The WHL’s Kelowna Rockets weren’t considered as a potential host for the 2023 Memorial Cup tournament after an audit found that the team’s home arena, 24-year-old Prospera Place, wasn’t up to standards. As the Rockets posted on their website shortly after the Kamloops Blazers were named as the host team, an audit discovered “significant deficiencies that needed to be upgraded for the facility to meet the Canadian Hockey League standards for hosting the Memorial Cup.” . . . Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ majority owner, president and general manager, has told Rob Munro of infotel.ca that he would like to bid again in 2025. But there’s a problem in that most of the improvements needed have yet to be implemented. . . . And now Hamilton is even hinting that it might be time to look for a new home. As he told Munro: “We’ve still got five or six years left on our lease. We’ll see what happens here. It would be pretty unusual for someone to be on a 30-year lease and get into the last five years and not have a plan. You can read between the words on that. I’m not threatening anything but we’re running a big business here.” . . . Munro’s complete story is right here.
The WHL website shows that the Saskatoon Blades, the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, will play host to the opening game in a first-round playoff series on March 31. However, if the Blades’ first-round opponent is the Regina Pats, it seems that the series may begin on March 30, with Game 2 on March 31 . . . That’s because TSN apparently is interested in climbing on board the Connor Bedard bandwagon in time for the playoffs and would like to have a March 30 game to televise. . . . While it isn’t yet guaranteed, all signs point to Bedard and his Pats meeting the Blades in the first round. . . . I don’t have any idea if TSN would like to show more than one game. . . . The original plan was for the Pats and Blades to play at the SaskTel Centre on March 31 and April 2. The NLL’s Saskatchewan Rush have a home game scheduled for April 1.
If the WHL playoffs started today (x-locked in):
Winnipeg (1) vs. Medicine Hat (8)
Red Deer (2) vs. Calgary (7)
Saskatoon (3) vs. Regina (6)
Moose Jaw (4) vs. Lethbridge (5)
x-Seattle (1) vs. Kelowna (8)
x-Kamloops (2) vs. Vancouver (7)
x-Portland (3) vs. Everett (6)
x-Prince George (4) vs. Tri-City (5)
TUESDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:
The Seattle Thunderbirds wrapped up first place in the Western Conference with a 6-3 victory over the Kamloops Blazers in Kent, Wash. . . . The two teams will meet again tonight, this time in Kamloops. . . . F Dylan Guenther (11) scored twice for Seattle, which erased a 2-1 first-period deficit. . . . Kamloops D Olen Zellweger (31) scored twice. He is the first defenceman to get to 30 since Connor Hobbs finished with 31 with the Regina Pats in 2016-17. . . . G Thomas Milic stopped 34 shots for Seattle, while the Blazers got 28 saves from Dylan Ernst. . . . Seattle (53-9-3) has points in 19 straight (18-0-1). It has set a franchise record for victories in one season. The previous record was set in 1989-90. . . . The Blazers (47-12-6) had won its previous nine games. . . . Results on Tuesday set up first-round Western Conference playoff series between No. 1 Seattle and No. 8 Kelowna, and No. 2 Kamloops and No. 7 Vancouver. . . . The Thunderbirds swept the season series with the Rockets, 4-0, outscoring them 15-7 in the process. . . . Kamloops went 6-1-1 against Vancouver this season; the Giants were 2-6-0. The Blazers held the scoring edge, 33-19. . . .
#WHL VAN/POR: @WHLGiants Ty Halaburda scores on one of the team's first shots and game's last, and club's 18th, shot to down Portland and secure the 7th spot. Reaches 20 goals after recording 5 all of last campaign. Brett Mirwald mirrors 37 of 39, first win when stopping 35+.
F Ty Halaburda scored twice, the second coming in OT, as the Vancouver Giants beat the Winterhawks, 3-2, in Portland. . . . Halaburda scored his 20th goal of the season at 4:24 of OT. . . . Halaburda and D Tyler Thorpe (4) allowed the Giants to hold a 2-0 lead early in the third period. . . . The Winterhawks tied it on goals from F Robbie Fromm-Delorme (33), on a PP, at 7:14 of the third period and F Diego Buttazzoni (6), at 13:35. . . . Portland held a 39-18 edge in shots, including 26-11 through two periods. . . . The Giants got 37 saves from G Brett Mirwald. . . . Vancouver (27-31-8) had lost its previous two games. . . . Portland (39-20-7) has lost three in a row (0-2-1). . . . The Giants now will finish seventh in the Western Conference, so will meet the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers in the first round. . . . The No. 3 Winterhawks already knew that their first-round opponent would be the No. 6 Everett Silvetips. . . .
#WHL EDM/SC: @SCBroncos capture 30th win with their season determining head-to-head encounter with The 'Hat to come this weekend. Connor Hvidston matches career single game best with 3 assists. 8 points in 4 games vs. Edmonton this year, 6 over last two.
The Swift Current Broncos erased a 2-1 second-period deficit as they beat the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings, 5-2. . . . F Mason Finley (13) gave the Oil Kings a 2-1 lead with a pair of goals, the second one at 13:14 of the second period. . . . D Sam McGinley (9) pulled the Broncos even at 15:45 and F Caleb Wyrostok (22) broke the tie at 2:55 of the third period. . . . D Connor Hvidston drew three assists. . . . Swift Current (30-32-4) has won two in a row. With two games remaining, it is ninth in the Eastern Conference, one point out of eighth and two from seventh. . . . Edmonton (9-52-4) has lost five straight (0-4-1). The Oil Kings need to win their three remaining games to avoid equalling or setting a WHL record for the fewest victories in one season by a defending champion. The Broncos won the 2017-18 title, then went 11-51-6 in 2018-19.
The AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks announced on Tuesday that they and head coach Clayton Jardine “have mutually agreed to part ways effective immediately.” . . . However, in the second paragraph of the news release, it indicates that “the organization has decided to make a change in leadership at this point in time.” . . . Jardine, 32, had been the club’s head coach since 2019-20. . . . This season, the Kodiaks finished 27-30-3, good for fifth in the South Division. They were swept from a best-of-seven first-round playoff series by the Okotoks Oilers.
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The four players off the Moose Jaw Warriors’ roster who were suspended by the WHL last month will be eligible to return for this season’s playoffs.
The WHL announced on Friday that the four — G Connor Ungar, 21, D Max Wanner, 19, D Marek Howell, 16, and F Lynden Lakovic, 16 — “have been suspended for the balance” of the regular season.
As well, Jason Ripplinger, the Warriors’ general manager, and head coach Mark O’Leary each has been suspended for five games, and the Warriors have been fined $25,000.
In a news release, the WHL said the discipline follows “the completion of an independent investigation into violations of team rules and WHL Standard of Conduct policies.”
The WHL didn’t offer any specifics of the “independent investigation,” such as who conducted it or any of its parameters.
The WHL did allow that the players were suspended following an off-ice incident that occurred in Edmonton where the Warriors beat the Oil Kings, 4-1, on Feb. 3. The four players were in the lineup again on Feb. 5 when the Warriors beat the Hitmen, 2-1, in Calgary. But all four were scratched from a Feb. 8 game against Edmonton in Moose Jaw.
On Feb. 11, the WHL announced that all four had been suspended “indefinitely pending an investigation . . .”
Somehow — and no one has said how it came about — the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) became involved. Earlier this week, an EPS spokesperson indicated it had determined that criminality wasn’t involved in the incident and said it wouldn’t comment further.
From the WHL’s Friday news release: “Though the conduct of the players was not found to be criminal in nature, the conduct was determined to be a violation of team and league rules including the WHL Standard of Conduct policies, as outlined in the WHL Personal Conduct Policy.”
The WHL’s Standard of Conduct covers such things as racial/derogatory comments; abuse, bullying, harassment and hazing; social media and networking; personal conduct; and diversity and inclusivity.
By the time the Warriors play their final regular-season game on March 25, the four players will have each missed 17 games.
The WHL said that before being reinstated, the players “will be required to complete further personal conduct and respect training.” Presumably that will happen before month’s end in order for them to be reinstated when the playoffs begin.
The WHL said that Ripplinger and O’Leary were disciplined because they failed “to provide the proper oversight and supervision required to ensure a safe and positive environment for players, in particular, while travelling.”
The news release didn’t state specifically why the Warriors organization had been fined $25,000.
That is believed to be the largest fine handed down by the WHL since Nov. 27, 2012, when the Portland Winterhawks were fined $200,000, stripped of a number of draft picks, and lost GM/head coach Mike Johnston to a suspension that covered the remainder of the regular season plus the playoffs for what the league called “multiple player benefit violations.”
The Warriors issued a news release on Friday, stating that the organization takes “full responsibility for the violations of team and league rules, and co-operated fully with the WHL investigation into this matter.
“With the support of the WHL, the Warriors are fully committed to learning from this incident and will take the necessary steps to improve security moving forward. Our organization will continue to support all of our players throughout this process.”
Contacted by Randy Palmer of moosejawtoday.com, Ripplinger said: “All comments or anything like that has to be directed to the Western Hockey League; we can’t comment on anything.”
The Warriors’ statement ended with: “Out of respect for the privacy of all of the parties involved, the Warriors cannot provide further details or comment on the matter.
The WHL, meanwhile, ended its news release with: “Out of respect for the privacy of all of the parties involved, the WHL cannot provide further details on the matter.”
So . . . you’re thinking that 17-game suspensions are rather lengthy. But you’re also wondering if there have been longer ones issued by the WHL.
Well, the longest suspension to a player that I can recall went to F Bryan Wells, then of the Regina Pats. On Jan. 27, 1985, Wells and D Mark Tinordi of the host Lethbridge Broncos became involved in a nasty stick-swinging incident. A few days later, Wells, a repeat offender, was suspended for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs, which turned out to be 31 games — 23 in the regular season and eight in the playoffs.
Tinordi, who came out of the duel with a broken finger, was a first-time offender and, as such, was suspended for nine games.
In 1970-71, F Blaine Stoughton of the Flin Flon Bombers was involved in a high-sticking incident in a game with the Medicine Hat Tigers. He later was suspended for 29 games.
If you included general managers and coaches, Portland’s Mike Johnston ended up sitting out 71 games in 2012-13 — 47 regular-season, 21 playoff and three Memorial Cup. The Winterhawks, with Travis Green running things in Johnston’s absence, won the WHL championship and got to the Memorial Cup final, where they lost 6-4 to the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads in Saskatoon.
On Oct. 14, 1981, Pat Ginnell, then the GM/head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers, became involved with linesman Gary Patzer during a game in Lethbridge with the Broncos. Ginnell ended up serving a 36-game suspension. (The Canadian Press actually reported that the two “exchanged blows.”)
Ernie (Punch) McLean, the head coach of the New Westminster Bruins, sat out 25 games after that infamous 1977-78 brawl with visiting Portland.
I’m sure there have been other suspensions of some length, but those are the ones that came immediately to mind.
THE BEDARD REPORT:
Make it 61 goals in 50 games. . . . F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats scored the game’s first goal, on a PP, at 3:50 of the the first period on Friday night, but his side ended up dropping a 5-5 OT decision to the Hurricanes in Lethbridge. . . . That goal was it for Bedard on this night as the Hurricanes and G Bryan Thomson kept him off the scoreboard for the remainder of the game. . . . The announced attendance was 5,378, for the Hurricanes’ second sellout this season. The other? On Feb. 3, when the Pats scored a 3-2 victory. . . . Bedard leads the WHL in goals (61), assists (64) and points (125). . . . The Pats will play in Medicine Hat tonight. . . .
Earlier Friday, Bedard, who is from North Vancouver, was honoured by BC Sport as its junior male athlete of the year for 2022. . . .
Meanwhile, the Medicine Hat Tigers have added F Gavin McKenna, who turned 15 on Dec. 20, to their roster and he is expected to play tonight against Bedard and the Pats. . . . McKenna, who plays at the Southern Alberta Hockey Academy, is fresh off the Canada Winter Games, where he played for Yukon and set a tournament scoring record with 29 points in six games. . . . In 26 games with SAHA’s U18 prep team, he has 37 goals and 38 assists. . . . The first overall selection in the WHL’s 2022 draft, McKenna already has played 11 games with the Tigers. He has eight assists, four of them coming in his first game.
If the WHL playoffs started today:
Winnipeg (1) vs. Swift Current/Calgary (8)
Red Deer (2) vs. Medicine Hat (7)
Saskatoon (3) vs. Regina (6)
Moose Jaw (4) vs. Lethbridge (5)
Seattle (1) vs. Kelowna (8)
Kamloops (2) vs. Vancouver (7)
Portland (3) vs. Tri-City (6)
Prince George (4) vs. Everett (5)
FRIDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:
D Olen Zellweger scored twice to help the host Kamloops Blazers to a 6-3 victory over the Everett Silvertips. . . . Kamloops had beaten the Silvertips, 7-1, in Everett on Wednesday night. . . . Zellweger, who was acquired from Everett in January, leads all WHL defencemen with 27 goals. . . . F Matthew Seminoff had a goal (27) and two assists for Kamloops. His goal broke a 3-3 tie at 11:41 of the third period. . . . F Fraser Minten (29) had two goals and an assist for Kamloops, while F Jackson Berezowski (42) scored twice for Everett. . . . G Tyler Palmer made 47 saves for Everett, which was outshot 53-25. . . . Kamloops F Logan Stankoven missed his second straight game with an undisclosed injury, while F Daylan Kuefler remains sidelined. . . . Kamloops (43-11-6) has won four in a row and 16 of 17. . . . Everett (30-28-3) has lost four straight. It is tied with Tri-City for fifth in the Western Conference. . . .
In Kelowna, the Rockets erased a 3-1 third-period deficit and beat the Vancouver Giants, 4-3, in a shootout. . . . F Max Graham (10) got the Rockets to within 3-2 at 4:40 of the third period and F Andrew Cristall (35) tied it at 18:31 with G Jari Kykkanen on the bench for the extra attacker. . . . F Ty Thorpe (33) had put the visitors ahead 3-1 at 4:38 of the second period. . . . F Gabriel Szturc, the Rockets’ captain, was the first shooter in the circus and he scored the lone goal. . . . Kelowna F Carson Golder took a headshot major and game misconduct at 8:10 of the second period for a hit on F Samuel Honzek, who went straight to the dressing room and didn’t return. . . . Kelowna (24-34-3) had lost its previous three games. . . . Vancouver (24-28-8) had won its past three games. . . . The Rockets are eighth in the Western Conference, five points behind Vancouver. . . . Earlier Friday, the Rockets announced that F Logan Peskett had undergone season-ending shoulder surgery. Peskett, a 16-year-old freshman from North Vancouver, had three goals and two assists in 40 games. He was a sixth-round selection in the WHL’s 2021 draft. . . .
In Lethbridge, the Hurricanes forced OT with a late third-period goal and then got a goal from D Logan McCutcheon at 3:39 of extra time to beat the Regina Pats, 5-4. . . . McCutcheon’s winner was his third goal of the season. . . . D Joe Arntsen (7) forced OT with a goal at 17:38 of the third period. . . . G Bryan Thomson, who finished with 22 saves, stoned F Connor Bedard, who had scored his 61st goal to open the game, from in tight moments before McCutcheon won it. . . . Lethbridge (33-23-6) had lost its previous two games. It remains fifth in the Eastern Conference, six points ahead of Regna (31-26-4), which has lost three in a row (0-2-1). . . .
F Conner Roulette scored three times to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 6-2 victory over the Raiders in Prince Albert. . . . Roulette, who has 24 goals, opened the scoring at 1:32 of the first period, pulled the Blades into a 2-2 tie at 15:35 and stretched their lead to 5-2 at 16:31 of the second. . . . F Jake Chiasson added a goal, his 20th, and two assists. . . . Saskatoon F Misha Volotovskii (4) scored in his return from a 13-game absence. . . . Roulette, now with 59 points in 54 games, has two hat tricks this season. His other career hat trick came on Oct. 5, 2019, in a 5-3 victory over Victoria in Kent, Wash. . . . Last season, Roulette had 24 goals in 65 games with Seattle; this season he has 24 in 54 games. Interestingly, he was credited with 199 shots on goal last season; this season, he has 127. . . . G Austin Elliott earned the victory with 24 saves. He is 8-0-1 in his last nine appearances, and 23-5-3, 2.07, .916 on the season. . . . Saskatoon (44-13-5) has points in 12 straight (11-0-1) and will be the third seed when the Eastern Conference playoffs begin. . . . Prince Albert (24-33-3) has lost four straight and is seven points from a playoff spot with seven games remaining. . . . These teams will meet again Sunday afternoon in Saskatoon. . . . Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was in Prince Albert last night. His piece is right here. . . .
The Calgary Hitmen forced OT with less than a second remaining in the third period and then got the winner from F Riley Fiddler-Schultz to beat the Rebels, 4-3, in Red Deer. . . . Calgary F Carter Yakemchuk forced OT when he scored his 16th goal, on a PP, with 0.6 seconds left in the third period. . . . The game’s first five goals all came in the first period. . . . F Sean Tschigerl (23) scored twice and added an assist for Calgary. . . . Fiddler-Schultz added two assists to his 28th goal. . . . F Kai Uchacz notched No. 48 for the Rebels. . . . Calgary (26-26-8) has points in three straight (2-0-1) and is tied with Swift Current for the Eastern Conference’s last playoff spot. . . . Red Deer (40-17-6) has points in four straight (2-0-2). It has clinched first place in the Central Division and will be the No. 2 seed when the first round begins. . . . The same two teams will meet up again this afternoon, this time in Calgary. . . .
The Seattle Thunderbirds scored the game’s last three goals, all in the last 8:11 of the third period, to beat the Tri-City Americans, 6-3, in Kent, Wash. . . . F Reese Belton (12) pulled the visitors into a 3-3 tie at 1:59 of the third period. . . . F Lucas Ciona (27) put Seattle back out front at 11:49 and F Jared Davidson completed a hat trick with two insurance goals, at 13:41 and 18:25, the last one into an empty net. . . . Davidson, who has 38 goals, also had an assist. . . . F Brad Lambert had a goal (13) and two assists for Seattle. . . . Seattle (49-9-3) has points in 15 straight games (14-0-1). It leads the Western Conference by nine points over Kamloops, which has eight games remaining. . . . Tri-City (28-26-7) has lost two in a row. . . .
In Spokane, the Portland Winterhawks scored the game’s last four goals to beat the Chiefs, 5-2. . . . F Cade Hayes (19) gave Spokane a 2-1 lead at 10:33 of the second period. . . . F Robbie Fromm-Delorme (30) got Portland even with his first of two goals at 16:08. . . . F Josh Zakreski (9) scored the eventual winner at 12:30. . . . The Winterhawks got 30 saves from G Jan Špunar, an 18-year-old Czechia freshman who now is 15-6-2, 2.71, .904. . . . . Portland (38-17-6) has points in three straight (2-0-1). It is a comfortable third in the Western Conference. . . . Spokane (14-39-7) won’t be in the playoffs this season. . . .
The Moose Jaw Warriors erased a 3-0 first-period deficit as they beat the host Swift Current Broncos, 4-3, in a game that featured a 12-round shootout. . . . The Warriors went into the game needing one point to clinch a playoff spot. . . . The Broncos held a 3-0 lead when F Clarke Caswell (9) scored at 17:19 of the first period. . . . The Warriors tied it on F Atley Calvert’s 36th goal at 19:36 of the second period. . . . F Josh Hoekstra won it for the Warriors in the shootout. . . . The Warriors got 40 stops from G Jackson Unger. . . . Moose Jaw (37-22-3) has won two in a row. It appears headed for a fourth-place finish in the Eastern Conference. . . . Swift Current (28-29-4) has lost three straight (0-2-1). It is tied with Calgary for the conference’s last playoff spot. . . . They Broncos and Warriors are scheduled to meet again tonight, this time in Moose Jaw. . . .
The Prince George Cougars got two goals from each of three players en route to an 8-3 victory over the Royals in Victoria. . . . The weekend doubleheader will conclude tonight in Victoria. . . . F Zac Funk (20), F Cayden Glover (5) and F Ondrej Becher (16) each scored twice. Funk also had an assist. . . . Prince George erased a 1-0 first-period deficit with three goals, the first two in the span of 46 seconds, as it took control. . . . Prince George (32-24-5) has points in four straight (3-0-1). It is fourth in the Eastern Conference, six points ahead of Everett and Tri-City. . . . Victoria (15-40-7) has lost nine in a row (0-8-1) and has been eliminated from playoff contention. . . .
F Ty Nash’s 20th goal of the season, at 3:08 of OT, gave the Winnipeg Ice a 5-4 victory over the Edmonton Ice. . . . F Zack Ostapchuk (25) scored twice for the Ice, which got a goal and two assists from F Matt Savoie (35) and three assists from F Connor McClennon. . . . F Josh Medernach (4) gave the Ice a 4-2 lead 35 seconds into the third period. . . . The Oil Kings tied it on goals from F Rilen Kovacevic (15), at 3:11, and F Mason Finley (11), at 10:08. . . . The Oil Kings lost F Dawson Seitz to a boarding major and game misconduct at 7:41 of the first period. . . . Edmonton F Treycen Wuttunee returned to the lineup for the first time since Feb. 28 when he had a fight with the 20-year-old Ostapchuk. . . . Winnipeg (51-9-1) has won three in a row. It leads the WHL in victories and points (101). . . . Edmonton (9-48-4) has points in two straight (1-0-1).
A note from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon:
“Earlier this week, there was a headline on a report at CBSSports.com that read: ‘Katie Ledecky’s nine-year winning streak on US soil snapped by Summer McIntosh.’ . . .
“Katie Ledecky is a swimmer. She had a nine-year winning streak in US water but not on US soil.”
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
The Travellin’ Bedards have two games left against the Blades in Saskatoon — March 19 and 24. On Thursday, the Blades posted on social media: “We’ve surpassed 10,000 tickets sold for our game against the Regina Pats on March 19 and more than 9,000 tickets sold for our final game of the regular season on March 24.” . . . Those are the Blades’ last two home games of the regular season. . . . The Pats and Blades played in front of 7,868 fans on Nov. 13, with Saskatoon winning, 5-2. That is the Blades’ largest home crowd of this season. . . . Meanwhile, Regina will entertain the Moose Jaw Warriors tonight and the Pats announced on Friday afternoon that the game is “officially SOLD OUT!” . . . The ticket-buying public, of course, is wanting to see Regina F Connor Bedard, who leads the WHL in goals (45) and points (91).
The OHL’s Kitchener Rangers fired head coach Chris Dennis on Friday, with general manager Mike McKenzie choosing to go behind the bench and help out assistant coaches Brennan Menard, Brandon Merli and Dennis Wideman. . . . The Rangers were 21-24-2 and in possession of the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot at the time of the move. . . . Dennis had been in his first season with the Rangers. . . .
It would appear that former WHL/NHL D Clayton Stoner has embarked on a new hockey journey, this one in the BCHL. On Thursday, he tweeted that he is “excited to be involved on the coaching and ownership side with the Cowichan Capitals.” . . . Stoner, 37, played three seasons (2002-05) with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans. He went on to a pro career that included 360 regular-season NHL games, split between the Minnesota Wild and Anaheim Ducks. He last played in 2016-17. . . . Mike Vandekamp is the general manager and head coach of the Capitals. They are 10-28-3 this season, and in last place in the nine-team Coastal Division. . . .
The schedule for the 2023 Centennial Cup has been released. The 10-team tournament featuring the host Portage Terriers and the champions from nine junior A leagues is to run in Portage la Prairie, Man., from May 11 through May 21. There will teams there from the Alberta Junior Hockey League, Ligue de hockey junior AAA du Québec, Ontario Junior Hockey League, Superior International Junior Hockey League, Central Canada Hockey League, Manitoba Junior Hockey League, Maritime Hockey League, Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League and Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. . . . The British Columbia Hockey League doesn’t compete for the Centennial Cup. That’s because it pulled out of the governing Canadian Junior Hockey League. . . .
The BCHL’s Penticton Vees have signed Fred Harbison, their president, general manager and head coach, to a five-year extension that runs through the 2028-29 season. He had one season left on his previous contract. . . . Harbison is in his 16th season as the Vees’ head coach. This season, Penticton is 36-3-1 and atop the overall standings. . . . From a Vees news release: “Harbinson has the most wins in Vees’ franchise history and sits third all-time in the BCHL, with 640. Overall, Penticton has posted a record of 640-174-15-39-7 (W-L-T-OTL-SOL) under Harbinson. It only took him 829 games to reach 600 career wins and he owns an impressive .766 career win percentage in the BCHL. Harbinson has won an additional 144 career playoff games, which ranks him first in BCHL history.” . . . The Vees announced a crowd of 4,775 on Friday night, as they beat the Coquitlam Express, 5-2. . . .
The junior B Nelson Leafs of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have signed head coach Briar McNaney for the 2023-24 season. McNaney joined the Leafs in January after the KIJHL suspended head coach Adam DiBella for the remainder of the season for his part in inciting a line brawl on Dec. 31. DiBella resigned his position after he was suspended.
FRIDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:
F Caleb Hadland’s first WHL goal stood up as the winner as the host Brandon Wheat Kings dumped the Edmonton Oil Kings, 4-1. . . . Hadland, a 16-year-old from Sylvan Lake, Alta., was the 22nd selection in the WHL’s 2021 draft. Playing in his 19th game, he picked up his first WHL assist on the game’s opening goal, then got his first goal at 14:59 of the second period, giving Brandon a 2-0 lead. . . . F Matthew Henry, an 18-year-old from Prince Albert, also scored his first WHL goal for the Wheat Kings. He made it 4-0 with 11 seconds left in the third period. It came in his 46th game. . . . Brandon (20-22-7) is 10th in the Eastern Conference, two points behind the eighth-place Regina Pats. . . . The Oil Kings (8-40-3) have lost three in a row. . . .
G Reid Dyck stopped 19 shots in posting his first WHL shutout as the Swift Current Broncos beat the visiting Prince Albert Raiders, 4-0. . . . Dyck, who turned 19 on Jan. 20, is from Winkler, Man. He has made 56 appearances over three seasons with the Broncos. This season, he is 10-14-1, 3.86, .880. . . . Swift Current had a 35-19 edge in shots. . . . The Broncos were 1-for-7 on the PP; the Raiders were 0-for-1. . . . F Connor Hvidston scored his 13th goal and added three assists. He has 43 points in 39 games; last season, as a freshman, he put up 13 goals and 19 assists in 58 games. This was his first four-point night; he had three times reached three points in a game, all of them this season. . . . The Broncos (24-21-3) have won two in a row. They are tied with the Calgary Hitmen for sixth in the Eastern Conference. . . . The Raiders (19-28-3) have lost three in a row and are 10 points out of a playoff spot. . . . The rematch goes tonight in Prince Albert. . . .
G Bryan Thomson turned aside 29 shots to lead the Hurricanes to a 3-0 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers in Lethbridge. . . . F Cole Shepard’s 18th goal of the season, shorthanded at 3:28 of the second period, stood up as the winner. He also had an assist. . . . Thomas recorded his first shutout of this season — it was his 10th appearance — and the third of his career. He has made 103 appearances over five seasons, all with Lethbridge. . . . Lethbridge (28-18-5) had lost its previous two games. It is fifth in the Eastern Conference. . . . Medicine Hat (21-22-8) had been on a 6-0-2 run. It is ninth in the conference, one point behind the eighth-place Regina Pats. . . . The Hurricanes and Tigers will play again tonight, this time in Medicine Hat. . . .
In Kamloops, the Blazers snapped a 2-2 third-period tie with three goals as they dumped the Saskatoon Blades, 5-2. . . . The Blades, playing their first game on a B.C. Division tour, took a 2-1 lead into the second period. . . . D Logan Bairos (6) got Kamloops even at 15:20 of the second period, and F Daylan Kuefler (26) snapped the tie at 12:56 of the third. . . . F Matthew Seminoff scored his 20th goal into an empty net, giving the Blazers six 20-goal men. . . . Kamloops F Logan Stankoven had two assists to run his point streak to 33 games. . . . Kamloops scored the game’s first goal and now is 26-1-4 when that happens. . . . F Jayden Wiens returned to the Blades’ lineup after missing 23 games with an undisclosed injury. . . . Kamloops (32-10-6), which will win the B.C. Division, has won four straight. . . . Saskatoon (33-13-4) had won its previous three games. The Blades are third in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . .
F Cole Dubinsky enjoyed his first WHL three-goal game in leading the Prince George Cougars to a 9-2 victory over the Rockets in Kelowna. . . . This was the third straight game between these teams. The Cougars swept the series, having won 5-1 and 7-2 at home on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Dubinsky, 20, was playing in his second game since Jan. 14. He came back from an undisclosed injury to play on Feb. 8, but then didn’t play again until Friday night. . . . Dubinsky, who has 14 goals, also had an assist. . . . D Viliam Kmec had four assists for the Cougars, who got two goals and an assist from F Chase Wheatcroft (34) and a goal and two assists from F Caden Brown (14). . . . Wheatcroft ran his point streak to 12 games. . . . The Cougars outshot the Rockets, 45-23. . . . Prince George (24-21-4) has won five straight and is two points behind the fifth-place Everett Silvertips in the Western Conference. . . . The Rockets (17-29-3) are eighth, three points ahead of the Victoria Royals. . . .
The Seattle Thunderbirds exploded for five goals in the last seven minutes of the third period to beat the Red Deer Rebels, 6-1, in Kent, Wash. . . . F Jared Davidson (29) scored Seattle’s first two goals, providing a 1-0 lead at 6:11 of the third period and a 2-1 lead at 13:22. . . . F Nico Myatovic (20) also scored twice. . . . F Dylan Guenther scored once and added an assist in his first game with Seattle after having been assigned by the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes. . . . F Kai Uchacz scored his 40th goal of the season for Red Deer. This was Uchacz’s first game against the team with which he began his WHL career. He and F Brendan Williamson were dropped from Seattle’s roster in March 2020 after both were found to have directed racial slurs at F Mekai Sanders. Uchacz, a first-round pick by Seattle in the WHL’s 2018 draft, had to sit out the 2020-21 season, while, among other things, completing a diversity coaching program. He later was traded to Red Deer for a second-round selection in the 2021 draft. . . . Last season, he had 14 goals and 19 assists in 52 games with Red Deer; this season, he has 40 goals, which is second in the league, and 28 assists in 50 games. . . . Williamson, now 20, is playing a second season with the junior B Chilliwack Jets. . . . Seattle (37-9-2) remains tied with the Portland Winterhawks atop the Western Conference. . . . Red Deer (35-12-4) is 2-2-0 in the U.S.Division. The Rebels lead the Central Division by 13 points over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . .
F Jackson Berezowski’s 34th goal of the season gave the Everett Silvertips a 2-0 lead and they went on to a 2-1 victory over the Chiefs in Spokane. . . .F Ben Hemmerling (18), who also had an assist, scored for Everett at 2:59 of the first period, with Berezowski adding to the lead at 4:10 of the second. . . . F Cade Hayes (12) got Spokane’s goal at 12:01 of the third. . . . G Tyler Palmer earned the victory with 34 saves. . . . Everett (26-22-2) has points in four straight (3-0-1). It is tied with the Prince George Cougars for fifth in the Western Conference, three points behind the Tri-City Americans. . . . Spokane (9-35-5) has lost eight in a row (0-6-2). . . . The Silvertips and Chiefs will do it all over again tonight, this time in Everett. . . .
F Marcus Nguyen scored twice and added two assists to help the Portland Winterhawks to a 6-3 victory over the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Nguyen, with 17 goals, opened the scoring at 7:55 of the first period, then gave his guys a 4-2 lead, while shorthanded, at 14:03 of the second. That goal stood up as the winner. This was his first career four-point outing. . . . F Ethan Ernst had a goal (29) and two assists for Tri-City. . . . Tri-City was 3-for-7 on the PP; Portland was 2-for-7. . . . Portland had a 48-36 edge in shots. . . . The Winterhawks (36-10-4) have points in three straight (2-0-1). They are tied with the Seattle Thunderbirds atop the Western Conference. . . . The Americans (25-19-5) have lost three in a row. They are fourth in the conference, one point ahead of the Everett Silvertips. . . .
F Ethan Semeniuk’s OT goal gave the visiting Vancouver Giants a 2-1 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . F Teague Patton (12) had given the Royals a 1-0 lead at 15:01 of the first period. . . . F Sammy May’s first WHL goal, at 2:55 of the third, pulled the Giants into a tie. May, 19, has one goal and seven assists in 50 games this season. . . . Semeniuk won it at 3:16 of OT. . . . The Giants got 37 stops from G Jesper Vikman. . . . The Royals remain without D Gannon Laroque, F Jake Poole, who is their leading scorer, F Matthew Hodson and D Austin Zemlak. . . . Vancouver F Samuel Honzek has yet to return after suffering a badly cut leg while playing for Slovakia at the World Junior Championship. . . . Vancouver (20-24-6) is seventh in the Western Conference, six points behind the Prince George Cougars. . . . Victoria (14-32-6) has lost five in a row (0-4-1). It is ninth in the conference, three points behind the Kelowna Rockets. . . . The Royals and Giants will meet again tonight, this time in Langley, B.C.
THURSDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:
#WHL CGY/WPG: @WHLWpgICE take another step towards 40 wins outlasting Calgary. Connor McClennon continues to re-write records. After 2nd hat trick of season and fifth career, now has as many goals (112) or assists (113) than all but eight players have points in team history.
F Connor McClennon scored three times to help the Winnipeg Ice to a 7-6 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . The Ice, which had beaten the Hitmen, 8-2, on Wednedsay, overcame 3-1, 4-2 and 5-3 deficits en route to victory. . . . Winnipeg (39-7-1) scored four times in 3:53 early in the third period to take a 7-5 lead. . . . McClennon’s second goal, at 2:11 of the third, got the Ice to within a goal, at 5-4, and F Zack Ostapchuk (17) tied it at 3:19. . . . McClennon’s third goal of the night, his 34th of the season, gave the Ice a 6-5 at 5:57 and F Owen Peterson (23) upped it to 7-5 at 6:04. . . . McClennon now has 126 career regular-season goals, second to F Nigel Dawes (159) in franchise history. Dawes played 245 games over four seasons (2001-05) with the Kootenay Ice; McClennon, 20, has played 222 games. . . . The Hitmen got two goals and an assist from F Oliver Tulk, who turned 18 on Jan. 19. From Gibsons, B.C., Tulk has 21 goals and 24 assists in 51 games; last season, as a freshman, he finished with nine goals and 10 assists in 63 games. . . . Calgary (23-21-7) has lost eight straight (0-5-3).
Honest question: Is Vermilion County the first hockey team to close up shop with more head coaches (10) than total wins (9) in franchise history? https://t.co/tYGNAVryzx
OK . . . prior to Sunday you didn’t have the Seattle Thunderbirds as the favourites to win the WHL’s 2022-23 championship. You weren’t quite ready to go that far, were you?
But how about now that the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes have sent F Dylan Guenther their way?
Yes, that’s the same Dylan Guenther who scored the golden goal at the 2023 World Junior Championship in Halifax just last month.
The Coyotes announced Sunday that Guenther, 19, has been assigned to the Thunderbirds, who had acquired his rights from the Edmonton Oil Kings on Jan. 10.
The Oil Kings, who beat Seattle in the 2021-22 championship final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, have spent the past few months unloading veteran player assets while loading up on draft picks to facilitate their rebuild. With an 8-37-3 record, they won’t make the playoffs this time around.
Edmonton had selected Guenther with the first overall pick in the WHL’s 2018 draft.
In order to land Guenther, F Jordan Ramsay, who turned 16 on Jan. 24, and an eighth-round pick in the WHL’s 2023 draft, the Thunderbirds gave up F Koji Gibson, who is to turn 16 on March 10, a first-round pick in 2026, a second in 2023, fourths in 2024, 2025 and 2026, a fifth in 2026 and a sixth in 2024.
Yes, the price was steep and now we will find out if it was worth it.
The Coyotes selected Guenther in the first round, ninth overall, of the NHL’s 2021 draft. He is the fifth first-round draft pick on the Seattle roster, joining D Kevin Korchinski (Chicago Blackhawks, seventh overall, 2022), D Nolan Allan (Chicago, 32, 2021), F Reid Schaefer (Edmonton Oilers, 32, 2022) and F Brad Lambert (Winnipeg, 30, 2022).
All told the Thunderirds now have 10 NHL draft picks on their roster, the others being F Jordan Gustafson (Vegas Golden Knights, 79, 2022), F Jared Davidson (Montreal Canadiens, 130, 2022), F Colton Dach (Chicago, 62, 2021), F Lucas Ciona (Calgary Flames, 173, 2021) and D Luke Prokop (Nashville Predators, 73, 2020).
The Thunderbirds acquired Allan from the Prince Albert Raiders on Nov. 16 in a deal that included five draft picks — first in 2023 and 2024, a third in 2024, a sixth in 2025 and a second in 2026 and a conditional pick (sixth in 2026) going the other way.
Seattle had picked up Lambert’s rights from the Saskatoon Blades on June 30, giving up a 2023 first-rounder, a second in 2024, and fourth- and sixth-rounders in 2023.
In the other deal that had people sitting up and paying attention, Seattle acquired Prokop from the Oil Kings on Oct. 25 in exchange for a third in 2023 and two 2025 picks (first and third).
The Thundebirds also added Dach and a 2024 fifth-rounder from the Kelowna Rockets in a Jan. 7 deal that included three conditional picks going the other way — a first in 2024, fourth in 2023 and second in 2025. Dach, who had been the Rockets’ captain, was injured (shoulder) while playing for Canada at the World Junior Championship and has yet to return to action.
And let’s not forget that on Aug. 30, Seattle sent F Connor Roulette and a third in 2026 to the Saskatoon Blades for F Kyle Crnkovic, who has put up 54 points, including 25 goals, in 47 games.
Last season, Guenther had 91 points, including 45 goals, during Edmonton’s regular season, then added 21 points, 13 of them goals, in the playoffs. He suffered a knee injury — in the WHL final against Seattle — and missed the Memorial Cup.
So why did Arizona decide to assign him to Seattle at this particular point in time? He has 15 points, including six goals, four on the PP, in 33 NHL games this season, but has been on the roster for 38 games. Once a player hits 40 he accrues one season toward unrestricted free agency. By sending him to Seattle now, the Coyotes shove Guenther’s potential UFA eligibility a further year down the road.
Late last month, Craig Morgan, who covers the Coyotes for The Athletic, wrote: “The key for Guenther was to see how he would perform on a nightly basis in the lineup. Since his return (from the WJC), it has been a mixed bag. There have been nights where he has looked strong, driven offense and even scored goals. There have been nights where he looks like he is swimming in water above his head.”
In Halifax, you may recall, Guenther scored at 6:22 of three-on-three OT to give Canada a 3-2 victory over Czechia in the WJC’s championship final. He finished that tournament with seven goals and three assists in seven games.
The Thunderbirds are hoping he will bring some of that magic to their lineup.
After beating the visiting Spokane Chiefs, 3-1, on Sunday, the Thunderbirds are 36-9-2 and lead the Western Conference by one point over the Portland Winterhawks (35-10-3).
The Thunderbirds have 21 games remaining and six of them will be against the Winterhawks. The first of those will be Saturday in Portland. Seattle also has three games remaining with the Kamloops Blazers, who will finish atop the B.C.Division.
Before then, the Thunderbirds will entertain the Red Deer Rebels on Friday. That game could mark Guenther’s debut with his new club.
Jack Todd, in the Montreal Gazette, and he’s not wrong:
“Why is the Canadian Olympic Committee so cowardly in the face of Russian brutality and war crimes? Why is craven Canadian Olympic Committee CEO David Shoemaker vowing to work with the IOC to help find a way for Russian athletes to compete at the Paris Olympics?
“Thugs like Vladimir Putin are always probing for weakness: If we invade Crimea and no one acts to stop us, then let’s take all of Ukraine. The IOC’s willingness to skirt the rules and let Russians compete despite systematic, state-sponsored doping helped give Putin the impression he can get away with anything, including mass murder. It’s time to draw a line in the sand. If Shoemaker won’t do it, find someone who will.”
“As a measure of where the sports world is at any given time, Kyrie Irving will do as well as anyone.
“Spoiled, entitled, inclined to believe himself the centre of the universe and somehow able to convince team after team to throw tens of millions his way, World B. Flat is a symbol of everything that has gone wrong with the sports we love to watch.”
#WHL MJ/CGY: @MJWARRIORS are again out shot, but still find a way to do more damage on the scoreboard that counts for the 16th time this season. Atley Calvert nudges team ahead for good with 30th of season, doubling last year's output. Connor Ungar upsets 35 of 36.
F Atley Calvert’s 30th goal snapped a 1-1 tie and gave the Moose Jaw Warriors a 2-1 victory over the Hitmen in Calgary. . . . The winner came at 16:17 of the third period. . . . F Ryder Korczak (21) had Moose Jaw’s other goal and drew an assist on Calvert’s winner. . . . Calvert, who is from Moose Jaw, has 30 goals and 25 assists in 51 games, after totalling 15 goals and 25 helpers in 65 games last season. . . . G Connor Ungar stopped 35 shots to earn his 26th victory of the season. He is 26-7-3, 2.58, .925 this season. . . . Moose Jaw (32-16-3) has won two straight. It is fourth in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Calgary (23-19-7) has lost six in a row (0-3-3); it is sixth in the conference, two points ahead of the Regina Pats. . . .
#WHL RD/EVT: @WHLsilvertips earn five of six points during a 3-in-3 weekend. Austin Roest has doubled point total from a year ago (in 10 fewer games) after alternating games with at least a goal and assist in each of last 5. Sixteenth occasion of at least one of each thus far.
In Everett, the Silvertips scored three times in the game’s second half and beat the Red Deer Rebels, 4-2. . . . D Aidan Sutter (4) got Everett into a 2-2 tie at 10:56 of the second period, and F Austin Roest (28) shot the home boys into the lead at 16:51. . . . F Jackson Berezowski (33) added the empty-netter at 18:39 of the third. . . . Red Deer F Ben King, who scored his 10th goal of the season, got tossed for a boarding major at 4:55 of the third. . . . Everett (25-22-2) is fifth in the Western Conference, three points behind the Tri-City Americans. . . . Red Deer (34-11-4) is second in the Eastern Conference, three points behind the Winnipeg Ice, which has four games in hand. . . .
#WHL VIC/KAM: Down 3-1 a minute into the second, @blazerhockey roar back and take the 1-goal win with some last second heroics from Olen Zellweger. Earned a point in all but two games with new team. Caedan Bankier cashes twice on power play, Matthew Seminoff sets up all three.
The host Kamloops Blazers scored twice in the game’s final four minutes to beat the Victoria Royals, 4-3. . . . Kamloops, which clinched a playoff spot with the victory, trailed 3-1 midway through the game before tying it with two PP goals. . . . F Caedan Bankier (25) got the Blazers to within a goal at 14:23 of the second period, then tied it at 16:40 of the third. . . . D Olen Zellweger (16) won it at 19:37. He’s got 18 points, six of them goals, in 12 games since coming over from the Everett Silvertips at the trade deadline. . . . F Matthew Seminoff finished with three assists as he was in on each of the final three goals. . . . Kamloops outshot the visitors, 50-24. . . . The Blazers were without F Logan Stankoven, their scoring leader, as he served a one-game suspension after taking a checking-from-behind major in Saturday’s 3-2 victory over the host Vancouver Giants. . . . Kamloops (31-10-6) has won four in a row. . . . Victoria (14-32-5) has lost four in a row and is four points from a playoff spot. . . .
#WHL REG/MH: @tigershockey fight back from an early concession 75 seconds into the contest and are back to .500 on season. Dallon Melin delivers a shorthanded penalty shot goal, first man disadvantage tally in 236 career games. Gavin McKenna earns 2 assists, 8 in 11 all-time.
In Medicine Hat, the Tigers shrugged off an early goal by F Connor Bedard and skated to a 5-1 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Bedard scored his WHL-leading 45th goal at 1:13 of the first period. . . . D Pavel Bocharov (11) got the Tigers even at 4:32 and D Kurtis Smythe (2) gave them their first lead at 14:44. . . . F Gavin McKenna, the first pick in the WHL’s 2022 draft, had two assists for the Tigers. He now has played 11 games this season and has eight points, all assists. . . . The announced attendance was 6,178, the Tigers’ largest crowd in 7,000-seat Co-op Place. They had drawn 5,947 to their first game there, a 5-3 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Sept. 26, 2015. . . . With Sunday’s victory, the Tigers (21-21-8), with points in eight straight (6-0-2), moved past the Swift Current Broncos and into eighth place in the Eastern Conference. The Tigers now are one point behind Regina. . . .
#WHL BDN/SAS: @BladesHockey complete weekend with consecutive Ws, 4 in last 5, and consecutive game winning goals from ex-Wheat King Jake Chiasson who also tacks on 2 assists. Those come on goals by Jordan Keller as he strikes twice for 2nd time this year, both against Brandon.
The Saskatoon Blades scored the game’s last four goals and beat the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings, 4-2. . . . Saskatoon trailed 2-0 doing into the last two minutes of the second period. . . . D Charlie Wright (4) got the Blades started at 18:07 of the second period. . . . F Jordan Keller (8) pulled Saskatoon into a tie at 7:28 of the third, with Wright getting the primary assist. . . . The Blades took the lead at 11:58 on F Jake Chiasson’s 14th goal of the season, on a PP. Saskatoon had acquired Chiasson, who also had two assists, from the Wheat Kings at the trade deadline. . . . Keller added his ninth goal of the season at 13:41. . . . The Blades are 5-0-0 against the Wheat Kings this season. . . . Saskatoon (32-12-4) is third in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of Moose Jaw. . . . Brandon (19-22-7) now is five points out of a playoff spot. . . .
#WHL SPO/SEA: @SeattleTbirds fire 52 shots on goal, including a 26-3 advantage in 2nd period, and win by two. Jared Davidson gives a little bit of aid to all three markers hitting plateau for third time this season. Third 3-point game, twice vs. Chiefs, over last six outings.
F Jared Davidson drew three assists as the Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Spokane Chiefs, 3-1, in Kent, Wash. . . . The Thunderbirds scored one goal in each period — D Jeremy Hanzel (8) in the first, F Brad Lambert (4), on a PP, in the second, and F Kyle Crnkovic (25) in the third. . . . F Lucas Ciona was back in Seattle’s lineup after a two-game absence. He picked up one assist. . . . Seattle held a 52-21 edge in shots, including 26-3 in the second period, as Chiefs G Cooper Michaluk was kept hopping. . . . The Chiefs lost F Carter Streek to a spearing major at 1:21 of the second period. . . . Seattle (36-9-2) moved back atop the Western Conference, one point ahead of the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Spokane slipped to 9-34-5. . . .
Huge thank-you to the incredible team who created this record with me. I honestly feel this is the best album I’ve ever made, making the recognition from the academy members that much more meaningful. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/JjovPxOSp2
The Vancouver Giants celebrated a Grammy victory by part-owner Michael Bublé with a 4-1 victory over the Tri-City Americans in Langley, B.C. . . . F Ethan Semeniuk (10) scored while shorthanded to break a 1-1 tie at 14:23 of the second period. . . . The Thorpe boys took it from there. D Tyler Thorpe (3) added insurance at 14:41 of the second and F Ty Thorpe (26) added the empty-netter at 18:44. . . . Vancouver G Jesper Vikman, who is from Sweden, stopped 24 shots. . . . Tri-City G Tomas Suchanek lost for the first time in 13 decisions. He last tasted defeat on Nov. 23 when the visiting Kamloops Blazers dumped the Americans, 6-1. . . . The Giants lost F Kyle Bochek to a checking-from-behind major at 18:38 of the second period. . . . Vancouver (19-24-6) is seventh in the Western Conference, two points behind the Prince George Cougars, who have three games in hand. . . . Tri-City (25-18-5) is fourth, three points ahead of Everett.
#WHL TC/VAN: If your name is "Ty" or "Tyler", who may have had a hand in the @WHLGiants victory. Ty Halaburda starts scoring with Tyler Thorpe and Ty Thorpe striking in same game for 2nd time to close out. Jaden Lipinski and Mazden Leslie both hand over two assists.
Name the former WHL goaltender who was among the Juno Award nominees that were announced on Tuesday? . . . That would be James Priestner, who played four seasons (2007-2010) in the WHL, doing time with the Kamloops Blazers, Brandon Wheat Kings and Prince George Cougars. . . . These days, Priestner is the leader of the Vancouver-based Rare Americans, a quartet that includes guitarists Lubo Ivan and Jan Cajka, and drummer Duran Ritz. . . . The Rare Americans are one of five Juno nominees as the Breakthrough Group of the Year. If you’re not aware, these are Canada’s music awards. . . . From the Rare Americans’ website: “Since their debut in 2018, the band has amassed over 500M global streams, 2+M social media followers, 1.3M Spotify monthly listeners and 800k YT subscribers, a 2020 Juno for their song ‘Brittle Bones Nicky’, a song featured in Warner’s Scoob! The Movie soundtrack, and a spot on Billboard Top 100 charts for their album RA2. They completely sold out their Spring 2022 US tour and nearly sold out their first Europe tour in June 2022, including performing at one of Europe’s premier festivals — PINK POP, headlined by Imagine Dragons, Metallica, Twenty one Pilots.”
Straight ahead for the Rare Americans is their Milk and Honey Tour. It opens on March 3 in Edmonton and runs through April 30 in Dublin, Ireland. They’ll make six stops in Canada and 20 overseas. They’ll be between Calgary (March 4) and Vancouver (March 18) dates when the Junos are handed out in Vancouver on March 13.
NHL U.S. TV national viewership is down 22% this season, per findings from @AustinKarp.
NHL regular games to date have averaged 373,000 viewers on ESPN/TNT, 2nd season of the league's 7-year pact with Disney & Turner.
NHL averaged 478,000 viewers at this point last season.
Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with some NFL-related numbers: “NFL regular season games accounted for 47 of the Top 50 telecasts from September 2022 — the start of the NFL regular season — through the end of 2022. And what were the other three TV shows that cracked that Top 50 List? . . . Ohio St./Georgia in the CFP Semi-Finals (ranked 26th); Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (ranked 27th); and Michigan/TCU in the CFP semifinals (ranked 30th).”
He added this, too: “In the first round of the playoffs, the Giants/Vikes game drew 33 million viewers while the smallest audience for one of those wild-card games was the Jags/Chargers game with a mere 22 million viewers. Last weekend, the Eagles/Niners audience was 47.5 million and the Chiefs/Bengals audience was 53.1 million viewers.”
Yes, the NFL is a TV juggernaut.
JUST NOTES — Wanting to go to Scottsdale, Ariz., for the Super Bowl? The average price per ticket on Stub Hub as of Tuesday morning was US$7,573. . . . The Montreal Canadiens wore those horrible baby blues last night as they entertained the Ottawa Senators. The Habs lost, 5-4, and now are 0-6-1 in those uniforms, while being outscored 31-14.
Mike Babcock is back! In bobblehead form that is. Join us on Saturday as the Chiefs take on Red Deer for a very special Mike Babcock Bobblehead Giveaway to the first 2000 fans.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS — The OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs are going to play out of a 3,000-seat arena in Brantford for at least the next two seasons (2023-25). That’s because the 19,000-seat FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton will be undergoing some serious renovations. The OHL last had a team in Brantford with the Alexanders from 1978-84. . . .
The Spokane Chiefs are holding Mike Babcock Bobblehead Night when they entertain the Red Deer Rebels on Saturday. The first 2,000 fans through the gates will get a bobblehead. Babcock was the Chiefs’ head coach for six seasons (1994-2000). He is second in franchise history in regular-season games coached (425) and victories (223). Don Nachbaur is No. 1 in both — 496 and 261.
TUESDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:
#WHL SAS/BDN: @BladesHockey come from behind for the first time when trailing after two this year to steal an overtime victory. Charlie Wright waits until fifteen seconds into bonus hockey to extend point streak to 3. Third goal of season, had 2 in career coming into year.
D Charlie Wright’s third goal of the season, just 15 seconds into OT, gave the Saskatoon Blades a 2-1 victory over the Wheat Kings in Brandon. . . . Wright, 19, is in his fourth season with the Blades. He went into the game with four goals — none of them game-winners — in 164 regular-season games. . . . Wright made a rink-length dash down the left wing, cut around a defender and stuffed home the winner. . . . F Rylen Roersma (12) gave Brandon a 1-0 lead at 0:56 of the second period. . . . Saskatoon F Brandon Lisowsky (25) tied it on a PP at 12:17 of the third. . . . F Trevor Wong had two assists. . . . Saskatoon (30-11-4) moved into third in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the idle Moose Jaw Warriors. The Blades have three games in hand. . . . Brandon (19-21-6) is 10th, four points from a playoff spot. . . . The Wheat Kings were 8-15-2 when they fired head coach Don MacGillivray on Nov. 28. They are 11-6-4 since general manager Marty Murray went behind the bench. . . .
#WHL REG/RD: @Rebelshockey Jhett Larson is the hero with an overtime marker nearly halfway through. 12th tally of season to set a new personal best ending six game drought. Ben King opens scoring and ties game at five, 3rd multigoal game (of 10) this season.
The Travellin’ Bedards stopped off in Red Deer long enough to help the Rebels set a single-game franchise attendance record and the 7,287 fans in attendance saw quite a game. . . . The Rebels, who led 2-0 before the game was three minutes old, had to come back with the game’s last two goals before they were able to beat the Regina Pats, 6-5, in OT. . . . F Ben King (9) scored twice for the Rebels, his second goal tying the game, 5-5, at 6:50 of the third period. . . . F Jhett Larson (12) won it at 2:16 of OT. . . . F Connor Bedard didn’t disappoint the fans as he scored once and added two assists. He ran his goal-scoring streak to 10 games (he has 21 in that stretch) and his point streak to 34. He leads the WHL in goals (43), assists (45) and points (88). . . . Regina also got four assists from F Tanner Howe, who has 53 points, 30 of them assists, in 44 games. He turned 17 on Nov. 28. . . . The Rebels (33-10-4) are second in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the Winnipeg Ice. However, the Ice now has five games in hand. . . . Regina (22-21-3) is tied for seventh with the Swift Current Broncos, five points behind the Calgary Hitmen and one ahead of the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . The Rebels’ single-game attendance record had been 7,208 from a March 19, 2016 game in which the Rebels beat the Edmonton Oil Kings, 7-2. That was the final game of the 2015-16 regular season. . . . The Travellin’ Bedards journey on to Calgary for a clash with the Hitmen tonight. The Saddledome’s capacity is 19,289. There were 90 unsold tickets as of Tuesday evening. . . . According to the 2021-22 WHL Guide and Record Book, the WHL’s single-game attendance record for an indoor game is 19,305. It was set on March 16, 2008 as the host Hitmen beat the Kootenay Ice (hey, remember them?), 6-1. . . . You may recall that the Pats and Hitmen drew 20,888 to McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Feb. 21, 2011, a game that Regina won, 3-2. . . .
#WHL SC/SEA: @SeattleTbirds double Swift Current for 17th home win of year, clinching at least a .500 record and matching wins on road. Newly minted Captain Lucas Ciona leads way with two goals, setting new personal best in category. Jared Davidson also pops a pair.
F Luca Ciona, named team captain earlier in the day, scored twice to help the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 4-2 victory over the Swift Current Broncos in Kent, Wash. . . . Ciona, who has 21 goals, gave his guys a 2-1 lead at 19:11 of the first period and upped that to 3-1 at 9:04 of the second. . . . F Jared Davidson (27) had Seattle’s other two goals, including an empty-netter. He also had an assist. . . . Seattle (34-8-2) closed to within a point of the Western Conference-leading Portland Winterhawks. . . . Swift Current, which is 0-2-1 in the U.S., is tied with the Regina Pats for seventh in the Eastern Conference. . . . F Brad Lambert had one assist in his return to Seattle’s lineup after not playing since Jan. 14. He was sorting out some visa-related issues after being assigned to the Thunderbirds by the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. He had been with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. This was Lambert’s third game with Seattle; he missed four games. . . .
The Prince Albert Raiders erased an early 1-0 deficit with five straight goals en route to a 6-3 victor over the Royals in Victoria. . . . F Jake Poole, who also had an assist, gave the home side a 1-0 lead with his 27th goal at 2:38 of the first period. . . . The Raiders, now 2-0-0 on their B.C. tour, responded with two goals before the period ended and three more in the second. . . . D Landon Kosior led the visitors with a goal, his 13th coming shorthanded, and three assists. . . . F Evan Herman (11) had two goals for the Raiders, including the empty-netter. . . . The Raiders (18-25-3) have won three in a row and are seven points from a playoff spot. . . . The Royals (14-29-5) are tied with the Kelowna Rockets for the Western Conference’s last playoff spot. Kelowna holds four games in hand.
#WHL PA/VIC: @PARaidersHockey win for the 2nd time in British Columbia, this time doubling Victoria. Landon Kosior matches a career best by notching four points on a goal, 3 assists (3 helpers set new career high). Evan Herman registers back-to-back 2-goal affairs.
The New Westminster Bruins beat the Portland Winter Hawks, 12-9, at Queen’s Park Arena on Nov. 5, 1978.
Hey, Ken Hodge, what happened?
“We had some bad bounces,” Portland’s head coach said. “The winning goal hit a knot in the boards behind the net and bounced out in front while our goalie as looking the other way. What can you do about that?
When you’re talking about the best defencemen in WHL history, Kevin McCarthy has to be in the discussion. He was a tremendous player while spending four seasons (1973-77) with his hometown Winnipeg Clubs/Monarchs.
During his career, McCarthy knew what it was like to have to face the big, bad New Westminster Bruins in their home den, Queen’s Park Arena.
By the early 1980s, McCarthy was in the NHL. And it was while with the Vancouver Canucks that he and some teammates were mugged by a gang of youths near Chicago’s O’Hare International? Airport.
“One guy started it by suckering Jere (Gillis),” McCarthy said. “I thought I was back in Queen’s Park Arena.”
Who invented the goalie stick with a curved blade?
Well, there have been times when former WHL goaltender/coach Doug Sauter laid claim to having been first.
As he told New Westminster coach Ernie McLean while both were with the Bruins: “The curved blade makes it easier to fish the pucks out of the net.”
The Brandon Wheat Kings lost just five games out of 72 during the regular season of 1978-79. At some point during that season, someone from the U of Manitoba’s athletic department said something about its men’s hockey team being the second-best team in the province.
To which Brandon coach Dunc McCallum responded: “Where does that leave the Jets?”
Much has been made of F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats and the fact that he is riding a 32-game point streak, having been blanked in only the his first game of the season. But what about F Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers, who has at least a point in every game in which he has played this season. . . . On Friday night, Stankoven had two goals and an assist in a 7-4 victory over the Royals in Victoria to run his point streak to 28 games. . . . Stankoven and the Blazers will complete a doubleheader in Victoria tonight. He has 64 points, including 25 goals, in 28 games. . . . Bedard and Pats were idle on Friday and won’t play tonight, either. They are to entertain the Medicine Hat Tigers before a sold-out crowd on Sunday afternoon. . . . Bedard goes into the game leading the WHL in goals (39), assists (42) and points (81). . . .Stankoven is third in the points derby.
Blades forward Justin Lies was taken off the ice on a stretcher and will receive medical attention following a hit in tonight's game.
Two WHL players were receiving medical attention as Friday turned into Saturday. . . .
Saskatoon lost F Justin Lies at 5:29 of the second period during a game in Red Deer after what Les Lazaruk, the Blades’ veteran play-by-play man, said was a “high hit” from Red Deer F Carson Birnie. . . . Birnie was given an interference major and game misconduct. . . . The Blades tweeted that Lies “was taken off the ice on a stretcher following a hit in tonight’s game and will receive medical attention.” . . . After the game, the Blades tweeted that Lies was “stable and awaiting observation at Red Deer Hospital. He’s alert, in good spirits and thanks everyone for their concern and well wishes.” . . . Lies, 19, is from Flin Flon. He played three seasons with the Vancouver Giants before being acquired by the Blades prior this season. He has seven goals and 13 assists in 42 games this season. . . . The Blades were losing 1-0 when Lies was injured; they surrendered three more goals before the period ended as they dropped a 5-1 decision. . . .
Meanwhile, in Kennewick, Wash., F Parker Bell of the Tri-City Americans left after what one observer said was a “blind-side hit to the head” by F Andrew Petruk at 1:13 of the third period of a game with the Everett Silvertips. Petruk was ejected following the play that happened as Tri-City F Jalen Luypen scored for a 2-0 lead. Bell picked up an assist on the goal. . . . The Americans tweeted: “Parker Bell is being assessed by medical personnel. We will provide updates when we can.” . . . Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager, told Taking Note that Bell was “at hospital” and that “all signs (are) positive . . . but he will be out for a while.” . . . Bell, 19, is from Campbell River, B.C. This season, his fourth with the Americans, he has 21 goals and 30 assists in 40 games. . . . Tri-City won the game, 2-1.
FRIDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:
F Blake Swetlikoff broke a 1-1 tie at 10:44 of the third period as the Hurricanes got past the Winnipeg Ice, 2-1, in Lethbridge. . . . Swetlikoff won it with his eighth goal, his third in nine games with the Hurricanes since being acquired from the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Winnipeg F Connor McClennon (23) had tied the game 33 seconds into the third period. . . . F Hayden Smith (6) had a goal and an assists for the winners. . . . With G Daniel Hauser scratched, the Ice had Noah Stenvig backing up starter Mason Beaupit. Stenvig, who turned 17 on Jan. 16, plays for the U18 team at the Delta Hockey Academy. From Campbell River, B.C. he was an eighth-round pick in the 2021 WHL draft. . . . The Ice also had D Chase Bambrick, 16, in their lineup after bringing him in from the U18AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes. He was an eighth-round pick in the 2021 WHL draft. . . .
The host Moose Jaw Warriors scored the game’s last five goals, four of them in the third period, to beat the Brandon Wheat Kings, 5-1 . . . F Harper Lolacher (11) and F Ryder Korczak (20) each scored twice for the winners. . . . Korczak, who had 25 goals in 68 games last season, got his 19th and 20th goals in his 28th game this season. . . . The Warriors took two of the game’s three minor penalties, one of which was for too many men. . . . Moose Jaw (29-15-3) moved past the Blades (28-11-4) into third place in the Eastern Conference. Saskatoon has four games in hand. . . .
F Chaz Lucius scored twice and added an assist as the host Portland Winterhawks skated to a 6-3 victory over the Swift Current Broncos, who were opening a U.S. Division swing. . . . Lucius, who starred for Team USA at the World Junior Championship, has four straight multi-point games — three goals and seven assists — since joining the Winterhawks. . . . The Broncos took a 2-1 lead into the middle of the second period but the Winterhawks scored three times before the period ended. . . . F James Stefan had two goals (17) and two assists for the winners, who finished the game by scoring two empty-netters. . . .
G Kolby Hay stopped 43 shots to lead the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 3-0 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . Hay, an 18-year-old from Monte Creek, B.C., recorded his first career shutout. It was a reward of sorts for what has been a rough season. After going 16-4-1, 3.11, .885 with the WHL champions last season, he is 5-24-2, 4.26, .886 this season. . . . The Oil Kings scored three unassisted goals — from F Gavin Hodnett (8), F Dawson Seitz (2) and F Noah Boyko (12). . . . Calgary was 0-for-7 on the PP. . . . The start of the game was delayed 30 minutes by inclement weather. . . .
F Kai Uchacz scored two goals to help the host Red Deer Rebels to a 5-1 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . The victory lifted the Rebels (32-9-4) into first place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the Winnipeg Ice (33-6-1). Winnipeg holds five games in hand. . . . Uchacz, who has 37 goals, had Red Deer’s first and fifth goals as it built a 5-0 lead. He also had an assist. . . . F Frantisek Formanek had three assists. . . . The Rebels, nursing a 1-0 lead, broke it open with three goals in 2:13 just past the midway mark of the second period. . . .
The Kamloops Blazers jumped out to a 3-0 lead — they scored at even strength, on a PP and while shorthanded — en route to a 7-4 victory over the Royals in Victoria. . . . F Matthew Seminoff (16) scored the Blazers’ first two goals and later added two assists. . . . F Fraser Minten (22) also scored twice for the visitors and also had an assist. . . . D Olen Zellweger had three assists for Kamloops. He has four goals and eight assists in six games since moving over from Everett at the trade deadline. . . . The Blazers (27-9-6) lead the B.C. Division by 16 points over the Prince George Cougars. . . . The Blazers and Royals will complete their doubleheader tonight in Victoria. . . .
The Tri-City Americans scored the game’s first two goals and went on to a 2-1 victory over the Everett Silvertips in Kennewick, Wash. . . . D Lukas Dragicevic (11), at 16:06 of the second period, and F Jalen Luypen (5), at 1:13 of the third, scored for Tri-City. . . . F Caden Zaplitny (9) got the Silvertips to within one at 8:09 of the third. . . . The Americans (21-16-5) moved into fourth place in the Western Conference, two points ahead of the Silvertips (22-21-1). . . .
F Jared Davidson scored twice and added an assist as his Seattle Thunderbirds dumped the host Spokane Chiefs, 7-2. . . . Davidson now has 25 goals. . . . F Luca Ciona added a goal, his 19th, and three assists for Seattle, with F Kyle Crnkovic scoring his 23rd goal and earning two helpers. . . . F Chase Bertholet (22) scored both Spokane goals. . . . Seattle (33-7-2) continues to lead the Western Conference by one point over the Portland Winterhawks (32-8-3). . . . Portland and Seattle will clash tonight in Kent, Wash. . . .
The Vancouver Giants erased an early 1-0 deficit as they beat the Kelowna Rockets, 3-1, in Langley, B.C. . . . D Tyler Thorpe (2) tied the game at 4:50 of the second period and F Jaden Lipinski (15) pulled the Giants ahead at 14:41. Both goals came via the PP as Vancouver went 2-for-6. . . . The Rockets were 0-for-5. . . . The victory allowed the Giants (18-20-6) to pull into a sixth-place tie with the idle Prince George Cougars (19-20-4) in the Western Conference. They now are 11 points ahead of the Rockets (14-26-3) and Victoria Royals (13-28-5). . . . The Giants and Rockets will do it again tonight, this time in Kelowna.
The U of Calgary Dinos beat the Mount Royal Cougars, 4-2, on Friday night in Calgary, running their winning streak to 18 games. That’s a new Canada West record, breaking the record of 17 that was set by the Alberta Golden Bears in 1978-79. . . . The game was played before 11,083 fans at the Scotiabank Saddledome as part of the annual Crowchild Classic.
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There was an interesting development out of the OHL on Wednesday when it was announced that the Kingston Frontenacs, Niagara IceDogs, Saginaw Spirit and Soo Greyhounds all have expressed the intent of bidding to play host to the 2024 Memorial Cup. . . . You will be aware that Saginaw is in Michigan; the Memorial Cup hasn’t been played in an American city since 1998 when the Spokane Chiefs were the host team. . . . Bids are to be submitted by Jan. 31 with the winning bid to be announced in March. . . . Kingston, Niagara Falls and Saginaw haven’t served as the host city for a Memorial Cup tournament; it was held in Sault Ste. Marie in 1993. . . . The OHL last played host to the tournament in 2017 when it was in Windsor. . . . The 2023 tournament is scheduled to be held in Kamloops.
You can bet that some WHL teams are paying close attention to the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and the organization’s goaltending situation these days. . . . That’s because the Red Wings claimed G Magnus Hellberg on waivers from the Seattle Kraken on Wednesday. . . . WHL teams are going to be watching to see how Hellberg slots into the goaltending depth chart and just how the dominoes will fall. That’s because the Red Wings already have Ville Husso and Alex Nedeljkovic on their NHL roster, with Victor Brattstrom and Jussi Olkinuora with the AHL-Grand Rapids Griffins. The guy some WHL teams are interested in, Sebastian Cossa, is one of three goaltenders with the ECHL’s Toldeo Walleye. Cossa, 20, was a first-round selection by the Red Wings in the NHL’s 2021 draft. He then backstopped the Edmonton Oil Kings to the 2021-22 WHL championship. . . . The Oil Kings are in a rebuilding mode and haven’t been shy about trading players off that team’s roster; F Jakub Demek, F Shea Van Olm, D Luke Prokop and F Jalen Luypen all have been dealt as Edmonton stockpiles draft picks and younger players. . . . So if the Detroit dominoes fall in such a way that the 6-foot-6, 210-pound Cossa is returned to Edmonton, you have to think his stay there won’t last long.
WEDNESDAY IN THE WHL:
17 wins in the first 20 games for @pdxwinterhawks ties the franchise record with the 1982-83 team that went 17-3-0. The 36 points is the most earned during the first 20.
There were 5 other seasons with 16 wins (93-94, 97-98, 10-11, 12-13, 17-18).
The Portland Winterhawks remain the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams with one regulation-time loss after they skated out of Everett with a 5-2 victory over the Silvertips. . . . Portland (17-1-2) now has points in 12 straight (10-0-2). . . . Everett (12-8-1) had lost four in a row (0-3-1). . . . Portland erased a 1-0 first-period deficit with the next four goals. . . . F Dawson Pasternak (4) and F Josh Zakreski (4) each had a goal and an assist for Portland, which held a 45-26 edge in shots, including 18-4 in the second period. . . . The Winterhawks had F Cole Cairns, 15, and F Hudson Darby, 15, in their lineup for the first time, having lost F Kyle Chyzowski and F Diego Buttazzoni to injury. Cairns plays for the U18 team at the RINK Hockey Academy in Winnipeg, while Darby is with the U18 Swift Current Legionnaires. . . . Portland also scratched F Robbie Fromm-Delorme, its leading scorer, and F Jack O’Brien, neither of whom was shown in Tuesday’s roster report. . . . F Jackson Berezowski, who last played on Nov. 4, and D Aidan Sutter were among Everett’s seven scratches. . . .
#WHL EDM/MH: @tigershockey roar back after allowing the first goal to put home six straight of their own. Four of the marksmen also pick up an assist along the way. Tyler MacKenzie and Andrew Basha both capture 3 assists, Basha doubles last year's output in 26 fewer games.
The Medicine Hat Tigers got goals from six players as they skated to a 6-1 victory over the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The Tigers (7-10-5) had lost two in a row (0-1-1). . . . The Oil Kings (4-18-1) had won their previous two games. . . . F Mason Finley (5) gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead in the first period. . . . The Tigers scored the last six goals, two of them via the PP. . . . F Brendan Lee had a goal (13) and an assist as he ran his goal streak to five games and a point streak to six games. He has 22 points in 22 games this season. Last season, he totalled 21 points in 52 games split between Medicine Hat and the Saskatoon Blades. . . . F Tyler MacKenzie and F Andrew Basha each had three assists. . . .
#WHL MJ/PG: @PGCougars fire up more shots in the 2nd period (24) than Moose Jaw all game (21) claiming five unanswered goals. Caden Brown has the first two of them for first career multigoal effort. Needs one more goal (and four points) to match last year's total.
The Prince George Cougars ran their winning streak to four games with a 5-2 victory over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Cougars, who lead the B.C. Division, are 13-9-0. Prince George holds a five-point lead on Kamloops with the Blazers having five games in hand. . . . The Warriors (13-9-0) had won their previous two games. This was the start of their swing through the B.C. Division. . . . The Warriors led 2-0 late in the first period, but the Cougars tied it on two goals from F Caden Brown (6) before the period ended. Brown also had an assist for a three-point night. . . . F Chase Wheatcroft’s 17th goal, at 2:14 of the third period, broke a 2-2 tie and stood up as the winner. . . . The Cougars outshot the visitors 46-21, including 24-4 in the second period when they were unable to solve G Connor Ungar. . . . F Koehn Ziemmer of the Cougars had an assist to run his point streak to 14 games. . . . F Jagger Firkus of the Warriors also had an assist as he ran his point streak to 15 games. . . . The Warriors had F Riley Niven back in the lineup after he hadn’t played since Oct. 8. . . .
#WHL KEL/SEA: @SeattleTbirds keep pace with the Winterhawks and they get set to clash in two days. Two goals from Jared Davidson turns out to be the difference, the latter a power play tally – first of the year after ramping up 13 a year ago. Back on scoresheet after 10 gamer.
F Jared Davidson scored twice to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 4-2 victory over the Kelowna Rockets in Kent, Wash. . . . The Thunderbirds (14-3-1) have points in five straight (4-0-1). . . . The Rockets (8-9-1) had won their previous two games. . . . Davidson, who has 10 goals, gave his guys 1-0 and 2-1 leads. . . . Kelowna D Jackson DeSouza scored his third goal in two games to get Kelowna into a 2-1 tie. Before this mini-hot streak, he had one career goal in 84 regular-season games. . . . F Kyle Crnkovic (9) scored at 11:12 of the second period and that one was the winner. . . . F Ty Hurley made his Seattle debut after being acquired from the Swift Current Broncos last week. . . . The Thunderbirds were without D Luke Prokop, who is listed on this week’s roster report as being out week-to-week. . . . Kelowna F Colton Dach sat out with a one-game suspension. . . .
#WHL VAN/SPO: @WHLGiants sneak two points out of Spokane. 6th win when being out shot tying four others for 2nd most in League (WPG – 7). Colton Langkow (both on the power play) and Zack Ostapchuk share a pair of two-goal affairs. Langkow doubles season and career totals.
F Zack Ostapchuk broke a 3-3 tie with his second goal of the game to help the Vancouver Giants to a 6-4 victory over the Chiefs in Spokane. . . . The Giants (8-9-4) had lost their previous two games. . . . The Chiefs (4-14-1) have lost three in a row. . . . Ostapchuk, the Giants’ captain, gave his side a 4-3 lead at 17:15 of the second period with his ninth goal. . . . F Colton Langkow, who has four goals, scored two PP goals, one at 5:38 of the third period for a 5-3 lead and an empty-netter at 19:59. Langkow also had an assist. . . . The Giants got 34 stops from G Brett Mirwald, who was making just his second start — and third appearance — in November. . . .
#WHL KAM/TC: @blazerhockey Caedan Bankier deposits a pair of goals, including the eventual game winner, as his squad handles Tri-City. Gone without a goal in two or more games just twice this season. Five tallies in the two meetings at Toyota Center.
The Kamloops Blazers have points in five straight games after beating the Tri-City Americans, 6-1, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . The Blazers (10-4-3) are 3-0-2 in their past five games. . . . The Americans (8-13-0) have lost two in a row. This was the first of seven straight home games for them. . . . F Caedan Bankier (13) scored twice for the Blazers, while F Logan Stankoven had a goal and two assists to run his scoring streak to 14 games. He has played in 14 games since being returned by the NHL’s Dallas Stars and has multiple-points in nine of them. . . . Tri-City D Lukas Dragicevic had a goal to run his point streak to 15 games. . . .
#WHL LET/WPG: @WHLWpgICE end losing streak at one getting the better of Lethbridge in the return bout. Count another goal, assist for Zach Benson, Ty Nash becomes 5th ICE member to double digits on goals, while Connor McClennon captures 30th power play goal with Winnipeg.
F Zach Benson figured in the game’s last two goals to help the host Winnipeg Ice to a 3-2 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Ice improved to 21-2-0; the Hurricanes are 12-10-1. . . . The Hurricanes had beaten the host Ice 2-1 on Tuesday night, snapping Winnipeg’s 15-game winning streak. . . . Benson drew the primary assist as F Ty Nash (10) tied the score, 2-2, at 17:29 of the second period. Benson’s 14th goal, at 5:16 of the third, stood up as the winner. . . . Lethbridge is two games into a six-game road trip that continues with games in Brandon on Friday and Saturday nights. . . . Ice F Conor Geekie had his point streak snapped at 12 games. . . . G Dan Hauser started for the Ice after a two-game absence. He missed one game due to illness, than backed up Mason Beaupit on Tuesday. Hauser got the victory with 19 saves as he improved his record this season to 15-0-0. He is 56-3-2 in his career.
I see in the WHL Weekly Report yesterday that the Pats resolved their overage situation by releasing Jakob Brook.
Odd that no word from the team. He played 65 games for the Pats, you would think that would merit an announcement and a thank you?
According to the WHL’s weekly roster report that was posted on Tuesday, the Regina Pats have deleted F Jakob Brook, 20, from their roster. Such a move would allow the Pats to get down to the maximum of three 20s, although Brook still was listed on their roster on Wednesday afternoon. . . . Dropping Brook leaves the Pats with D Luke Bateman, D Tanner Brown and F Erin Ginnell, who was acquired from the Moose Jaw Warriors this week, as their 20-year-olds. . . .
BTW, according to figures compiled by the WHL, the Pats, whose roster includes F Connor Bedard, are ninth in announced attendance in the 22-team league, averaging 3,297 fans per home game. . . . Bedard, likely to be the first selection in the NHL’s 2023 draft, and his Pats are two games into a 10-game road trip that will take them through the B.C. Division. . . . The Kelowna Rockets announced Wednesday that their game against the Pats on Tuesday already is sold out. . . . The Vancouver Giants, who play out of the Langley Events Centre, have announced that their game with the Pats on Friday is sold out, and the Victoria Royals have said the same for the Pats’ visit on Saturday. . . . The Pats are in Kamloops on Wednesday and that game is down to scattered singles and some standing room being available. . . .
The Red Deer Rebels have acquired D Marek Schneider, 19, from the Saskatoon Blades for a fourth-round selection in the WHL’s 2023 draft and a conditional fourth-rounder in 2026. . . . The 2023 selection originally belonged to Red Deer. . . . Schneider, from Prince Albert, was a second-round pick by the Blades in the WHL’s 2018 draft. . . . In 78 games with Saskatoon, he has two goals and six assists. This season, he has one goal and one assist in 14 games. . . .
Two former WHLers are to head up the off-ice staff for Canada’s entry at the 2022 Spengler Cup. Shane Doan, who played for the Kamloops Blazers and now is one of the team’s five owners, will be Canada’s general manager, while Travis Green is to serve as the head coach. . . . Green played with the Spokane Chiefs and Medicine Hat Tigers, and later coached with the Portland Winterhawks. . . . The Spengler Cup is to run from Dec. 26 through Dec. 31 in Davos, Switzerland. . . .
The BCHL’s Penticton Vees ran their season-opening winning streak to 21 games on Wednesday night with a 5-3 victory over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (11-8-1). . . . Salmon Arm led this one 2-0 after the first period. . . . Russian F Aydar Suniev, a sophomore from Moscow, figured in each of the Vees’ goals, with two goals and two assists. . . . The Vees are scheduled to visit the Alberni Valley Bulldogs (9-9-2) on Friday and the Powell River Kings (6-11-3) on Saturday.
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The Winnipeg Ice has added some goaltending experience with the acquisition of Mason Beaupit from the Spokane Chiefs. . . . In exchange for Beaupit, 19, and an eighth-round selection in the WHL’s 2023 draft, the Ice gave up G Dawson Cowan, 17, and three draft picks — a fourth-rounder in 2025 and third- and sixth-rounders in 2026. . . . In 71 regular-season games with the Chiefs, Beaupit was 24-35-7, 3.83, .888. . . . He was a fourth-round pick in the WHL’s 2018 draft. . . . Following last season, he was named the Chiefs’ player of the year, after going 20-22-4, 3.63, .893. . . . This season, with the Chiefs’ clearly in a major rebuild, he was 0-8-0, 5.58, .833 in nine games. . . . From Surrey, B.C., Beaupit’s NHL rights belong to the San Jose Sharks, who took him in the fourth round of the 2022 draft. . . . Beaupit will team with Daniel Hauser as Winnipeg’s goaltenders. Hauser, 18, went into Friday games at 13-0-0, 2.37, .915. . . . Cowan, from Warren, Man., was 3-1-0, 2.52, .901 in five appearances with the Ice this season. . . . The Chiefs now have two 17-year-old freshman goaltenders on their roster — Cowan and Cooper Michaluk, who is 3-2-1, 4.97, .853. Michaluk started against the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds on Friday night, with Cowan backing up.
FRIDAY IN THE WHL:
The host Brandon Wheat Kings scored three times in the shootout as they got past the Red Deer Rebels, 3-2. . . . The Wheat Kings (7-9-2) snapped their six-game losing streak (0-5-1). . . . The Rebels (15-2-1), who opened the season with 15 straight victories, now have lost three in a row (0-2-1). . . . The Wheat Kings got shootout goals from F Brett Hyland, F Nolan Ritchie and F Jake Chiasson. F Kai Uchacz scored in the shootout for the Rebels, He also scored once in regulation time, taking over the WHL goal-scoring lead (16). A few hours later, F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats scored twice to pull into a tie with Uchacz. . . . Red Deer F Craig Armstrong tied the score, 2-2, at 15:48 of the third period. . . . Red Deer remains without veteran F Ben King, who led the league in goals (52) last season. . . . Brandon was able to dress only 16 skaters, including four defencemen. . . . Lucas Punkari of the Brandon Sun reported that D Mason Ward is injured, while Eastyn Mannix and Zach Turner both were “unable to dress due to illness.” The Wheat Kings then lost Owen Harris to injury in the first period, so F Calder Anderson slipped into the rotation. . . .
In Prince Albert, the Raiders jumped out front 12 seconds into the first period and never looked back en route to a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The Raiders improved to 6-12-2; the Oil Kings, who have lost three in a row, are 2-15-1. . . . F Harrison Lodewyk’s second goal of the season gave the Raiders the early lead and away they went. . . . F Carson Latimer had a goal and two assists for the winners, who were 2-2 on the PP. . . .
The Swift Current Broncos overcame a 2-0 deficit and then coughed up a 4-2 lead before scoring in OT to beat the visiting Regina Pats, 5-4. . . . The Broncos (8-8-0) have won two in a row. . . . The Pats are 8-8-2. . . . D Owen Pickering won it 58 seconds into extra time. . . . The Broncos got a goal and two assists from F Connor Hvidston. . . . F Alexander Suzdalev had a goal and three assists for Regina, which got two scores and a helper from F Connor Bedard. . . . The tweet posted above features some Bedard numbers going into Friday’s games. Last night, Bedard ran his point streak to 17 games. He has 17 points over his past five games. . . .
D Denton Mateychuk’s shootout goal gave the Moose Jaw Warriors a 5-4 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat. . . . The Warriors (11-6-0) have won two straight. . . . The Tigers (4-9-4) have lost seven in a row (0-4-3). . . . D Bogdans Hodass pulled the Tigers into a 4-4 tie at 12:56 of the third period. . . . The Warriors had scored twice in the first 10 minutes of the opening period but weren’t able to hold the lead. . . . F Jagger Firkus gave them a 4-3 lead at 11:07 of the third, only to have Hodass tie it 1:49 later. . . . F Noah Degenstein, a second-round pick in the WHL’s 2022 draft, made his debut with the Warriors. From Airdrie, Alta., he plays for his hometown U18AAA CFR Bisons. . . . These same two teams will play tonight in Moose Jaw. . . .
In Spokane, the Seattle Thunderbirds scored on each of their first three shots en route to a 7-2 victory over the Chiefs. . . . F Gracyn Sawchyn, F Nico Myatovic and D Kevin Korchinski all scored unassisted goals for Seattle before the first period was five minutes old. . . . The Thunderbirds (12-3-0) have won two in a row. . . . The Chiefs (3-11-1) have lost nine straight (0-8-1). . . .F Jared Davidson was back in Seattle’s lineup after not playing since Nov. 1; he missed three games. He had a goal and two assists in this one, and has points in 10 of 11 games as he rides a nine-game streak. . . .
In Kennewick, Wash., the Everett Silvertips built up a 4-0 lead early in the second period and hung on for a 4-3 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Everett (12-5-0) has won four straight. . . . Tri-City (7-10–0) has lost two in a row. . . . F Ryan Hofer scored twice — he’s got 12 — as Everett grabbed a 4-0 lead at 1:30 of the second period. . . . F Tyson Greenway pulled the Americans to within one at 3:50 of the third period, but they weren’t able to equalize. . . . D Lukas Dragicevic had two assists in running his point streak to 11 games. He has two points in each of his last two games, and has 23 points, including five goals, in 17 games. . . .
D Luca Cagnoni and F Robbie Fromm-Delorme each scored twice to help the Portland Winterhawks to a 5-1 victory over the Royals in Victoria. . . . Portland led 4-0 by 11:23 of the second period. . . . The Winterhawks (12-1-2) have points in seven straight (5-0-2). . . . The Royals (3-13-3) have lost four in a row (0-3-1). . . . Portland was 3-6 on the PP. . . . They’ll do it again tonight in Victoria.
“Northwestern freshman Michael Cole couldn’t find a taker for one of the $8.50 tickets he bought to the Oct. 26, 1984 Chicago Bulls game, so he kept it,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “And finally sold it this year — for $468,000. Seems there’s still a market for the NBA debut of Michael Jordan.”
And you thought it was over. . . . Henrik Sedin is one of the 2022 inductees who will be going into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on Monday. Unfortunately, he wasn’t available to attend Friday’s news conference and ring presentation as he is recovering from COVID-19. By taking an extra day to recover, he is hopeful of attending Monday night’s ceremony and perhaps other events over the weekend. . . . Mask up!
BTW, Perry Bergson began covering the Brandon Wheat Kings for the Brandon Sun in 2015. And he hadn’t missed a home game . . . until Friday’s contest against the Red Deer Rebels. . . . “I’m about to miss my first home game — pre-season, regular season or playoff — since I began covering the Wheat Kings in 2015,” he tweeted, “as I deal with round two of COVID. Happily, this time it’s just a bad cold.” . . . Mask up!
THINKING OUT LOUD — Looking for an interesting read? You won’t go wrong with Rising From the Deep: The Seattle Kraken, a Tenacious Push for Expansion, and the Emerald City’s Sports Revival. Written by Geoff Baker, who covers the Kraken for the Seattle Times, this is an engrossing look at what went on financially and politically as the Kraken arrived in Seattle ahead of an NBA team. . . . In 2019-20, the WHL’s average announced attendance for 694 games was 4,154. Last season, for 748 games, the number was 3,205. This season, going into Friday games, that average was 3,182 for 177 games. On a scale of 1-10, how much concern do you think there is among the governors? . . . So the NHL stages its annual Hall of Fame game in Toronto on Friday night — and there is a wonderfully emotional story there involving Börje Salming — and the game isn’t shown nationally. Sheesh, NHL, what were you thinking?
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. How about this #TSN image of former #Leafs captain Darryl Sittler wiping away a tear while watched by Borje Salming, who is dying of ALS (or Lou Gehrig's Disease). Two great teammates from the 1970's. Sad. And, poignant.😢 pic.twitter.com/3JS22kuh7Y
Victor Gervais, a former high-scoring WHL forward, will be inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame in January. . . . Gervais, from Prince George, played four seasons (1985-90) with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, putting up 119 and 160 points in the last two. . . . From a news release: “Gervais notched 462 points in just 266 career ECHL games, an average of nearly 1.75 points-per-game. He racked up 305 assists over his career in the league, making him just one of 31 players all-time to record at least 300 helpers. During the 1992-93 season, he led the ECHL with 80 assists while finishing second with 118 points in 59 games. In 1993-94, he racked up 53 assists in just 31 games, an average of 1.71 assists-per-game which ranks as the best single-season average in ECHL history. Gervais’ 1.15 assists-per-game average over his career is tied for the top spot in league history.” . . . The induction ceremony will take place on Jan. 16 in Norfolk, Va., in conjunction with the ECHL’s All-Star Classic. . . .
The BCHL’s Penticton Vees ran their season-opening record to 17-0-0 on Friday night, beating the visiting Vernon Vipers, 6-2. . . . The Vees are scheduled to visit the Trail Smoke Eaters tonight.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
The Red Deer Rebels ran their record to 12-0-0 with a 4-0 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants on Friday. . . . G Rhett Stoesser, a 17-year-old freshman from Carstairs, Alta., stopped 18 shots as he recorded his first WHL shutout in his fourth start. He is 4-0-0, 1.25, .938. . . . The Rebels have tied the WHL record for most victories to open a season. The 1988-89 Swift Current Broncos opened 12-0-0 before dropping a 2-1 decision to the Blades in Saskatoon on Oct. 30, 1988. . . . The Rebels are scheduled to visit the Edmonton Oil Kings (1-11-1) on Sunday. . . .
Meanwhile, in Prince George, the Seattle Thunderbirds stayed perfect (9-0-0) with a 5-4 victory over the Cougars. They’ll play there again tonight and resume the triple-dip in Kent, Wash., on Tuesday. . . . Last night, Seattle got two goals from each of Jared Davidson and Jordan Gustafson as they got out to a 5-2 lead. The Cougars scored twice in the game’s last two minutes.
The Brandon Wheat Kings drew their largest crowd (5,141) of the young season on Friday with the Winnipeg Ice in town. According to the Wheat Kings, it also was equipment manager Scott Hlady’s 500th game with the organization. . . . According to Lucas Punkari of the Brandon Sun, it was the first crowd of more than 5,000 “since 5,621 fans were in the building for a 5-4 shootout win over Moose Jaw on March 17, 2018.” . . . The Ice skated home with a 4-1 victory, ending its season-opening road schedule with a 12-1 record. The same two teams will meet in Winnipeg tonight as the Ice stages its home-opener.
Here’s Ken Campbell of Hockey Unfiltered addressing rumblings that the Toronto Maple Leafs may be in line for a coaching change, perhaps with Barry Trotz replacing Sheldon Keefe: “It’s interesting to note though, that (general manager) Kyle Dubas has been a GM for three teams in three leagues — the Soo Greyhounds (OHL), the Toronto Marlies (American Hockey League) and the Leafs. In all that time, he has hired only one person to coach his teams, and that’s Keefe.”
You are able to check out Hockey Unfiltered with Ken Campbell right here.
One more from Campbell: “The (OHL’s) Mississauga Steelheads, who are off to a great start this season, are once again struggling to attract fans. Their lease with the city-run Paramount Foods Centre expires after this season. Steelheads president Elliott Kerr would prefer to stay, but it’s a situation that bears watching. When Kerr bought the team, he said he would give it three years and this is his 11th. He’s lost seven figures easily.”
October 25 1968
The Pats played the Ottawa 67's their 1st interlocking game against an OJHL team. They played to a 1-1 tie at the Stadium in front of 2,175. Bob Owen scored for the Pats.
The Edmonton Oil Kings are down to the maximum of three 20-year-olds after releasing F Cole Carrier on Friday. Carrier, who is from Strathcona, Alta., was a fourth-round pick by the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL’s 2017 draft. He had four assists in seven gams with Edmonton after coming over from the Lethbridge Hurricanes early in the season. In 117 regular-season games, 101 of them with the Regina Pats, he totalled 19 goals and 21 assists. . . . That move leaves Edmonton with D Logan Dowhaniuk, F Carson Golder and F Jaxsen Wiebe as its 20-year-olds. Wiebe is serving a four-game suspension under supplemental discipline after going knee-on-knee with F Josh Pillar of the Saskatoon Blades on Oct. 23. The Blades say Pillar is out week-to-week. Wiebe was given a tripping minor on the play in question. . . . Later in the day, the Oil Kings were beaten, 5-0, by the visiting Calgary Hitmen, who got 18 saves from G Brayden Peters. The defending-champion Oil Kings now are 1-11-1. . . .
In Portland, the Kelowna Rockets lost D Noah Dorey to a slew-footing major and game misconduct at 9:41 of the first period. Chances are good that Dorey will miss Game 2 of the weekend double-dip tonight. . . . The Winterhawks weren’t able to score on the five-minute power play, and it came back to haunt them when F Andrew Cristall scored in OT to give the visitors a 4-3 victory. . . . The Rockets scored the game’s last three goals, with Cristall getting them within one at 16:46 of the third period and F Nolan Flamand tying it with 5.6 seconds left. . . .
Prior to meeting the visiting Spokane Chiefs last night, the Kamloops Blazers announced that they had release F Kobe Verbicky, 19. From Victoria, he was a second-round selection by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL’s 2018 draft. He had one assist in six games this season. In 64 career regular-season games, 38 with Kamloops, he scored three times and added five assists. . . . Later that night, the Blazers, who had lost three straight, scored four first-period goals while outshooting the Chiefs, 24-4, en route to a 5-1 victory. F Logan Stankoven had two goals for the Blazers, who finished with a 62-23 edge in shots. The teams will meet again tonight, this time in Spokane. . . . Stankoven now has 17 points, including eight goals, in seven games since returning from the camp of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. . . .
The Saskatoon Blades ran their winning streak to seven games as they beat the Tigers, 2-1, in Medicine Hat. . . . F Tyler Parr scored both of Saskatoon’s goals and they came via the PP. . . . Parr, a 17-year-old sophomore from La Salle, Man., has three goals in 12 games this season. Last season, he scored three times in 58 games. . . . The game was scoreless until Parr struck at 9:52 of the third period. . . .
The host Moose Jaw Warriors got 46 stops from G Connor Ungar in beating the Everett Silvertips, 4-1. F Jagger Firkus scored twice. . . . The Silvertips opened an East Division trip with the loss. . . . The Warriors have won four in a row. . . .
The Victoria Royals’ starting lineup featured five Saskatchewan-born skaters as they met the host Swift Current Broncos last night. The lone exception was G Logan Cunningham of Sherwood Park, Alta., who was making his WHL debut. The starting skaters were forwards Carter Briltz of Regina, Cole Reschny of Macklin and Anthony Wilson of Swift Current, along with defencemen Nate Misskey of Melfort and Kalem Parker of Clavet. Reschny, the Royals’ top pick in the WHL’s 2022 draft, third overall, was playing his second WHL game. . . . Things didn’t go well for the Royals, though, as the Broncos struck for two shorthanded goals and one on the PP in a 6-1 victory. . . . F Raphael Pelletier scored twice for the Broncos. . . .
The Ottawa 67’s, the OHL’s last unbeaten team, dropped a 5-3 decision to the host Peterborough Petes on Friday night. The 67’s had opened with nine straight victories. The Petes now are 8-3-1. . . .
In the BCHL, the Penticton Vees now are 13-0-0 after scoring a 4-1 victory over the host West Kelowna Warriors. . . . Next up for the Vees? The Trail Smoke Eaters (6-5-1) are to visit Penticton tonight.
THINKING OUT LOUD — Now that was a terrific opener for the World Series. It would have been a whole lot better if Fox’s broadcast crew — Joe Davis and John Smoltz — stopped talking on occasion and just let the game breathe. Please, guys, why not allow the viewers to experience the atmosphere a bit. Baseball is a game that sometimes doesn’t need chatter. . . . Late in Game 1, writer Joe Posnanski tweeted: “Nobody in baseball can hit any reliever.” He’s not wrong. . . . What could be more fitting than having Shane Doan and his son, Josh, drop the ceremonial first puck as the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes played their first game at Arizona State U’s Mullett Arena last night? While Shane, who owns a chunk of the Kamloops Blazers, played for the Coyotes, Josh, 20, captains the ASU Sun Devils. . . . The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are 28-2 at home over the last two CFL seasons. The Edmonton Elks have lost 17 straight home games. Hmmm.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
The WHL’s championship final, featuring the Edmonton Oil Kings and Seattle Thunderbirds, will open in the Alberta capital with games on Friday and Sunday.
The series will follow a 2-2-3 format — yes, you read that correctly. Due to building availability issues — the arena is booked for graduation ceremonies from June 9-15 — in Kent, Wash., the Thunderbirds will get only two home games, although they will be designated as the home team for one of the possible five games in Edmonton.
They will play Games 3 and 4 in Kent on Tuesday and Wednesday (June 8), before returning to Edmonton, if necessary, to finish up. Those games would be played on June 11, 13 and 14, with the Thunderbirds the ‘home’ team for Game 6. TSN will televise the series, beginning with Game 3.
The Oil Kings, the Eastern Conference’s second seed, advanced to the final by taking out the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice in five games. Edmonton has been sitting and waiting for an opponent since eliminating the Ice on Friday.
The Thunderbirds, the Western Conference’s fourth seed, ousted the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers, winning Game 7, 3-2, on the road on Tuesday night.
The Oil Kings last reached the WHL final in 2014 when they beat the Portland Winterhawks in seven games en route to winning the Memorial Cup. That was the third of three straight WHL finals to feature Edmonton and Portland — the Oil Kings won in 2012 and 2014.
Edmonton is 12-1 in these playoffs, having swept the No. 7 Lethbridge Hurricanes and No. 3 Red Deer Rebels before taking out the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice in five games.
Seattle last appeared in the WHL final in 2017 when it won the championship by taking out the Regina Pats in six games. One year earlier, the Thunderbirds lost the final, 4-1, to the Brandon Wheat Kings.
In these playoffs, Seattle now is 12-7, having eliminated the Kelowna Rockets, 4-1, and then gone seven games with both Portland and Kamloops.
Interestingly, the Thunderbirds won Game 6 in both those series by a 2-1 count at home, then went on the road to win Game 7. In the process, they became the first team in WHL history — which begins in 1966-67 — to win two Game 7s on the road in the same playoff season.
TUESDAY IN THE WHL:
Jared Davidson (2G) and Lukas Svejkovsky (3A) also help in inflicting the damage. Third multigoal game for Davidson in postseason, once in every series while Svejkovsky runs point streak to 11, longest in postseason by a T-Bird since Mathew Barzal (15, 7-18–25) in 2017. https://t.co/bscxxpZy3E
In Kamloops, F Jared Davidson scored twice and linemate Lukas Svejkovsky drew three assists as the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Blazers, 3-2, in Game 7 of the conference final. . . . It was the fifth time the Thunderbirds faced elimination in these playoffs and they now are 5-0 in such games. . . . The Blazers opened the scoring for the sixth time in the series when F Fraser Minten (6) struck at 8:34 of the opening period. . . . Seattle F Lucas Ciona drilled the left post behind G Dylan Garand a few minutes later. . . . The Thunderbirds pulled even at 15:47 when Davidson (10) snapped one home from the right face-off dot just seven seconds into the game’s first PP opportunity. That would be the only PP by either team on this night. . . . Davidson (11) shot Seattle into the lead at 2:27 of the second period following another face-off win in the Kamloops zone. . . . The Thunderbirds went ahead 3-1 at 14:56 as F Henrik Rybinski (4) beat Garand by tipping in a shot by D Jeremy Hanzel. . . . Seattle G Thomas Milic preserved the two-goal lead with a big stop off Kamloops F Logan Stankoven through traffic to start the third period. . . . The Blazers finally gotto within a goal, but there were only 7.4 seconds left to play when F Daylan Kuefler (10) scored. . . . Milic finished with 33 saves, four fewer than Garand. . . . What was the key to Seattle’s series victory? Over the last four games of the series, the Thunderbirds held Stankoven, who leads the playoffs with 30 points, to three assists, while shutting out linemate Luke Toporowski, who finished with 23 points. Stankoven had scored hat tricks in Games 1 and 3, with Toporowski recording six helpers. . . . Meanwhile, Svejkovsky put up two goals and eight assists in six games, while Davidson had five goals and three assists in seven games, and Rybinsky, the third member of that line, played in only four games but had a goal and four assists.
The Minnesota Twins will be in Toronto for a weekend series with the Blue Jays, but shortstop Carlos Correa, a two-time all-star with the Houston Astros, won’t be with them. He was placed on the COVID-19 restricted list on Tuesday after exhibiting symptoms on Sunday and getting worse on Monday. Also on that list are Joe Ryan, a right-handed started, and backup OF Gilberto Celestino. . . . According to Sportsnet, the Twins, who began the week in Detroit against the Tigers, “have already said they’ll have ‘a few’ players on the restricted list not travelling to Toronto. This generally means players unvaccinated against COVID-19.”
My wife, Dorothy, a kidney transplant recipient in 2013, will take part in the 2022 #kamloops Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year on Sunday. Yes, it’s virtual again. You are able to sponsor her right here.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Beau McCue won’t be back as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, but he will be remaining with the organization. According to a news release, McCue, who played four seasons (2012-16) with the Americans, “will remain with the club in a supportive role within hockey operations.” . . . BTW, I asked American’s general manager Bob Tory, who is one of four co-owners, a while back if Stu Barnes would be back as head coach. The one-word response was: “Absolutely.” . . . Barnes, who also owns a piece of the Americans, now is preparing for his second season as the club’s head coach. . . .
The BCHL’s Surrey Eagles have added Matt Dawson as an assistant coach. A former Eagles defenceman, he played five seasons (2015-20) at the U of New Hampshire. In 2022-23, he was an assistant coach with the junior B Delta Ice Hawks of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. . . .
The junior B Westshore Wolves of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League have signed general manager and head coach Derek Sweet-Coulter to a three-year contract extension. He is preparing for his second season with the club. . . .
The junior B Revelstoke Grizzlies, the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s defending champions, have promoted Jiri Novak to assistant general manager and associate head coach. He is going into is fourth season on the coaching staff. . . .
Alex Mandolidis has signed on as the general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. He is coming off three seasons as an assistant coach with the Calgary-based Mount Royal U Cougars men’s hockey team. Before that, he was an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Calgary Mustangs for one season. . . . With the Blues, he takes over from Taras McEwen, who now is the director of hockey operations. . . . The Blues are owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment, which also owns, among other things, the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice and the MJHL’s Winnipeg Freeze.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here: