Bedard, Pats keep on rolling . . . Rockets face interesting schedule . . . Look back at WHL’s weekend


BEDARD
CONNOR BEDARD

THE LEGEND CONTINUES TO GROW: F Connor Bedard scored Regina’s last two goals as the Pats beat the visiting Portland Winterhawks, 4-3, on Saturday night. . . . Bedard has 36 goals this season and is on a 30-game point streak. . . . The Pats have won three in a row since Bedard returned from his dominating performance with Team Canada at the World Junior Championship. In those three victories, Bedard has nine goals and four assists — a six-point game, a five-pointer and Saturday’s deuce. . . . Despite missing 11 games while at the WJC, Bedard leads the WHL in goals (36), assists (41) and points (77). He holds a 15-point lead over F Andrew Cristall of the Kelowna Rockets in the points derby. Cristall has missed Kelowna’s last three games with an undisclosed injury. . . . Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post tells us that Bedard’s 30-game point streak is “17 short of the team record, set by Jock Callander and Wally Schreiber during the 1981-82 season.” . . . Vanstone also informs us that Bedard “is on pace to become the first Pat to score 50 goals in 50 or fewer games since Dale Derkatch in 1983-84.” Derkatch scored Nos. 50 and 51 in his 49th game that season. . . . The Pats are off until the weekend when they go home-and-home with the Swift Current Broncos, playing Friday on the road and Saturday in Regina. . . . The Broncos (20-17-1) are eighth in the Eastern Conference, three points behind Regina. The Broncos hold four games in hand.


From the Department of Read It and Weep, a piece that hits the nail squarely on the head . . .


The Kelowna Rockets, who are fighting for their playoff lives, are two games into an eight-game stretch during which they will play only two teams — the Victoria Royals and Vancouver Giants.

Going into this week, it really is looking as though one of the Rockets or Royals Kelownawill finish eighth in the Western Conference, with the other team left out of the playoffs. The Rockets (13-23-3) are eighth now, one point ahead of the Royals (12-25-4). The Prince George Cougars (17-18-4) and the Giants (16-19-6) are tied for sixth, nine points ahead of the Rockets.

Five of the Rockets’ next eight games are against the Giants, so one would have to think Kelowna needs to beat Vancouver at least four times to have a chance at moving up in the standings.

As for the Royals, well, they are 7-2-1 in their past 10 games after sweeping a weekend series from the visiting Rockets, winning 4-0 on Friday and 6-3 on Saturday.

Next up for the Rockets is a home-and-home with the Giants, playing Friday in Langley, B.C., and Saturday in Kelowna. The Royals, who are to play the Winterhawks in Portland on Friday and the Chiefs in Spokane on Saturday, will be in Kelowna on Sunday as each team plays its third game in fewer than 48 hours.

The Rockets and Giants then will play three in a row — Jan. 27 in Langley, and Jan. 28 and Feb. 3 in Kelowna.

One positive for the Rockets is that they won’t play any mid-week games during that stretch, so head coach Kris Mallette and his staff will have lots of practice time, something coaches really treasure.


THEDAD


Jack Todd in the Montreal Gazette, with a few words on the Montreal Canadiens’ baby blues:

“Supposedly a nod to the late, great Montreal Expos, the reverse-retro jerseys are a bland, boring, soulless cash grab, a blue-on-blue nightmare that is more reminiscent of the Toronto Argonauts than Nos Amours. Canadiens fans agree on something once a century, and this is it: everyone hates those kiddie pyjamas.”

Todd also points out that the Canadiens have worn the baby blues four times and are 0-4, so perhaps they won’t last long. They are next scheduled to be worn on Thursday for a visit by the Florida Panthers.

——

Here’s Todd, again, with something that I can get behind: “We’re 100 per cent behind Connor McDavid. The shootout is a farce, while 3-on-3 overtime is the most exciting thing since skate sharpeners. Ten minutes of 3-on-3, then in the unlikely event no one has scored, it’s a tie.”



JUNIOR JOTTINGS: F Jack Bakker, whose WHL rights moved from Kamloops to the Everett Silvertips in the Jan. 8 deal in which D Olen Zellweger and F Ryan Hofer went to the Blazers, has committed to the BCHL’s Penticton Vees for 2023-24. Bakker, 15, is from White Rock, B.C., and plays on the U18 prep team at the Delta Hockey Academy. Kamloops selected him in the third round of the WHL’s 2022 draft. . . .

F Ozzy Wiesblatt, 20, played for the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda on Saturday night, meaning he won’t be joining the Portland Winterhawks, who had acquired his rights from the Prince Albert Raiders on Tuesday. Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ vice-president, general manager and head coach, explained to Joshua Critzer (@jjcritzer) that Wiesblatt could only end up in Portland if he didn’t play another AHL game after Jan. 10. . . . Wiesblatt was a first-round selection by the San Jose Sharks in the NHL’s 2020 draft. . . . Had Wiesblatt ended up in Portland, the Raiders would have receive three draft picks from the Winterhawks — a first in 2025 and two seconds in 2026. . . .

The BCHL’s Penticton Vees ran their home record to 16-0-0 on Saturday with a 5-3 victory over the Cowichan Valley Capitals before an announced crowd of 3,628. . . . Also on Saturday, the Wenatchee Wild drew an announced crowd of 3,521 as they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Prince George Spruce Kings. . . .

The SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars suffered their first regulation-time loss of the season on Saturday night as they were beaten, 5-0, by the Bruins in Estevan. That left the North Stars’ record at 33-1-3. . . . G Jackson Miller stopped 30 shots to earn the shutout, while F Keagon Little scored twice.


Callback


SUNDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:

F Cole Shepard scored two goals 70 seconds apart in the first period to lead the Lethbridge Hurricanes to a 4-1 victory over the Hitmen in Calgary. . . . Lethbridge was playing its third game in fewer than 48 hours; it picked up five points by going 2-0-1 in those games. . . . Shepard, who sat out Saturday’s 2-1 OT loss to the visiting Red Deer Rebels with a one-game suspension, has 15 goals. . . . G Bryan Thomson blocked 38 shots to earn the victory. Thomson, who made 50 appearances last season, was playing in his fifth game this season. The start of his season was delayed by surgery to repair an undisclosed injury. . . .

In Langley, B.C., the Tri-City Americans scored the game’s first seven goals, five of them in the second period, en route to a 7-3 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . F Jalen Luypen had a goal (4) and two assists for the Americans. . . . G Tomas Suchanek stopped 18 shots in his first appearance with the Americans since returning from the World Junior Championship where he backstopped Czechia to a silver medal.

——

SATURDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:

The Moose Jaw Warriors scored four second-period goals and got 39 saves from G Connor Ungar as they beat the host Brandon Wheat Kings, 4-3. Ungar is 21-5-2, 2.64, .924 this season. . . . In Edmonton, D Terrell Goldsmith’s third goal of the season, at 2:16 of OT, gave the Prince Albert Raiders a 4-3 victory over the Oil Kings. The offensively challenged Oil Kings were held to three, six, five and two shots, by period. . . .

F Jackson Berezowski had two goals and an assist as the hometown Everett Silvertips got past the Tri-City Americans, 3-2, in OT. . . . F Austin Roest’s 25th goal, at 1:39 of extra time won it. . . . Roest has three goals and seven assists over his past three games. . . . Berezowski, the team captain, has 28 goals. In his past three games, he has put up eight goals and four assists, surpassing the 200-point career mark in the process. He now has 204 points, 110 of them goals, in 245 regular-season games. . . . D Hunter Mayo (14) scored at 4:55 of OT to give the Red Deer Rebels a 2-1 victory over the host Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . .

F Alexander Suzdalev scored once (23) and added an assist as the Regina Pats beat the visiting Portland Winterhawks, 4-3. . . . Portland finished its East Division swing at 2-4-0. . . . Suzdalev has 53 points in 40 games. . . . Could it be that Regina and area has caught Bedard Fever? The Pats have drawn their three largest crowds of the season to their past three games — 4,761, 5,651 and 5,403. In 20 home games, only one other crowd has been more than 4,000, and that was 4,336 on opening night. . . . The Winterhawks thought they had tied the game late in the third period, but the goal was disallowed by the on-ice officials. Portland fans were upset that the play didn’t go to video review, but goaltender interference isn’t something that can go upstairs for review in the WHL. . . . From Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post: “With (G Dante) Giannuzzi pulled for an extra attacker, Portland appeared to score the game-tying goal with 17 seconds left. But, after lengthy deliberations, the goal was disallowed when the ruling was made that Portland’s Kyle Chyzowski interfered with Pats netminder Drew Sim. Chyzowski received at least a nudge from Pats defenceman Luke Bateman before colliding with Sim, but the goal was waved off.”

F Egor Sidorov scored three times and linemate Trevor Wong had a goal and two assists as the Saskatoon Blades beat the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds, 4-2. Sidorov, a sophomore from Belarus, has four career hat-tricks, three of them this season. He has 22 goals; Wong has 15. . . . Seattle went 3-3-0 on its East Division swing. . . . G Reid Dyck stopped 29 shots, including a third-period penalty shot, to help the Broncos to a 4-3 victory over the Prince George Cougars in Swift Current. . . .

F Matthew Hodson scored twice and added an assist as the host Victoria Royals doubled the Kelowna Rockets, 6-3, to sweep their weekend series. The Royals had won, 4-0, on Friday. The Rockets have lost six in a row on the road. Hodson, who scored three goals in 39 games last season, has 11 in 38 outings this season. . . . The Royals scratched D Gannon Laroque, who played Friday, and F Brayden Schuurman, who left Friday’s game after the first period. F Alex Thacker, who last played on Dec. 17, took the warmup but didn’t dress. . . . The sweep allowed the ninth-place Royals (12-25-4) to close to within one point of the Rockets (13-23-3), who hold down the Western Conference’s last playoff spot. . . .

In Winnipeg, F Connor McClennon scored three times, giving him 19, to lead the Ice to an 8-3 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. The visitors led 2-0 before the game was five minutes old. . . . F Ryan Hofer scored twice (26) and F Logan Stankoven drew three assists as the Kamloops Blazers beat the visiting Spokane Chiefs, 5-2. Hofer has three goals in two games with the Blazers since being acquired from Everett. G Matthew Kieper stopped 22 shots in his first appearance for Kamloops since being acquired from Regina on Jan. 3.



THINKING OUT LOUD: Just a reminder that Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow) is a must follow on Twitter for major junior hockey fans. . . . You watch QB Brock Purdy of the San Francisco 49ers and you realize how important it can be to be in the right place at the right time to find success. . . . It wasn’t long after the Los Angeles Chargers had coughed up a 27-0 lead and lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday that their fans had Sean Payton replacing Brandon Staley as head coach. And how many jobs will Payton be rumoured for before he finally picks one? . . . There is a lot of chatter that has the Vancouver Canucks on the verge of firing head coach Bruce Boudreau and replacing him with Rick Tocchet. Just a thought, but maybe the Canucks should try doing things right for a change — let Boudreau finish out the season and then see who’s available. And maybe, just maybe, think about handing a blank cheque to Barry Krotz. Or maybe call Sean Payton. . . . ICYMI, QB Nathan Rourke, who lit up the CFL with the B.C. Lions before suffering a foot injury last season, says he is going to sign with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. What an exciting time this must be for him as he gets the opportunity to live out his dream . . . You don’t like Tom Brady and you despise the Dallas Cowboys. So what are you going to do tonight?


COVID


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——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Missing

Blazers rock WHL world in landing Zellweger . . . Giants’ captain off to Ice for eight assets . . . Bedard back lighting it up with Pats

The WHL’s trade deadline arrives on Tuesday. Here are the trade numbers since Oct. 25:

No. of trades — 31.

No. of players traded — 59.

No. of WHL draft picks traded — 62.

No. of WHL conditional draft picks traded — 12.

Teams involved in trades — 8: Edmonton; 6: Victoria, Winnipeg; 5: Kamloops, Seattle; 4: Lethbridge, Prince George, Regina; 3: Everett, Kelowna, Spokane; 2: Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Red Deer; 1: Brandon, Saskatoon, Swift Current, Tri-City, Vancouver; 0: Calgary, Medicine Hat, Portland.

Why did I start with Oct. 25? Because that was the day that the Seattle Thunderbirds acquired D Luke Prokop from the Edmonton Oil Kings, signalling to me that the countdown to deadline day had started.


January 8, 2023.

It will be remembered as the day when discretion being the better part of valour no longer was entrenched in the WHL’s trade deadline-related thinking of those making the deals.

It was the day the Kamloops Blazers, the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup, and the Winnipeg Ice, the Eastern Conference’s top team to date, combined to give up eight players, 13 WHL draft picks, including seven first-round selections, and a conditional pick for three players.

First things first . . .

Observers have been waiting for weeks to see what kind of impact the Blazers would have as Tuesday’s trade deadline approaches. Well, they found out on Sunday.

Kamloops acquired D Olen Zellweger, 19, and F Ryan Hofer, 20, from the Everett KamloopsSilvertips but the cost was off the charts.

All told, Kamloops coughed up two roster players (F Drew Englot, 20, and D Kaden Hammell, 17) and two prospects (D Rylan Pearce, 17, and F Jack Bakker, 15), along with nine draft picks and a conditional pick. Kamloops surrendered four first-rounders (2023, 2024, 2025 and 2026), one second (2023), one third (2025), one fourth (2023), one fifth (2024) and one sixth (2026). The Blazers also threw in a conditional second-rounder in 2026.

No, Kamloops didn’t get any picks back.

Zellweger, from Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., is fresh off a run as perhaps Team Canada’s best defenceman in a gold medal-winning performance at the World Junior Championship that ended Thursday in Halifax. In Kamloops, he will be Everettreunited with Team Canada teammates Caedan Bankier and Logan Stankoven,

A second-round pick by the Anaheim Ducks in the NHL’s 2021 draft, Zellweger has 28 points, including 10 goals, in 23 games with Everett this season. He has signed a three-year entry-level contract with Anaheim so is unlikely to return to the WHL for a 20-year-old season.

Last season, Zellweger led WHL defencemen with 78 points in 55 games and was named the league’s top defenceman.

Hofer, a 6-foot-3, 190-pounder from Winnipeg, is one of the WHL’s premier power forwards. This season, his third, he has 23 goals and 13 assists in 36 games. The Washington Capitals selected him in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2022 draft.

Englot, from Candiac, Sask., is in his fourth WHL season. The Blazers acquired him from the Regina Pats midway through the 2021-22 season. This season, he has three goals and 11 assists in 34 games.

Hammell, from Langley, B.C., was a first-round pick by the Blazers in the WHL’s 2020 draft. Last season, he put up 14 points, 11 of them assists, in 57 games. This season, he has six goals and four assists in 36 games.

Pearce, from Martensville, Sask., was a fourth-round pick by the Blazers in the WHL’s 2020 draft. He got into two games with Kamloops this season and earned two assists. Pearce now is with the SJHL’s Flin Flon Bombers.

Bakker, from White Rock, B.C., is playing for the U18 side at the Delta, B.C., Hockey Academy. He was a third-round selection by the Blazers in the 2022 WHL draft.

The Blazers (22-8-6) are third in the Western Conference, eight points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds (28-5-2) and five behind the Portland Winterhawks (26-6-3). The Silvertips (18-18-1) are tied for fifth with the Tri-City Americans (17-16-3), one point behind the Vancouver Giants (16-16-6).

Kamloops, which beat the visiting Kelowna Rockets, 5-1, on Saturday night, is next scheduled to play Wednesday against visiting Vancouver. Hofer will sit out that one with a one-game suspension.

You can bet he’ll be in the lineup on Friday, though, when the Blazers are to play in Everett. The Silvertips are scheduled to visit the Blazers on March 10.

——

Meanwhile, shortly after Winnipeg beat visiting Portland, 6-3, on Sunday night, the Ice announced it had acquired F Zack Ostapchuk, the Giants’ 19-WinnipegIceyear-old captain and another member of Canada’s national junior team.

In exchange, the Ice surrendered two roster players (F Skyler Bruce, 19, and F Connor Dale, 17), two prospects (D Owen Brees, 15, and F Hudson Landmark, 15), and four WHL draft picks — firsts in 2024, 2025 and 2026, and a fifth in 2024.

Ostapchuk, from St. Albert, Alta., had 10 goals and 19 assists in 21 games with the Giants this season. In 153 career regular-season games, he put up 96 points, 48 of them goals. Vancouver selected him 12th overall in the WHL’s 2018 draft, Vancouverand the Ottawa Senators grabbed him in the second round of the NHL’s 2021 draft.

Ostapchuk has signed a three-year entry-level deal with the Senators so is unlikely to be back in the WHL for his 20-year-old season in 2023-24.

Bruce, from Winnipeg, had 22 points, seven of them goals, in 33 games with the Ice this season. He has 70 points, including 26 goals, in 136 regular-season games. The Kootenay Ice picked him in the second round of the WHL’s 2018 draft.

Dale, a freshman who also is from St. Albert, has three goals and five assists in 24 games. He was a ninth-round pick in the WHL’s 2020 draft.

Brees, from Lethbridge, was picked by the Ice in the fifth round of the 2022 draft. He is playing with the U15 Northern Alberta Xtreme.

Landmark, from Sherwood Park, Alta., was an eighth-round pick in that same draft. He is playing with the U15 AAA Sherwood Park United Cycle Flyers.

The Ice (29-5-0) leads the Eastern Conference by two points over the Red Deer Rebels (26-8-4), with Winnipeg holding four games in hand.

The Giants (16-16-6) are fourth in the Western Conference, 12 points behind third-place Kamloops.

The Ice and Giants aren’t scheduled to meet again during this regular season. In their only clash, the Ice posted a 4-3 victory at the Langley Events Centre on Oct. 19.

Vancouver next will play Wednesday when it is to visit Kamloops.

Winnipeg’s next game is scheduled for Wednesday when it is to play host to the Seattle Thunderbirds, another organization that has gone big in this season’s arm race.

Alan Caldwell (@smallatlarge) pointed out that the Thunderbirds have acquired F Colton Dach (Kelowna Rockets), D Nolan Allan (Prince Albert Raiders) and D Luke Prokop (Edmonton Oil Kings) for a total of four first-round picks, two seconds, three thirds, a fourth, two sixths, and five players.

——


It was 11 years ago today (Monday) when the Swift Current Broncos and WHLKootenay Ice rocked the WHL’s world with what was then seen as a huge deal.

Mark Lamb, the Broncos’ general manager and head coach, and Ice GM Jeff Chynoweth got together and cooked up a deal that included six players and three WHL draft picks.

The Broncos dealt F Cody Eakin, 19, to the Ice for roster F Christian Magnus, four list players (F Ryan Bloom, F Colby Cave, G Steven Myland and F Jarett Zentner) and three picks — a first and a second in 2011 and a third in 2012.

The Ice went on to win the WHL championship that spring, ousting the Portland Winterhawks from a five-game final series. Eakin, who put up 44 points in 26 regular-season games with the Ice, scored 11 goals and added 16 assists in 19 playoff games. Eakin, F Matt Fraser and F Max Reinhardt each finished with 27 playoff points.

The Ice went 2-3 at the Memorial Cup, losing 3-1 to the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors in the semifinal. Eakin totalled six points, three of them goals, in the five games.

I’ll let you decide who won the exchange between the Broncos and Ice.


The World Junior Championship ended in Halifax on Thursday. Since then, Seattlethere has been speculation that Finnish F Brad Lambert will be joining the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds. That speculation heated up Sunday when his name was dropped from the roster of the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. Lambert, who had two goals and one assist in 14 AHL games, is listed as inactive on the Moose’s stats page. He had one goal in five games with Finland at the WJC.

Lambert, who turned 19 on Dec. 19, was born in Lahti, Finland. The Winnipeg Jets, the Moose’s parent club, selected him 30th overall in the NHL’s 2022 draft.

Lambert’s father, Ross, spent one season 1982-83) with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades, putting up 106 points. Brad’s uncle, Lane, is the head coach of the NHL’s New York Islanders.


Meanwhile, F Connor Bedard, fresh off lighting up the WJC on behalf of Team ReginaCanada, returned to the Regina Pats’ lineup on Sunday. All he did was score four goals and add two assist as the Pats beat the visiting Calgary Hitmen, 6-2. . . . The announced attendance was 4,761, the Pats’ largest home crowd this season. . . . Bedard’s first career six-point outing included a pair of shorthanded goals. . . . Despite missing 11 games while with Team Canada, Bedard’s 70 points, in 29 games, has him leading the points race by eight points over F Andrew Cristall of the Kelowna Rockets. With 31 goals, Bedard is two behind F Kai Uchacz of the Red Deer Rebels, and Bedard’s 39 assists are two more than D Lukas Dragicevic of the Tri-City Americans. . . . Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post was in attendance; his story is right here. . . .

Now take a minute or two, think about the packages that Kamloops and Winnipeg traded away today, then try to figure out what it would cost an organization to get Bedard from the Pats. . . . were he available, that is.


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