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 will 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.
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.
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?
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Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney
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