Gaglardi ‘suspects’ Lajoie will be back. . . . Habscheid, Love in war of the words. . . . Ice, assistant coach go separate ways


MacBeth

F Aaron Gagnon (Seattle, 2001-07) has signed a one-year contract extension with Langnau (Switzerland, NL). This season, he had 14 goals and 14 assists in 39 games.


ThisThat

It seems that a lot of folks who follow the WHL are wondering about the coaching situation with the Kamloops Blazers. Specifically, they want to know if Serge Lajoie will be back for a second season as the head coach.

You will be aware that the Blazers went 28-32-8 this season, then beat the Kelowna Kamloops1Rockets in a tiebreaker to get into the playoffs, where they were beaten in six games by the Victoria Royals in a spirited first-round series.

Let’s break down the Blazers’ season a little bit.

Darryl Sydor, one of the franchise’s five owners, was named a full-time assistant coach on Feb. 12. A former Blazers defenceman who went on to play and coach in the NHL, Sydor is a two-time Stanley Cup winner and also won a Memorial Cup.

When the Blazers made that announcement, they were 20-27-5. With Sydor officially on board, they finished the regular-season 8-5-3, won that tiebreaker, then went 2-4 in the playoffs.

So, all told, they were 11-9-3 after the Sydor announcement.

Which brings us to an interview that Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week did with Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner. Here are three questions and answers:

Hastings: Will Serge be the head coach to start next season?

Gaglardi: I suspect so. He’s got a long-term contract and we haven’t had any conversation about anything other than that. We’re very happy with where we are. We had a great finish to the year and we’re excited about next season, but this week is just a week to lick our wounds. This is a series (vs. Victoria) we truly thought we could win.

Hastings: What do you think assistant coach Darryl Sydor brought to the team?

Gaglardi: Darryl really understands what it takes to win and what a successful bench feels like. He’s been a long-time player and had success at the junior level, had success at the NHL level, won a couple of Stanley Cups. He knows what benches need. I think he was really instrumental in figuring out what his role could be to help. Sometimes you’ve got a coach that’s a hard coach and the kids need to be brought up and built back, and Darryl really understands the ying and yang, the methods, and figured out a role that he could help in. He really worked hard to make sure the kids believed they could actually get the job done. He perhaps brought something to the staff that was missing. Darryl is a tremendous guy and I was thrilled when he agreed to join full-time and come on board and he made a difference.

Hastings: Does Darryl have what it takes to be a head coach here or somewhere else?

Gaglardi: I’ve got to think so, if that’s what he wants to do. He’s come home and I think he’d like to be involved in some way. We’ve had lots of talks around this for a long time. What this blossoms into, I’m not sure. He’s a tremendous guy and we’d love to have him involved. He’s got kids playing competitive hockey. I’m not sure where he’s going to be, in terms of level of commitment next year, whether he’s ready to step in and take on some sort of full-time role again with the club. I’m not sure. He did make a big difference to us down the stretch.

That complete interview is right here.

I don’t have any idea what the future holds here. I do know that in the 12 seasons under the ownership of Gaglardi, Sydor, Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla and Mark Recchi, the Blazers have gotten out of the first round twice, been a first-round casualty six times, and have missed the playoffs on four occasions.

Lajoie is the 10th head coach or interim head coach, including Guy Charron on two occasions, this franchise has employed over those 12 seasons.


It’s ‘Game On’ in the Eastern Conference seminal between the Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades.

The series resumes tonight in Saskatoon, with the Raiders holding a 2-0 lead. Game 3 will be televised by Sportsnet.

Other than the quotes in the above tweets, Ryan Flaherty of Global TV in Saskatoon also Saskatoontweeted this quote from Blades head coach Mitch Love:

“There was four head-whipping incidents (Sunday) night, three of which led to penalties on our side, by their players. So is that embellishment? I don’t know. Is it? I hope they’re getting their necks fixed over there today.”

You’ll recall that prior to the series Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, offered up PrinceAlbertthese thoughts to Darren Zary of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix:

“They embellish. That’s what they do. They led the league in drawing minors. It’s known around (the league) that they do that. Hopefully, that stops because it’s not a good thing. You look at a guy like Kirby Dach. He’s a good player. I met the young man at the Prospects game. A great kid, awesome kid and really great player. He doesn’t need to embellish. He’s better than that. He’s a good enough player. He doesn’t need to that.”

As Zary reports in a story posted on Monday evening, Love went so far as to suggest that the WHL office needs to be paying more attention to player safety.

“I really chose not to say too much about it up until this point,” Zary quotes Love as having said, “but after watching two games in which I felt there were several incidents — especially (Sunday night’s) hockey game where there was a lot of contact towards players’ heads — I know our league stresses player safety, so I think the real story here is how people have turned a blind eye to that kind of thing, based on comments that were made previously, prior to the start of the series.”

Zary’s story is right here.

And, in case you missed it, here’s some video of Habscheid off the Sportsnet telecast early in Game 2 on Saturday night. . . .


The Winnipeg Ice revealed via Twitter on Monday that the organization and assistant coach Gord Burnett “have agreed to part ways.” Burnett, a native of Regina, just completed his fourth season on the Ice’s coaching staff. . . . According to the Ice’s website, its coaching staff now comprises head coach James Patrick and associate coach Jon Klemm. . . . Patrick, from Winnipeg, and Klemm, who is from Cranbrook, have been with the Ice through two seasons.


F Kyle Olson of the Tri-City Americans has joined the San Diego Gulls, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, on an ATO. From Calgary, Olson was selected by the Ducks in the fourth round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. He hasn’t signed an NHL contract. . . . This season, Olson, who turned 20 on March 22, had 21 goals and 49 assists in 62 games with the Americans.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have signed D Matt Smith to a WHL contract. An Edmonton native, Smith was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . He played this season with the midget AAA Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., Rangers, recording two goals and 10 assists in 41 regular-season and playoff games.


Rick Westhead of TSN filed another story regarding the minimum-wage lawsuit on Monday, and this one really involves the WHL.

“A fight is unfolding in the Western Hockey League minimum-wage class-action lawsuit over the privacy of current and former players who pursue a claim against the league for minimum wage, back pay and overtime,” Westhead writes.

“A year and a half after an Alberta judge certified a minimum-wage lawsuit against the WHL, lawyers for the plaintiffs and the league are now battling over how to notify those players about their right to proceed with a case or, if they choose, withdraw from the litigation.

“The two sides will appear at a hearing in Calgary on Monday to make arguments about the notice the players will be given regarding the lawsuit.”

The complete story is right here.

Westhead also mentioned that “the CHL and its three leagues have been battling minimum-wage lawsuits for the past five years.”

It is hard to fathom that it already has been that long. Wouldn’t you like to know how much money the WHL has spent on legal fees over that time?


F Joachim Blichfeld of the Portland Winterhawks will play for Denmark’s national men’s team in a pair of exhibition games against visiting Finland this week. The games are scheduled for Thursday in Aalborg and Saturday in Vojens. . . . The Danish team, under head coach Heinz Ehlers, dropped eight players from its training camp after weekend workouts. . . . Blichfeld, who won the WHL scoring championship with 114 points in 68 games this season, is hoping to earn a spot on the national men’s A team that will play in the IIHF World Championship in the Slovakian cities of Bratislava and Košice, from May 10 through May 26.


Kevin Kaminski is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice larongeWolves. Kaminski, who is from Churchbridge, Sask., signed a three-year contract. . . . Kaminski, 50, spent three seasons (1986-89) with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades before going on to a pro career that included 139 games in the NHL. . . . For the past three seasons, he has been the head coach of the Western States Hockey League’s Fresno Monsters. . . . The Ice Wolves also announced that Gaelan Patterson, another former Blades skater, will be turning, but as associate GM and associate coach. Patterson finished the season as the team’s interim head coach after the firing of Evan Vossen. . . . The team also said that Travis Hegland will be returning as athletic therapist and trainer.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: D Jake Kustra of the Victoria Royals has been suspended for two games after taking a cross-checking major and game misconduct for a hit on F Jared Dmytriw of the DisciplineVancouver Giants at 2:54 of the second period on Saturday. That was in Game 2 of the series. The Giants won, 2-1 in OT, and hold a 2-0 leading going into Game 3 tonight in Victoria. . . .

Meanwhile, the Giants have been fined $750 for, according to the WHL website, “actions of player at end of game” on Saturday night. There was a bit of a brouhaha after Vancouver F Tristen Nielsen scored the game-winner at 3:29 of OT. G Griffen Outhouse of Victoria came out of it with a roughing minor, while Giants D Alex Kannok Leipert was hit with a roughing minor and a game misconduct. I would think it’s safe to assume that he is the “player” in question. . . .

In these playoffs, the WHL’s Dept. of Discipline now has issued 13 suspensions totalling 30 games, and handed out six fines worth a total of $4,250. . . . In all of last season’s playoffs, there were six players suspended for a total of 12 games, and two fines meted out worth $1,250. . . .

——

After a quiet Monday night, there are three second-round games on the schedule tonight. . . .

As mentioned, the Vancouver Giants hold a 2-0 lead as they play Game 3 against the Royals in Victoria. The Royals obviously will be without D Jake Kustra, while F Kody McDonald serves the fifth of a six-game suspension. . . . Victoria D Ralph Jarratt left late in Game 3 with an apparent injury to his left shoulder or arm and didn’t return. . . . The Giants are expected to again be without F Aidan Barfoot, who was injured in the first round. . . .

——

In Calgary, the Edmonton Oil Kings, with a 2-0 lead, will meet the Hitmen as the Battle of Alberta resumes. . . . Here’s a note from Derek Van Diest of the Edmonton Sun involving the first two games:

“Two games and two won face-offs have ended up the back of the Hitmen net so far in the series.

“The Oil Kings won 3-2 in overtime Saturday after (Mark) Kastelic won a clean draw in his own zone and pulled it back through the legs of an unsuspecting (goaltender Jack) McNaughton and off the goal post. Jake Neighbours was then first to the rebound and knocked it into the net for the game-winner.

“On Sunday, Carson Focht pulled one back from the same face-off circle past McNaughton and into the net to give the Oil Kings a 2-1 lead in the second period.”

As Calgary head coach Steve Hamilton told Van Diest: “It’s not everyday you win two faceoffs and shoot two pucks into your own net in two games. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that. That was a bid odd, but it was probably par for the course, too.”

——

The Prince Albert Raiders, with a 2-0 lead, venture into Saskatoon to meet the Blades in a game that will be televised by Sportsnet, which also showed the first two games of the series. . . . With the two head coaches firmly involved in a war of the words, it will be interesting to see the attendance in the SaskTel Centre tonight.

——

The other second-round series, between the Everett Silvertips and Spokane Chiefs, is to resume on Wednesday. The Chiefs went into Everett and won twice, so they take a 2-0 lead on to home ice. The next three games, if necessary, are scheduled for Spokane because the Cirque du Soleil is in the Angels of the Wind Arena in Everett through Sunday.


Tweetoftheday

Advertisements

Farewell, Cranbrook. It’s been great. . . . Ice wins its final game before move to Winnipeg. . . . Late assist gives Blichfeld scoring title

ThisThat

The WHL’s 21-year history in Cranbrook, B.C., ended on Sunday as the Kootenay Ice skated to a 5-4 victory over the Red Deer Rebels.

If you’re late to this situation, the Ice is relocating to Winnipeg and will spend at least the wpgicenext two seasons playing out of the 1,400-seat Wayne Fleming Arena on the campus of the U of Manitoba while it awaits construction of a new facility. . . .

The Ice, which ended a six-game losing skid with Sunday’s victory, finished 13-45-10. Kootenay has missed the playoffs for a fourth straight season. . . .

Before the game, a fan emailed this: “At 4 pm the ticket lineup for the final game is the full length of the building.” . . . The announced attendance at the last WHL game in 4-264-seat Western Financial Place was 2,684.

——

“The fans continued to turn out to support the PLAYERS who were caught in a terrible situation through no fault of their own,” John Hudak, the marketing director of the now-defunct Green Bay Committee, told Taking Note via email. “Make no mistake, there were very few fans that were supporting this ownership and to the credit of the fans they turned out to support the players and the good name of the City of Cranbrook and its hockey history.  It could have been ugly but the people of Cranbrook took the high road.”

The Green Bay Committee was formed early in the season to help owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell sell tickets and sponsorships. After selling what it said was $50,000 worth, the committee disbanded in mid-November because of what it said was a lack of co-operation and support from the owners.

Prior to that point, there had been ample speculation that the owners, who are from Winnipeg, planned to move the franchise to the Manitoba capital. When the Green Bay Committee went public about the lack of support it had received, the pieces started to fall into place.

“The vibe in the arena today was a testament to the people of Cranbrook,” continued Hudak, who is running for a spot on city council in a May 11 by-election. “They were respectful of the ownership. They got behind the players and the players reciprocated by not rolling over.”

——

Clock.jpg

The game ended with the clock showing 27.7 seconds still to play. But that was only because the timekeeper inadvertently hit the wrong button, something that caused the clock to count up rather than down.

“It was almost as if he didn’t want to see the game end,” Hudak noted. “In all seriousness, he has run the clock for more than 20 years . . . he won’t live this one down for the rest of his days!”

——

This isn’t the first time in recent history that a WHL team has relocated. After the 2010-11 season, the Chilliwack Bruins, who had been sold, left the Lower Mainland city after five seasons and opened up shop in Victoria as the Royals. . . .

——

Ice F Peyton Krebs, a sure-fire first-round selection in June’s NHL draft, didn’t finish the first period. He was ejected at 11:57 with a boarding major and game misconduct for a hit on F Jacob Herauf, who later returned to the game. Should Krebs be suspended, he will serve his suspension to open the 2019-20 regular season . . . unless he cracks the roster of the NHL team that selects him, that is.


SOME NUMBERS:

F Joachim Blichfeld of the Portland Winterhawks earned an assist with 1.1 seconds left in whlthe third period of a 6-5 loss to the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds on Sunday, and that was enough to give him the WHL scoring title. . . . He finished with 114 points, one more than F Tristin Langan of the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Blichfeld had 53 goals and 61 assists in 68 games; Langan was at 53 and 60 in 67 games. . . . Had they ended up tied, they would have shared the title. . . . In 1987-88, Theo Fleury of the Warriors and Joe Sakic of the Swift Current Broncos tied at the top, each with 160 points. Sakic was named the scoring champion on the basis of more goals, 78-68. . . .

Blichfeld and Langan led the league in goals, with six more than F Mark Kastelic of the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Moose Jaw F Justin Almeida was tops in assists (78), well ahead of F Trey Fix-Wolansky of the Edmonton Oil Kings and F Nick Henry of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who tied at 65. . . . Kastelic had a WHL-leading 24 PP goals. . . . Moose Jaw D Jett Woo was No. 1 in PP assists, with 33. . . . Lethbridge F Jake Elmer led in shorthanded goals, with seven. . . . Edmonton F Vince Loschiavo and two Warriors — F Brayden Tracey and Langan — tied for the lead in game-winning goals, each with 11. . . .

Tracey was the WHL’s top-scoring freshman, leading in goals (36), assists (45) and points (81). . . .

Among goaltenders, Dustin Wolf of the Everett Silvertips was tops in GAA (1.69), save percentage (.936) and victories (41). . . . Ian Scott of the Prince Albert Raiders was second in all three categories — 1.83, .932 and 38. . . . Scott was No. 1 in shutouts (8), one more than Wolf. . . .

Josh Brook of the Warriors and Dawson Davidson of the Saskatoon Blades led all defenceman in points, each with 75, four more than Bowen Byram of the Vancouver Giants. . . . Byram led in goals (26), while Davison and Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs were tops in assists (62).


The U of New Brunswick Varsity Reds won the Canadian university (U Sports) UNBchampionship on Sunday, beating the Alberta Golden Bears, 4-2, in Lethbridge. . . . The Golden Bears went into the tournament as the top-ranked of the eight teams; UNB was ranked No. 2. . . . In the final, UNB got goals from Samuel Dove-McFalls, Oliver Cooper, Kris Bennett and Mark Rassell, the latter a former Medicine Hat Tigers sniper. . . . Steve Owre and Brandon Magee, both ex-WHLers, replied for the Golden Bears. Owre also played in Medicine Hat; Magee played for the Chilliwack Bruins/Victoria Royas. . . . G Alex Dubeau stopped 32 shots for the winners. . . . Alberta got 27 saves from Zach Sawchenko, who played in the WHL with the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Golden Bears lost F Luke Philp, the Canadian university player of the year, to an undisclosed injury in the first period. . . . UNB now has won eight national titles. . . . Each of the past seven titles has been won by UNB (2017, 2016 and 2013) or Alberta (2018, 2015 and 2014).


SUNDAY  HIGHLIGHTS:

F Vince Loschiavo scored twice to lead the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 3-1 victory over the EdmontonOilKingsHitmen in Calgary. . . . Edmonton (42-18-8) closed out the regular-season on an 11-game winning streak that tied a franchise record. It had been done on three previous occasions, most recently in 2013-14. . . . Calgary (36-26-6) has lost four in a row. . . . The Oil Kings finished atop the Central Division and will open the playoffs against the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . The third-place Hitmen will meet the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who wound up second, in the first round. . . . Edmonton won the season series, 7-0-1; Calgary was 1-6-1. . . . F Riley Fiddler-Schultz (4) gave Calgary a 1-0 lead at 10:07 of the first period. . . . Loschiavo tied it at 7:14 of the second period, then gave his guys the lead at 10:47 with his 37th goal of the season, on a PP. That also turned into his 11th game-winner this season, a franchise record. . . . Edmonton F Jake Neighbours (11) wrapped up the scoring with an empty-netter, at 19:35 of the third period. . . . G Todd Scott stopped 25 shots for Edmonton. . . . Calgary got 33 saves from G Carl Stankowski.


F Michael Milne broke a 4-4 tie in the third period as the Kootenay Ice closed out its Everetthistory in Cranbrook, B.C., with a 5-4 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . The Ice (13-45-10), which is relocating to Winnipeg, snapped a six-game losing streak. Kootenay has missed the playoffs for a fourth straight season. . . . Red Deer (33-29-6) has lost four in a row. The Rebels, who finished in the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, will meet the Prince Albert Raiders, the WHL’s top regular-season team, in the first round. . . . F Jaeger White (28) put the Ice in front 1-0 at 6:48 of the first period. . . . The Rebels responded with three straight goals — from F Cam Hausinger, on a PP, at 12:20; F Brett Davis (20), on a PP, at 14:46; and Hausinger (21), on yet another PP, at 0:19 of the second period. . . . The Rebels acquired Hausinger and Davis, who also had two assists, from the Ice earlier this season. . . . The Ice came back with the next three goals, in the span of 1:45 early in the second. . . . F Nolan Orzeck (4) got it started at 3:01. F Holden Kodak (3) tied the score at 3:56. F Connor McClennon (14) gave the Ice a 4-3 lead at 4:46. . . . The Rebels tied it at 17:40 when F Jordan Borysiuk, an AP, scored his first goal. He was playing in his seventh WHL game, but his first this season. . . . Milne, a 16-year-old freshman from Abbotsford, B.C., broke the tie with his third goal at 14:16 of the third period. . . . Red Deer was 3-4 on the PP; Kootenay was 0-3. . . . G Curtis Meger earned the victory with 25 saves, one fewer than Red Deer’s Byron Fancy. . . . The Ice lost F Peyton Krebs to a boarding major and game misconduct at 11:57 of the first period. . . . The Rebels scratched G Ethan Anders, D Dawson Barteaux, F Jeff de Wit, F Reese Johnson, F Josh Tarzwell and F Brandon Hagel. . . . They also dressed four APs — G Eric Ward, F Jordan Borysiuk, F Ethan Rowland and F Jace Isley. . . . F Austin Schellenberg, who suffered an undisclosed injury on Friday, was among the Ice’s scratches.


The Seattle Thunderbirds erased a 4-3 deficit with three straight goals and beat the SeattleWinterhawks, 6-5, in Portland to bring down the curtain on the WHL’s 2018-19 regular season. . . . Seattle (31-29-8) has won three in a row. As the Western Conference’s second wild-card entry, it will go up against the conference-champion Vancouver Giants in the first round of the playoffs. . . . Portland (40-22-6) has lost two in a row. It finished third in the U.S. Division, one point behind the Spokane Chiefs, who won 10 of their final 12 games. Those two teams will meet in the first round with Spokane having home-ice advantage. . . . Portland went 8-4-0 in the season series; Seattle was 4-6-2. . . . Last night, Portland took an early 2-0 lead on goals from F Reece Newkirk (23), on a PP, at 1:47, and F Jake Gricius (27), at 5:35. . . . Seattle scored the next three goals. . . . F Jared Davidson (2) scored at 19:32, with F Kai Uchacz getting his first WHL goal at 13:03. D Simon Kubicek (9) gave Seattle a 3-2 lead, on a PP, at 15:14. . . . Uchacz, 15, was the 10th-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . The Winterhawks tied it 42 seconds later as D Clay Hanus (8) scored. . . . Again, Seattle scored three in a row, this time to take a 6-4 lead. . . . F Brecon Wood (4) tied it at 4:27 of the second. . . . F Sean Richards (16) gave the Thunderbirds a 5-4 lead, on a PP, at 4:30 of the third, and D Jarret Tyszka (8) made it 6-4 at 8:00. . . . D Jared Freadrich (15) of Portland got the game’s final goal, on a PP, with 1.1 seconds left in the third period. . . . Portland F Joachim Blichfeld drew an assist on Freadrich’s goal for his only point of the game. That gave him 114 points on the season, enough to win the WHL scoring title by one point over F Tristin Langan of the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . F Andrej Kukuca had three assists for Seattle. . . . Freadrich added two assists to his goal, for his fifth career three-point outing. . . . Seattle got 40 saves from G Cole Schwebius, while Portland’s Joel Hofer stopped 27 shots. . . . The Winterhawks scratched F Cody Glass (knee) for an eighth straight game. They say the plan is for him to be back in time for Friday’s playoff opener, but, hey, it’s that time of year when you can’t believe anything you might hear about injuries. . . . F Matthew Wedman, F Noah Philp and F Nolan Volcan, Seattle’s top three scorers, all were scratched.


Tweetoftheday

Broncos, Pats: Was it worth it? . . . Oil Kings back on top of Central. . . . Blazers close to within two points of Rockets. . . . Giants move ahead of Silvertips

ThisThat

The Regina Pats and Swift Current Broncos both participated in the 2018 Memorial Cup MemCuptournament. You will recall that Regina was the host team and Swift Current was in as the WHL champion. . . . The price they paid in order to build those teams was steep, though, and those teams now have two of the three poorest records in the WHL. . . . Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has written an interesting story about whether the price was worth it. That story is right here.


After saying that it didn’t want to pay the full tab on new boards and glass for the CN Centre, Prince George city council has changed its mind. The bill for the changes, which have been mandated by the WHL, will be $578,000. In February, it was suggested that the Cougars would be the only group to benefit so should pay for half of the package. Kyle Sampson, a city councillor, said Monday that he has learned that other groups will benefit, too, so the city should pay the whole shot. . . . There is more right here.


Nathan Dempsey, a defenceman in his playing days, spent three seasons (1991-94) with the WHL’s Regina Pats before going on to a pro career that included 260 games in the NHL. It was while in the NHL that tremors in his left hand led him to discover that he has Parkinson’s disease. . . . Dempsey, now 44, works out of the Vimy Ridge Sports Academy in Edmonton these days and, yes, he still is on the ice. . . . Stephanie Tobin of CBC News has more on Dempsey’s story right here.


I have a friend who has a problem. I met Vic Morin a few months ago through the Kamloops Kidney Support Group of which my wife, Dorothy, is a co-founder. Vic has chronic kidney disease and, as I wrote about here a while ago, there isn’t a cure. Medication doesn’t make it go away; neither does dialysis. . . . So there’s no way around the fact that Vic needs a kidney via transplant. . . . If you would like to help, if you even think you might consider it, call 1-877-922-9822 or email donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca. . . . That will get you in touch with the donor nurse co-ordinator at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. . . . In the meantime, Todd Sullivan of Kamloops This Week has more on Vic Morin’s story right here.

Meanwhile, Sullivan also filed a sidebar about having a daughter who was born with one kidney. It is definitely worth reading, and it’s right here.


TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Edmonton Oil Kings scored a pair of third-period goals to beat the Rebels, 3-2, in Red EdmontonOilKingsDeer. . . . Edmonton (40-18-8) has won nine straight games. It is back atop the Central Division, two points ahead of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Each team has two games remaining. . . . Red Deer (33-26-6) had won its previous two games. It remains tied with the Medicine Hat Tigers for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots, each with three games remaining. They are four points ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings, who also have three games left. . . . Red Deer is to play in Medicine Hat tonight. . . . Edmonton won the season series, 6-1-1; Red Deer was 2-6-0. . . . The Oil Kings won the last four games in the series. . . . F Trey Fix-Wolansky (37) gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead at 12:00 of the first period. . . . D Dawson Barteaux (7) tied it, on a PP, at 16:15. . . . The Oil Kings went ahead 3-1 on third-period goals from F Vladimir Alistrov (12), at 4:12, and F Vince Loschiavo (34), on a PP, at 7:28. . . . F Jeff de Wit (26) got the Rebels to within a goal, on a PP, at 12:27. . . . Red Deer F Brandon Hagel picked up a first-period assist, giving him 275 regular-season points and tying him for second in franchise history with F Justin Mapletoft (1996-2001), who played 281 games. The record is held by F Aaron Asham, who put up 292 points in 266 games (1994-98). . . . Red Deer was 2-6 on the PP; Edmonton was 1-2. . . . Edmonton had a 37-21 edge in shots, including 17-3 in the second period. . . . G Dylan Myskiw stopped 19 shots for Edmonton. . . . Red Deer got 34 stops from G Ethan Anders. . . . The Rebels remain without D Alex Alexeyev, who suffered a knee injury on March 8. According to NBC Sports Washington, Alexeyev is out week-to-week. He now has missed two games. . . . Red Deer F Alex Morozov served the first of a two-game suspension. . . . Prior to the game, the Rebels added F Ethan Rowland, 16, to their roster. The 22nd-overall selection in the 2017 bantam draft, he had five goals and 10 assists in 42 games with the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks this season.


F Orrin Centazzo scored two goals and added an assist to lead the host Kamloops Blazers Kamloops1to a 5-1 victory over the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Kamloops (26-32-7) has won three in a row. Kamloops is fourth in the B.C. Division, two points behind the Kelowna Rockets. Each team has three games remaining. Kamloops is to entertain the Victoria Royals tonight, while the Rockets are at home to the Chiefs. . . . Spokane (37-21-7) had won its previous two games. It is third in the U.S. Division, five points behind the Portland Winterhawks. Spokane has three games remaining. . . . Kamloops and Spokane split the season series, 2-2-0. . . . The Blazers opened a 3-0 lead with goals from Centazzo, at 15:20 of the first period; F Connor Zary, on a PP, at 16:46; and F Ryley Appelt (3), at 4:40 of the second period. At that point, the Blazers had outshot the Chiefs, 27-7. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (18) got Spokane’s goal, on a PP, at 10:16. . . . Anderson-Dolan ran his goal streak to eight straight games, the second-longest in the WHL this season. F Jake Elmer of the Lethbridge Hurricanes had a 13-game run end earlier this month. . . . Centazzo (19) got that one back at 19:52. . . . Zary concluded the scoring with his 21st goal, at 18:15 of the third period. . . . Kamloops had a season-high 51 shots on goal, including 20 in the first period and 18 in the second. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 27 shots in his third straight start for the Blazers. . . . Kamloops scratched G Dylan Ferguson, with an undisclosed injury, and D Joonas Sillanpää. . . . This was the third game Ferguson has missed since being injured on March 6. The Blazers still have G Rayce Ramsay with them. He was added from the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, who begin their playoffs on Friday. . . . The Chiefs got 46 saves from G Reece Klassen. . . . With the junior B Spokane Braves of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League having had their season come to an end, the Chiefs have added G Campbell Arnold to their roster. Arnold, who turned 17 on Jan. 2, is from Nanaimo, B.C. The Chiefs selected him in the second round of the 2017 bantam draft.


The Portland Winterhawks broke a 1-1 tie with three third-period goals, two into an Portlandempty net, as they dumped the visiting Everett Silvertips, 4-1. . . . Portland (40-15-4) is second in the U.S. Division, five points ahead of the Spokane Chiefs, who have three games remaining. . . . Everett (46-16-4) has lost two in a row. It will finish atop the U.S. Division, but now is two points behind the Western Conference-leading Vancouver Giants, each with two games left to play. . . . Everett won the season series with Portland, 6-4-0; Portland was 4-5-1). . . . Portland went ahead 2-0 on goals from F Reece Newkirk (22), at 4:50 of the second period, and F Jake Gricius (26), at 5:28 of the third. . . . F Bryce Kindopp (39) scored for Everett at 17:30. . . . The Winterhawks got empty-netters from D Jared Freadrich (13) and F Lane Gilliss (15). . . . Portland F Joachim Blichfeld, who leads the WHL scoring race with 112 points, had two assists. . . . G Joel Hofer record the victory with 36 saves, eight more than Everett’s Dustin Wolf. . . . The Silvertips were without F Max Patterson for a second straight game. They also scratched F Martin Fasko-Rudas, who has returned to Slovakia in order to write a mandatory exam. . . . The Winterhawks again scratched F Cody Glass, D John Ludvig and D Matt Quigley, but F Seth Jarvis was back on the ice. . . . Glass has played four games since Jan. 26 and hasn’t dressed for a game since Feb. 23.


The Vancouver Giants scored three times in the second period en route to a 5-1 victory Vancouverover the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash. . . . Vancouver (47-15-4) has won two in a row. It leads the Western Conference by two points over the Everett Silvertips. Each team has two games remaining — Vancouver will go home-and-home with the Kelowna Rockets; Everett will do the same with the Victoria Royals. . . . Seattle (28-29-8) had points in each of its previous seven games (5-0-2). It holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, five points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers, who have three games remaining. Seattle is to meet the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash., tonight. . . . Vancouver and Seattle split their season series, 2-2-0. . . . F Justin Sourdif (22) got the Giants started at 14:45 of the first period. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky made it 2-0, on a PP, at 2:29 of the second, and D Alex Kannok Leipert (4) upped it to 3-0 at 7:12. . . . Seattle got its goal from Henri Rybinski (8), at 16:33. . . . Svejkovsky (9) got that one back just 23 seconds later. . . . Vancouver D Dylan Plouffe (7) added more insurance, on a PP, at 0:43 of the third period. . . . F Davis Koch had three assists for the Giants. . . . Vancouver got a big game from G David Tendeck, who stopped 38 shots. . . . Vancouver was 2-4 on the PP; Seattle was 0-4. . . . Each team was missing a player who has returned home to Slovakia to write a mandatory exam. Seattle was without F Andrej Kukuca, while Vancouver scratched F Milos Roman. . . . Both players are expected back before the playoffs begin.


Tweetoftheday

Pearson goes home to coach. . . . Scott sets Raiders’ shutout record. . . . Rebels win, may have lost key d-man . . . . Thunderbirds near playoff spot

ThisThat

F Shane Wright of the minor midget AAA Don Mills, Ont., Flyers has been granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada so will be eligible for the OHL’s 2019 draft, which Canadanormally is for players who have completed their 15-year-old seasons.

With exceptional status, Wright, who turned 15 on Jan. 5, also will be eligible to play full-time in the OHL in 2019-20.

Wright has 150 points, including 66 goals, in 72 games with Don Mills, which plays in the Greater Toronto Hockey League. He also had six goals and six assists in six games with Ontario as it won silver at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer.

The OHL draft is scheduled for April 6. Wright is the fifth player in OHL history to have received exceptional status, after John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid and Sean Day.

Hockey Canada has yet to rule on the application by the family of F Matt Savoie, who has applied for exceptional status in order to have the option of playing in the WHL at 15.

Savoie, who turned 15 on Jan. 1, is from St. Albert, Alta. He is eligible for the WHL’s bantam draft, which is for players who have completed their 14-year-old seasons, but will be limited to five games next season unless brought in under emergency conditions.

This season, Savoie has 31 goals and 40 assists in 31 games with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team. He played for Alberta at the Canada Winter Games, putting up six goals and seven assists in 13 games.

Last season, Savoie was named the MVP in the Canadian Sport School Bantam Hockey League. This season, he was selected the midget league’s MVP.

The WHL’s 2019 bantam draft is set for May 2 in Red Deer.

The WHL will hold its draft lottery later this month, with the six non-playoff teams entered. We already know four of those teams — the Swift Current Broncos, Kootenay Ice, Regina Pats and Prince George Cougars.

In the draft lottery, a team may only move up two positions.

At the moment, the Broncos have the WHL’s poorest record, followed by the Ice and the Pats. However, Prince George holds Swift Current’s first-round selection and the Saskatoon Blades have Regina’s.

There is little doubt that Savoie, if he is granted exceptional status, will be the first pick in the bantam draft should he and his family decide they want to be part of whichever organization is making that selection.

Should Savoie be drafted and choose not to play in the WHL, he would have to return to midget next season. The granting of exceptional status applies only to major junior hockey and doesn’t allow a player to join a junior A team.

His brother, Carter, 17, plays for the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders and has committed to the U of Denver Pioneers for the 2020-21 season.

The WHL has never had to deal with a player who has been given exceptional status. It has happened once in the QMJHL, with F Joe Veleno. In his fourth season in the QMJHL, he has 100 points, including 41 goals, in 55 games with the Drummondville Voltigeurs.

Veleno, now 19, has 262 points, including 173 assists, in 226 career regular-season QMJHL games. He was a first-round pick by the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL’s 2018 draft, but has yet to sign with them.

If you are wondering what Wright had to go through, here’s Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News:

“Being granted ‘exceptional status’ isn’t easy. Submissions are due by Dec. 1, which is pretty early in the hockey season. On top of looking at a player’s on-ice skills, the governing bodies (in this case the Ontario Hockey Federation and Hockey Canada) send out questionnaires to school teachers and coaches, while the player has to write an essay. The player also meets with a psychologist for a ‘life interview,’ to determine if the kid has the maturity to move away from home and compete against much older competition at age 15. OHF executive director Phil McKee said that both Wright and his family were ‘excellent to work with’ throughout the process.”

Kennedy’s entire piece is right here.


The QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies’ 25-game winning streak ended on Friday night as they were beat by the Voltigeurs at the Centre Marcel Dionne in Drummondville. . . . The Huskies fell behind 2-0 after two periods, and cut the deficit in half at 5:05 of the third period. But they weren’t able to equalize. . . . Rouyn-Noranda tied the CHL record that was set by the QMJHL’s 1973-74 Sorel Éperviers and equalled by the 1983-84 Kitchener Rangers. The 1995-96 Hull Olympiques and the 2012-13 London Knights won 24 in a row. . . . The WHL record (22) is held by the 1967-68 Estevan Bruins.


Ken Pearson is the new general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Neepawa Natives. Pearson, who is from Neepawa, replaces Dustin Howden, who left after five seasons with the Natives — two as assistant coach, two as head coach and one as GM/head coach. . . . Pearson, 45, is a veteran junior A coach, who spent seven seasons as the GM/head coach with the Winkler Flyers. He stepped aside as head coach prior to this season, but kept the GM’s title until he and the Flyers parted company last month. . . . Pearson began his coaching career with the Natives as an assistant coach for two seasons (1994-96). . . . This season, the Natives finished out of the playoffs, at 9-43-8, the poorest record in the 11-team league.


The Sherwood Park, Alta., Kings Athletic Club has named Fran Gow head coach of the midget AAA Ennis Kings. Now has extensive AJHL coaching experience, have worked more than 1,000 games, split among the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, Grande Prairie Storm and Drayton Valley Thunder. He helped the Oil Barons to a national championship in 1999-2000. . . . Of late, Gow has been the AJHL’s vice-president of hockey operations and a coach mentor for Hockey Alberta.


FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

G Ian Scott set a single-season shutout record as the Prince Albert Raiders skated to an 8-PrinceAlbert0 victory over the visiting Swift Current Broncos. . . . Prince Albert (52-9-4) has won two in a row. It will finish atop the WHL’s regular-season standings. . . . Swift Current (10-47-6) has lost 16 in a row (0-13-3). . . . Prince Albert, with Scott in goal, beat the visiting Broncos, 6-0, on Tuesday, and they’ll play again Sunday, this time in Swift Current. . . . The Raiders are off tonight, while the Broncos will meet the Blades in Saskatoon. . . . The Raiders lead the season series, 6-0-1; the Broncos are 1-6-0. . . . Scott stopped 14 shots in posting his seventh shutout of the season, breaking the record that he was sharing with Luke Siemens (2012-13) and Rejean Beauchemin (2003-04). Scott, who has 10 career shutouts, also will set franchise single-season records for GAA and save percentage. He is 36-7-3, 1.86, .932. . . . D Brayden Pachal (15) got the Raiders started at 3:33 of the first period, and B Brett Leason, who had gone seven games without a goal, made it 2-0 with No. 34 at 4:59. . . . F Noah Gregor (39) and Leason (35) scored before the period ended for a 4-0 lead. . . . Before it was over, F Parker Kelly had scored twice, giving him 32, and F Cole Fonstad (29), who also had two assists, and F Spencer Moe (9) added one each. . . . The Raiders had a 48-14 edge in shots.


The Moose Jaw Warriors scored the game’s last three goals to beat the host Regina Pats, MooseJawWarriors3-1. . . . Moose Jaw (36-19-8) has clinched third place in the East Division and will face the second-place Saskatoon Blades in the first round of playoffs. . . . Regina (18-43-3) has lost five in a row. . . . The Warriors lead the season series with Regina, 6-1-0, with the final game in Moose Jaw tonight. . . . F Ty Kolle (14) gave Regina a 1-0 lead at 3:53 of the first period. . . . F Justin Almeida (28) tied it, on a PP, at 9:08. . . . Moose Jaw took the lead at 9:51 when F Carson Denomie (6) scored. . . . F Brayden Tracey (33) got the empty-netter at 19:41 of the third period. . . . The Warriors got 19 saves from G Brodan Salmond. . . . Regina G Max Paddock stopped 29 shots.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes scored the game’s last three goals to beat the visiting LethbridgeMedicine Hat Tigers, 5-2. . . . Lethbridge (37-18-10) has won five in a row. It is tied with the Edmonton Oil Kings atop the Central Division. . . . Medicine Hat (32-26-6) had points in its previous two games (1-0-1). It is tied with the Red Deer Rebels for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots, two points ahead of the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . With one game remaining, Lethbridge leads the season series, 6-1-2; the Tigers are 3-6-0. . . . F Jordy Bellerive (30) gave the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead at 5:46 of the first period, with the Tigers tying it at 10:39 when D Baxter Anderson (4) scored. . . . F Zachary Cox (11) put the home side ahead at 3:57 of the second period. . . . Medicine Hat tied it at 18:22 as F Brett Kemp (28) scored on a PP. . . . Lethbridge F Taylor Ross (32) broke the tie, on a PP, at 2:06 of the third period. . . . F Dylan Cozens (33) made it 4-2 at 3:16, and F Nick Henry (27) wrapped it up with an empty-netter at 19:17. . . . Henry’s goal was his 200th regular-season point. He’s got 76 goals and 124 assists in 191 games. This season, he has 90 points in 66 games. . . . Lethbridge F Jake Elmer had his goal streak halted at 13 games. . . . G Carl Tetachuk stopped 28 shots for Lethbridge, two more than Medicine Hat’s Jordan Hollett.


The Red Deer Rebels overcame a 3-0 deficit and beat the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings, Red Deer5-3. . . . Red Deer (32-25-6) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). It is tied with the Medicine Hat Tigers for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card berths, two points ahead of Brandon. . . . Brandon (31-25-8) has lost two in a row. With the Tim Hortons Brier — the Canadian men’s curling championship —  being played in Westoba Place, the Wheat Kings are on a six-game trip through the Central Division that wraps up tonight in Medicine Hat. Through the first five games, Brandon is 1-3-1. . . . The teams split the season series, 2-2-0. . . . The Wheat Kings took a 3-0 lead on goals from F Ben McCartney (20), at 3:48 of the first period; F Stelio Mattheos (42), at 1:36 of the second; and D Chad Nychuk (2), at 2:40. . . . F Brandon Hagel (39) started the Red Deer comeback at 9:03. . . . F Cameron Hausinger (18) got the Rebels to within a goal at 10:45 of the third period, and F Josh Tarzwell (9) tied it at 12:30. . . . Red Deer went out front when F Zak Smith (11) scored at 16:33. . . . F Oleg Zaytsev (13) added insurance at 19:51. . . . Red Deer D Alex Alexeyev appeared to suffer a knee injury after colliding in open ice with McCartney in the third period. Alexeyev was placed on a stretcher before being taken off the ice. “We’ll have to wait and see how he is in the next 48 hours, 72 hours. I don’t know any more than that right now,” Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com.


F Trey Fix-Wolansky scored two goals and set a franchise record in leading the EdmontonOilKingsEdmonton Oil Kings to a 5-1 victory over the Hitmen in Calgary. . . . Edmonton (38-18-8) has won seven in a row. It is tied with the Lethbridge Hurricanes atop the Central Division. Edmonton holds one game in hand. . . . Calgary (36-23-6), which has clinched a playoff spot, had points in each of its previous seven games (6-0-1). It is headed for a third-place finish in the Central Division. . . . With two games left, Edmonton is 5-0-1 in the season series; Calgary is 1-4-1. They’ll finish the regular season with a home-and-home, playing March 16 in Edmonton and the next day in Calgary. . . . Edmonton went ahead 3-0 on goals from F Quinn Benjafield (14), at 9:19 of the first period; Fix-Wolansky, at 18:30; and F Vince Loschiavo, on a PP, at 4:07 of the second. . . . F Mark Kastelic (46) scored for Calgary, on a PP, at 9:02. . . . Edmonton put it away with third-period goals from Fix Wolansky (35) and Loschiavo (33), the latter on a PP. . . . Fix-Wolansky set the franchise’s single-season assist record when he set up Loschiavo’s first goal. That was Fix-Wolansky’s 64th assist of the season, one more than D Dylan Wruck had in 2012-13. . . . Loschiavo also had an assist, to give him three points, while D Conner McDonald had three helpers. . . . G Dylan Myskiw earned the victory with 24 saves.


The Kamloops Blazers scored the only two goals of a shootout to beat the visiting Kamloops1Kelowna Rockets, 2-1. . . . Kamloops (24-32-7) had lost its previous four games (0-3-1). It is fourth in the B.C. Division, six points behind Kelowna. Kamloops, which has five games left, also is seven points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who hold the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Kelowna (27-30-7) has points in three straight (1-0-2). . . . Kamloops is 5-3-1 in the season series; Kelowna is 4-3-2. They’ll finish it tonight in Kelowna. . . . F Martin Lang (11) put the Blazers ahead at 16:13 of the second period. . . . F Nolan Foote (34) got the Rockets even, on a PP, at 4:08 of the third period. . . . F Connor Zary and F Orrin Centazzo both scored as Kamloops won the shootout, 2-0. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 26 shots for Kamloops, which had Rayce Ramsay, in from the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, backing up. Dylan Ferguson was injured in Wednesday’s 5-0 loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants and is out day-to-day. . . . The Rockets got 32 saves from G Roman Basran. . . . The Rockets were without F Mark Liwiski, who began serving a three-game suspension for a boarding major and game misconduct he incurred against the visiting Portland Winterhawks on Sunday.


F Joachim Blichfeld had a goal and two assists, all via the PP, as the Portland PortlandWinterhawks got past the Cougars, 3-2, in Prince George. . . . Portland (39-19-6) is second in the U.S. Division, five points ahead of the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Prince George (17-40-8) has lost five straight (0-4-1). . . . The Winterhawks are 3-0-0 in the season series that will be completed tonight in Prince George. . . . The Cougars led 2-0 on goals from D Cole Moberg (12), on a PP, at 13:55 of the first period, and F Matej Taman (9), at 2:29 of the second. . . . F Jake Gricius (25) pulled the visitors to within a goal at 16:38. . . . F Josh Paterson (23) tied the score at 2:36 of the third period, and Blichfeld (53) got the winner, at 14:51. . . . Blichfeld leads the WHL in goals and points (110). . . . Portland was 3-7 on the PP; Prince George was 1-5. . . . G Joel Hofer stopped 40 shots for the Winterhawks. . . . D Ryan Miley, 18, made his WHL debut with the Winterhawks. From Brookings, S.D., he played this season with the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles. . . . F Cody Glass, F Seth  Jarvis, D Matt Quigley and D John Ludvig were Portland’s scratches, all out with injuries.


F Noah Philp scored twice for Seattle as the Thunderbirds beat the Victoria Royals, 2-1, in SeattleKent, Wash. . . . Seattle (27-28-8) has points in six straight (4-0-2). It holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, seven points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Victoria (33-27-4) has lost two in a row. It will finish second in the B.C. Division. . . . Seattle won the season series, 3-1-0. . . . Philp, who has 24 goals, got the game’s first goal, on a PP, at 4:40 of the first period. . . . He made it 2-0 at 17:47 of the second. . . . F Igor Martynov (11) scored a PP goal for Victoria at 19:59 of the second. . . . Seattle G Roddy Ross blocked 19 shots, 11 more than Victoria’s Brock Gould. . . . D Scott Walford, D Matthew Smith, F Kody McDonald, D Jake Kustra and F Kaid Oliver, all veterans and all injured, were among Victoria’s scratches.


G Bailey Brkin turned aside 37 shots to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 4-1 victory over the SpokaneChiefsvisiting Vancouver Giants. . . . Spokane (36-20-7) is third in the U.S. Division, five points behind the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Vancouver (45-15-4) had points in each of its previous seven games (6-0-1). It is two points behind the Western Conference-leading Everett Silvertips with each team having four games remaining. . . . Vancouver won the season series, 3-2-0; Spokane was 2-2-1. . . . Spokane took a 3-0 first-period lead on goals from D Filip Kral (8), at 7:56; F Jake McGrew, at 11:39; and F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (16), at 19:39. The latter two came via the PP. . . . F Jadon Joseph (21) scored for Vancouver, on a PP, at 17:52 of the second period, only to have McGrew (27) get that one back at 18:56. . . . Anderson-Dolan has goals in six straight games. . . . Spokane was 2-2 on the PP; Vancouver was 1-5. . . . Brkin is 24-11-3, 2.78, .914.


Goaltenders Dustin Wolf and Max Palaga shared the shutout as the Everett Silvertips Everettbeat the Tri-City Americans, 3-0, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Everett (46-14-4) has points in eight straight (7-0-1). It leads the Western Conference standings by two points over the Vancouver Giants. . . . Tri-City (34-26-4) is likely to finish in possession of the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . Everett won the season series, 5-3-0. . . . Palaga started and stopped one shot in 4:47. Wolf came on to turn aside 25 shots in 55:13. . . . Sorry, but I don’t have any idea why Palaga left. Presumably there was an injury of some sort. . . . F Reece Vitelli (11) opened the scoring at 3:29 of the second period, with D Wyatt Wylie (11) making it 2-0 at 16:14. . . . F Connor Dewar (35) rounded out the scoring with an empty-netter at 19:07 of the third period. . . . G Beck Warm stopped 33 shots, setting a franchise record for most saves in one season in the process. In 59 appearances this season, Warm has stopped 1,860 shots. G Eric Comrie stopped 1,849 shots in 2013-14. . . . The Silvertips had F Martin Fasko-Rudas back in the lineup. He last played on Feb. 22.


Tweetoftheday

Reinhardt gets Wheaties closer to playoff spot. . . . Myskiw earns first clean sheet. . . . Blichfeld first to 50 goals, 100 points


ThisThat

D Sahvan Khaira of the Everett Silvertips didn’t play against the Cougars in Prince whlGeorge on Monday as he sat out a one-game suspension that, according to the WHL, was “as a result of actions at Seattle” on Saturday night. . . . As almost always happens in these situations, the WHL didn’t make any further comment and no one else is talking. . . . However, one person who was at the game told Taking Note that Khaira had become involved in something and that “a number of police went rushing back stage” somewhere between five and 10 minutes after the three stars had been announced. . . . The Thunderbirds won the game, beating the Silvertips, 4-1, in Kent, Wash. . . . Seattle took 66 of the game’s 130 penalty minutes, with 96 of those minutes handed out in the game’s final 13 seconds. . . . Khaira, 20, began his WHL career with the Thunderbirds, playing 77 games with them before being dealt to the Swift Current Broncos. The Silvertips acquired him from the Broncos on July 30, sending F Ethan O’Rourke and a third-round pick in the 2020 WHL bantam draft the other way.



While you’re here, feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right. Thank you, in advance.


“The Kootenai River Valley is fertile and beautiful, splitting two mountain ranges as it pushes across the Canadian border,” writes Erica Curless for the Spokane Spokesman-Review. “This is the home of James Porter Jr. It is also the ancestral home of his elders and the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho. In some ways, Porter meanders between two worlds just like the river. He was raised with one foot, or perhaps skate, across the border in Canada and one foot in Bonners Ferry. When he’s home in Boundary County, where he lives on the tiny 12.5-acre reservation with his family, he is just a regular teenager because not many in the small farm town know or care about hockey.” . . . You will find an an interesting look at the Kelowna Rockets goaltender right here. . . . Porter stopped 26 shots on Monday afternoon as the Rockets beat the Royals, 5-2, in Victoria.


MONDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Prince Albert Raiders opened up a 4-0 lead early in the second period and hung on PrinceAlbertfor a 4-3 victory over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Prince Albert (47-8-3) had lost two in a row (0-1-1). The Raiders will finish atop the East Division and the Eastern Conference. . . . Moose Jaw (31-16-8) remains third in the East Division, 12 points behind the Saskatoon Blades and with three games in hand. . . . Prince Albert is 4-1-0 in the season series; Moose Jaw is 1-3-1. . . . The Raiders got two goals and two assists from F Noah Gregor. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt (13) made it 1-0 at 10:14 of the first period, and Gregor upped it to 2-0 at 15:06. . . . F Sean Montgomery (24) made it 3-0, on a PP, at 18:00. . . . Gregor’s 35th goal got it to 4-0 at 4:08 of the second period. . . . The Warriors made it interesting with three third-period goals — one from F Tristian Langan (41), at 8:31, and two PP scores from freshman F Brayden Tracey, at 18:31 and 19:54. . . . Tracey now has 27 goals. . . . The Raiders had a 40-23 edge in shots, including 20-6 in the first period. . . . The Raiders again were without G Ian Scott and F Brett Leason, both of whom have missed five games. They also scratched D Max Martin, who was struck on the helmet by a puck on Saturday. . . . Prince Albert had F Cole Nagy in the lineup. Nagy, 17, plays for the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers, and has 25 goals and 38 assists in 39 games. He played one game with the Raiders earlier in the season.


F Cole Reinhardt scored in OT to give the Brandon Wheat Kings a 3-2 victory over the BrandonWKregularvisiting Swift Current Broncos. . . . Brandon (27-22-7) has won four in a row to close within two points of the Red Deer Rebels, who hold down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Swift Current (10-40-5) has lost eight straight (0-6-2). . . . All three games between these teams in Brandon were 2-2 after regulation time. Brandon won once in OT and once in a shootout, with the Broncos winning a shootout. . . . On Monday, the Wheat Kings held a 42-14 edge in shots, including 16-2 in the third period, but Broncos G Isaac Poulter gave his guys a chance to win it. . . . F Ian Briscoe (3) gave the Broncos a 1-0 lead at 9:55 of the first period. . . . F Jonny Hooker (3) tied it at 15:34 of the second period. . . . The Broncos went ahead 2-1 when F Owen Blocker (5) scored at 16:59. . . . Brandon forced OT on F Luka Burzan’s 34th goal, on a PP, at 7:51 of the third period. . . . Reinhardt won it with his 19th goal, at 4:01 of OT. . . . Brandon G Jiri Patera stopped 12 shots. . . . Shawn Mullin, the radio voice of the Broncos, tweeted that the Broncos lost D Matthew Stanley, Blocker and F Carter Chorney “to a stomach bug” during the game. They also lost D Alex Moar to an apparent wrist injury in the third period.


The Edmonton Oil Kings scored three times before the game was five minute old and EdmontonOilKingswent on to beat the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers, 5-0. . . . Edmonton (32-18-8) leads the Central Division, by two points over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Medicine Hat (31-22-5) has lost four in a row. It is third in the Central Division, three points behind Lethbridge and two ahead of the Calgary Hitmen. . . . The season series? Edmonton is 4-0-1; Medicine Hat is 1-2-2. . . . Edmonton G Dylan Myskiw stopped 38 shots to post his first career WHL shutout. . . . Myskiw’s shutout came in his 77th regular-season appearance, 38 of them with Edmonton. This season, he is 21-11-5, 2.74, .908. . . . Andrew Peard, the radio voice of the Oil Kings, tweeted that Myskiw now is 9-0-1, 2.14, .935 in starts against the Tigers, including playoffs. . . . F Scott Atkinson (9) gave the Oil Kings a 1-0 lead at 2:30 of the first period. . . . F Andrew Fyten (15) made it 2-0 just 21 seconds later. . . . F Vladimir Alistrov (9), who also had two assists, upped it to 3-0 at 4:14. . . . F Quinn Benjafield (12), on a PP, and F Vince Loschiavo (27) added third-period goals for Edmonton.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes erased a 2-0 deficit with five straight goals en route to a 5-2 Lethbridgevictory over the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . Lethbridge (30-17-10) is second in the Central Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Kootenay (11-37-8) has lost five straight. . . . Lethbridge won the season series, 6-0-0. . . . After this one, the Ice’s stay in Cranbrook has five games remaining, all of them in March, and then it’s off to Winnipeg. . . . F Jaeger White (23) gave the Ice a 1-0 lead at 17:28 of the first period, and F Davis Murray (9) made it 2-0 at 2:37 of the second. . . . The visitors went ahead 3-2 on second-period goals from F Dylan Cozens (28), shorthanded, at 11:07; F Jordy Bellerive (26), on a PP, at 13:01; and F Jake Elmer (29), on another PP, at 13:38. . . . Cozens hadn’t scored in his previous 10 games. He also came up short on a first-period penalty shot. . . . Elmer ran his goal-scoring streak to six games; he has nine goals in that stretch. . . . F Taylor Ross (28), on a PP, and F Nick Henry (22) added insurance at 8:07 and 17:14 of the third period, respectively. . . . Henry also had two assists. . . . Lethbridge D Caden Addison had three assists for the second time in three games. . . . The Hurricanes were 3-5 on the PP; the Ice was 0-7. . . . Kootenay G Duncan McGovern, who last played on Jan. 6 but hasn’t been listed as injured, was on the bench backing up starter Curtis Meger. G Jesse Makaj was scratched. . . . McGovern, an 18-year-old from Winnipeg, hadn’t even dressed for a game since Jan. 6. . . . Lethbridge outshot Kootenay, 48-29, including 38-19 through two periods.


G Dylan Ferguson stopped 37 shots to lead the host Kamloops Blazers to a 3-1 victory Kamloops1over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Kamloops (22-28-5) is fourth in the B.C. Division, four points behind the Kelowna Rockets. The Blazers also are three points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds, who are in possession of the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . . Tri-City (31-21-3) had won its previous three games. The Americans hold down the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, and they are fourth in the U.S. Division, one point behind the Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Blazers went ahead 1-0 as F Connor Zary scored at 10:02 of the first period. At that point, Kamloops had an 11-2 edge in shots. . . . Tri-City would outshoot the Blazers 36-18 the rest of the way but could only get one puck behind Ferguson. . . . Zary added his 18th goal — and fifth three games — at 15:38 of the first period. He’s got six goals and four assists in his past six games. . . . F Kyle Olson (20) scored for the Americans at 18:50 of the third period, with G Beck Warm on the bench for the extra attacker. . . . Kamloops iced it with an empty-netter from F Brodi Stuart (16) with 13.6 seconds remaining. . . . The Blazers remain without injured forwards Ryley Appelt and Martin Lang. . . . The Americans headed for home immediately after the game because they are scheduled to meet the Red Deer Rebels in Kennewick, Wash., tonight. The Rebels haven’t played since Saturday, so will have been in Kennewick enjoying some R and R.


G Dustin Wolf turned aside 30 shots to backstop the Everett Silvertips to a 4-1 victory Everettover the Cougars in Prince George. . . . Everett (40-14-3) has won 40 games for a third straight season. It leads the Western Conference by two points over the Vancouver Giants, and has a seven-point lead over the Portland Winterhawks atop the U.S. Division. . . . Prince George (16-34-7) has lost 16 in a row (0-12-4). . . . The Silvertips took a 2-0 lead on  second-period PP goals from F Max Patterson (14), at 5:05, and D Gianni Fairbrother (10), at 7:42. . . . F Tyson Upper (5) got the Cougars to within a goal at 17:18, but F Reece Vitelli (7) got that one back for Everett just 39 seconds later. . . . F Jalen Price (5) got Everett’s last goal at 2:08 of the third period. . . . Wolf now is 35-13-2, 1.76, .934. . . .  D Joel Lakusta was back in the Cougars’ lineup after not having played since Jan. 27. . . . F Connor Dewar (ill) was among Everett’s scratches. The Silvertips also were without D Sahvan Khaira, who served a one-game WHL suspension.


F Joachim Blichfeld, the WHL’s leading scorer, struck for three goals and added an assist Portlandto lead the Portland Winterhawks to a 5-3 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . Portland (36-16-6) had points in four straight (4-0-1). It is second in the U.S. Division, five points behind the Everett Silvertips. . . . The Winterhawks went 3-0-0 in playing three games in fewer than 48 hours. . . . Vancouver (39-14-3) had won its previous seven games. It leads the B.C. Division, and is two points shy of the Western Conference-leading Silvertips. . . . Portland was 4-0-0 in the season series; Vancouver was 0-3-1. . . . Blichfeld scored the game’s first three goals — at 12:05 and 14:54 of the first period, and 1:00 of the second. The first one came on a PP. This was his fifth career hat trick. . . . D Dallas Hines (7) got Vancouver on the scoreboard at 7:37, but Portland F Seth Jarvis (15) restored the three-goal lead, on a PP, at 2:23 of the third period. . . . F Justin Sourdif (17), who also had two assists, got the Giants back to within two goals at 3:52. . . . F Reece Newkirk (21) gave Portland a 5-2 lead at 6:09, before F Davis Koch (23) scored for Vancouver at 18:44. . . . Blichfeld, who has put up back-to-back hat tricks, leads the WHL in goals (51) and points (102). . . . Andy Kemper, the Winterhawks’ historian, notes that Blichfeld is the 24th player in  franchise history to score 50 goals in a season and just the third import player, after F Oliver Bjorkstrand, who did it twice, and F Joe Balej. . . . Kemper also points out that Blichfeld is the 35th Portland skater to reach 100 points in a season, and the second import, after Bjorkstrand who did it twice. . . . Blichfeld, who has eight points in two games, has nine more goals than F Mark Kastelic of the Calgary Hitmen, and he leads the points race by 14 over F Tristin Langan of the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Portland G Shane Farkas stopped 28 shots in improving to 5-0-0 in career games against Vancouver. . . . The Winterhawks scratched F Cody Glass, rather than have him play three games in fewer than 48 hours in his return from a knee injury. . . . The Winterhawks continue to play without D Brendan De Jong and D Matthew Quigley.


The Kelowna Rockets broke a 2-2 with three third-period goals as they beat the Rockets, KelownaRockets5-2, in Victoria. . . . Kelowna (24-28-5) had lost its previous two games. The Rockets are third in the B.C. Division, eight points behind Victoria and four in front of the Kamloops Blazers, who hold two games in hand. . . . Victoria (29-24-3) had won two in a row. . . . The same teams will play again tonight in Victoria. . . . D Lassi Thomson (16) put the Rockets out front at 9:04 of the first period. . . . F Kody McDonald (16) tied it, on a PP, at 4:20 of the second period. . . . D Schael Higson (4), playing his 300th regular-season game, gave Kelowna the lead at 15:32. He also has played with the Saskatoon Blades and Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The Royals tied it when F Kaid Oliver (25) scored at 8:33 of the third period. . . . The Rockets got the game’s last three goals, from F Kyle Topping (21), at 10:07; F Mark Liwiski (8), at 16:32; and F Conner Bruggen-Cate (5), at 17:53. . . . The Rockets lead the season series, 5-2-0, including 3-0-0 in Victoria. . . . The Royals lost D Jake Kustra to a charging major and game misconduct at 18:46 of the third period.


Tweetoftheday

Trials and tribulations of WHL scout . . . Blichfeld, Glass spark Portland win . . . Some Saturday highlights, too


ThisThat

With four weeks left in the WHL’s regular season, four teams have clinched playoff spots — the Prince Albert Raiders, Everett Silvertips, Vancouver Giants and Portland whlWinterhawks.

However, not one of the eight first-round playoff matchups has been set in stone.

The Raiders, for example, will finish atop the Eastern Conference, so will draw the second wild-card team. That slot will go to any one of seven teams.

The winner of the Central Division will get the first wild-card team, which obviously has yet to be decided. As for the division pennant winner, well, all five teams remain in the chase.

Although it’s not official, at least not mathematically, the Saskatoon Blades will have home-ice advantage in a first-round series with the Moose Jaw Warriors. The Blades are headed for a second-place finish in the East Division, with the Warriors in third.

In the Western Conference, only one team is assured of where it will finish — when it’s over, the Giants will be atop the B.C. Division.

Vancouver also is tied with Everett atop the conference standings, and the Giants hold a game in hand.

The Victoria Royals almost certainly will finish second in the B.C. Division — they are 20 points behind Vancouver and 10 points ahead of the Kelowna Rockets — but other than that it’s a roll of the dice.

Portland is second in the U.S. Division, five points behind the Silvertips and 10 ahead of the Spokane Chiefs.

The Chiefs, Tri-City Americans, Seattle Thunderbirds, Kelowna, and the Kamloops Blazers don’t yet know in which spots they will wind up.

The Prince George Cougars aren’t officially out of it, but they are 12 points from a playoff spot, riding a 15-game losing skid (0-11-4) and have only 12 games remaining.


So . . . you think you’d like to scout for a WHL team, do you?

Here’s an early Sunday evening posting on Facebook from Mike Fraser, the Everett EverettSilvertips’ head scout . . .

“The 10 things I’ve learned in my 12 hours (so far) at Saskatoon airport:

“1. Travelling in winter isn’t always made easier by flying instead of driving.

“2. When you are accommodating and agree to a 6:15 pm flight to help appease people going to Puerto Vallarta, the Flying Gods don’t necessarily have to make your 6:15 flight on time either (I’m now delayed two more hours).

“3. If your flight starts getting delayed in 5- or 10-minute increments starting 3-or-so hours before departure time, that’s a bad sign and start looking at other options.

“4. Trying to cancel a hotel room in Red Deer because you’re stuck in Saskatoon doesn’t mean the hotel in Red Deer won’t charge you.

“5. Guys need to stop texting while standing at a urinal….that’s just weird, and gross.

“6. I’ve now had 12 of my last 13 trips delayed, a dynasty not even Tom Brady can touch.

“7. Starbucks closes very early at Saskatoon airport.

“8. No matter how many times I see the Jets highlights from last night, they still lost.

“9. I’ve learned that one woman likes to tell her boyfriend when they can sleep together based on her “cycles.” No I didn’t ask, she told an entire section of us while on a very loud and apparently open phone call.

“10. I still refuse to drink Pilsner.

“Cheers my friends, here’s to hoping I get home tonight.”

Later Sunday, Fraser posted: “And we’re now cancelled . . . let’s try again tomorrow?”

To be continued . . .


If you like what you read here, why not click on the DONATE button over there on the right. Thank you, in advance.


SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

Behind three goals and an assist from F Joachim Blichfeld, the Portland Winterhawks Portlandclinched a playoff spot with a 5-2 victory over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Portland (35-16-6) has points in three straight (2-0-1). It is second in the U.S. Division, five points behind the Everett Silvertips, who have a game in hand. . . . The Winterhawks, who will be in the playoffs for a 10th straight season, have 11 games remaining, but only three of them are at home. . . . Seattle (23-28-6) had won its previous two games. It is in the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, five points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers, who have three games in hand. . . . The Thunderbirds went 2-1-0 in playing three times in fewer than 48 hours. . . . With three games remaining, Portland leads the season series (6-2-0); Seattle is (2-5-1). . . . F Josh Paterson (21) broke a 1-1 tie at 16:26 of the first period, and Blichfeld took it from there, scoring Portland’s last three goals. . . . Blichfeld, who recorded his fourth career hat trick, leads the WHL in goals (48) and points (98), in 57 games. His third goal of the game was the 100th regular-season goal. . . . F Cody Glass, playing his second game in two nights after missing eight games with a knee injury, had the primary assist on each of Blichfeld’s goals. Glass has 68 points, including 54 assists, in 36 games. . . . Blichfeld scored once on the PP, once while shorthanded and once at even strength. . . . The Winterhawks were 2-3 on the PP; the Thunderbirds were 1-2. . . . Seattle F Matthew Wedman scored his 32nd goal, on a PP, to run his goal-scoring streak to six games. . . . The Winterhawks had a 52-36 edge in shots. . . . G Josh Hofer stopped 34 shots to earn the victory. . . . Seattle G Cole Schwebius turned aside 47 shots. . . . Portland head coach Mike Johnston posted his 350th regular-season coaching victory. He is 19th on the WHL’s all-time list. . . . The Winterhawks will play their third game in fewer than 48 hours this afternoon when they meet the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C.


SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Luka Burzan had a goal and four assists, and F Stelio Mattheos had three goals and an assist, as the host Brandon Wheat Kings beat the Prince Albert Raiders, 6-3. . . . Brandon (26-22-7) has won three in a row and now is four points from the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot that is held by the Red Deer Rebels. . . . That second spot will mean a first-round clash with Prince Albert (46-8-3), which had points in each of its previous six games (5-0-1). The Raiders have lost two in a row for the first time this season. . . . On Friday, the Wheat Kings went into Prince Albert and won, 5-4 in OT. . . . G Ian Scott and F Brett Leason remain out of the Raiders’ lineup. . . . Brandon was 3-9 on the PP; Prince Albert was 1-4. . . . Brandon got a goal and two assists from F Cole Reinhardt, while F Justin Nachbaur scored twice for the Raiders.


F Tate Popple scored twice, and F Brayden Tracey had a goal and two assists, helping the Moose Jaw Warriors to a 6-3 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Moose Jaw (31-15-8) had lost its previous two games. The Warriors are second in the East Division and headed for a first-round meeting with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Regina (16-38-3) hasn’t lost 40 games in regulation-time since 2004-05 when it finished 12-50-10. . . . Regina F Austin Pratt was credited with his 22nd goal when the Warriors scored an own goal with a delayed penalty about to be called on the Pats. . . . Tracey, a 17-year-old freshman from Calgary, was the 21st-overall selection in the 2016 bantam draft. He has 62 points, including 25 goals, in 54 games. . . . The Warriors were credited with a 47-19 edge in faceoffs. . . . It was Hall of Fame weekend in Moose Jaw as F Shawn Limpright and F Brian Sutherby, both of whom played four seasons (1998-2002) there, were inducted into the Warriors’ shrine.


The Saskatoon Blades solidified their hold on second place in the East Division with a 5-2 victory over the Hurricanes in Lethbridge. . . . Saskatoon (37-13-8) has points in 13 straight games (11-0-2). It is second in the division, 13 points behind the Prince Albert Raiders and 12 up on the Moose Jaw Warriors, who hold four games in hand. . . . Saskatoon and Moose Jaw are headed for a first-round playoff meeting. They will meet twice more this regular season — on March 5 in Moose Jaw and March 10 in Saskatoon. The Blades lead the season series, 3-1-0. . . . Lethbridge (29-16-10) had won its previous two games. The Hurricanes are second in the Central Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings and one ahead of the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Four of Lethbridge’s last four games will be against Medicine Hat, starting with a home-and-home on Friday (Lethbridge) and Saturday (Medicine Hat).


F Mark Kastelic scored three goals to help the Calgary Hitmen to a 5-3 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat. . . . Calgary (30-21-5) has won two in a row. . . . The Hitmen beat the visiting Tigers, 3-1, on Friday night. . . . Calgary is fourth in the Central Division, two points behind Medicine Hat and three behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes. The Hitmen continued to hold down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, two points ahead of the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Medicine Hat (31-21-5) has lost three straight. . . . On Saturday, the Hitmen erased a 3-2 third-period deficit with the game’s last three goals. Kastelic had opened the game’s scoring with his 40th goal of the season in the first period. He added a pair of third-period PP goals, equalizing at 9:06 and adding insurance at 16:18. . . . In between, D Vladilsav Yeryomenko’s third goal, at 12:02, turned into the winner.


G David Tendeck stopped 22 shots to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 2-0 victory over the Rockets in Kelowna. . . . Vancouver (39-13-3) has won seven in a row. It leads the B.C. Division by 20 points over the Victoria Royals, who have 13 games remaining. . . . The Giants haven’t enjoyed a 40-victory regular season since 2011-12 when they finished 40-26-6. . . . Vancouver also is tied with the Everett Silvertips (39-14-3) for top spot in the Western Conference. . . . Kelowna (23-28-5) has lost two in a row. The Rockets are third in the B.C. Division, 10 points behind Victoria and four ahead of the Kelowna Blazers, who hold two games in hand. . . . The Rockets left Sunday on their final multi-game road trip of the season; they’ll play a doubleheader in Victoria this afternoon and Tuesday night, then meet the Chiefs in Spokane on Friday night. . . . The Rockets have three games left with Vancouver, two of them in Langley, B.C., and two with the Portland Winterhawks, both in Kelowna. . . . Tendeck has three shutouts this season, matching his total from last season.


G Joel Hofer turned aside 25 shots as his Portland Winterhawks blanked the visiting Red Deer Rebels, 2-0. . . . Portland (34-16-6) had lost its previous two games (0-1-1). After beating the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds, 4-2, on Sunday, the Winterhawks, who are second in the U.S. Division, are five points behind the Everett Silvertips. Portland and Everett only have one game remaining with each other. . . . Red Deer (29-21-5) has lost two in a row. It holds down the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, two points behind the Calgary Hitmen. . . . The Rebels are 1-2-1 on a U.S. Division swing that ends Tuesday night with a visit to the Tri-City Americans. . . . Portland D Jared Freadrich (10) scored the game’s first goal, just 41 seconds into the third period. . . . Portland’s second goal was an empty-netter off the stick of F Cody Glass (14). Glass was playing in his first game after suffering a knee injury on Jan. 26. He missed eight games. . . . Hofer has four career shutouts, two with the Swift Current Broncos and two since his trade to Portland.


F Kody McDonald scored two goals in regulation time and one in a shootout as the Victoria Royals beat the Cougars, 5-4, in Prince George. . . . One night earlier, the Royals won, 4-1, in Prince George. . . . Victoria (29-23-3) has won two in a row. It is second in the B.C. Division, 20 points behind the Vancouver Giants and 10 in front of the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Prince George (16-33-7) has lost 15 in a row (0-11-4). The Cougars are 12 points from a playoff spot with 12 games remaining. They are fifth in the B.C. Division, 12 points behind the Kelowna Rockets. Prince George also is 13 points from a wild-cardspot. . . . McDonald, 20, played the first 232 games of his WHL career with the Cougars, who dealt him to the Prince Albert Raiders. The Royals acquired him from the Raiders earlier this season. . . . McDonald, who has 15 goals, gave the Royals a 3-2 lead at 0:51 of the third period, then forced OT with a goal at 17:03. . . . He won the game when he closed out the third round of the shootout with a goal. . . . F Carson Miller, who was part of the Prince Albert-Victoria deal that included McDonald, also had two goals for the Royals, with F Josh Maser scoring twice for the Cougars. Those were Miller’s first goals with Victoria since the trade.


G Roddy Ross stopped 46 shots to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 4-1 victory over the Everett Silvertips in Kent, Wash. . . . If you’re new here, Seattle plays its home games in Kent. . . . Seattle (23-27-6) is in possession of the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, five points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers, who have three games in hand. . . . Everett (39-14-3) had points in each of its previous three games (2-0-1). It leads the U.S. Division by five points over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Everett also is tied with the Vancouver Giants for top spot in the Western Conference. The Giants (39-13-3) have a game in hand. . . . Everett and Seattle combined for 110 penalty minutes, 96 of them in the game’s final 13 seconds. . . . You’re right. These teams don’t like each other, and they still have to play each other three more times. . . . This also could be a first-round playoff matchup. Everett leads the season series, 6-1-0; Seattle is 1-5-1. . . . F Matthew Wedman had a goal and two assists for the Thunderbirds on Saturday. He’s got 62 points, 31 of them goals, in 55 games. . . . This was Everett’s third game in fewer than 48 hours. They dropped a 2-1 shootout decision to the visiting Red Deer Rebels on Thursday night, in a game that was rescheduled from Wednesday, then beat the Rockets, 3-1, in Kelowna on Friday. . . . The Silvertips will make it five games in six days by playing a doubleheader in Prince George on Monday afternoon and Tuesday night.


F Kyle Olson scored three times and added an assist to help the Tri-City Americans to a 7-5 victory over the Spokane Chiefs in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (31-20-3) has won three in a row. It is fourth in the U.S. Division, one point behind Spokane and with a game in hand. . . . Spokane (30-19-6) has lost two straight. It is third in the U.S. Division, eight points behind the Portland Winterhawks. . . . F Nolan Yaremko and F Parker AuCoin each had a goal and two assists for Tri-City. . . . The Chiefs got two goals and and assist from freshman F Adam Beckman. A fifth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft, Beckman has 48 points, 25 of them goals, in 55 games. . . . Tri-City G Beck Warm may have been five times, but he still came up with 45 saves.


Tweetoftheday

Scattershooting on a Sunday while watching Jason Bourne. Again . . . Tigers are road warriors . . . Giants latest to clinch playoff spot

Scattershooting

Sheldon Kennedy spent the weekend in Swift Current, which was the host location for Hockey Day in Canada on Saturday. While he was there, the City honoured him by naming an arena after him. To see the love affair between Kennedy and Swift Current makes my heart sing, because there once was a time when an observer never would have thought this was possible. . . . Well done!



ICYMI, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed F Auston Matthews to a new contract on Tuesday. . . . What! You didn’t know that! . . . Well, you’re welcome.


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, on one of the Super Bowl commercials: “After the Washington Post ad in the fourth quarter, I mentioned to my Super Bowl party host that Jeff Bezos’ impending divorce action may influence the Post to the degree that their new slogan ‘Democracy dies in darkness’ may need to be altered to ‘Democracy dies in divorce.’ ”

——

And here is The Sports Curmudgeon on the Super Bowl’s halftime show: “Granted that I had no idea who any of the performers for the half-time show were. After glimpsing pieces of their acts, I can say with certainty that I need not expend an erg of energy to find out the next time any of them will be in concert near to where I live. The ad slogan for Camel cigarettes used to be, ‘I’d walk a mile for a Camel.’ Well, I would not walk across the room to hear any of those folks perform.”


ChickenEgg


Perhaps you heard about the runner in Colorado who, when attacked by an 80-pound cougar, killed the big cat with his bare hands. As Dixon Tam put it on Twitter: “I hope Chuck Norris recovers from his injuries quickly.”


Ahh, yes, the Kootenay Ice Hall of Fame, announced eight days after the franchise’s post-season move to Winnipeg was confirmed. In an email, one fan told Taking Note that “it’s like sending flowers to your wife a week after you dumped her for another woman.”


If you’re wondering what Les Lazaruk, the play-by-play voice of the Saskatoon Blades does on his nights off, he’s the star of the Saskatchewan karaoke circuit. . . . Actually, he was taking part in a Kinsmen-sponsored karaoke battle, so it was all in good fun and for a good cause.

 


Here for your reading pleasure is a piece written by Mark Fainaru-Wada, a staff writer at ESPN, about how the iconic Bob Costas came to the end of his run with NBC-TV. Yes, it had something to do with the NFL and, yes, it has something to do with concussions. . . . It’s all right here, and it’s another reminder about the power of the NFL.


Headline at TheOnion.com: Super Bowl halftime show marred by functioning sound system.


Luggage


ThisThat

Don Hay, now an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks, holds the WHL’s record for career victories as a head coach. He has 750 of those to his credit from stints with the whlKamloops Blazers, Tri-City Americans and Vancouver Giants.

It was just last season when Hay broke the record of 742 that had been held for so long by Ken Hodge, who worked with the original Edmonton Oil Kings before making the move to Portland with the franchise.

On Saturday night, Marc Habscheid, now the head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders, became the eighth man in WHL history to get to 500 victories.

So . . . you are wondering if Hay’s career victories record is safe, or whether Habscheid might break it?

Hay will turn 65 on Wednesday. Habscheid will hit 56 on March 1.

For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume that Hay won’t be a WHL head coach again, although it’s apparent that he isn’t as done with coaching as we once were led to believe. (Hey, the Prince George Cougars might be in the market for a head coach once this season ends. Might Hay be a good fit there?)

Habscheid, meanwhile, is a career coach; he has been for more than 20 years. There is little doubt that he will coach for at least another 10 years. The question one has to ask is this: Will he spend the remainder of his coaching days in the WHL?

To date, Habscheid has had only one brief taste (2006-07) of the NHL, that as an associate coach, alongside head coach Dave Lewis, with the Boston Bruins. Peter Chiarelli, then the Bruins’ general manager, fired them after one season.

Perhaps Habscheid will end up as part of the management team with the NHL’s expansion Seattle franchise that is to begin play in 2021-22. When that organization starts hiring, it may take a look at the Vegas Golden Knights, see the number of former WHL head coaches involved there and decide to follow suit. Kelly McCrimmon, Mike Kelly, Ryan McGill, Bob Lowes, Kelly Kisio and Bruno Campese, each a former WHL head coach, all are on the Vegas payroll.

If Habscheid’s phone doesn’t ring and if he ends up staying in the WHL, and if Hay doesn’t get another head-coaching gig, you can bet Habscheid will end up with more regular-season victories than anyone else.

When would that happen? Perhaps sometime in 2025-26.

By that time, Habscheid might be the head coach of the WHL’s Abbotsford Aardvarks, or the Boise Bulls, or the Wenatchee Wings. Or he may still be in Prince Albert. Or perhaps he will settling comfortably in a new role as a pitchman for Dairy Queen.

No matter. It’ll be fun watching it all unfold.

There’s more on Habscheid right here in an interesting piece filed earlier this month by Mike Commito of Sportsnet.

——

THE WHL’S 300 CLUB

1. Don Hay (Kamloops, Tri-City, Vancouver) 750

2. Ken Hodge (Edmonton, Portland), 742

3. Don Nachbaur (Seattle, Tri-City, Spokane) 692

4. Lorne Molleken (Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Regina, Vancouver) 626

5. Mike Williamson (Portland, Calgary, Tri-City) 572

6. Ernie McLean (Estevan, New Westminster) 548

7. Pat Ginnell (Flin Flon, Victoria, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, New Westminster) 518

8. Marc Habscheid (Kamloops, Kelowna, Chilliwack, Victoria, Prince Albert) 500

9. Brent Sutter (Red Deer) 495

10. Peter Anholt (Prince Albert, Seattle, Red Deer, Kelowna, Lethbridge) 466

    Jack Shupe (Medicine Hat, Victoria) 466

12. Kelly McCrimmon (Brandon) 465

      Dean Clark (Calgary, Brandon, Kamloops, Prince George) 465

14. Bob Lowes (Seattle, Brandon, Regina) 453

15. Doug Sauter (Calgary, Medicine Hat, Regina, Brandon) 417

16. Marcel Comeau (Calgary, Saskatoon, Tacoma, Kelowna) 411

17. Bryan Maxwell (Medicine Hat, Spokane, Lethbridge) 397

18. Shaun Clouston (Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 386

19. Graham James (Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Calgary) 349

20. Mike Johnston (Portland) 348

21. Bob Loucks (Lethbridge, Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 340

22. Willie Desjardins (Saskatoon, Medicine Hat) 333

23. Kevin Constantine (Everett) 326


F Logan Stankoven set a franchise single-game points record on Sunday, counting eight thompsonblazersof them as the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers beat the visiting Kootenay Ice, 10-0, in a B.C. Major Midget Hockey League game. . . . Stankoven scored three times and added five assists. . . . He leads the league in goals (43), assists (41) and points (84). His lead in the scoring race now is 34 points over F Tyler Crystal of the Vancouver North West Hawks. . . . According to a tweet from the team, Stankoven is one goal shy of the BCMMHL single-season goal record that is held by F Tyson Jost, who scored 44 times for the Kelowna-based Okanagan Rockets in 2013-14. . . . This was Stankoven’s third game of the weekend, after he played Friday and Saturday nights with the WHL’s Blazers, who selected him fifth overall in the WHLs 2018 bantam draft. This season, he has one assist in seven games with the Blazers. In Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the visiting Kelowna Rockets, head coach Serge Lajoie gave him third-period time with veterans Jermaine Loewen and Zane Franklin in an attempt to inject some life into a stagnant offence. The goals didn’t come, but the chances were there as Stankoven showed again that he is more than capable to making the jump to the WHL.


If you like what you read here, and even if you don’t, feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right. Thank you, in advance.


SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Riley McKay and F Chase Wouters had two goals each to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a Saskatoon6-3 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Saskatoon (34-13-8) has points in 10 straight games (8-0-2). It is second in the East Division, eight points ahead of the Moose Jaw Warriors, who have three games in hand. . . . Brandon (23-22-7) is seven points out of a playoff spot. . . . The Blades took a 3-0 lead on first-period goals from McKay, at 9:23; F Kyle Crnkovic (7), on a PP, at 14:36; and Wouters, at 15:07. . . . The Wheat Kings got to within a goal in the second period as F Linden McCorrister (12) scored while shorthanded, at 0:32, and F Stelio Mattheos (33) scored on a PP, at 10:39. . . . Wouters countered with his 12th goal, at 11:22. . . . F Ridley Greig (11) pulled the Wheat Kings back to within a goal, again, at 13:29, on another PP. . . . Saskatoon put it away on third-period goals from D Dawson Davidson (11), on a PP, at 5:02, and McKay (11), into an empty net at 18:27. . . . Each team was 2-7 on the PP. . . . The Blades got three assists from F Max Gerlach. . . . G Jiri Patera returned from a leg injury to start for Brandon and stop 31 shots. He hadn’t played since being injured on Jan. 25. . . . G Nolan Maier stopped 25 shots for Saskatoon. . . . The Blades were without F Kirby Dach, who left Saturday’s 4-1 victory over the Swift Current Broncos after being struck by a puck in the throat area. Taking Note was told after Saturday’s game that Dach was taken from the game was only precautionary. Saskatoon next is to play Wednesday when it visits the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Blogger Darren Steinke was on hand for this one and his piece is right here.


G Carl Stankowski earned his first victory since Nov. 23 as the host Calgary Hitmen Calgarydumped the Moose Jaw Warriors, 6-2. . . . Calgary (28-20-5) is fourth in the Central Division, three points behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes and one in front of the Red Deer Rebels. Calgary does hold down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot. . . . Moose Jaw (30-14-8) had won its previous two games. It is a comfortable third in the East Division. . . . The Warriors were playing for the third time in fewer than 48 hours; they went (2-1-0). . . . Stankowski was making his second appearance since suffering an ankle injury on Nov. 23 in a 5-2 victory over his former club, the Seattle Thunderbirds, in Kent. Wash. . . . On Sunday, Calgary took an early 2-0 lead on goals from F Mark Kastelic (38), at 1:16, and F Tye Carriere (6), at 5:59. . . . F Keenan Taphorn (13) scored for Moose Jaw at 14:55. . . . Second-period goals by F James Malm (23), at 3:39, and F Kaden Elder (23), at 15:47, left Calgary with a 4-1 lead. . . . D Josh Brook (13) got the Warriors to within two, on a PP, at 1:40 of the third. . . . Calgary iced it as F Riley Stotts (17), at 4:33, and F Cael Zimmerman (7), at 14:46, scored. . . . The Hitmen got three assists from F Carson Focht. . . . G Brodan Salmond turned aside 33 shots for Moose Jaw.


F Andrew Fyten scored once and added two assists to help the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 5-EdmontonOilKings2 victory over the visiting Regina Pats. . . . Edmonton (30-16-8) is atop the Central Division, one point up on the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Regina (15-37-3) is 27 points out of a playoff spot with 13 games remaining. The host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup tournament won’t be in the playoffs this time around. . . . The Pats went ahead 1-0 when F Austin Pratt (20) scored at 17:32 of the first period. . . . F Carter Souch (9) tied it 50 seconds into the second period and F Scott Atkinson (8) made it 2-1 at 1:52. . . . D David Kope (10) made it 3-1 at 6:25, giving Edmonton three goals in 5:35. . . . Fyten (13) upped the lead to 4-1 at 4:23 of the third period. He’s got five goals and nine assists in 20 games with Edmonton since being acquired from the Swift Current Broncos. . . . F Logan Nijhoff (5) scored for Regina, on a PP, at 9:13 of the third. . . . F Trey Fix-Wolansky (29) of the Oil Kings closed out the scoring at 19:05. . . . The Oil Kings are 3-0-0 in the season series and have outscored the Pats, 16-4. Fix-Wolansky, who added an assist to his goal in this one, has two goals and eight assists in the series. . . . G Dylan Myskiw earned the victory with 34 saves, six fewer than Regina’s Max Paddock. . . . Regina F Cole Dubinsky was back after serving a four-game suspension. . . . The Oil Kings welcomed back F David Kope and D Matthew Robertson from injury-related absences, while F Jake Neighbours served the second of a four-game suspension.


F Ryan Chyzowski scored the only goal of a five-round shootout to give the Medicine Hat Tigers Logo OfficialTigers a 2-1 victory over the Winterhawks in Portland. . . . Medicine Hat (31-18-5) has points in five straight (4-0-1). It is second in the Central Division, one point behind the Edmonton Oil Kings and three in front of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Tigers went 3-0-1 in a four-game swing that included stops in Cranbrook, Everett and Kent, Wash. The only blemish was a 4-3 OT loss to the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent. . . . Portland (33-16-6) has lost two in a row (0-1-1). It is second in the U.S. Division, six points behind the Everett Silvertips. . . . Both teams were playing for the third time in fewer than 48 hours. The Tigers went (2-0-1), while the Winterhawks were (1-1-1). . . . F Joachim Blichfeld gave Portland a 1-0 lead at 10:23 of the first period. He leads the WHL in goals (45) and points (93). . . . The Tigers tied it at 4:36 of the third when F Ryan Jevne (25) scored while shorthanded. . . . Medicine Hat G Mads Søgaard made 28 saves through regulation time, then stopped four shots in OT and foiled five skaters in the shootout. . . . Portland got 38 saves from G Shane Farkas. . . . The Winterhawks are without F Cody Glass (knee), who last played on Jan. 26, and D Brendan De Jong, who left Saturday’s 5-0 loss in Everett with an apparent injury to his left knee.


The Vancouver Giants scored the game’s last four goals and beat the Prince George VancouverCougars, 4-1, in Langley, B.C. . . . Vancouver (37-13-3) has won five in a row. It will finish first in the B.C. Division, and now is one point behind the Everett Silvertips (38-13-2), who lead the Western Conference. . . . The Giants became the third WHL team — behind the Prince Albert Raiders and Everett — to clinch a playoff spot. Vancouver will be in the playoffs for a second straight season after missing three in a row. . . . Prince George (16-32-6) now has lost 13 in a row (0-10-3), the longest losing skid in the league this season. The Cougars are 10 points from a playoff spot. . . . F Ethan Browne (8) gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 9:00 of the first period. . . . F Jared Dmytriw (12) tied it 42 seconds into the second period. . . . Vancouver put it away with three third-period goals, from F Davis Koch (22), on a PP, at 7:06; F Justin Sourdif (15), at 11:35; and F Tristen Nielsen (10), at 15:24. . . . Vancouver D Bowen Byram, who had two assists, took a headshot major and game misconduct for a hit on Cougars F Mitch Kohner at 13:48 of the third period. . . . G David Tendeck stopped 32 shots for the Giants, while G Taylor Gauthier, back after being shaken up and leaving a 4-3 loss to the Rockets in Kelowna on Friday, made 25 saves for Prince George. . . . The Giants dressed only 11 forwards and then lost Brayden Watts in the first period. “Hopefully, it’s not as bad as it looks,” head coach Michael Dyck told Postmedia’s Steve Ewen.


Tweetoftheday