Seattle stares down elimination for fifth time . . . First team in WHL history to win two Game 7s on road . . . Championship series opens in Edmonton on Friday

The WHL’s championship final, featuring the Edmonton Oil Kings and Seattle WHLplayoffs2022Thunderbirds, will open in the Alberta capital with games on Friday and Sunday.

The series will follow a 2-2-3 format — yes, you read that correctly. Due to building availability issues — the arena is booked for graduation ceremonies from June 9-15 — in Kent, Wash., the Thunderbirds will get only two home games, although they will be designated as the home team for one of the possible five games in Edmonton.

They will play Games 3 and 4 in Kent on Tuesday and Wednesday (June 8), before returning to Edmonton, if necessary, to finish up. Those games would be played on June 11, 13 and 14, with the Thunderbirds the ‘home’ team for Game 6. TSN will televise the series, beginning with Game 3.

The Oil Kings, the Eastern Conference’s second seed, advanced to the final by taking out the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice in five games. Edmonton has been sitting and waiting for an opponent since eliminating the Ice on Friday.

The Thunderbirds, the Western Conference’s fourth seed, ousted the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers, winning Game 7, 3-2, on the road on Tuesday night.

The Oil Kings last reached the WHL final in 2014 when they beat the Portland Winterhawks in seven games en route to winning the Memorial Cup. That was the third of three straight WHL finals to feature Edmonton and Portland — the Oil Kings won in 2012 and 2014.

Edmonton is 12-1 in these playoffs, having swept the No. 7 Lethbridge Hurricanes and No. 3 Red Deer Rebels before taking out the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice in five games.

Seattle last appeared in the WHL final in 2017 when it won the championship by taking out the Regina Pats in six games. One year earlier, the Thunderbirds lost the final, 4-1, to the Brandon Wheat Kings.

In these playoffs, Seattle now is 12-7, having eliminated the Kelowna Rockets, 4-1, and then gone seven games with both Portland and Kamloops.

Interestingly, the Thunderbirds won Game 6 in both those series by a 2-1 count at home, then went on the road to win Game 7. In the process, they became the first team in WHL history — which begins in 1966-67 — to win two Game 7s on the road in the same playoff season.

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TUESDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference

In Kamloops, F Jared Davidson scored twice and linemate Lukas Svejkovsky drew three assists as the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Blazers, 3-2, in SeattleGame 7 of the conference final. . . . It was the fifth time the Thunderbirds faced elimination in these playoffs and they now are 5-0 in such games. . . . The Blazers opened the scoring for the sixth time in the series when F Fraser Minten (6) struck at 8:34 of the opening period. . . . Seattle F Lucas Ciona drilled the left post behind G Dylan Garand a few minutes later. . . . The Thunderbirds pulled even at 15:47 when Davidson (10) snapped one home from the right face-off dot just seven seconds into the game’s first PP opportunity. That would be the only PP by either team on this night. . . . Davidson (11) shot Seattle into the lead at 2:27 of the second period following another face-off win in the Kamloops zone. . . . The Thunderbirds went ahead 3-1 at 14:56 as F Henrik Rybinski (4) beat Garand by tipping in a shot by D Jeremy Hanzel. . . . Seattle G Thomas Milic preserved the two-goal lead with a big stop off Kamloops F Logan Stankoven through traffic to start the third period. . . . The Blazers finally got  to within a goal, but there were only 7.4 seconds left to play when F Daylan Kuefler (10) scored. . . . Milic finished with 33 saves, four fewer than Garand. . . . What was the key to Seattle’s series victory? Over the last four games of the series, the Thunderbirds held Stankoven, who leads the playoffs with 30 points, to three assists, while shutting out linemate Luke Toporowski, who finished with 23 points. Stankoven had scored hat tricks in Games 1 and 3, with Toporowski recording six helpers. . . . Meanwhile, Svejkovsky put up two goals and eight assists in six games, while Davidson had five goals and three assists in seven games, and Rybinsky, the third member of that line, played in only four games but had a goal and four assists.


Cyclops


The Minnesota Twins will be in Toronto for a weekend series with the Blue Jays, COVIDbut shortstop Carlos Correa, a two-time all-star with the Houston Astros, won’t be with them. He was placed on the COVID-19 restricted list on Tuesday after exhibiting symptoms on Sunday and getting worse on Monday. Also on that list are Joe Ryan, a right-handed started, and backup OF Gilberto Celestino. . . . According to Sportsnet, the Twins, who began the week in Detroit against the Tigers, “have already said they’ll have ‘a few’ players on the restricted list not travelling to Toronto. This generally means players unvaccinated against COVID-19.”


My wife, Dorothy, a kidney transplant recipient in 2013, will take part in the 2022 #kamloops Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year on Sunday. Yes, it’s virtual again. You are able to sponsor her right here.


Bank


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Beau McCue won’t be back as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, but he will be remaining with the organization. According to a news release, McCue, who played four seasons (2012-16) with the Americans, “will remain with the club in a supportive role within hockey operations.” . . . BTW, I asked American’s general manager Bob Tory, who is one of four co-owners, a while back if Stu Barnes would be back as head coach. The one-word response was: “Absolutely.” . . . Barnes, who also owns a piece of the Americans, now is preparing for his second season as the club’s head coach. . . .

The BCHL’s Surrey Eagles have added Matt Dawson as an assistant coach. A former Eagles defenceman, he played five seasons (2015-20) at the U of New Hampshire. In 2022-23, he was an assistant coach with the junior B Delta Ice Hawks of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. . . .

The junior B Westshore Wolves of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League have signed general manager and head coach Derek Sweet-Coulter to a three-year contract extension. He is preparing for his second season with the club. . . .

The junior B Revelstoke Grizzlies, the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s defending champions, have promoted Jiri Novak to assistant general manager and associate head coach. He is going into is fourth season on the coaching staff. . . .

Alex Mandolidis has signed on as the general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. He is coming off three seasons as an assistant coach with the Calgary-based Mount Royal U Cougars men’s hockey team. Before that, he was an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Calgary Mustangs for one season. . . . With the Blues, he takes over from Taras McEwen, who now is the director of hockey operations. . . . The Blues are owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment, which also owns, among other things, the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice and the MJHL’s Winnipeg Freeze.


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

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Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Sense

WHL’s B.C. teams back to 100 per cent capacity . . . Blazers will welcome back Sopotyk . . . Tetachuk takes rare shutout loss

Shirley


B.C.’s provincial government announced on Tuesday that it was adjusting some pandemic-related restrictions, one of which will allow the province’s five WHL teams to open up their facilities to 100 per cent capacity. . . . The teams had been restricted to 50 per cent. . . . Starting with Thursday games, there won’t be any attendance restrictions. . . . However, the province’s NDP majority government left in place its mask mandate for indoor public places and its vaccine card requirements.

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The Kamloops Blazers are scheduled to entertain the Everett Silvertips on KamloopsFriday night. The home team also will be entertaining Kyrell Sopotyk, a teammate who was paralyzed from the waist down after a snowboarding accident on Jan. 21, 2021, near North Battleford, Sask. . . . This will be Sopotyk’s first time back in the Blazers’ home arena since before he was injured. Now in a wheelchair, Sopotyk, a 20-year-old from Aberdeen, Sask., will take part in a ceremonial opening faceoff. . . . Everett (33-7-6) leads the Western Conference by five points over Kamloops (33-12-1). The Silvertips have points in 10 straight (8-0-2); Kamloops has won two in a row and nine of 10. The Blazers are at home tonight to the Victoria Royals (12-28-5), who have one point in their last 16 outings (0-15-1).

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JUNIOR JOTTINGS: G Carl Tetachuk of the Moose Jaw Warriors earned a 33-save shutout but took the loss as the host Lethbridge Hurricanes put up a 1-0 shootout victory on Tuesday night. The Hurricanes got 30 saves from G Bryan Thomson, who has two career shutouts. F Yegor Klavdiev won it with the night’s only goal in the fourth round of the shootout. . . . F Ridly Greig’s 22nd goal of the season, 45 seconds into OT, gave the Brandon Wheat Kings a 3-2 victory over the Broncos in Swift Current. . . . One game after having an 11-game point streak snapped, D Clay Hanus had a goal, his 12th, and an assist to help the visiting Portland Winterhawks to a 4-2 victory over the Spokane Chiefs. Hanus has 47 points in 47 games this season. This was the fifth straight game between these teams; Portland won four of them. G Taylor Gauthier got the victory; he’s 11-0-0, 1.36, .953 since being acquired from the Prince George Cougars. . . . In Kent, Wash., F Henrik Rybinski had a goal and two assists to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 4-1 victory over the Tri-City Americans. Rybinski has 51 points, including 18 goals, in 35 games.


Pizza


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, with some notes while watching the Super Bowl . . .

Don’t mess with karma: In a city where there are enough homeless folks to fill SoFi, Odell Beckham Jr. takes the field wearing $200,000 diamond-studded cleats. . . .

Beckham blows out a knee on a non-contact play. All those beautiful TV aerial shots of Los Angeles, and do you know what that glorious sunshine is good for? Growing grass. Beckham is another victim of fake grass, aka: green concrete. If only Stan Kroenke and the NFL had enough money to afford real grass! . . .

Several NFL team owners say, “If that fake grass is good enough for my head, it’s good enough for our fields.”



Mario DiBella, the head coach of the junior B Nelson Leafs of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, says he’s done whenever this season ends. DiBella, 65, has guided the Leafs to a 29-10-1 record this season as the playoffs approach. . . . DiBella has been the head coach since December 2015. His son, Adam, is the team’s assistant general manager and assistant coach. . . . Tyler Harper of the Nelson Star has more right here.


THINKING OUT LOUD:

My wife, who isn’t anything close to a follower of the sporting world, offered this gem late Tuesday afternoon: “Is it just me or does Sportsnet show the Boston Bruins all the time?” . . . She’s right. So the channel was changed to TSN and women’s curling from Beijing. . . .

If you are surprised that there is a Russian athlete caught up in a doping scandal at the Olympic Winter Games, you haven’t been paying attention. . . .

Pitchers and catchers were to have reported to spring training this week. That didn’t happen and it’s looking more and more as though Opening Day is in danger of not happening on schedule as the billionaires and millionaires continue to do battle. . . .

Took a drive to Vernon and back on Tuesday afternoon. Just want to thank all those truckers we saw on the highway for doing their part in keeping the shelves stocked and the economy moving. And maybe someone can explain to me why a litre of regular gasoline is six cents cheaper in Vernon than in Kamloops.


Smoking


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Stacked

Rybinski asks out of Medicine Hat . . . Krebs leads Ice past host Blades . . . Winkler Flyers forced to move


MacBeth

F Petr Vala (Seattle, 1997-98) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Zell am See (Austria, Alps HL). Last season, with Zell am See, he had 13 goals and 25 assists in 35 games. He led the team in assists and points.


ThisThat

F Henrik Rybinski is no longer with the Medicine Hat Tigers.

The Tigers revealed on Thursday that they “along with the family and the agent of Henrik Rybinski have mutually agreed to pursue a trade.”

In short, Rybinski wants more playing time, but found himself third on the team’s depth Tigers Logo Officialchart at centre, behind veterans James Hamblin and Ryan Chyzowski.

Shaun Clouston, the Tigers’ general manager and head coach, pointed out in a news release that with those two as the club’s top centres “we are not able or willing to meet that request.”

Rybinski’s agent is Daren Hermiston of PointsWest Sports & Entertainment.

Rybinski, 17, is from Vancouver. The Tigers selected him in the second round of the 2016 WHL bantam draft.

Last season, as a freshman, he had three goals and nine assists in 63 games with the Tigers. This season, the 6-foot-1, 170-pounder recorded one goal and four assists in 14 games.


The Prince George Cougars have added F Kjell Kjemhus, 17,to their roster. He will be PrinceGeorgeavailable to play tonight and Saturday against the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Kjemhus, from Grande Prairie, Alta., had one assist in 10 games with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers. Last season, he had two goals and two assists in 25 games with the Cougars. . . . He was a fourth-round pick by the Regina Pats in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. The Cougars acquired him from the Pats, along with D Ethan McColm and third- and fifth-round picks in the 2018 bantam draft on Jan. 5, in a deal that had F Jesse Gabrielle and D Jonas Harkins go to Regina.


The Kamloops Blazers have promoted Tim O’Donovan to director of hockey operations. O’Donovan, 32, has been with the Blazers on a full-time since 2009. Most recently, he has been the director of hockey/media administration.


F Alex Young, a sixth-round selection by the Everett Silvertips in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft, has made a commitment to attend Colgate University and play for the Raiders starting in 2020-21. . . . Young, 17, is from Calgary. He is in his second season with the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles and has 10 goals and nine assists in 16 games. Last season, he finished with 21 goals and 29 assists in 60 games.


Mike Benton, the radio voice of the Everett Silvertips, always — which is every second season — chronicles the team’s East Division road trip on his blog Benton Hockey. This season was no different and, as usual, it’s an entertaining read. . . . It’s all right here. Enjoy!


If you stop off here and enjoy what you see — or even if you don’t — feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and make a contribution. Thanks in advance.


The MJHL’s Winkler Flyers will be out of their home arena for the next few weeks, so are Winklerin the process of shifting their operations to Morden, which is about 13 km to the west. . . . The City of Winkler revealed Thursday morning that the Winkler Centennial Arena will be closed for perhaps four weeks due to a mechanical failure that must be repaired immediately. . . . The problem was discovered Tuesday and the arena was closed on Wednesday night. . . . The Flyers practised in Morden on Thursday and will remain there for the next few weeks. . . . Interestingly, head coach Steve Mullin and assistant coach Rylan Price live in Morden, as do a number of players. . . . Winkler’s next home game is scheduled for Nov. 9 when the Waywayseecappo Wolverines come calling.


THURSDAY NIGHT NOTES:

The Kootenay Ice erased a 2-1 deficit with three third-period goals and beat the host KootenaynewSaskatoon Blades, 4-2. . . . This was the only game played in the WHL on this night. . . . The Ice (6-7-3) has won two in a row. . . . The Blades now are 9-6-2. . . . F Gary Haden (4) gave the Blades a 2-1 lead at 19:45 of the second period. . . . F Brad Ginnell (4) got Kootenay into a 2-2 tie at 6:02 of the third period. . . . F Jaeger White (9) broke the tie at 9:32, and F Peyton Krebs, who also had two assists, added insurance at 18:56 with his sixth. . . . White, 20, is one goal shy of his career high. He had 10 in 68 games with the Medicine Hat Tigers last season. . . . Krebs, 17, has six goals and 16 assists in 16 games. . . . G Duncan McGovern stopped 32 shots for the Ice. . . . Kootenay had lost its last eight games in Saskatoon. . . . Earlier in the day, the Ice announced that it had brought in D Karter Prosofsky for the game. Prosofsky, 15, is from Saskatoon and plays for the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers. He was a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Prosofsky’s father, Tyler, played in the WHL with the Tacoma/Kelowna Rockets (1992-96). Karter’s uncle, Garrett, played with the Saskatoon Blades, Prince Albert Raiders and Portland Winterhawks (1996-2001). . . . Karter made his WHL debut in this one, as did F Owen Pederson, who was a fifth-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft.


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