The Edmonton Oil Kings won their third WHL championship on Monday night, beating the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds, 2-0, to win the best-of-seven series for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, 4-2.
The Oil Kings last won the title in 2014 when they needed seven games to get past the Portland Winterhawks in the final. They also took seven games to sideline Portland in the 2012 final. Those teams also met in the 2013 final, with Portland winning in six games.
The Oil Kings went on to win the Memorial Cup in 2014, the last time a WHL team has won the national title.
Edmonton, the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed, skated through these playoffs in 19 games, going 16-3. The Oil Kings swept the No. 7 Lethbridge Hurricanes and No. 4 Red Deer Rebels before taking out the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice, 4-1.
The Thunderbirds, meanwhile, were the Western Conference’s No. 4 seed. They got past the No. 5 Kelowna Rockets, 4-1, then went seven games against both the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks and No. 2 Kamloops Blazers. In the process, Seattle became the first team in WHL history to win two Game 7s in the same playoff season on the road. The Thunderbirds trailed Portland, 3-1, in that series, then fell behind Kamloops, 3-2.
Sebastian Cossa is the one responsible as he stops all 27 faced – including 23-of-23 in last 40 minutes. Joins Dustin Slade (VAN, 2006), Mac Carruth (POR, 2013), Laurent Brossoit (EDM, 2013), Stuart Skinner (SC, 2018) and Ian Scott (PA, 2019) as goalies with 5+ SO in playoffs. https://t.co/309FIpXw2n
Last night, the Oil Kings came out determined to get more pucks and bodies to the Seattle net. . . . F Jakub Demek (5) opened the scoring, on a PP at 7:15 of the first period, corralling a loose puck in the Seattle crease off a shot by F Josh Williams and tucking it home. . . . Edmonton went ahead 2-0 at 3:44 of the second period as D Kaiden Guhle set a franchise record with his eighth goal of these playoffs. The previous Oil Kings record belonged to Martin Gernát, who scored seven times in 2012. One year later, he scored six more. . . . Guhle was named the playoff MVP. . . . Guhle also played for the Prince Albert Raiders, who won the Ed Chynoweth Cup in 2019. That was the last time the WHL completed a playoff season as COVID-19 resulted in the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 postseason. . . . F Jake Neighbours drew two assists. . . . After getting ahead 2-0, the Oil Kings went into a 1-2-2 defence that oftentimes looked more like 1-4. . . . Edmonton G Sebastian Cossa stopped 27 shots. He finished the playoffs at 16-3, 1.93, .919, with five shutouts. . . . Seattle got 34 saves from G Thomas Milic, including 20 in the first period when his guys were outshot, 21-4. . . . Edmonton was 1-for-4 on the PP; Seattle was 0-for-6. . . . Seattle was without D Tyrel Bauer, who served the second of a two-game suspension. . . . Edmonton played again without F Dylan Guenther. . . . The Oil Kings will join the host Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL and the QMJHL-champion Shawinigan Cataractes at the four-team Memorial Cup tournament that opens on June 20 in New Brunswick.
#OHLChampionship#HAMvsWSR: For first time since 2013, the J. Ross Robertson Cup will be awarded after Game 7, forced by @SpitsHockey with their triumph in Game 6. After not scoring in series, Daniel D'Amico is the hero again with 2 goals, 1 shorthanded, 7 in 3 do-or-die games.
Meanwhile, the OHL championship for the J. Robertson Cup is going to a seventh game. The host Windsor Spitfires beat the Hamilton Bulldogs, 5-2, on Monday night to tie the series, 3-3. . . . They’ll decide the whole thing in Hamilton on Wednesday night. . . . F Daniel D’Amico led the Spitfires with two goals as they erased a 2-1 second-period deficit with the game’s last four goals. . . . F Logan Morrison had both Hamilton goals.
With his two goals, @BulldogsOHL Logan Morrison now ties Corey Perry on this list. Up to 18 straight games with a point, plus the last 4 from the regular season. Fourth 2-goal game of postseason (held goalless six times) after recording 3 in the first 68. https://t.co/3s98u7e2mk
The Regina Pats held a spring camp on the weekend and Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post was there. No, he wasn’t competing for a spot on the Pats’ protected list; he was there in search of a story, and he found two. . . . For starters, John Paddock, the Pats’ general manager and head coach, told Vanstone that the plan is to build around F Connor Bedard, meaning that the organization is more likely to acquire players than to trade away their star. . . . That story is right here.
Vanstone also chatted with Paddock about a health scare with which the latter dealt during this hockey season. Paddock left the coaching game in early February and didn’t return as he dealt with COVID-19 and lymphoma. Everything seems under control now, though, and Paddock is planning on being behind the Pats bench when a new season arrives. That story is right here.
Before arriving in Toronto for a four-game series with the Blue Jays, the Baltimore Orioles placed OF Anthony Santander, one of their best hitters, and southpaw reliever Keegan Akin on the restricted list. From Sportsnet: “The moves suggest Santander and Akin could not cross the border due to an insufficient COVID-19 vaccine status. Unvaccinated people cannot enter Canada or the United States without a quarantine period.” . . .
From the San Francisco Chronicle: The Golden State Warriors are going to their broadcaster bench for Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night against the Boston Celtics. Tim Roye, the Warriors’ radio play-by-play announcer on radio station 95.7 The Game, tested positive for the coronavirus and was knocked out of action for the broadcast. Roye will also miss Game 6 Thursday in Boston. . . .
From The New York Times: The Rolling Stones postponed a stadium concert in Amsterdam on Monday, after Mick Jagger tested positive for the coronavirus. The announcement came shortly before the show was to begin and after some fans had already entered the stadium, the AP reported. . . .
From Entertainment Weekly: One day after performing on the Tony Awards, Hugh Jackman has tested positive for COVID-19 for the second time and will miss performances of ‘The Music Man.’ . . .
From ESPN News Services: NBA commissioner Adam Silver canceled plans to attend Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics on Monday night in San Francisco because of the league’s health and safety protocols. Silver typically attends all Finals games. The league did not say if Silver had tested positive for COVID-19 or been deemed a close contact of someone who had, nor did it release any details about his health.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The MJHL’s Neepawa Titans have added Zak Hicks and Landon Cameron as assistant coaches. Hicks played in the MJHL with the Winkler Flyers under then-head coach Ken Pearson, who now is the Titans’ head coach. Cameron is a familiar face in Neepawa, having been involved with various levels of hockey in the community.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
The Canadian Hockey League and the Kamloops Blazers announced Friday evening that they will be the host team for the four-team 2023 Memorial Cup tournament.
The big reveal was done prior to Game 5 of the Blazers’ WHL Western Conference final series with the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds.
Dates for the 2023 event weren’t announced.
This will be the second time that a Memorial Cup champion will be decided in Kamloops. Playing at home in 1995, the Blazers, who were the host team but also had won the WHL championship, beat the OHL-champion Detroit Jr. Red Wings, 8-2, in the championship game on May 21.
That tournament also featured the QMJHL-champion Hull Olympiques and the Brandon Wheat Kings, who were in as the other WHL finalist.
That was the Blazers’ second straight Memorial Cup title and third in four seasons.
You may recall that the Blazers fired general manager Bob Brown just 15 days after having won that Memorial Cup on home ice, with then-president Colin Day saying it was time for the franchise to go in a different direction.
The 2023 tournament will be the first time the Memorial Cup will be presented in a WHL city since the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, the QMJHL champions, beat the host Regina Pats, 3-0, on May 27, 2018.
The 2020 tournament was to have been held in Kelowna with the WHL’s Rockets as the host team. Preparations were well underway before everything was scrubbed because of the pandemic.
The 2021 tournament also was cancelled. The 2022 Memorial Cup is to be played in Saint John, N.B., June 20-29.
In recent years, teams interested in playing host to the tournament would make bid presentations in front of a league’s board of governors. A vote would be held and a winner declared. Such was the case prior to Kelowna being awarded the 2020 event over bids from Kamloops and the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Now, however, the CHL has taken control of the process and it’s all done behind closed doors, so we don’t know what other WHL teams made bid presentations.
In July 2020, Doug Nicholas, the City of Kelowna’s sport and events services manager, told councillors that “decisions are already underway regarding the possibility of Kelowna getting their opportunity to host the Memorial Cup (in 2023),” Castanet reported. “Preliminary discussions have been positive to date with the WHL and the CHL.”
According to Castanet, Nicholas told councillors that the Rockets, who had made a handful of trades to add to the team they had thought would play in the 2020 event, would have time to “rebuild a strong cup-winning team” for 2023. He also pointed out, Wayne Moore of Castanet wrote, that “club owner and president Bruce Hamilton has committed to a 10th two-year term as chairman of the board of directors of the WHL.”
While the Kamloops Blazers were informing their fans of their good news, the Kelowna Rockets were issuing an open letter addressed to “Season Ticket Holders, Sponsors and Rocket Fans” in which they attempted to explain why the 2023 Memorial Cup won’t be held in their city.
In the letter, the Rockets pointed the finger squarely at the GSL Group, which “owns, operates and manages” their home arena, Prospera Place. The GSL Group also owns, among other things, the WHL’s Victoria Royals and their home arena, Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.
According to the Rockets, they submitted their intent to bid after which an audit of Prospera Place “found that there were significant deficiencies that needed to be upgraded for the facility to meet the CHL standards for hosting the Memorial Cup.”
The open letter continues: “Ultimately, an agreement with the Rockets, City of Kelowna and the GSL Group could not be reached to make the necessary capital improvements to the building. As a result, the building did not meet the minimum standards required to host the event by the CHL and, consequently, the Rockets could not proceed with our bid to host the 2023 Memorial Cup.”
The Rockets didn’t explain exactly what those “significant deficiencies” are, nor did they explain how the building became so deficient in only three years. After all, it must have met the CHL standards to have been declared the home arena for the 2020 Memorial Cup.
“Our hope,” the letter concludes, “as we look toward the future is that the GSL Group will work to complete the necessary improvements the audit identified so that we can once again bring a Memorial Cup back to Kelowna.”
The letter was signed “Your Kelowna Rockets.”
FRIDAY IN THE WHL:
After lighting the lamp 13 times in 13 games, Dylan Guenther does it on the playmaker side with 4 assists. First quadruple helper output in 153 career competitive contests. Jakub Demek matches career best for the fifth time with 3 points on a goal, 2 assists. https://t.co/IG95kcokqu
In Edmonton, the No. 2 Oil Kings dismantled the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice, 7-1, to advance to the WHL final for the first time since 2014. . . . The Oil Kings won the best-of-seven conference final, 4-1, and now are 12-1 in the playoffs. . . . The series, which opened in Winnipeg, followed a 2-3-2 format because of the travel distance between the cities. The Oil Kings got a split in Winnipeg and then swept their home games. Edmonton outscored Winnipeg, 15-6, in those three games and 21-15 in the series. . . . Last night, the Oil Kings struck for four first-period goals and added three more in the second as they built a 7-0 lead. . . . They got two goals and two assists from F Carter Souch (9), with F Dylan Guenther drawing four assists. D Kaiden Guhle (6) had two goals and an assist, F Jakub Demek (3) added a goal and two assists, and F Jake Neighbours (3) scored twice. . . . Neighbours counted at 4:52 and 5:00 of the first period to give his guys a 3-0 lead. . . . Those two goals eight seconds apart were one second off the WHL playoff record that is shared by Bill Derlago (Brandon Wheat Kings, April 9, 1978, 1:02 and 1:09 of third period in 9-6 victory over the visiting Flin Flon Bombers); F Ron Sutter (Lethbridge Broncos, 19:21 and 19:28 of second period in 7-4 victory over the host Portland Winterhawks); and F Joachim Blichfeld (Portland, March 29, 2018, 13:38 and 13:45 of third period in 4-3 victory over the host Spokane Chiefs). . . . Edmonton G Sebastian Cossa stopped 19 shots, losing his shutout bid at 17:20 of the third period when F Connor McClennon (8) scored. . . . Ice G Gage Alexander gave up four goals on nine shots. Daniel Hauser came on in relief at 910:18 of the first period and was beaten three times on 28 shots. . . . Edmonton F Jaxsen Wiebe, returning from a two-game suspension, finished with zero points but did earn 29 penalty minutes — two misconducts, one major and two minors. . . . The Ice was again without F Matt Savoie, who was injured in Game 2. . . . The Oil Kings won the WHL title in 2014, the last time they were in the final. They went on to win the Memorial Cup, the last WHL team to do so.
#WHLPlayoffs#KAMvsSEA: Daylan Kuefler finds daylight twice, including 5:39 into overtime as @blazerhockey once again takes the series edge. Lends a hand on Connor Levis's marker for a 3-2 lead five minutes into 3rd. Racked up 2 of 8 game winners in overtime during season.
In Kamloops, F Daylan Kuefler scored in OT to give the No. 2 Blazers a 4-3 victory over the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds in Game 5 of the conference final. . . . The Blazers hold a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven series with Game 6 scheduled for Kent, Wash., on Sunday. . . . A seventh game, if necessary, would be played in Kamloops on Tuesday. . . . Last night, the teams went to OT for the second straight game, the Thunderbirds having won, 2-1, at home on Wednesday. . . . F Conner Roulette (3) put Seattle out front at 1:51 of the first period, only to have F Matthew Seminoff (6) tie it at 6:44. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky (8), back after missing a game with an undisclosed injury, gave Seattle a 2-1 lead at 2:32 of the second period. . . . The Blazers tied it at 8:24 when F Daylan Kuefler (8) scored. . . . Kamloops went ahead 3-2 at 4:58 of the third period after F Connor Levis (3) knocked in a puck out of mid-air. The call on the ice was “no goal,” but that was overturned after about a six-minute video review. . . . Seattle got that one back less than six minutes later when D Kevin Korchinski (6) corned at 10:27. . . . Kuefler, a 38-goal man in the regular season, won it with his ninth goal at 5:39 of extra time. . . . Kuefler also had an assist, for a three-point outing. He’s got 15 points in 15 playoff games. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 34 shots for Kamloops, six more than Seattle’s Thomas Milic. . . . Each team was 0-for-2 on the PP. . . . F Henrik Rybinski also returned to Seattle’s lineup. He hadn’t played since Game 1 because of an undisclosed injury. . . . Earlier in the day, the Thunderbirds were fined $750 for “warmup violations” prior to Game 4 in Kent on Wednesday.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Sylvain Couturier has resigned as the general manager of the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan after 20 seasons with the organization. He chose not to expound on the reasons for his resignation, but did suggest that there may be litigation down the road. . . .
The OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs won the Eastern Conference playoff title on Friday night, beating the host North Bay Battalion, 6-0, to sweep the best-of-seven final. The Bulldogs, who will meet either the Flint Firebirds or Windsor Spitfires in the final, are 12-0 in the playoffs. The Firebirds and Windsor are 2-2 after the Spitfires won, 4-2, in Flint on Friday. . . .
Ryan Tobler has signed on with the AJHL’s Blackfalds Bulldogs as their associate coach. Tobler, 46, played three seasons in the WHL (Saskatoon Blades, Calgary Hitmen, Swift Current Broncos, Moose Jaw Warriors, 1994-97). He was the head coach of the Chinook Hockey League’s Bentley Generals for four seasons (2012-16), then spent four-plus seasons on the coaching staff of the Colorado Eagles, the first two in the ECHL and the rest in the AHL. . . . In Blackfalds, he’ll work alongside Doug Quinn, the owner, president and head coach.
My wife, Dorothy, a kidney transplant recipient in 2013, will take part in the 2022 #kamloops Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year on June 5. Yes, it’s virtual again. But she will be there, and you are able to sponsor her right here.
It seems that hockey fans in Calgary are in for some interesting times with the news that the NHL’s Flames are moving their AHL affiliate, the Heat, from Stockton, Calif., to Calgary. . . . The AHL announced on Monday that its board of governors has approved the relocation of the franchise in time for next season. . . . With the exception of the 2020-21 season that was impacted by the pandemic, the Heat had been in Stockton since 2015. . . . The Flames and Heat are owned by the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp., which also owns the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen and the National Lacrosse League’s Calgary Roughnecks. . . . All four teams play out of the Scotiabank Saddledome. . . . “At this point,” wrote Danny Austin of the Calgary Sun, “it remains unclear whether the Heat will play at the Scotiabank Saddledome. It’s already a busy rink, so one of the CSEC tenants may need to move.” . . . Former WHL player and coach Mitch Love is the Heat’s head coach and has them in the third round of the AHL playoffs. They opened a best-of-five Pacific Division final against the visiting Colorado Eagles on Monday night. The Heat won that game, 5-0, behind 23 saves from G Dustin Wolf and two goals from F Justin Kirkland.
After taking Sunday off, the WHL playoffs resumed on Monday night with the Winnipeg Ice meeting the Oil Kings in Edmonton in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final. They will play Game 4 in Edmonton on Wednesday and Game 5 there on Friday. . . . The Western Conference final will be back on the ice tonight with the Kamloops Blazers and Seattle Thunderbirds tied, 1-1, in Kent, Wash.
MONDAY IN THE WHL:
Kaiden Guhle and Jake Neighbours help out on Jalen Luypen's tying marker with 1:18 to go. Guhle put home only goal of 2nd period, his fourth of postseason for a 2-point game. Neighbours also sets up winning marker, 2nd multi-assist & 2nd multipoint game thus far. https://t.co/366mZjiIL8
In Edmonton, F Justin Sourdif scored in the first OT period to give the No. 2 Oil Kings a 4-3 victory over the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice. . . . The Oil Kings, who held a 55-21 edge in shots, have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven conference final. . . . They’ll play Games 4 and 5 in Edmonton on Wednesday and Friday. Because of the distance between the cities, this series is following a 2-3-2 format. . . . This was the second game in the series to be decided in OT; the Oil Kings won Game 1, 5-4, in Winnipeg on Friday. F Tyler Horstmann scored the winner at 1:07 of the first OT period. . . . Last night, the teams were tied 1-1 after the first period for the third time in as many games. . . . The home side went ahead 1-0 when F Dylan Guenther (12) struck at 14:28, with F Jack Finley (7) pulling Winnipeg even, on a PP, at 18:02. . . . The Oil Kings went back in front at 2:12 of the second period when D Kaiden Guhle (4) scored. . . . The visitors scored a pair of third-period goals — by F Connor McLennon (7), at 9:00, and F Zach Benson (9), at 16:14 — to take a 3-2 lead. . . . But Edmonton F Jayden Luypen (4) tipped in a Guhle shot at 18:42 to force extra time. . . . Sourdif scored the winner off a rush through the neutral zone. He split two defencemen at the top of the circles in the Ice zone and sent in to beat G Gage Alexander at 8:04 of OT. . . . F Jake Neighbours, Edmonton’s captain, drew an assist on each of his club’s last two goals. . . . Alexander finished with 51 saves, 33 more than Edmonton’s Sebastian Cossa. . . . Winnipeg was 1-for-2 on the PP; Edmonton was 0-for-4. . . . The Oil Kings were without F Jaxsen Wiebe, who also will sit out Game 4. He was suspended for two games after being tossed from Game 2 for a headshot on Winnipeg D Max Streule, who wasn’t injured on the play. . . . Winnipeg had McClennon in the lineup, but F Matt Savoie was scratched with an undisclosed injury. Neither player finished Game 2. . . . The Ice had to scratch F Owen Pederson, who drew a one-game suspension under supplemental discipline for high-sticking D Luke Prokop. Pederson was given a double minor on the play at 17:25 of the first period.
My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.
Ken Campbell at Hockey Unfiltered wrote on Monday about the impending sale of the OHL’s Niagara Falls IceDogs to Darren DeDobbelaer and speculation that Wayne Gretzky is in for five per cent. Both men are from Brantford, Ont. . . . Campbell also had this:
“DeDobbelaer also declined to comment on the purchase price, which is believed to be $18 million, which is actually 10 percent less than the $20 million owners Bill and Denise Burke were seeking for the franchise. And that makes sense, since the league had suspended GM Joey Burke and coach Billy Burke, the sons of the owners, until at least 2024 for violating the league’s harassment, abuse and diversity policy. And while the Burkes were not forced to sell, they were definitely a motivated seller, which served to bring the price down.
“(And, once again, the next time you hear these junior hockey owners complain that they have to pay their players poverty wages in order to keep the lights on — and the government of the day agrees with them by allowing them to skirt minimum-wage laws — remember that they do just fine. When their teams are competitive and enjoy long playoff runs, they make plenty of money. And as the Burkes did, they always, always cash out when they sell.)”
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One WHL team went up 3-0 in its best-of-seven conference finally by winning on the road in Monday’s lone playoff game. Two others have the same opportunity tonight. . . . The Edmonton Oil Kings went into Red Deer last night and beat the Rebels, 5-4 in OT, to take a 3-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series. . . . Tonight, the Winnipeg Ice takes a 2-0 lead into Moose Jaw for Game 3 with the Warriors, while the Kamloops Blazers are up 2-0 and in Langley, B.C., to face the Vancouver Giants. . . . The Blazers are likely to be without F Luke Toporowski for a second straight game, while the Giants aren’t likely to have D Mazden Leslie or F Colton Langkow available. Head coach Michael Dyck told Steve Ewen of Postmedia that both players are “doubtful.” All three of those players were injured in Game 1 of this series.
MONDAY IN THE WHL:
#WHLPlayoffs#EDMvsRD: @EdmOilKings – who had one overtime win in season – use another to their advantage and take a commanding lead (and also win 11th straight overall). Jake Neighbours cracks the code for first time this playoffs 7:17 into overtime for the difference maker.
In Red Deer, F Jake Neighbours scored in OT to give the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings a 5-4 victory over the No. 3 Rebels. . . . The Oil Kings hold a 3-0 lead in the conference semifinal and get their first opportunity to wrap it up on Wednesday night in Red Deer. . . . D Luke Prokop (2) put the visitors out front at 1:55 of the first period. . . . F Liam Keeler (2) scored the Rebels’ first goal of the series — they had been blanked 4-0 and 5-0 in Edmonton — at 9:44, on a PP. . . . The Oil Kings went ahead 3-1 on second-period goals from F Dylan Guenther (7), at 6:32, and F Carter Souch (4), on a PP, at 15:56. . . . Guenther has a goal in each of Edmonton’s seven playoff games. . . . Red Deer got back to within a goal at 18:22 when F Kalan Lind (1) scored. . . . F Justin Sourdif (2) scored while shorthanded, at 7:38 of the third period, to give the visitors a 4-2 lead and really put the home side in a hole. . . . But the Rebels climbed out of it with two goals 36 seconds apart — F Arshdeep Bains (4) scored at 12:50 and F Jhett Larson (2) tied the game at 13:26. . . . Neighbours won it with his first goal of the playoffs, at 7:17 of OT. . . . G Connor Ungar blocked 47 shots for the Rebels, 29 more than Edmonton’s Sebastian Cossa, who drew an assist on Neighbours’ winner. . . . The Rebels went without D Jackson van de Leest who served a one-game suspension under supplemental discipline from Game 2. Also out: G Chase Coward and D Christoffer Sedoff, both with undisclosed injuries.
Count in Justin Sourdif's shorthanded marker for the Edmonton Oil Kings, there was 10 man disadvantage markers across @CHLHockey on May 9 – and the Ontario Hockey League didn't play. https://t.co/cMB7jGV5r8
ICYMI, Lou Lamoriello, the general manager of the NHL’s New York Islanders, fired head coach Barry Trotz on Monday morning. Trotz, the pride of Dauphin, Man., has one year left on a five-year deal worth US$20 million, so don’t be weeping too long for him. He also is the NHL’s third-winningest regular-season coach of all-time, with 914 victories. Under his guidance, the Islanders reached the NHL’s Final Four twice — in 2020 and 2021. But the Islanders didn’t make the playoffs this season, so Lamoriello pulled the plug on Trotz. . . . “I’d rather not get into any of the reasons because that’s my job upon the information that I have and I experienced to make these type of decisions,” Lamoriello, 79, said during a conference call. . . . Trotz, who played three seasons (1979-82) with the Regina Pats, was the head coach when the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup in the spring of 2018. The Capitals later let him go rather than extend his contract. That’s how he ended up with the Islanders. . . .
The Islanders’ coaching staff includes two former WHL head coaches in Lane Lambert, their associate coach and long-time Trotz lieutenant, and Jim Hiller. . . . Lambert, the head coach of the Prince George Cougars for a season and a half (2003-05), is seen by some observers as the leading candidate to replace Trotz. . . . Hiller, the head coach of the Chilliwack Bruins and Tri-City Americans (2006-14), just completed his third season with the Islanders after spending four seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs. . . .
The Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers and Winnipeg Jets, along with the Islanders, are NHL teams presently in the market for a head coach.
Congratulations to Shell for the terrific start to 2022. Well done! . . . Oh, and congratulations to the Shell gas station on the Trans-Canada Highway in the Valleyview area of Kamloops. The price of a litre of unleaded hit $2.04 there sometime Monday, to the best of my knowledge the first gas station in Kamloops to smash through the $2.00 barrier. Again, well done! . . . Can hardly wait to see what you have in store for us before Christmas.
Steve Kerr, the head coach of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, wasn’t able to work Monday night’s playoff game against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies. You guessed it! He tested positive earlier in the day. . . . In his absence, associate head coach Mike Brown served as the acting head coach. Interestingly, Brown already has signed on for next season — as the head coach of the Sacramento Kings.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The NHL’s Minnesota Wild has signed F Pavel Novak of the Kelowna Rockets to a three-year entry-level contract that is to begin next season. Novak, who turned 20 on April 16, is from Czech Republic. He had 72 points, including 29 goals, in 62 games with the Rockets this season. . . . The Wild selected him in the fifth round of the NHL’s 2020 draft. . . .
Craig Didmon is out as the GM/head coach of the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies. He has held both positions for the past seven-plus seasons. . . . Didmon has been coaching in Victoria since 2002, either with the junior B Cougars, the WHL’s Royals or the Grizzlies. . . . Taking Note was told last week that Rylan Ferster, a former GM/head coach with the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors, will be the Grizzlies’ next head coach. . . .
Chris Lynn is the new head coach of the junior B Victoria Cougars of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. Lynn, a veteran of the coaching game, is a member of a real hockey family. He takes over from Brady Coulter, who has chosen to step aside. . . . Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times-Colonist has more right here.
My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
So . . . right here, from the WHL’s own website, is an explanation of how it is to deal with a three-team tie in its final standings . . .
“In the event three (3) or more clubs finish tied in total points in WHL standings, the edge goes to the club with the most victories. Should the clubs have won the same number of games, then the higher position shall be awarded to the club having the greatest ratio when taking goals for and subtracting goals against in regular schedule play.”
What the WHL forgot to tell us is that there is another step in the procedure, as you shall see if you read on . . .
After Saturday’s games, the Prince George Cougars, Spokane Chiefs and Vancouver Giants all had 24 victories and 53 points. They were tied for sixth place in the Western Conference.
So under the above tiebreaking procedure, I had thought you would take the goals-for and goals-against for each team, subtract, and go from there. That would have put the Cougars (-63) in sixth, the Giants (-69) in seventh, and the Chiefs (-101) eighth.
But it seems that there is a step missing, one that would have provided some clarity, from that tiebreaking procedure as it is spelled out on the WHL website.
You see, in this instance, you only use that tiebreaking procedure to decide the sixth-place team. In this case, that would be the Cougars.
With the Cougars out of the way, the WHL went to a two-team tiebreaker to decide between the Giants and Chiefs. And goals-for and goals-against isn’t used for that one. Instead, because the teams finished with the same number of victories, the edge goes “to the club with the most points in games between the two during the regular season.” The Chiefs won the season series, 3-1-0, so they get seventh place.
That leaves the Giants in eighth.
(Confusing? As I write this, the standings on the WHL website have the Chiefs in sixth, followed by the Giants and then the Cougars.)
What we do know for sure is that the Royals, with 52 points, fell one point shy of that logjam. We also know that each of the first-round series will feature a U.S. team against one from B.C.
In the Eastern Conference, the Prince Albert Raiders wrapped up eighth place, and the last playoff spot, while the Swift Current Broncos, Calgary Hitmen and Regina Pats were eliminated.
There are two games remaining in the WHL’s regular season but neither one will have any bearing on playoff positions. . . . Today, the Lethbridge Hurricanes are to visit the Calgary Hitmen, with the Moose Jaw Warriors in Regina to play the Pats. . . . Here’s how things wound down last night (GR — games remaining). . . .
Everett Silvertips — Will finish atop the U.S. Division and the conference. One point ahead of Kamloops and Portland. . . . Everett will play Vancouver in the first round. Each team was 2-2-0 in the season series. . . . GR (0).
Kamloops Blazers — Won B.C. Division. . . . Also finished with one more victory than Portland, 48-47. . . . Will meet Spokane in first round. Series will have a 3-3-1 format with the first three games in Kamloops and next three in Spokane. . . . Kamloops won the season series, 3-1-0. . . . GR (0).
Portland Winterhawks — One point behind Everett, tied with Kamloops. As third seed draws Prince George in first round. Portland swept the season series, 4-0-0. . . . GR (0).
Seattle Thunderbirds — Finished fourth so have home-ice advantage against Kelowna in first round. . . . Seattle finished 3-1-0 in the season series; Kelowna was 1-2-1. . . . GR (0).
Kelowna Rockets — Finish fifth and draw Seattle in first round. . . . GR (0).
Prince George Cougars — Placed sixth through tiebreaking process. . . . Will be riding the bus to Portland to open there on Friday. . . . GR (0).
Spokane Chiefs — Slipped into seventh by sweeping weekend series in Victoria. . . . Gets Kamloops in the first round. . . . GR (0).
Vancouver Giants — Wound up eighth through the tiebreaking procedure. . . . Will open against Everett. . . . GR (0).
Victoria Royals — Not this season.
Tri-City Americans — Not this season either.
Winnipeg Ice — Wins the East Division, Eastern Conference and WHL regular-season pennants. . . . Will meet Prince Albert in first round. Winnipeg was 5-1-2 in the season series; Prince Albert was 3-4-1. . . . GR (0).
Edmonton Oil Kings — Finished second and open against Lethbridge. . . . Edmonton won the season series, 6-2-0; Lethbridge was 2-5-1. . . . GR (0).
Red Deer Rebels — Wound up third and meet Brandon in the first round. . . . Each team was 2-2-0 in the season series. . . . GR (0).
Moose Jaw Warriors — Ended up fourth and have home-ice advantage in first-round series with Saskatoon. . . . GR (1): at Regina today.
Saskatoon Blades — Will finish fifth and meet Moose Jaw in first round. . . . Saskatoon won the season series, 6-2-0; Moose Jaw was 2-5-1. . . . GR (0).
Brandon Wheat Kings — Will finish sixth and meet Red Deer in the first round. . . . GR (0).
Lethbridge Hurricanes — Will finish seventh and play Edmonton in the first round. . . . GR (1): at Calgary today.
Prince Albert — Woke up in 11th spot on Friday and clinched the conference’s eighth and final playoff spot with a victory in Swift Current on Friday and another over visiting Brandon last night. Will meet the Winnipeg Ice in the first round. . . . GR (0).
Swift Current Broncos — Will finish ninth and out of the playoffs. . . . GR (0).
Calgary Hitmen — No playoffs here either. . . . GR (1): at home to Lethbridge today.
Regina Pats — In 11th spot after losing 6-4 to the Winnipeg Ice last night. The Ice were the home team for Friday and Saturday games in Regina and swept the Pats. . . . GR (1): at home to Moose Jaw today.
Medicine Hat — Sorry. Not this time.
SATURDAY IN THE WHL:
F Keaton Sorensen and F Evan Herman each scored twice to help the host Prince Albert Raiders to a 5-1 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The victory allowed the Raiders to grab the conference’s last playoff spot. They’ll be in Winnipeg to play the Ice in a first-round opener on Friday. . . . The Raiders go into the playoffs as defending champions. They won it all in 2018-19; the pandemic took care of playoffs the past two seasons. . . . Herman, who has 28 goals, scored the game’s first two goals. . . . Sorensen has 12 goals. . . .
In Regina, the Pats’ playoff hopes ended with a 6-4 loss to the Winnipeg Ice. . . . The Ice played in Regina as the home team on Friday and Saturday nights in games moved from Winnipeg because of a Prairie blizzard that had hit the area. The Ice, with the WHL’s best record this regular season, won both games. . . . The Pats never led in this one, but got to within one, at 5-4, when F Easton Armstrong (6) scored at 8:22 of the third period. . . . Ice F Matt Savoie (35) got the empty-netter at 19:22. . . . G Daniel Hauser stopped 25 shots to earn the victory. He finished this season 34-3-1, 2.00, .914. . . . Regina F Connor Bedard had two assists. He has 95 points, including 49 goals, in 62 games. . . . Announced attendance was 1,481. . . .
In Red Deer, the Edmonton Oil Kings scored the game’s first three goals en route to a 3-2 victory over the Rebels. . . . F Jake Neighbours (17) gave the visitors a 3-0 lead at 7:53 of the second period. . . . F Arshdeep Bains, who will win the WHL scoring title, got the Rebels to within a goal at 3-2 at 11:56 of the third period. But they weren’t able to equalize. . . . Bains, who also had an assist, unofficially leads the WHL in assists (69) and points (112). . . . The teams combined to take 22 minor penalties. Edmonton was 1-for-9 on the PP; Red Deer was 1-for-8. . . . Rogan Dean, the Oil Kings’ equipment manager, worked his 1,000th game with them.
G Mason Beaupit stopped 35 shots to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 4-2 victory over the Royals in Victoria. . . . The outcome clinched a playoff spot for the Chiefs and eliminated the Royals. . . . Tied 1-1, the Chiefs scored two goals in the second half of the first period to take control. . . . The winners got a goal and an assist from each of F Ty Cheveldayoff (10) and F Cade Hayes (9). . . .
The Tri-City Americans scored the game’s first three goals and went on to beat the Everett Silvertips, 4-1, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . F Sasha Mutala, who played 266 games over five-plus seasons with the Americans, scored the game’s last goal and also had two assists. He finished with 19 goals. . . . Everett wins the U.S. Division and Western Conference pennants, with 100 points, but have fewer victories than the Kamloops Blazers and Portland Winterhawks, both of whom finished with 99 points. While Everett won 45 games, Kamloops got to 48 and Portland 47. However, Everett ended up with 10 loser points; Portland got five and Kamloops three. . . .
F Andrew Cristall scored twice and added an assist to lead the host Kelowna Rockets to a 3-1 victory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . Cristall’s second goal, his 28th of the season, gave the Rockets a 3-0 lead at 14:19 of the third period. . . . F Colton Dach drew three assists. . . . Cristall, who turned 17 on Feb. 5, finished with 69 points in 61 games. He tied the franchise record for most points by a player in his 16-year-old season. F Shane McColgan put up 69 points in 2009-10. . . .
F Logan Stankoven scored his 45th goal and added an assist to help the host Kamloops Blazers to a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . Stankoven finished with 104 points in 59 games as he led the league in points-per-game, at 1.76.
The Saskatoon Blades honoured former general manager/head coach Lorne Molleken prior to and during their 2-1 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday night. . . . I only hope the music man played ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man at least once in Lorne’s honour.
Darren Steinke, the travelling blogger, was on hand and he posted this piece right here.
Classy moment as the Flames and Coyotes line up to shake the hand of 23-year referee Brad Meier after his final game 👏 pic.twitter.com/NSaWk4XS4O
Brad Meier, a former WHL referee, worked his final game as an NHL referee on Saturday night. . . . Cory Wolfe is a former sports writer at the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, which is in Meier’s hometown. . . .
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Branden Crowe, the radio voice of the Brandon Wheat Kings for six seasons, called his final game last night. He is moving on to work for Hockey Canada. He also has been the Wheat Kings’ director of strategic marketing and social sales. According to a news release: “An interim play-by-play voice for the upcoming playoffs will be named in the coming days Long-time colour commentator Pete Gerlinger will remain on the broadcast team.” The Wheat Kings are scheduled to open a first-round playoff series against the Rebels in Red Deer on Friday.
If you’re a regular in these parts, you know that we’re big on organ donation and transplantation here, primarily because my wife, Dorothy, is with us today because of a kidney transplant. And now she is preparing to take part in the annual Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year. . . . The 2022 Kidney Walk will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . The Kidney Walk is a huge fund-raising venture for the Canadian Kidney Foundation and its provincial branches. By participating, Dorothy is able to give something back to an organization that has been such a big part of our lives. . . . If you would like to be on her team by making a donation you are able to do so right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
As the WHL’s 2021-22 regular season winds down, let’s take a look back and wonder what one player’s final season might have been. It’s a season that shouldn’t be forgotten.
It was 1977-78. Bill Derlago of the Brandon Wheat Kings had turned 19 about a month before the season began. This would be his third full season with the Wheat Kings. In 1976-77, he had totalled 96 goals, which was a WHL record at the time, and 82 assists — 178 points — in 72 games.
Fans could only imagine what was to come.
Well, the native of Birtle, Man., didn’t disappoint, putting up 152 points, including 89 goals, in 52 games. That’s 1.17 goals and 2.92 points per game. Those are great numbers. Right?
But they could have been even better.
In early December, Derlago, playing between Brian Propp and Ray Allison, had 80 points, including 48 goals, in 26 games when he suited up with a WCHL all-star team in Regina against a touring side from what was then the Soviet Union. (The team, travelling as the Moscow Selects, won the game, 6-5. The WCHL team featured players from Brandon, the Regina Pats, Flin Flon Bombers and Medicine Hat Tigers.)
Over a 72-game season, Derlago was on pace for 218 points, including 133 goals. Rob Brown of the 1986-87 Kamloops Blazers holds the WHL record for most points in one season. He put up 212 in 63 games that season, an average of 3.37 points per game.
Had Derlago stayed healthy and maintained his pace, he would have averaged 1.85 goals and 3.03 points per game.
But it wasn’t to be.
On his second shift of that game in Regina, Derlago “lined up Boris Verigin . . . and took a run at him,” wrote Dave Senick of the Regina Leader-Post. “The Soviet went down and slipped past Derlago’s check.
“The Wheat King flew over Verigin and couldn’t get up after hitting the ice. The reason was a good one. He was taken to hospital and was diagnosed (with) possible torn knee ligaments.”
As it turned out, he had torn ligaments in his left knee.
“Sure, I’m disappointed and the records mean something to me,” Derlago told Senick. “But I’m not going to get worried. I just want to get back and play. It’s the first time I’ve had a serious injury in three years. I had my adrenaline flowing for this season.”
He did return and was able to finish up that 152-point season, but we were left to wonder what might have been.
BTW, Derlago’s 96 goals from 1976-77 stood up as the WHL single-season record until 1983-84 when Ray Ferraro, who had been acquired by the Wheat Kings from the Portland Winterhawks in the offseason, scored 108 times. That remains the WHL’s single-season record to this date.
The Vancouver Canucks selected Derlago with the fourth overall pick of the NHL’s 1978 draft. He went on to play 555 regular-season NHL games, most of them with the Toronto Maple Leafs for whom he enjoyed 35-, 34-, 40- and 31-goal seasons.
Jake Milford was the Canucks’ general manager at that time. He had been in the Wheat Kings’ front office, either as GM, head coach or both, from 1958-59 through 1963-64. McCallum had played two seasons (1958-60) with the Canucks.
And so it was that the Canucks, under Milford’s guidance, were putting the Canucks through their paces during Derlago’s first NHL training camp. That included running some sprints, something at which Derlago, who had large calves, wasn’t proficient.
When Milford called McCallum to update him on Derlago’s progress, the Canucks’ GM complained about Derlago’s poor performance on the track.
To which McCallum replied: “Jake, are you putting together a track team or a hockey team?”
It should be pointed out that Bill Derlago wasn’t the first WCHL superstar to lose a possible monstrous statistical season to injury. In 1968-69, Reggie Leach, the Riverton Rifle, finished with 46 points, including 36 goals, in 22 games with the Flin Flon Bombers, losing most of the season to a shoulder injury.
Over a 60-game schedule, which is what they played back in the day, that works out to 125 points, including 98 goals. Had Leach scored 98 goals, he would be two ahead of the 96 Derlago scored in 1976-77.
But let’s also think about Flin Flon captain Bobby Clarke, who won the scoring title that season with 137 points in 58 games. The Bombers’ second-leading scorer was Brian Marchinko, with 86 points.
Had Leach been riding shotgun with Clarke for the entire season, who knows how many points the league’s top player might have put up? One season earlier, Clarke won the scoring title with 168 points; Leach was second with 131.
Unfortunately, we’ll never know what might have been for Leach in 1968-69.
Not to overload you with Flin Flon-related chatter, but . . .
If you are having a discussion about the most intimidating hockey arena anywhere you have to have Flin Flon’s Whitney Forum at or near the top of the list. I haven’t been there in years, but I did take in the odd Bombers game back in the days of Gerry Hart, Bobby Clarke, Reggie Leach, Steve Andrascik, Wayne Hawrysh et al. Yes, it was a noisy, scary place. . . . Now there is talk that Hudbay — today, it’s Hudbay Minerals Inc.; in my time it was Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting — “is slated to shut down much of its operations nearby later this year,” Eric Westhaver wrote in the Flin Flon Reminder the other day. . . . What will that mean to the folks of Flin Flon and the Fabulous Forum? Westhaver takes a look right here at the past, the present and the future of a Canadian landmark.
Daren Millard will miss tonight’s game; he was hospitalized after a bicycle accident yesterday. He suffered significant injuries but is expected to make a full recovery.
F Justin Sourdif and F Dylan Guenther each had two goals and two assists as the host Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Red Deer Rebels, 6-4. . . . The Oil Kings clinched their fourth straight Central Division pennant and will meet the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the first round of the playoffs. They will open in Edmonton on April 21. Edmonton won the season series, 6-2-0; Lethbridge was 2-5-1. . . . Edmonton snapped a 2-2 tie and took control with three goals in a span of 4:11 early in the second period, the last two coming via the PP after Red Deer F Frantisek Formanek was hit with a kneeing major and game misconduct. . . . Guenther now has 44 goals; Sourdif has 25. . . . Sourdif, who turned 20 on March 24, went into the game with 199 points in 195 career regular-season games. His first goal, at 8:50 of the first period, was his 200th career point. The Oil Kings acquired him from the Vancouver Giants earlier in the season. He has 37 points, including 16 goals, in 25 games with Edmonton. . . . Red Deer got a goal and two assists from each of D Christoffer Sedoff (8), F Ben King and F Arshdeep Bains. King and Bains each went into the game with 199 career regular-season points. . . . King, who leads the WHL with 50 goals in his 19-year-old season, now has 202 points in 204 career games. Bains, who leads the WHL with 105 points in his 20-year-old season, has 202 points in 255 career games. . . . King is the first Red Deer player to get to 50 since F Kyle Wanvig scored 55 in 2000-01. The franchise record (58) belongs to F B.J. Young (1996-97). . . . F Jake Neighbours, the Oil Kings’ captain, had two assists in his return to the lineup. He had last played on Feb. 21. . . . Edmonton (47-14-4) will finish second in the conference, while Red Deer (44-18-4) will be third. The Rebels, though, will have to wait to find out their first-round opponent — either the Saskatoon Blades, Moose Jaw Warriors or Brandon Wheat Kings. . . .
In Winnipeg, F Chase Wheatcroft scored twice and added an assist as the Ice beat the Medicine Hat Tigers, 6-1. . . . He’s got 16 goals. . . . F Cole Muir (11) scored twice and F Jakin Smallwood (24) had a goal and two assists. . . . Winnipeg held a 44-17 edge in shots, including 22-4 in the third period. . . . G Daniel Hauser earned the victory with 16 saves. This season, he is 31-3-1, 1.97, .914. . . . Winnipeg (50-10-5) will finish atop the conference and will face the eight-place team in the first round. Four teams — the Swift Current Broncos, Calgary Hitmen, Regina Pats and Prince Albert Raiders — are within two points of each other in the scrap for the last spot. . . . The Tigers (11-51-4) have lost 10 in a row. . . .
F Nate Danielson scored the only goal of a shootout as the Brandon Wheat Kings got past the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors, 3-2. . . . Moose Jaw led this one 2-0 early in the second period on goals from F Eric Alarie (22) and F Ryder Korczak (23). . . . F Nolan Ritchie (32) got Brandon to within one at 7:22 of the second period and D Vincent Iorio (11) tied it just 2:28 later. . . . Danielson was the fifth shooter in the circus. The Wheat Kings put it away when Korczak couldn’t beat G Ethan Kruger. . . . Brandon (35-25-5) is sixth, three points behind Moose Jaw (36-23-6) and the idle Saskatoon Blades (37-26-4). . . .
The Lethbridge Hurricanes ensured themselves of a seventh-place finish with a 5-1 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . F Jett Jones, who scored twice, broke a 1-1 tie with his first goal at 1:21 of the second period. He added his 20th of the season, shorthanded, at 19:22 of the third. . . . That seventh-place finish means the Hurricanes (31-30-5) will face the Edmonton Oil Kings in the first-round of the playoffs. These two teams have never played each other in the playoffs. . . . The Hitmen (25-32-8) are tied for eighth with Swift Current, one point ahead of Regina and Prince Albert. . . . Calgary and Regina each have three games remaining, Prince Albert has two and Swift Current one. . . .
F Connor Bedard scored twice and added an assist as the host Regina Pats beat the Prince Albert Raiders, 5-3. . . . Bedard gave his guys a 2-1 lead at 6:19 of the second period, then put them ahead 4-2, on the PP, at 6:46 of the third. . . . Bedard now has 92 points, including 49 goals, in 58 games. . . . The Pats also got a shorthanded goal and two assists from F Tanner Howe, who was playing against his hometown team. Howe, who won’t turn 17 until Nov. 28, has 66 points, 26 of them goals, in 61 games. . . . F Evan Herman scored twice for the Raiders, giving him 25. . . . Regina (26-34-5) and Prince Albert (26-25-5) are tied for 10th, two points from a playoff spot.
D Ethan Samson’s third-period PP goal broke a 1-1 tie as the host Prince George Cougars scored a 2-1 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . F Marcus Almquist (5) gave the Royals a 1-0 lead at 1:27 of the first period. . . . F Jonny Hooker (16) tied it 10:06 later. . . . Samson, who has 15 goals, snapped the tie at 13:29 of the third period. He also drew an assist on Hooker’s goal. . . . G Ty Young stopped 29 shots for the Cougars, including 10 in the third period. . . . Prince George (23-38-5) is tied for sixth with the Spokane Chiefs. The Cougars have two games remaining — in Kamloops on Friday and in Kelowna on Saturday. . . . Victoria (22-38-6) is tied with the Vancouver Giants for eighth. The Royals have two games remaining with Spokane to visit on Friday and Saturday. . . .
In Kamloops, F Jaydon Dureau’s OT goal gave the Portland Winterhawks a 5-4 victory over the Blazers. . . . Andy Kemper, the Winterhawks’ historian, points out that the winning goal “was the 22nd of the season for No. 22 Dureau at 2:22 of OT.” . . . D Marek Alscher (7) had pulled Portland even, at 4-4, at 8:01 of the third period. . . . F Logan Stankoven had two goals, giving him 44, and an assist for Kamloops. His first goal, 57 seconds into the game, was his 100th point of the season. . . . Stankoven’s 102 points has him tied with F Ben King of the Red Deer Rebels for second in the WHL scoring race. They are three points behind Red Deer F Arshdeep Bains. . . . Stankoven leads the WHL in points per game, at 1.79. . . . The Blazers got three assists from F Daylan Kuefler. . . . Kamloops (47-16-3) is second in the conference. With two games to play, it is three points behind the idle Everett Silvertips (45-10-10) and two ahead of Portland (45-16-5), which also has two games remaining. . . .
F Andrew Cristall and F Colton Dach each had five points in leading the Kelowna Rockets to an 8-4 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . Cristall had two goals and three assists, with Dach scoring once and adding four helpers. . . . Cristall has 26 goals, which breaks the franchise record for goals by a 16-year-old. F Shane McColgan (2009-10) and F Nick Merkley (2013-14) had shared the record prior to the game. . . . The Rockets also got two goals and two assists from F Mark Liwiski, who has 23 goals, and two goals and an assist from F Adam Kydd. He’s got 17 goals. . . . F Zack Ostapchuk scored three times for Vancouver. His first career hat trick gave him 23 goals this season. . . . D Alex Cotton added his 15th goal and two assists for the visitors. . . . These teams will play again today in Kelowna and then will clash on Friday in Langley, B.C. . . . The Rockets (40-19-6) are fourth, two points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds and the two teams are headed for a first-round playoff clash. Each team has three games remaining, and all that remains to be decided is who will have home-ice advantage. . . . Vancouver (23-27-4) is tied with Victoria for the conference’s last playoff spot. . . .
At Kent, Wash., F Jared Davidson had a goal and three assists to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds past the Spokane Chiefs, 6-2. . . . The start of the game, scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PT, was delayed about two hours because weather conditions through the Snoqualmie Pass slowed the Chiefs’ trek. . . . Spokane, trailing 3-0 late in the second period, got to within a goal at 3-2 before third period was two minutes old but wasn’t able to equalize. . . . Davidson has 82 points, including 36 goals, in 61 games. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky added two goals for Seattle, giving him 34, with D Kevin Korchinski drawing three assists. . . . Seattle (41-18-6) is fourth, two points ahead of Kelowna. . . . Spokane (23-38-5) is tied for sixth with Prince George, one point ahead of Vancouver and Victoria.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: There is speculation that the QMJHL is seriously considering exempting 20-year-old goaltenders from the CHL rule that limits teams to three such players. That makes sense to me. I also would do away with the two-spot rule — teams are allowed three 20-year-olds and two imports — that has a 20-year-old import taking up a spot in each category. I have long thought that with teams having invested so much energy, money and time in import players they should have to declare a 20-year-old import as one or the other. . . . The BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks had their first season come to an end on Saturday when they lost, 3-2 in OT, to the visiting Prince George Spruce Kings, who won the best-of-seven series, 4-2. The announced attendance was 3,002.
Dorothy is preparing to take part in the annual Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year. She has participated in every one since she underwent a kidney transplant at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver on Sept. 23, 2013. . . . The 2022 Kidney Walk will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . You are able to support her by making a donation right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
In light of developments involving Russia and Ukraine, there is a move afoot, started by the British government, to move soccer’s Champions League final out of St. Petersburg. The game is scheduled to be played on May 28 at Gazprom Arena. Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy giant, has sponsored the Champions League for 10 years.
UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, apparently is re-evaluating the situation.
You have to wonder, too, if the Russia-Ukraine situation might have repercussions in the world of hockey. Gord Miller of TSN, who is more than a little familiar with the world of international hockey, posted a series of tweets on this subject on Monday. Here’s a few of them . . .
“Start with the KHL, where the playoffs are set to start next Monday.One of the top KHL teams is Jokerit, located in Helsinki, but the team and arena are Russian owned. Jokerit is scheduled to play Spartak Moscow, would the Finnish government bar travel to and from Russia?
(Note: It’s worth noting that Chelsea, one of the soccer teams still alive in the Champions League’s round of 16, is owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.)
“Then there’s the Men’s World Championship set for Finland in May. If the Russians invade Ukraine, would the IIHF bar them from competing? That seems unlikely, but it did strip Belarus of it’s co-hosting of the 2021 WC. And again, would the Finnish government step in?
“This summer, the U.S. will host the Women’s U18 tournament, Canada will host the Hlinka/Gretzky U18 tournament and the World Juniors in August. Since severe travel restrictions to and from Russia are among the sanctions being discussed, would their teams be allowed to play?
“Further out, Russia is scheduled to host the 2023 World Junior Championship in December and the Men’s Worlds in May of 2023. New arenas have been built in Novosibirsk and St. Petersburg to host the two events, which stand to be very lucrative and high-profile for Russia.
“Again, even if the IIHF doesn’t take steps in the event of a Russian invasion, would a boycott of those two events by the other competing nations be possible? It might not even be in the hands of the hockey federations, national governments could make that call.”
Who knows what the future holds, but all of this definitely is food for thought and it all will be worth watching as it plays out.
When the Prince Albert Raiders skated out of Medicine Hat with a 4-1 victory over the Tigers on Monday afternoon, it marked another milestone for veteran head coach Marc Habscheid.
Unofficially, this was the 572nd regular-season victory of Habscheid’s WHL head-coaching career. (It’s all unofficially because the WHL hasn’t made available a Guide and Record Book since early in the 2019-20 season.)
By my count — and I’m the first to admit that I’ve been wrong before — Habscheid now is tied with Mike Williamson for fifth spot on the all-time list. Habscheid, who will turn 59 on March 1, worked as the head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets and Chilliwack Bruins/Victoria Royals before taking over the Raiders during the 2015-16 season.
The Raiders are next scheduled to play tonight (Wednesday) against the host Calgary Hitmen. (Habscheid earned his 500th victory on Feb. 9, 2019, in Lethbridge, and celebrated on the way out of town by having the bus stop at a Dairy Queen. He had a large chocolate sundae and treated everyone else. “The boys got whatever they wanted,” he said at the time. “Best $180 I ever spent.” Might there be another DQ stop in the Raiders’ future?)
Williamson had stints as the head coach with the Winterhawks, Hitmen and Tri-City Americans. BTW, a hearty Happy Birthday to Williamson, who turned 50 on Tuesday (Feb. 22).
Here’s the WHL’s top 10 winningest regular-season coaches: Don Hay, 750; Ken Hodge, 742; Don Nachbaur, 692; Lorne Molleken, 626; Williamson and Habscheid, each 572; Ernie McLean, 548; Brent Sutter, 526; Pat Ginnell 518; and Shaun Clouston, 485.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The WHL has suspended F Matthew Rempe of the Seattle Thunderbirds for two games after he was hit with a kneeing major and game misconduct during a game against the host Portland Winterhawks on Saturday night. Rempe was tossed at 1:55 of the first period for a hit on Portland F Jack O’Brien. Although O’Brien looked to have suffered an injury to his left leg at the time, he was back in the lineup the next night and had two goals and an assist in a 9-1 victory over the visiting Spokane Chiefs. . . . Although things have been quiet of late in terms of COVID-19, don’t think for a moment that it has gone away. The QMJHL has postponed two games involving the Cape Breton Eagles because of what are reported to be several positive tests among players. The games, both against the visiting Charlottetown Islanders, were to have been played on Feb. 25 and 26. The Eagles haven’t played at home since Dec. 15. . . . The WHL’s Victoria Royals (14-30-5), who recently snapped a 17-game losing streak, are tied for eighth in the Western Conference. They have 19 games remaining, with seven of those against the sixth-place Prince George Cougars (19-27-3). The Vancouver Giants (19-25-2) are between those two, one point behind the Cougars and seven ahead of the Royals and Tri-City Americans (14-29-5). . . . Meanwhile, the Kamloops Blazers (35-13-2) are second in the conference while leading the B.C. Division. The Kelowna Rockets (29-12-4) are fifth in the conference and second in the division, 10 points behind Kamloops. They will play in Kelowna on Friday and in Kamloops on Saturday. Later, from March 11-26, they will play each other six times. That’ll be six straight games for Kamloops, while Kelowna will squeeze in a doubleheader in Victoria during that stretch. . . . The Rockets will come out of the games with Kamloops to play four in a row against Prince George.
MONDAY IN THE WHL: F Reece Vitelli scored twice, giving him 18, as the visiting Prince Albert Raiders scored the game’s last four goals and beat the Medicine Hat Tigers, 4-1. Raiders D Trevor Thurston likely should expect a call from the WHL office, if he hasn’t had one already, after picking up two major penalties on the same play with 30 seconds left in the third period. He took a charging major for a hit on F Brayden Boehm. Yes there was a scrum, during which Thurston picked up a cross-checking major. . . . F Karson King (4) and F Josh Davies (15) each scored twice as the Swift Current Broncos beat the Pats, 4-3, in Regina. Davies broke a 3-3 tie at 7:59 of the third period. F Connor Bedard (31) and F Tanner Howe (19) each had a goal and an assist for Regina. . . .
The host Edmonton Oil Kings erased a 2-0 deficit with five straight goals en route to a 6-3 victory over the Winnipeg Ice. F Justin Sourdif (15) and F Josh Williams (25) had two goals each for Edmonton. Sourdif’s second goal, which gave Edmonton a 5-2 lead, was the first shorthanded score surrendered by the Ice this season. F Jake Neighbours of the Oil Kings had an empty-net goal as he ran his point streak to 14 games, the WHL’s longest active streak. . . . G Tyler Palmer blocked 35 shots to lead the Victoria Royals to a 3-0 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. An 18-year-old freshman from Fernie, B.C., Palmer, who is 5-0-0, 1.36, .961 against Vancouver, has two shutouts this season, both against the Giants. The Royals (14-30-5) have won eight of 10 meetings with the Giants (19-25-2) this season. They’ll go home-and-home this weekend to wrap up their season series. . . .
In Kelowna, F Turner McMillen scored twice, giving him nine goals as the Rockets dumped the Tri-City Americans, 5-3. Tri-City G Tomas Suchanek turned aside 51 shots . . . F Logan Stankoven had his points streak stopped at 19 games but did score in the shootout as the Kamloops Blazers clinched a playoff spot by beating the visiting Everett Silvertips, 4-3. Stankoven had 39 points, including 17 goals, in the WHL’s longest points streak to date this season. Kamloops F Daylan Kuefler (25) forced OT at 19:17 of the third period with his second goal of the game. Stankoven and F Luke Toporowski scored for Kamloops in the shootout, while F Jackson Berezowski counted for Everett.
If you didn’t happen to watch the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks playing on Monday night, there was a bizarre few moments when six players scrapped for a puck that wasn’t in the corner where they thought it was. Take a look . . .
It took until this week but the COVID-19 virus has found the WHL.
The league now has postponed three games involving the Spokane Chiefs, who had two players test positive this week.
The Chiefs were to have played the host Everett Silvertips on Wednesday night and then travel to Victoria for Friday and Saturday dates with the Royals. Those games are expected to be rescheduled.
The two Chiefs players who tested positive, according to the WHL, “are fully vaccinated in accordance with the WHL mandatory vaccination policy.”
The Chiefs have halted all team activities, including practices and off-ice training “pending further test results.”
Under the WHL’s protocols, it requires that “all roster players, hockey operations staff, and other team and league office personnel be fully vaccinated with a Health Canada approved vaccine.” At the same time, the WHL “strongly recommended to each of its teams that players reside in billet households in which all eligible individuals are fully vaccinated.”
Spokane last played Friday and Saturday, losing twice to the visiting Silvertips — 5-4 and then 2-1 in OT — but according to the WHL “there are no other WHL clubs considered high-risk close contacts.”
With the two weekend games postponed, the Chiefs next are scheduled to play on Nov. 19 when they are to play host to the Seattle Thunderbirds and Nov. 20 when they are scheduled to be in Everett.
On Thursday, the Chiefs, with five forwards on the WHL injury list, acquired F Carter Streek, 17, from the Saskatoon Blades for a seventh-round selection in the 2022 draft. Streek, from Kamloops, was a fourth-round pick by the Portland Winterhawks in the 2019 draft. He is pointless in 21 career games, six of them this season, all with the Blades.
The Chiefs are listing F Reed Jacobson as being out month-to-month, with F Erik Atchison, F Grady Lane and F Michael Cicek all week-to-week. F Bear Hughes and D Graham Sward are shown as day-to-day.
THE RICH GET RICHER: The NHL’s St. Louis Blues returned F Jake Neighbours, 19, to the Edmonton Oil Kings on Wednesday. He had one goal and one assist in nine regular-season games with the Blues. Yes, a 10th game would have kicked his three-year contract into gear. . . . He is expected to be in Edmonton’s lineup tonight against the host Regina Pats. . . . Neighbours, who was selected by the Blues with the 26th pick of the NHL’s 2020 draft, had 70 points, including 23 goals, in 64 games in 2019-20. In the 2021 development season, he put up nine goals and 24 assists in 19 games. . . . The Oil Kings were No. 5 in the CHL’s latest weekly rankings, behind the Winnipeg Ice (1), London Knights (2), Kamloops Blazers (3) and Everett Silvertips (4). Yes, WHL teams occupied four of the top five slots and the Seattle Thunderbirds showed up at No. 9.
POSTPONE A GAME? NOT YET: While the WHL was dealing with two positive tests on the Spokane Chiefs’ roster, the NHL’s Ottawa Senators found themselves with nine players and a coach on the COVID-19 protocol list. . . . D Josh Brown was added to the list on Wednesday, joining F Connor Brown, F Dylan Gambrell, D Nick Holden, D Victor Mete and F Austin Watson. As well, associate coach Jack Capuano tested positive and went into isolation. . . . Then, on Thursday morning, Ottawa had to add G Matt Murray and F Alex Formenton to the list. And on Friday afternoon they put D Nikita Zaitsev on the list. . . . If you were wondering how many players would have to be on a team’s protocol list for the NHL to postpone a game, it would seem that nine isn’t the answer. The Senators met the visiting Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night. . . . After Zaitsev was added to the list, the Senators recalled Finnish D Lassi Thomson from AHL-Belleville and he made his NHL debut in what was a 2-0 loss to the Kings. Thomson, the 19th selection in the NHL’s 2019 draft, had 17 goals and 24 assists with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets in 2018-19. . . . The Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues all have dealt with outbreaks this season. The Sharks played on the weekend with seven players out of the lineup.
NEW HOME FOR ICE? NOT SO FAST: Because you asked, the Cranbrook Bucks are averaging 2,236 fans through five home games. That’s second in the BCHL, behind the Penticton Vees (2,342). . . . Because you’re wondering, the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, which has played nine home games in the 1,600-seat Wayne Fleming Arena, is averaging 1,603. The Ice announced attendance of 1,621 for each of its first eight games, then 1,456 for the ninth one. . . . Does anyone know the status of that new arena the folks who moved the WHL team from Cranbrook to Winnipeg said they would be building? Well, it turns out a new arena isn’t about to happen. . . . Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press has reported that the Ice “won’t have a new home anytime soon and will extend their stay at the University of Manitoba’s Wayne Fleming Arena for the 2022-23 season and likely beyond.” Sawatzky added that “to date, no plan for the construction of a new arena has been established.” . . . More from Sawatzky: “Ice owners Greg Fettes, who serves as chairman and governor, and Matt Cockell, the club’s president and general manager, have been silent on the subject. WHL commissioner Ron Robison did not respond to a request for comment.”
SORRY, PORTLAND: F Seth Jarvis is eligible to play another season with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. However, he’s with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and it doesn’t sound as though a return to the WHL is imminent. On Thursday, Kacy Hintz of WRAL in Raleigh, N.C., asked Carolina head coach Rod Brind’Amour: “Do you see any benefit at all in sending Seth Jarvis back to junior?” . . . The coach’s reply: “For the junior team, maybe.” . . . Jarvis has a goal and an assist in four games with Carolina this season. He put up 166 points, 73 of them goals, in 154 regular-season games over four seasons with the Winterhawks.
THE MOOSOMIN BLADES: Les Lazaruk, who has been calling Saskatoon Blades’ games since Noah set sail, tweeted from Moosomin, Sask., on Thursday night. “Storm-stayed Thursday night in Moosomin.” . . . The Blades are scheduled to meet the Wheat Kings in Brandon tonight — “Assuming the Trans-Canada Skating Rink is more like a highway in the morning,” Lazaruk tweeted — and then travel to face the Winnipeg Ice on Saturday and Sunday. . . . At cjwwradio.com, Lazaruk wrote that the Blades encountered freezing rain, snow and gusty north winds east of Regina. “The first sign of a problem,” he added, “came around 3:30 Thursday afternoon when the Blue and Gold’s bus, piloted by Cal Loeppky, was forced to stop just east of Broadview while tow trucks rescued jack-knifed semi-trailer units out of the ditch. After a 45-minute stop, traffic moved again, but at an average speed of 30 kilometres-per-hour.” Upon hearing that there were more vehicles ditched and waiting for recovery east of Moosomin, the decision was made to stop for the night. Yes, they had supper at the Red Barn. . . . Lazaruk tells me that the Blades last were storm-stayed “in February of either 2018 or 2019” while on their way to Cranbrook to meet the Ice. (Remember when Cranbrook was in the WHL?) . . . The Blades spent a night in Pincher Creek, Alta., then headed to Cranbrook the next morning. The Blades won 3-2 in 2018 and 8-3 in 2019.
COVID GOES TO COLLEGE: You may be aware that California-Berkeley’s home game against the USC Trojans has been moved from Saturday to Dec. 4 because of positive tests among Golden Bears players. But did you know that there were at least 44 positives? . . . Matthai Chakko, a spokesperson for Berkeley Public Health, told the San Francisco Chronicle via email that “cases emerged in an environment of ongoing failure to abide by public health measures.” Chakko told the newspaper that there were players who didn’t get tested when sick or stay home when ill, and they didn’t wear masks while indoors. . . . There are 117 players and staff in the Golden Bears program and all but two are fully vaccinated. Those two both have tested positive. . . . Cal had scratched 24 players the previous weekend so the roster was short for what was a 10-3 loss to Arizona in Tucson.
TRAVELIN’ MAN: F Trentyn Crane, 18, is from Morden, Man. He began this hockey season with the WHL’s Victoria Royals, going pointless in four games. . . . His junior A rights were owned by the OCN Blizzard, who play out of The Pas, Man. . . . Crane had played 37 games with the Blizzard in 2019-20 and six last season. . . . Well, the Blizzard dealt Crane to the Summerside Capitals this week, getting future considerations in return. The Capitals are located in Prince Edward Island. . . . Summerside is 5,676 km from Victoria. . . . Might be time for junior A hockey to start a new recruiting campaign — “Come Play With Us and See Canada!”
GREAT START: G Zach Fucale played in his first NHL game on Thursday night when he started for the visiting Washington Capitals and blanked the Detroit Red Wings, 2-0, with 21 saves. Fucale, 26, is the 26th goaltender in NHL history to post a shutout in his first start. . . . Interestingly, he is the final player from the Canadian team that won gold at the 2015 World Junior Championship in Toronto and Montreal to play in the NHL. Fucale and Eric Comrie were the goaltenders as Canada went 7-0 and beat Russia, 5-4, in the final. Head coach Benoit Groulx rotated the pair through the round-robin, then went with Fucale in all three playoff games. . . . If you’re wondering who else was on that team — you can start with Connor McDavid — the complete roster is right here.
COACHING CHANGE: The OHL’s Erie Otters fired head coach Chris Hartsburg on Thursday, with associate coach B.J. Adams replacing him. . . . The Otters are 3-7-1 as they prepare to meet the Storm in Guelph tonight and then entertain the London Knights on Saturday. . . . Hartsburg, a former head coach for two seasons (2009-11) with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips, signed with the Otters in June 2017, replacing Kris Knoblauch, another former WHL coach, who had guided the team to the 2016 OHL title. . . . Hartsburg’s contract was to have expired after this season. . . . Adams is in his seventh season on Erie’s coaching staff.
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COVID-19 chose to rear its ugly head as the NHL regular season opened. . . . The expansion Seattle Kraken played its first game on Tuesday night — it lost 4-3 to the host Vegas Golden Knights — with one player on the COVID-19 list after having five on there. F Cale Jarnkrok didn’t play, while F Joonas Donskoi, F Marcus Johansson, F Jared McCann and D Jamie Oleksiak, all of whom had been on the list, were cleared in time to play. . . . Seattle head coach Dave Hakstol had said during the morning skate that Donskoi, McCann and Oleksiak wouldn’t be available, but they were cleared in time to fly to Las Vegas and play. . . . As well, Everett Fitzhugh, the team’s play-by-play voice, was missing in action after he, too, tested positive. He is in the protocol and wasn’t able to travel to Las Vegas. . . . According to general manager Ron Francis, everyone on the roster is fully vaccinated. . . .
Meanwhile, F Nathan McKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche, one of the NHL’s best players, has tested positive, although he is asymptomatic. He won’t play tonight (Wednesday) against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks. The Avalanche is hoping for negative tests so that McKinnon can play Saturday night when the St. Louis Blues visit Denver. . . . The Vancouver Canucks will be without F Brandon Sutter indefinitely as he deals with the long-term impact of having had COVID-19 when four coaches and 21 players tested positive in late March. There are reports that Sutter is dealing with fatigue-related issues. Sutter is the son of Brent Sutter, the owner and general manager of the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels.
Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet posted his latest 32 Thoughts on Tuesday and it included this:
“There was a COVID breakout among scouts who attended the USHL Fall Classic Sept. 23-27 in Pittsburgh. Since then, the NHL has warned scouts there is a ‘zero tolerance policy with respect to the protocols in all partner leagues being respected and followed.’ Those leagues are being asked to make it known if anyone ignores protocols, with potential punishment of losing their ability to attend games — at the very least.” . . . The latest 32 Thoughts is right here.
With the NHL’s 2021-22 regular season now rolling, there are three 18- and 19-year-old WHLers still in the big league. F Seth Jarvis of the Portland Winterhawks remains with the Carolina Hurricanes, while F Jake Neighbours of the Edmonton Oil Kings is with the St. Louis Blues and F Cole Sillinger of the Medicine Hat Tigers is on the Columbus Blue Jackets’ roster. . . . Jarvis, 19, was the 13th selection in the NHL’s 2020 draft and has signed, but has to be returned to Portland if he doesn’t stick with the Hurricanes. . . . Neighbours, 19, was the 26th pick in that 2020 NHL draft. He, too, has signed but has to play in the WHL if he doesn’t hang on with the Blues. . . . Sillinger, 18, was the 12th selection in the NHL’s 2021 draft. He played with the Tigers in 2019-20, then spent last season with the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede. Because Columbus drafted him off the Stampede’s roster, he is eligible to play this season in the AHL. Aaron Portzline of The Athletic explains: “If Sillinger had been drafted out of Medicine Hat (or any other CHL club), the Blue Jackets would have had only two options this fall: either keep him on the NHL roster or send him back to junior. Per the CHL’s agreement with the NHL, its players are not allowed to play in the American Hockey League until they’re 20 years old. The USHL has no such age restriction with the AHL, mostly because it’s a feeder program for U.S. colleges.” . . .
Meanwhile, the Kamloops Blazers learned Tuesday that D Quinn Schmiemann, 20, will rejoin them later this week after being with the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms. . . . Three other 20-year-olds remain unsigned in AHL camps — Portland F Jaydon Dureau is with the Syracuse Crunch, F Tarun Fizer of the Victoria Royals is with the Colorado Eagles, and D Jackson van de Leest of the Calgary Hitmen is with Lehigh Valley.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Moose Jaw Warriors have signed six members of their hockey operations side to contract extensions. Head coach Mark O’Leary, assistant coaches Scott King and Gord Burnett, goaltender coach Matt Weninger, athletic therapist Brooke Kosolofski and equipment manager Tanner Arnold all signed extensions. The lengths of the deals weren’t announced. . . . It’s early and there are various kinds of restrictions in place at WHL arenas. Still, it’s worth noting that the Seattle Thunderbirds had their smallest opening-night crowd since 1996-97 on Saturday when the announced attendance was 3,246 for a 4-2 loss to the Portland Winterhawks. The other two crowds in the bottom three: 4,010 (2009-10) and 4,659 (2019-20). . . . Why only back to 1996-97? That covers all the games available via the WHL website. . . .
All signs point to important news coming in the days ahead for WHL teams, especially those in the Western Conference. In B.C., it’s expected that health officials will clear arenas 100 per cent capacity in the immediate future. B.C. facilities are allowed 50 per cent capacity at the moment. As well, there were numerous reports on Tuesday night that the U.S. government is expected to open its border for southbound fully vaccinated travellers early in November. What restrictions will be involved for re-entry into Canada aren’t yet known. . . .
The Kelowna Rockets have acquired G Colby Knight from the Edmonton Oil Kings for a fourth-round selection in the WHL’s 2025 draft. Alan Caldwell (@smallatlarge) noted via Twitter that this “is the first traded pick from the 2025 WHL draft. That draft will be 2010-born players. The kid the Oil Kings will get for Colby Knight is 10 or 11 years old today.” . . .
There was one game in the WHL on Tuesday night. . . . In Victoria, the Kamloops Blazers opened up a 3-0 lead and went on to beat the Royals, 3-2. G Dylan Garand earned the victory with 16 saves. He was beaten twice in the third period. The Blazers (3-0-0) and Royals (1-3-0) will play again tonight in Victoria.
You will recall that the OHL and WHL announced recently the additions of one female to their on-ice officiating staffs. Well, the AHL announced Monday that its “roster of on-ice officials . . . includes female referees and linespeople for the first time.” . . . Not one. . . . Not two. . . . But 10 of them, including seven referees. . . . And one of the three women who will work the lines is Alex Clarke of Weyburn, Sask., the same Alex Clarke who is the first female on-ice official in WHL history. . . . Katie Guay will become the first woman to referee an AHL game on Saturday night when she works a game between the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and the host Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. . . . Amalie Benjamin of nhl.com has more on this story right here.
The NBA’s Brooklyn Nets have cut ties with G Kyrie Irving “until he is eligible to be a full participant” in practices and games, general manager Sean Marks said in a statement. . . . Irving has chosen not to get vaccinated, at least to this point. . . . “Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose,” Marks said. “Currently the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability.” . . . Marks later told reporters that the decision to exclude Irving was made by himself and owner Joe Tsai. . . . The Nets are scheduled to open the regular season in Milwaukee against the Bucks on Oct. 19.
There was a positive test in MLB with the Atlanta Braves revealing that OF Jorge Soler is out of action. The Braves were allowed a roster replacement so added OF Cristian Pache and he got into Tuesday’s game in the late going. . . . The Braves beat the visiting Milwaukee Brewers, 5-4, to win the best-of-five series, 3-1.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
So after covering the Freedom Rally last week and hearing about how "the plandemic" doesn't actually exist, I am now required to isolate until May 1 as that very rally may have spread the virus further. Being a reporter during this pandemic is impossible🥴🥴🥴 https://t.co/Vq5X2osbRm
Alex Kopacz, 31, is an Olympic gold medallist, having won the two-man bobsleigh competition as pilot Justin Kripps’ brakeman in 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Today, he’s in hospital in London, Ont., just happy to be alive. . . . “I’ve never felt so close to my own death before,” he told Donna Spencer of The Canadian Press. “It’s been horrible.” . . . Yes, he has COVID-19, and he is on oxygen to help him breathe. But he is showing improvement and hopes to be out of the hospital in a few days, although he doesn’t know what the future holds. . . . In the meantime, he wants everyone to know that “it’s not a joke. The only thing that’s a joke is people who don’t believe in scientists. The anti-maskers are a joke. An absolute hazard to society.” . . . Spencer’s complete story is right here.
The Western Canadian Baseball League lost another team on Saturday when the Medicine Hat Mavericks announced they have chosen to opt out of the 2021 season. . . . The league announced late last month that its Alberta teams were going to go ahead with a season using only Canadian players. At this point, the Edmonton Prospects, Lethbridge Bulls, Sylvan Lake Gulls and two teams of Okotoks Dawgs seem poised to play.
The Canadian College Baseball Conference announced Saturday that it has cancelled its 2021 spring season “due to public health restrictions.” . . . From a statement: “The CCBC board of governors was optimistic in the early spring that a return to play would happen and worked diligently to pursue every avenue to make the conference season happen. With provincial authorities extending current restrictions it has made for challenges that can’t be overcome.” . . . The CCBC comprises eight teams in Alberta and B.C.
Hey, want to be part of a team? Dorothy, my wife of almost 49 years, had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, and now is preparing to take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. It happens virtually on June 6. You are able to join her team with a donation right here.
Athletics Canada has decided not to send a team to the two-day World Athletics Relays that are scheduled for Chorzow, Poland, May 1 and 2. Australia, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the U.S. have also said they won’t be there. . . . Simon Nathan, Athletics Canada’s high performance director, in a statement: “The safety of our athletes, coaches and staff is our top priority. Though showing signs of improvement, Poland is reporting a very high level of COVID-19 and travellers are strongly encouraged to avoid all non-essential travel in and out of Poland, even those who are fully vaccinated.” . . . The Canadian team, which has been training in Baton Route, La., was to have comprised 24 athletes.
The WHL’s Regina hub season will end with two games on Wednesday. The five Saskatchewan and two Manitoba teams have been there since early March, staying in dormitories at the U of Regina and Luther College. . . . The WHL said on Saturday that the seven teams have gotten through their final COVID-19 testing period without any positive tests. Teams are tested once a week. In the period from April 18-24, those seven teams experienced 213 tests without a positive. . . . In total, there were 1,020 tests administered to WHL teams in that time period, with one positive test for a player with the Tri-City Americans. According to the WHL, that player “was deemed to have been a close contact resulting from the previous one case of COVID-19, as announced April 17. The player remains in isolation at this time.” . . . The Americans, then, have had two players test positive. . . . According to the WHL, it has administered 8,220 tests from Feb. 12 through April 24 with 14 of those coming up positive.
Meanwhile, there were five games on Saturday . . .
F Seth Jarvis scored Portland’s last three goals as the host Winterhawks skated to a 6-3 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Portland improved to 7-5-3, while Seattle, which has lost three straight, slipped to 7-8-0. . . . The Thunderbirds fell behind 2-0 before this one was two minutes old and weren’t ever able to catch up despite getting to within a goal on three occasions — 2-1, 3-2 and 4-3. . . . F Simon Knak (9) and D Ryan McCleary (3) scored on Portland’s first two shots. . . . F Gabe Ludwig scored for Seattle at 10:49 of the first period, but Portland F Mason Mannek (6) got that one back at 13:55. . . . Seattle F Sam Oremba scored his first WHL goal at 14:12 — he was the seventh overall selection in the 2020 bantam draft — and Jarvis replied 54 seconds into the second period. . . . D Tyrel Bauer (2) pulled Seattle back to within a goal at 4:22. . . . Jarvis completed his third career hat trick with goals at 11:13 of the second and 11:09 of the third, both via the PP. He’s got 10 goals. . . . Portland was 3-for-7 on the PP; Seattle was 0-for-3. . . . These teams will play again tonight in Portland. . . .
D Braden Schneider scored in OT to give the Brandon Wheat Kings a 5-4 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders in the Regina hub. . . . Schneider, a native of Prince Albert, struck for his fifth goal at 2:30 of OT. . . . He also had the OT winner on April 18 in a 5-4 victory over the Winnipeg Ice. . . . Brandon F Ben McCartney (13) had tied the score at 14:39 of the third period. . . . The Wheat Kings (17-3-2) have won six in a row. . . . The Raiders (8-10-4) have points in two straight (1-0-1). . . . Prince Albert erased 2-1 and 3-1 deficits to lead 4-3 in the third period. . . . The Wheat Kings led 2-0 after one period on goals by F Brett Hyland (4) and F Lynden McCallum, on a PP. . . . F Dallyn Peekeekoot (4) got the Raiders on the board at 7:23 of the second period, with McCallum, who has 15 goals, restoring the two-goal lead at 7:23. . . . The Raiders then scored three straight goals — from D Landon Kosior (4) at 9:09 of the second, F Evan Herman (8), on a PP, 23 seconds into the third and F Matthew Culling (3) at 8:55 — for a 4-3 lead. . . . F Nate Danielson drew three assists for Brandon. The fifth overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft, he has three goals and 12 assists in 22 games. . . . The Wheat Kings get their first opportunity to clinch the Regina hub’s best record when they play the Regina Pats today. Brandon holds a three-point lead over the Winnipeg Ice. . . .
Linemates Jake Neighbours and Kaid Oliver each had a goal and two assists to lead the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 4-1 victory over the host Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . The Oil Kings (16-1-1) have points in eight straight (7-0-1). They had beaten the visiting Tigers, 3-0, on Friday. . . . Medicine Hat now is 12-5-1. . . . They’ll play again tonight in Edmonton. . . . Oliver (10) and Neighbours (9) gave Edmonton a 2-0 first-period lead. . . . D Cole Clayton’s eight goal got Medicine Hat on the board at 8:22 of the second. . . . F Josh Williams (11), the third member of Edmonton’s big line, and D Matthew Robertson (4) scored PP goals in the third period to put it away. . . . Neighbours has played in 17 games this season and has at least a point in each one. He has 10 multi-point games. All told, the fourth overall pick in the 2017 bantam draft has nine goals and 22 assists. . . . According to Andrew Peard of the Oil Kings, this was head coach Brad Lauer’s 100th regular-season victory. He is 100-31-19. Peard reports that Lauer “becomes the fastest coach in Oil Kings history to the century mark, doing it in 150 games. Derek Laxdal had done it in 175 games. . . .
F Sean Tschigerl’s three goals led the Calgary Hitmen to a 7-2 victory over the Hurricanes in Lethbridge. . . . The Hitmen (8-5-2) have points on four straight (3-0-1). . . . The Hurricanes (7-10-2) have lost three in a row. . . . The Hitmen, in their first game since April 5, had beaten the visiting Hurricanes, 6-3, on Friday. . . . They’re back at it again tonight in Calgary. . . . Lethbridge F Chase Wheatcroft (5) tied the game 2-2 at 10:41 of the second period. . . . The Hitmen followed that with three goals in 4:20 to take a 5-2 lead into the third period. . . . Calgary wrapped it up with two shorthanded goals, 25 seconds apart, in the third, with F Josh Prokop getting his eighth and Tschigerl completing his first WHL hat trick with his ninth. . . . Prokop also had two assists. . . .
In Kelowna, the Rockets snapped a 2-2 tie with two third-period goals as they beat the Vancouver Giants, 4-3. . . . Kelowna (5-2-0) has won two straight. . . . Vancouver (9-4-0) had won its previous four games. . . . D Jake Lee’s first goal of the season got the Rockets into a 3-3 tie two minutes into the third period. . . . F Mark Liwiski (5) broke the tie at 5:15. . . . The Giants had opened the scoring at 9:11 of the first period on a goal by D Alex Kannok Leipert (5). . . . F Dillon Hamaliuk (3) pulled Kelowna even at 18:35, on a PP. . . . F Justin Sourdif put the Giants back out front with a shorthanded score at 12:47 of the second period, only to have D Kaedan Korczak (2) tie it at 15:02. . . . Sourdif, who has seven goals, gave the Giants their third lead at 17:54. . . . Kelowna was 1-for-4 on the PP; Vancouver was 1-for-1.
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