team also said that Travis Hegland will be returning as athletic therapist and trainer.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: D Jake Kustra of the Victoria Royals has been suspended for two games after taking a cross-checking major and game misconduct for a hit on F Jared Dmytriw of the DisciplineVancouver Giants at 2:54 of the second period on Saturday. That was in Game 2 of the series. The Giants won, 2-1 in OT, and hold a 2-0 leading going into Game 3 tonight in Victoria. . . .

Meanwhile, the Giants have been fined $750 for, according to the WHL website, “actions of player at end of game” on Saturday night. There was a bit of a brouhaha after Vancouver F Tristen Nielsen scored the game-winner at 3:29 of OT. G Griffen Outhouse of Victoria came out of it with a roughing minor, while Giants D Alex Kannok Leipert was hit with a roughing minor and a game misconduct. I would think it’s safe to assume that he is the “player” in question. . . .

In these playoffs, the WHL’s Dept. of Discipline now has issued 13 suspensions totalling 30 games, and handed out six fines worth a total of $4,250. . . . In all of last season’s playoffs, there were six players suspended for a total of 12 games, and two fines meted out worth $1,250. . . .

——

After a quiet Monday night, there are three second-round games on the schedule tonight. . . .

As mentioned, the Vancouver Giants hold a 2-0 lead as they play Game 3 against the Royals in Victoria. The Royals obviously will be without D Jake Kustra, while F Kody McDonald serves the fifth of a six-game suspension. . . . Victoria D Ralph Jarratt left late in Game 3 with an apparent injury to his left shoulder or arm and didn’t return. . . . The Giants are expected to again be without F Aidan Barfoot, who was injured in the first round. . . .

——

In Calgary, the Edmonton Oil Kings, with a 2-0 lead, will meet the Hitmen as the Battle of Alberta resumes. . . . Here’s a note from Derek Van Diest of the Edmonton Sun involving the first two games:

“Two games and two won face-offs have ended up the back of the Hitmen net so far in the series.

“The Oil Kings won 3-2 in overtime Saturday after (Mark) Kastelic won a clean draw in his own zone and pulled it back through the legs of an unsuspecting (goaltender Jack) McNaughton and off the goal post. Jake Neighbours was then first to the rebound and knocked it into the net for the game-winner.

“On Sunday, Carson Focht pulled one back from the same face-off circle past McNaughton and into the net to give the Oil Kings a 2-1 lead in the second period.”

As Calgary head coach Steve Hamilton told Van Diest: “It’s not everyday you win two faceoffs and shoot two pucks into your own net in two games. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that. That was a bid odd, but it was probably par for the course, too.”

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The Prince Albert Raiders, with a 2-0 lead, venture into Saskatoon to meet the Blades in a game that will be televised by Sportsnet, which also showed the first two games of the series. . . . With the two head coaches firmly involved in a war of the words, it will be interesting to see the attendance in the SaskTel Centre tonight.

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The other second-round series, between the Everett Silvertips and Spokane Chiefs, is to resume on Wednesday. The Chiefs went into Everett and won twice, so they take a 2-0 lead on to home ice. The next three games, if necessary, are scheduled for Spokane because the Cirque du Soleil is in the Angels of the Wind Arena in Everett through Sunday.


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Mondays With Murray: Golf’s Most Revered Course Can Be Downright Devilish

TUESDAY, APRIL 6, 1993, SPORTS

Copyright 1993/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

Golf’s Most Revered Course Can Be Downright Devilish

  AUGUSTA, Ga. — All right, all you tour two-putts, take the A game out of the bag. Put the eight-iron in a vise and see if you can get grooves that will make a ball stop on glass.

  This is the Masters, Sonny. This isn’t some amusement park four-ball. This isn’t a romp through the cactus and tumbleweed in Arizona; they have trees here. This isn’t a mondaysmurray2telephone company pro-am. If there are any “arms” here, they won the U.S. Amateur or the medal on the Walker Cup team. It’s not the Kmart Greater Tuscaloosa Classic or the chocolate company invitational. It’s golf, not pool.

  Bring the two-iron. Sleep with your putter. Get some old films of Hogan and Snead. Check your throat because the pressure will get to be about what it is 50 fathoms down in the Mariana Trench. You’ll get the bends just driving into this place.

  This is the Vatican of golf. The most magnificent 250 acres in the game. The azaleas, the towering pines, the ponds would move a poet to rhapsody — but if the ball goes in them, don’t expect hymns. Just curses. You can’t one-putt these greens. But you could ski them.

  It’s hallowed ground. Hogan won here. So did Snead, Nelson, Sarazen, Palmer. Nicklaus won six times.

  The foreigners have all but taken it over with six victories in the last decade.

  But don’t expect an upset. “Unknown Wins Open” is a familiar headline. But “Unknown Wins Masters” is as far out as “Republican Captures Massachusetts.” Hackers don’t make it in this field. God wears a green coat. And carries a one-iron. Winning the Masters is almost a religious experience. The winner is the Pope of golf.

  A lot of people consider the Masters stuffy. It simply has a reverence for the past. What’s wrong with that? Golf never was meant to be stickball in the street. You wipe your feet and take off your hat when you come to the Masters. You whisper here. No “You the man!” countenanced at the Masters. After all, this was founded by the honorable Bobby Jones, Esq., himself. It’s a cathedral of golf courses. Enemy bombers would spare it in a war.

  Outside its lordly magnolias, the surrounding countryside is Tobacco Road. But inside, you can almost smell the incense. It’s not a course, it’s a shrine.

 They name the holes after flowers here. No. 1 is the “Tea Olive,” for example. No. 2 is “Pink Dogwood,” No. 3 “Flowering Peach.” And so on.

  But if you play it, you may have a different view. It may look more like 7,000 yards of hay fever to you. Walter Hagen told his partners to be sure to smell the flowers along the way. But the Haig made birdies. It’s harder to smell them through the bogeys. They’re just weeds to the guy who hits into them. He doesn’t want to smell them, he wants to pull them.

  So, romantic as they sound, I have to think the holes are misnamed. I have to think no golfer cards a 6 and walks off thinking, “Aren’t the azaleas pretty?” I think the holes should be identified with the sounds you hear on these 18 public enemies masquerading as flower girls. For instance,

  No. 1 – is not the “Tea Olive.” This is “Oh, God, not over there!”

  No. 2 – “Pink Dogwood?” Uh-uh. This is “Anybody see where that went?”

  No. 3 – “Oh, hit another one. I was breathing on your backswing.”

  No. 4 – “I think that’s out. Got another ball?”

  No. 5 – “What’d I do wrong?”

  No. 6 – “Fore on the right!”

  No. 7 – “I don’t understand. I got there with a four-iron yesterday.”

  No. 8 – “What in the world did they put a sand trap there for? I hit that good?”

  No. 9 – “How could anybody putt this green? It’s not a golf green, it’s a hockey rink! Next time, hand me a puck. Or let Gretzky make it for me.”

  No. 10 – “What do you think the cut’s going to be? Do you think 11 over will make it?”

  No. 11 – “What have they got water over there for? What is this, a golf course or a hatchery?”

  No. 12 – “Where’s that going? Come down! Bite! Bite!”

  No. 13 – “Sarazen made a double-eagle here? Well, let me tell you something: That’s the only way the ball would go in the hole on that green. With a four-wood. You can’t do it with a putter. As he would have found out. If it doesn’t go in, he makes 6.”

  No. 14 – “Where are the ‘breather’ holes around here? Even Notre Dame has a patsy now and then. And the 1927 Yankees had a couple of .200 hitters. This is the real Murderers’ Row. Every hole is Babe Ruth.”

  No. 15 – “Who designed this hole — Dracula? They should call this hole ‘Silent Screaming.’ What’d they do with the wolves?”

  No. 16 – “What is that out there — Lake Erie? Never mind the golf clubs. Get me a canoe and a ukulele. It looks like a U-boat pen. You don’t know whether to swim it or play it. Maybe they thought this was a regatta.”

  No. 17 – They should call this hole ‘Help!’ ‘The Nandina?’ Don’t make me laugh! Hah! ‘The KGB’ would be more like it. It’s ruined more careers than Stalin. At night, you can hear the ghosts of guys moaning, ‘I was sure it broke left.’ Johnny Miller had its number. ‘You hit three perfect shots — and you still have a 25-foot putt left.’”

  No. 18 – “The only good thing about this hole is, it’s the last. You can go home and cut your wrists. You play it with a driver, an eight-iron — and a priest. You get a green straitjacket if you get above the hole. Which you will.”

  And when someone comes up and burbles, “the Masters is beautiful this time of year!” the golfer can look him (or her) straight in the eye and say “Yeah?” So is Devil’s Island.”

Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116

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What is the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation? 

  The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in 1999 to perpetuate the Jim Murray legacy, and his love for and dedication to his extraordinary career in journalism. Since 1999, JMMF has granted 104 $5,000 scholarships to outstanding journalism students. Success of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation’s efforts depends heavily on the contributions from generous individuals, organizations, corporations, and volunteers who align themselves with the mission and values of the JMMF.

Like us on Facebook, and visit the JMMF website, www.jimmurrayfoundation.org.

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A dozen years ago, Linda McCoy-Murray compiled a book of Jim Murray’s columns on female athletes (1961-1998). While the book is idle waiting for an interested publisher, the JMMF thinks this is an appropriate year to get the book on the shelves, i.e., Jim Murray’s 100th birthday, 1919-2019.  

Our mission is to empower women of all ages to succeed and prosper — in and out of sports — while entertaining the reader with Jim Murray’s wit and hyperbole.  An excellent teaching tool for Women’s Studies.

Proceeds from book sales will benefit the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization providing sports journalism scholarships at universities across the country.

Scattershooting on a Tiebreaker Tuesday. . . . The doors are open and 5,800 hockey fans are on the move

Scattershooting

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We’re perched high — well, maybe not that high — above the ice surface at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops awaiting a full house of more than 5,800 people with the Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets about to meet in a play-in game. . . . The winner will open a first-round playoff series with the Royals in Victoria on Friday. The loser? Don’t ask. It’s over. . . .

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G Dylan Garand, a 16-year-old from Victoria, will make his seventh straight start for the Blazers in the absence of the injured Dylan Ferguson. Danton Belluk, whose WHL rights belong to the Everett Silvertips, remains with Kamloops on an emergency basis and will be on the bench. . . . The Blazers are 5-0-1 in Garand’s six recent starts. . . . On the season, Garand is 11-7-3, 2.94, .902. Against Kelowna, he is 2-0-0, 0.96, .964. . . . The Rockets will counter with G Roman Basran (20-19-4, 2.79, .906). Against the Blazers this season, he is 4-3-1, 1.61, .942. . . . Judging by those numbers, someone wins by a 2-1 count tonight. . . .

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The Rockets have scratched D Lassi Thomson, D Matt Barberis and F Cole Carrier. . . . The Blazers will scratch F Travis Walton, Ferguson, and either F Jerzy Orchard or D Joonas Sillanpaa. . . .

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According to WHL regulations, the home team keeps tonight’s gate “after applicable expenses are paid” to the visitors. “This includes hotel expenses for one night, applicable meals (two days maximum) and applicable bus expenses to a maximum of $3 per mile. All expenses are in effect even if the visiting club wins the game.” . . .

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The Blazers being on the hook for the expenses may, or may not, have had anything to do with the Rockets having arrived in Kamloops on Monday for a Tuesday night game. During the regular season, these teams make the two-hour drive on game days and return after each game. A tiebreaker, of course, involves extraordinary circumstances. . . . The Blazers paying to bed and feed Rockets? That can only help the rivalry, eh!

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I’m hardly a math major, so I will leave it up to you to guesstimate what the gate receipts from tonight’s game might be with a crowd of more than 5,800 on hand. But the on-ice officials will get a cut — each of the referees is to be paid $155, with the linesmen getting $100 apiece. . . . Tonight’s referees are veterans Chris Crich and Brett Iverson. Nick Bilko and Nathan Van Oosten are on the lines. Willy Saari is the video goal judge.



Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, weighs in on one of last week’s hot topics: “Jose Canseco used a Tweet to accuse A-Rod of cheating on his fiancée, Jennifer Lopez, with Canseco’s ex-wife. Minutes after that tweet ‘hit the streets,’ Canseco put out another one to challenge A-Rod to a boxing match or an MMA match ‘anytime you want’ — apparently as a way for Canseco to defend Jennifer Lopez’ honor. I guess I am glad that he suggested boxing or MMA to settle this matter and stopped short of suggesting they reinstitute duelling with pistols at 10 paces.”


RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com asks: “Lo-Rod is: a) Engaged couple J-Lo and A-Rod’s married nickname, or b) Where Astros star Jose Altuve hangs his clothes?”



Headline at The Onion: Antonio Brown Buys Pittsburgh Billboard To Thank Antonio Brown For Putting Up With City.



Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times reports: “Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson apologized for posting a picture on Instagram that showed him driving at 105 mph. On the bright side, Vegas oddsmakers now list Jackson at 35-1 to win the Super Bowl and 5-2 to win the Indy 500.”

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“How do MLB apologists try to spin it when a player vanishes for half a season because of a marijuana suspension?” asks Perry, before answering: “Tommy Chong surgery.”



Ken Rosenthal and Emily Waldon reported on the weekend that the Toronto Blue Jays are going to give every play in their system a raise of more than 50 per cent. . . . “When the ‘Save America’s Pastime’ act passed in March 2018,” they wrote, “depriving minor leaguers of overtime pay beyond a 40-hour work week, the Blue Jays already were talking about how they could improve the compensation of players in their farm system. A year later, the team is in the process of finalizing a pay increase of more than 50 percent for any player who is on a roster of an affiliated minor-league club, from the lowest rung in the Dominican Summer League to the highest level at Triple A, club officials told The Athletic.”

Scattershooting on Sunday while wondering if there are any NHL trades yet to come . . .

Scattershooting

Scattershooting on a quiet Sunday while watching The Bourne Supremacy — again — and wondering why none of the Bourne movies won an Oscar. . . .


If you’re like me, you’re wondering why the WHL couldn’t have found a way to leave franchises in Chilliwack and Cranbrook, and sold expansion franchises for Victoria and Winnipeg. . . . I don’t know what an expansion franchise would go for, but you have to think there are WHL teams that could use a chunk of $5 million or so. . . . And don’t bother me with the theory that the player pool isn’t deep enough for two more teams. That has never stopped anyone from expanding, has it?


A note from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Look who’s back, back, back in the booth. Former ESPN icon Chris Berman will be among the rotating stable of announcers calling call Red Sox games on WEEI Radio this year. Mookie ‘Gentlemen, Place Your’ Betts and Mitch ‘This Land Is’ Moreland refused comment.”

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Here’s some 20/20 hindsight from Perry: “Marshawn Lynch should have run. Robert Kraft should have passed.”

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Godot


Hey, NBC-TV, now that you’ve given us the Elvis All-Star Tribute, how about showing us the ’68 Comeback Special in its entirety? Please.


If you haven’t already seen it, the latest post from The River City Renegade (aka Patti Dawn Swansson) is right here. As usual, it’s good and readable, although I doubt that Nick Kypreos will check it out.


Shoelaces


Headline at SportsPickle.com: Jordan makes sure all the bad Nikes go to Duke.


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “We’re not going to know what caused Zion Williamson’s shoe to blow up until Nike recovers the black box.”

——

Here’s Ostler, with a thought on the future of Major League Baseball: “If the player-manager is an extinct breed, the next breed to vanish could be the manager-manager. We have the driverless car, next comes the manager-less ballclub. Why pay a guy to make pitching changes or defensive switches when a computer can do those things more effectively? Five years from now the manager’s primary job will be making sure the players keep the dugout tidy.”


After France recognized lightsaber duelling as a competitive sport, Jim Barach of JokesByJim.blogspot.com asked: “What next? Putting together a Quidditch team for the Olympics?” . . . Well, break-dancing may be a recognized medal sport in the 2024 Paris Olympic Summer Games, so why not?


Cold


You may have seen a puck go off the face of Carolina F Justin Williams and into the net for a Hurricanes goal the other night. That got RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com to wondering: “Is that scoring on a faceoff?”

——

Here’s Currie, again: “A final score from the Canadian women’s curling championship: P.E.I. 13; New Brunswick 12. Put it this way: they exceeded the Patriots-Rams Super Bowl total by three field goals.”


“Well,” points out Janice Hough, aka the Left Coast Sports Babe, “Kyler Murray is leaving baseball for football. If this lack of contract keeps up, maybe Bryce Harper can join him?”


I would have bet the house that Ontario skip Rachel Homan would have made one of the 10th- or 11th-end last-rock draw attempts, either of which could have won the Canadian women’s curling championship, on Sunday in Sydney, N.S. Instead, she pulled the string on both, meaning I’d be homeless tonight had the bookie taken the bet.


No, I won’t be up at 5 a.m. PT to watch NHL trade deadline day silliness. Will you?


Crows

Mondays With Murray: A Day With the Next Ambassador to Cincinnati

Today we bring you Jim Murray’s column from July 15, 1976, when he was invited by President Ford to the White House so he could accompany the President to the MLB All-Star Game.

ENJOY!

——

THURSDAY, JULY 15, 1976, SPORTS

Copyright 1976/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

A Day With the Next Ambassador to Cincinnati

   WASHINGTON — I have been to ballgames with truck drivers, stevedores, guys with tattoos and their own bowling shirts. But I never went to a game before with a guy who could pick up a phone and start a war. I’ve been with lots of guys who could start a fight, mondaysmurray2though. I’ve even been with some rich guys who owned their own plane. But never one who had his own air force.

   I’ve had police escorts before — but never friendly ones. I’ve been in lots of locker rooms. But never with anybody where the players wanted to get his autograph.

  It all began with a phone call Monday. It was from the White House. That had to be a first in my family, too. Would I like to come to Washington and be the President’s guest and fly up with Mr. Ford in Air Force One to the All-Star game in Philadelphia and back?

  We’ll, what are you going to say, “No, I gotta get a haircut that day”?

  Besides, as I told my wife, he probably needs me. I mean, I’m as ready to help my country as the next guy. “Probably a knotty problem with Angola,” I assured her. “Kissinger’s behind this.”

  “How are you flying in and where are you going to stay?” she wanted to know. “That’s top secret,” I told her. “Classified. The Communists will probably be monitoring all our calls. Don’t even tell your sister. I expect I’ll be staying at the White House. The President will want me nearby for consultation.”

  “What will the President want with you?” she wanted to know. “He already knows the infield-fly rule.”

  I made a reservation at the Hay-Adams Hotel across the street from the White House, just in case they wanted me to slip past the press. “If the White House calls, just patch them right through.” I told the desk.

  The call did come through from the White House. I was told to report to the West Lobby, from where I would be driven to Andrews Air Force Base to board Air Force One.

  The cop at the gate did a good job of pretending not to know who I was. “Your driver’s license, please. Take it out of the plastic,” he ordered. I thought for a minute I was going to get a ticket.

  The President had surrounded himself with some of the best global brains for this mission. Joe Garagiola, the old catcher, who reports that the first thing to go with an old ballplayer is the hair — then the legs. There was Ernie Banks, ‘Mr. Cub’, the Bluebird of Happiness, who could think of something nice to say about the Johnstown Flood. “Ernie thinks Nixon just had a bad homestand,” Garagiola chirped. Then, there was David Israel, sportswriter from the Washington Star; John Underwood, from Sports Illustrated; and myself, the expert on Far Eastern affairs.

  When the President summoned us to his quarters on the plane, he was dining on Coquille St. Jacques, a stomach-tester of lobster, crabmeat and cream sauce in a shell, and two scoops of chocolate chip ice cream. I don’t know if the country is in good hands, but it’s a good stomach. I had a beer.

  The conversation veered around to the mess at the Olympics. But the President stopped short of asking me what to do about it. Well short of it.

  I decided to lead into Angola gingerly. “Mr. President,” I said. “did you ever tackle Pug Rentner!” Mr. Ford, you see, was a bare-headed center from Michigan in the ’30s, and Pug Rentner has always been one of my favorite football names. Not necessarily player, just name. With a name like Pug Rentner, you don’t have to be good. I think they put Pug on the All-American team from Northwestern largely because they just wanted to have that name in there.

  “Many times, Jim,” the President told me. “But I got this eye kicked open by Jay Berwanger.” He fingered one eye. “Or was it this one?” he wondered, fingering the other. “I didn’t think Jay Berwanger ever got tackled,” I told him. Besides, if Jay Berwanger ever kicked open my eye, I would have it bronzed.

  When we landed in Philly, it was clear the President was saving me. Possibly for a briefing with Kissinger later.

  We went down to the locker room, where Johnny Bench and Pete Rose were surprised to see me in the Presidential party. “What in the world is he doing with you?” Pete blurted. “Well,” I told him, “He’s looking for a vice-president, isn’t he? Anyway, I may be ambassador to Cincinnati.” I told Pete to be sure not to clap him on the back or to show him how to slide. Steve Garvey wanted to meet the President’s son, Jack. I handled the introductions smoothly.

  We were hustled up to the box of the Phillies’ owner, Ruly Carpenter, where we sat behind bullet-proof glass for the game. The President joined us after he threw out the first ball.

  I had to admire the way he steered the conversation away from me. You would never have guessed that I had been flown into Washington for anything more important than a ballgame. Statesmen don’t rush things.

  Finally, it came. In the seventh inning, the President leaned back. “Jim,” he said, “tell me something.” (“Here it comes.” I thought. “Probably, India, at first, and then the whole Far East.”) The President pointed. “Who’s that at shortstop? He’s in a Dodger uniform.” I looked. “That, Mr. President, is Billy Russell. One of the fastest runners in the league. Hard to double up.”

  Billy Russell promptly hit into a double play. He was out at first by 45 feet.

  Ernie Banks was not waiting to be asked. “Look at that Cedeno,” he told the President, pointing at the batter. “With that stance, he’s never going to hit the ball out of the infield.” Cesar Cedeno promptly hit a ball 600 or 700 feet over the left-field fence. “Yah!” shouted Garagiola. “You change his stance, Ernie, and he hits singles to right field! Bah!” The President laughed uproariously. “I hope he gets better advice from his Cabinet,” someone offered.

  The next day was to be the President’s 63rd birthday. So, on the way home, we all gathered in Air Force One to cut a big cake and sip champagne. Ernie Banks forgot the words to “Happy Birthday To You.”

  At the door, the President shook hands with all of us and thanked us for coming. “Jim,” he said to me. “I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to talk more.”

  “I’m in the book, Mr. President,” I told him.

  After all, he knows where to reach me.

Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116

———

What is the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation? 

  The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in 1999 to perpetuate the Jim Murray legacy, and his love for and dedication to his extraordinary career in journalism. Since 1999, JMMF has granted 104 $5,000 scholarships to outstanding journalism students. Success of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation’s efforts depends heavily on the contributions from generous individuals, organizations, corporations, and volunteers who align themselves with the mission and values of the JMMF.

Like us on Facebook, and visit the JMMF website, www.jimmurrayfoundation.org.

Scattershooting while wondering why winter chose to show up in February . . . Dickson checks out MeTV . . . Bingo game turns nasty

Scattershooting

Headline of the week, and it isn’t close, from Global News in Winnipeg: Customers continue to line up at drive-thru as Winnipeg A&W burns to the ground.


Einstein


Scott Ostler, in last Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle: Today’s quiz, and I won’t give you the answer — Which celeb golfer, playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am several years ago, was caught illegally moving his ball in the rough and explained to his caddie: “I cheat in business, I cheat on my wife, and I cheat at golf”?



An observation from Cam Hutchinson of the Saskatoon Express: “Tim Tebow, 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds; Pat Mahomes, 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds; Donald Trump, 6-foot-3 and 243 pounds. Someone is fibbing.”


As I was watching the CFL free-agent frenzy on Tuesday, I kept asking myself: Did these teams find some sunken treasure? Did they uncover the secret of Oak Island? Did they win a lottery? What happened to the poor, poor CFL?


If you’re wondering how Jack Finarelli, the Sports Curmudgeon, spent Sunday evening, here’s a hint: “As you might guess, I will not be watching the NBA All-Star Game. I have something much more important to do on Sunday night; I plan to alphabetize all the checks I have written over the past 5 years. There is no reason to do that; it serves no purpose; yet it is more compelling than watching the NBA All-Star Game.”


Peanutbutter


After INRIX Global Ranking rated Boston as having the worst traffic problems in in the U.S., Richmond, B.C., blogger TC Chong notes: “No wonder! There seems to be a parade, marathon or some other sideshow every month.”

——

Dunkin’ Donuts Park, the home of the Eastern League’s Hartford Yard Goats, has banned peanuts and Cracker Jack due to concerns about allergies. “So,” Chong writes, “the seventh-inning stretch will call for revised lyrics: ‘Buy me some donuts and cinnamon buns.’ ”


A report from RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “An update on the guy arrested at New York’s JFK airport for smuggling in South American finches, prized for their birdsong. He might do time in Sing Sing.”

——

Currie, again: “A friend was in Paris recently, and said the Louvre museum was so big she had trouble finding her way out. I said there must be 50 ways to leave your Louvre.”


Headline at TheOnion.com: Schnauzers rioting outside Madison Square Garden following Westminster Dog Show defeat.


By now, you are aware that the Kootenay Ice will be leaving Cranbrook, B.C., for Winnipeg once this WHL season comes to an end. Now I’m told that another B.C.-based WHL team may be on the move. The Vancouver Giants, I’m told, are seriously considering going back to Pacific Coliseum after spending three seasons in the Langley Events Centre. . . . Someone else says that Giants majority owner Ron Toigo “is making a noise. . . . Think it’s more of a negotiating ploy.”


“I spend too much time watching TV news channels CNN, Fox News and MSNBC,” Brad Dickson writes. “Lately I’ve grown so sick of the political rancor and finger-pointing that permeates these networks that I vowed to stay away and watch nothing but MeTV for one entire day. Last Thursday I viewed the classic TV network almost nonstop from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.” . . . After he was all done, Dickson posted this fabulous piece right here. Enjoy!


An excerpt from the latest filing by Patti Dawn Swansson: “Another receiver who won’t be doing his thing in Pegtown is Duron Carter, now the problem child of the B.C. Lions. ‘I am looking forward to making a fresh start on the West Coast,’ he told news snoops. By my count, Carter has had six ‘fresh’ starts in seven years: Two in Montreal and one each in Indianapolis, Saskatchewan, the Republic of Tranna and now Lotus Land. His ass-clown act lasts about as long as food on Chris Walby’s dinner plate. Carter’s hands are never the problem, of course. It’s his yap. Can’t see that changing, even if Lotus Land is the natural habitat of more flakes per capita than anywhere else in the country.” . . . It’s all right here.


“Police were called when two women, 86 and 79, came to blows over seating arrangements during Bingo night at a retirement home in Rideau Lakes, Ont.,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Because it was Canada, both returned to action after serving five minutes for fighting.”


Bob Molinaro of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot knows when the brand new Alliance of American Football will have arrived. “When one of its franchises can hold a city hostage over a new stadium deal,” he writes.


Quote

Report: Ice to be part of ‘ambitious development’ plan in Winnipeg . . . Giants stun Chiefs with comeback . . . Porter, Rockets win in Everett


MacBeth

Curt Fraser (Victoria Cougars, 1974-78) has been named the new head coach of Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL) after the club fired head coach Jussi Tapola. Fraser was an assistant coach with the Dallas Stars (NHL) for the past six seasons. . . .

F Blair Jones (Red Deer, Moose Jaw, 2002-06) has been released by Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga) after an unsuccessful tryout. He had one goal in six games. He had signed with Sparta on Dec. 27 for the rest of this season with a one-month tryout clause. . . .

F Björn Svensson (Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, 2003-06) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with IK Pantern Malmö (Sweden, Allsvenskan). He was released by Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, Erste Bank Liga) on Jan. 14, after putting up five goals and 15 assists in 35 games. . . .

G Ty Rimmer (Brandon, Prince George, Tri-City, Lethbridge, 2009-13) has been released by Kitzbühel (Austria, Alps HL) for personal reasons. In 29 games, he was 3.39, .920, with three shutouts. . . .

F Garrett Festerling (Portland, Regina, 2003-07) has signed a two-year contract beginning next season with Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL). This season, with Adler Mannheim (Germany, DEL), he had 10 goals and 13 assists in 39 games. . . .

D Neil Manning (Vancouver, 2006-12) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL) after obtaining his release from the Rockford IceHogs (AHL). He was pointless in three games with Rockford, and had two goals and 15 assists in 30 games with the Indy Fuel (ECHL).


ThisThat

KOOTENAY KOUNTDOWN

There has been ample speculation over the last while that the Kootenay Ice will be 31relocating to Winnipeg upon the conclusion of this WHL season.

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, appeared on TSN Radio 1260 in Edmonton with host Dean Millard. At that time, Millard asked Robison about the Ice’s future.

Robison responded in part that “we’ll be very soon making an announcement as to what the future of that franchise is.”

That was 31 days ago. WHL fans have yet to hear from the Ice or the league office.

——

The relocation of the Kootenay Ice “is expected to trigger an ambitious development plan with the operation of the major junior hockey team as its centrepiece,” the Winnipeg KootenaynewFree Press reports.

According to the newspaper, the Ice’s owners — Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell — and other investors “are in the midst of implementing a strategy that will see Winnipeg receive among the largest-ever private investments for the game’s development in Canada. The project is also said to include at least 20 acres of sports, recreational and commercial expansion.”

The newspaper also reports that the group has plans to buy the Winnipeg Blues, the last remaining MJHL franchise in the Manitoba capital, and to have them play out of the new facility.

The story also includes this: “The WHL did not respond when asked for comment.”

The Free Press story, reported by Jeff Hamilton and Mike Sawatzky, is right here.


The Calgary Hitmen have added G Brayden Peters, 16, to their roster. Peters, from Taber, had been playing with the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . He was a fifth-round selection by Calgary in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . With G Carl Stankowski still out with an ankle injury, Peters will back up Jack McNaughton. . . . Peters will fill the roster spot created when Ethan Hein, 16, was returned to the midget AAA Swift Current Legionnaires after spending some time backing up McNaughton.


F Jackson Niedermayer, the 17-year-old son of former WHL/NHL D Scott Niedermayer, has committed to the Arizona State U Sun Devils for the 2021-22 season. . . . Jackson was born in Newport Beach, Calif. He is in his first season with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees, and has two goals and four assists in 36 games. . . . Niedermayer was selected by the Calgary Hitmen in the fifth round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. . . . Scott played three seasons (1989-92) with the Kamloops Blazers and also owned a chunk of the Kootenay Ice.


G Matt Davis of the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints has committed to the U of Denver Pioneers for the 2021-22 season. . . . Davis, 17, is from Calgary. . . . With the Saints, he is 16-5, with one tie, 1.95, .917. . . . The Spokane Chiefs acquired D Noah King, Davis and a conditional fifth-round selection in the 2021 WHL bantam draft from the Swift Current Broncos for F Carter Chorney, D Devin Aubin and F Kye Buchanan.


G Mikey DiPietro of the Ottawa 67’s set the OHL career shutout record on Friday night as he stopped 15 shots in a 4-0 victory over the visiting Peterborough Petes. . . . DiPietro, whose NHL rights belong to the Vancouver Canucks, now has 17 career shutouts, one more than Tom McCollum, who played for the Guelph Storm and Brampton Battalion (2006-09). . . . Ottawa acquired DiPietro, 19, from the Windsor Spitfires on Dec. 4.


FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Ridly Greig scored in OT to give the host Brandon Wheat Kings a 5-4 victory over the BrandonWKregularKootenay Ice. . . . Brandon (18-18-6) is four points from a wild-card playoff spot. . . . Kootenay (10-29-8) had won its previous two games, both of them on the road. . . . D Braden Schneider (6) gave Brandon a 1-0 lead at 10:56 of the first period. . . . The Ice took a 2-1 lead on second-period goals from F Brad Ginnell (10), at 1:13, and D Chase Hartje (5), on a PP, at 6:18. Hartje, 19, played his first game against Brandon since the Wheat Kings dealt him to the Ice at the trade deadline. . . . The Wheat Kings went ahead 3-2 on goals from F Cole Reinhardt, at 6:44, and F Luka Burzan (26), at 12:09. . . . Kootenay got the next two goals to take a 4-3 lead. F Jaeger White (18) counted, on a PP, at 13:03, and F Davis Murray (8) scored at 3:20 of the third. . . . Reinhardt’s 11th goal, via a PP, tied it 10:54, and Greig won it with his ninth goal, at 1:56 of OT. . . . G Jiri Patera stopped 37 shots for Brandon, five more than Kootenay’s Jesse Makaj. . . . Brandon F Stelio Mattheos had four points — all assists — for the sixth time in his WHL career. It was his first four-assist game. . . . The Wheat Kings promoted this game as Winnipeg Blue Bomber Night and QB Matt Nichols was on hand to greet fans and sign autographs. The Ice, of course, is expected to relocate to Winnipeg upon the conclusion of this season. . . . The teams will meet again tonight in Brandon. . . . The Ice was without F Connor McClennon, 16, who left Wednesday’s 4-3 victory over the Pats in Regina about eight minutes into the third period after absorbing a big hit in the neutral zone. The second-overall pick in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft has five goals and 10 assists in 26 games. . . . McClennon missed 12 games earlier with an undisclosed injury and had only returned to action on Jan. 4. . . . The Ice brought in D Carson Lambos, who turned 16 on Jan. 14, for the weekend. This was his fourth game of this season with the Ice. Lambos, the second-overall pick in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, is from Winnipeg.


The Saskatoon Blades scored the game’s first three goals and the last three en route to a Saskatoon6-2 victory over the visiting Regina Pats. . . . Saskatoon (27-13-6) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). The Blades are second in the East Division, five points ahead of Moose Jaw. . . . Regina (12-32-2) has lost nine straight (0-8-1). . . . These two teams will meet again tonight, this time in Regina. . . . F Max Gerlach (27) gave the Blades a 1-0 lead at 9:29 of the first period, and F Ryan Hughes (19) upped it to 2-0 just 20 seconds later. . . . F Kirby Dach (18) made it 3-0 at 4:29 of the second period. . . . The Pats got to within a goal on second-period scores by F Cole Dubinsky (2), at 14:08, and F Austin Pratt (17), at 17:56. . . . The Blades put it away with third-period goals from F Riley McKay (8), on a PP, at 1:16; F Chase Wouters (9), at 7:41; and F Cyle McNabb (2), at 19:08. . . . Saskatoon outshot the visitors, 34-17. . . . The Blades got three assists from D Dawson Davidson, who now has 46 points, including 38 assists, in 46 games. He finished last season with 43 points in 69 games — 43 with Regina and 26 with Saskatoon. . . . Regina G Max Paddock (ill) remains out, although he did skate on Friday morning. As a result, Matthew Pesenti remains with the team, backing up Dean McNabb. . . . The temperature in Saskatoon as game time approached was minus-23 C, so the Blades’ merchandise store offered 23 per cent off all toques and mitts.


F James Hamblin and F Corson Hopwo each scored once and added an assist to lead the Tigers Logo OfficialMedicine Hat Tigers to a 3-1 victory over the Broncos in Swift Current. . . . Medicine Hat (25-16-4) has points in four straight (3-0-1) and is tied with Lethbridge for third in the Central Division, just two points from top spot. . . . Swift Current (9-32-3) has lost two in a row. . . . They’ll play again tonight, this time in Medicine Hat. . . . The Tigers scored the game’s first three goals. . . . Hamblin (21) stuck while shorthanded at 6:35 of the second period, and F Corson Hopwo (3) made it 2-0 at 10:15. . . . D Trevor Longo (4) made it 3-0 at 9:26 of the third period. . . . F Ethan O’Rourke (5) got the Broncos’ goal at 10:29. . . . The Tigers held a 46-24 edge in shots and won 36 of the game’s 60 faceoffs. . . . Each team took one minor penalty. . . . G Riley Lamb stopped 43 shots for the Broncos, 20 more than the Tigers’ Jordan Hollett. . . . With G Mads Sogaard sideline with a hip problem, the Tigers had Garin Bjorklund backing up starter Jordan Hollett. Sogaard was injured in Wednesday’s 4-3 shootout victory over the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings. Bjorklund, 16, is from Calgary where he plays for midget AAA Buffaloes. He was the 21st-overall selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft, and made two earlier appearances with the Tigers this season. . . . F Tyler Lees made his debut with the Broncos. He came over in a trade with the Victoria Royals on Jan. 7.


G Ethan Anders stopped 35 shots to lead the Red Deer Rebels to a 3-1 victory over the Red DeerHurricanes in Lethbridge. . . . Red Deer (26-13-3) has points in five straight (4-0-1). It is second in the Central Division, one point behind Edmonton and one ahead of Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. . . . Lethbridge (23-13-8) has lost two in a row. . . . They will do it all over again tonight, this time in Red Deer. . . . Red Deer took a 1-0 lead on F Jeff de Wit’s 23rd goal, at 19:27 of the first period. . . . F Jordy Bellerive (23), in his 250th regular-season game, tied it, at 13:18 of the second period. . . . Red Deer F Chris Douglas (12) broke the tie, on a PP, at 17:29. . . . F Cam Hausinger (15) added insurance with the empty-empty-netter at 19:33 of the third period. . . . F Jett Jones made his WHL debut with the Hurricanes. Jones, 16, is from Olds, Alta., and plays for the midget AAA Airdrie CFR Bisons for whom he has nine goals and 17 assists in 29 games.


The Prince Albert Raiders scored the game’s last three goals and went on to a 4-1 victory PrinceAlbertover the Blazers in Kamloops. . . . Prince Albert (39-5-1) has won four in a row, including two straight on this tour of the B.C. Division. . . . Last season, the Raiders finished with 38 victories and 77 points, so have already surpassed both of those totals. . . . The Raiders are 19-2-1 on the road. They lead the East Division by 19 points over Saskatoon. . . . Kamloops (15-24-3) has lost six in a row and is two points away from a wild-card playoff berth. . . . F Brett Leason (31) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead just 28 seconds into the game. . . . Kamloops D Jackson Caller (3) tied it at 5:53. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt (10) broke the tie at 14:53. . . . The Raiders put it away with two third-period goals — F Dante Hannoun (21) scored at 1:00 and F Justin Nachbaur got his 12th at 15:40. . . . G Boston Bilous, who was acquired by Prince Albert from the Edmonton Oil Kings on Jan. 10, stopped 29 shots in his debut with the Raiders. In fact, he hadn’t played since Nov. 24 when he was with the Oil Kings. . . . Kamloops G Dylan Garand made 22 saves in a stellar effort. . . . Kamloops F/D Jeff Faith served Game 4 of a five-game WHL suspension. . . . Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid played for the Kamloops Jr. Oilers — he had seven goals and 16 assists in six games in 1982-83 — and went 85-43-16 in two seasons (1997-99) as the Blazers’ head coach. . . . The Blazers left for Prince George immediately after the game. They’ll play the Cougars there tonight and again Sunday afternoon. Yes, that’s another case of a team playing three games in fewer than 48 hours.


The Vancouver Giants overcame an early 3-0 deficit and beat the host Spokane Chiefs, 6-Vancouver4. . . . Vancouver (28-12-2) has won five in a row and leads the B.C. Division by 13 points over Victoria. . . . Spokane (24-14-4) had won its previous four games. It is third in the U.S. Division, five points behind Portland. . . . Spokane got three PP goals in the first half of the first period, the first two from F Luc Smith, who has 20 goals, and the other from D Nolan Reid (8). . . . F Tristen Nielsen (7) started Vancouver’s comeback at 18:33 of the first. . . . The Giants took a 4-3 lead on second-period goals from F Jared Dmytriw, at 1:52; D Seth Bafaro (5), at 6:11; and Dmytriw (10), at 8:40. . . . Spokane D Filip Kral (5) tied it at 4:12 of the third period. . . . Vancouver F Davis Koch (15) snapped the tie at 11:11, and F Justin Soudif (11) added the empty-netter at 19:21. . . . Nielsen also had an assist, and now has three goals and seven assists over his past four games. . . . Koch, who has goals in four straight games, added an assist too, and now has 12 points over his past five games. . . . The Giants got three assists from F Dawson Holt.


The Tri-City Americans got the only two goals of the shootout to beat the Seattle tri-cityThunderbirds, 3-2, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (22-16-3) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). It is fourth in the U.S. Division, five points behind Spokane. . . . Seattle (15-21-5) has points in four straight (3-0-1). . . . F Riley Sawchuk (14) gave the home side a 1-0 lead at 3:06 of the second period. . . . The Thunderbirds took a 2-1 lead on second-period goals from F Payton Mount (4), on a PP, at 13:22, and F Noah Philp (16), at 17:41. . . . F Parker AuCoin (24) pulled the Americans even at 8:41 of the third period. . . . F Nolan Yaremko and AuCoin scored in the shootout. . . . The Americans got 39 saves from G Beck Warm.


F Tristin Langan scored three times and G Adam Evanoff stopped 28 shots to lead the MooseJawWarriorsvisiting Moose Jaw Warriors to a 4-0 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . Moose Jaw (24-11-7) has won three in a row, all in the B.C. Division. It is third in the East Division, five points behind Saskatoon but with four games in hand on the Blades. . . . Victoria (22-18-1) has lost three straight. It is second in the B.C. Division, five points ahead of Kelowna and with three games in hand on the Rockets. . . . While Evanoff was earning his first WHL shutout, Langan was recording his fifth WHL hat trick. . . . Evanoff stopped 13 shots in the first period, while his mates were mustering only four shots at the other end. . . . Langan got all of his goals in the second period, scoring at 9:27, 13:54 and 17:57, with the latter coming on a PP. . . . F Keenan Taphorn (11) had the game’s last goal, at 3:08 of the third period. . . . Langan, who finished last season with 42 points, including 16 goals, in 70 games, now has 74 points, including 36 goals, in 42 games. . . . F Justin Almeida drew an assist on each of Langan’s goals. . . . Each team took two minor penalties. . . . The Royals welcomed back two players who had been injured. F Sean Gulka last played on Dec. 15; F Logan Doust hadn’t played since Jan. 4.


G James Porter blocked 40 shots to lead the Kelowna Rockets to a 2-0 victory over the KelownaRocketsSilvertips in Everett. . . . Kelowna (18-22-4) had lost its previous six games (0-5-1). It is third in the B.C. Division, five points behind Victoria. . . . Everett (33-10-2) leads the U.S. Division by 11 points over Portland, which has two games in hand. . . . Porter’s night work included 19 saves in the second period and 13 in the third. . . . He has one shutout this season and four in his career. . . . The last time the Rockets recorded a shutout in Everett? On Nov. 28, 2003, G Kelly Guard stopped 13 shots in a 1-0 victory. . . . F Michael Farren (2) scored the game’s first goal, at 3:07 of the second period, and F Mark Liwiski (3) made it 2-0 at 10:56. . . . Farren, who was acquired from the Saskatoon Blades earlier in the season, scored his first goal with the Rockets in his 26th game. . . . Liwiski, who played 10 games with Everett last season, has three goals and four assists in 40 games with the Rockets this season. . . . D Matt Barberis, 20, made his debut with the Rockets. Acquired on waivers from the Vancouver Giants on Jan. 10, Barberis has had injury woes and hadn’t played since Nov. 18. In fact, this was only his 10th game of this season. . . . D Gianni Fairbrother (ill) was among Everett’s scratches.


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