Canucks to return on Sunday vs. Leafs . . . Wheat Kings get new GM . . . BCIHL may add some Heat

OK. We think that the Vancouver Canucks’ schedule has been settled on . . . at least for now.

The Canucks, who last played on March 24 and have been in the midst of a CanucksCOVID-19 outbreak since March 30, are to play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday and Tuesday nights. Earlier in the week, the schedule called for the Edmonton Oilers to visit Vancouver on Friday with the Maple Leafs there on Saturday.

The schedule, as it now sits, has the Canucks concluding their 56-game season by playing 19 games in 32 nights. They actually began the season by playing 19 times in 34 nights.

F Bo Horvat, the Canucks’ captain, addressed the media on Friday and provided some insight into what the club has been through.

“I’ve had the flu before,” he said, “and this doesn’t hit you like a normal flu. It’s not something you want to get, it’s not something you want your family go through either. I can’t stress enough to follow the protocols.”

Horvat also said that he had passed the virus on to his wife, Holly, and that “it hit her a little harder than it hit me.”

“I’m one of the lucky ones,” he said. “My symptoms were fairly mild . . . I’m not going to lie. It was tough to know my family got it from me.”

At the same time, Jim Benning, the Canucks’ general manager, confirmed that the team had been hit by the P.1 variant that originated in Brazil. It is more aggressive than the original virus, which explains why the Canucks, as a group, had so much more illness than any of the other teams that have been hit this season.

Benning also said that the Canucks have three or four players who may not be ready to return on Sunday, while head coach Travis Green, who also tested positive, has yet to return to the practice ice. The team is hopeful that he will be on the ice today.

Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet has more right here.

And there’s a story right here from Karen Larsen of CBC News.


Before Kelly McCrimmon left to join the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, he had been the Brandon Wheat Kings’ general manager since 1989, or for 27 seasons.

With Friday’s announcement that Darren Ritchie is leaving, the club promoted BrandonDoug Gasper, making him its third general manager since McCrimmon’s departure.

Grant Armstrong, who had been the Victoria Royals’ assistant GM, player personnel, succeeded McCrimmon as Brandon’s GM on Aug. 23, 2016.

The Wheat Kings announced on May 7, 2019, that they wouldn’t be renewing Armstrong’s contract.

On July 12, 2019, Ritchie was promoted to general manager. He will be leaving after the completion of this season to join the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs as an amateur scout. He spent 14 seasons with Brandon, moving up from assistant coach (2007-16) to director of scouting (2016-19) and then into the GM’s office.

Gasper, a familiar face in WHL circles, joined the Wheat Kings as assistant GM on Aug. 15, 2019. From Rosetown, Sask., he had been scouting for the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks before joining the Wheat Kings. He also spent six seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors, including a stint as their director of scouting (2015-17). Gasper also has scouted for the Prince Albert Raiders.

Ritchie will work for Toronto out of Brandon; Gasper will be relocating to Brandon from Saskatoon at some point in May.

The Wheat Kings’ news release is right here.

McCrimmon sold the franchise in September to the Brandon-based J&G Group of Companies, headed up by Jared Jacobson, the president and CEO.


The BCHL announced Friday that the Nanaimo Clippers “have been cleared to Nanaimoresume team activities.” The organization had been shut down Thursday to allow for further analysis of a COVID-19 test. It was found to be a negative, so the shackles have been removed. . . . The Clippers are scheduled to play the Victoria Grizzlies this afternoon in Port Alberni. Nanaimo’s Thursday night game against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs had been postponed because of the COVID-19 scare. . . . In that cohort on Friday night, Victoria beat the Cowichan Valley Capitals, 10-0.


The B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League is exploring adding an expansion franchise in Kelowna — the UBCO Heat, which would call UBC’s Okanagan campus home. . . . The Heat has put together a committee that, according to its Facebook page, “now is recruiting marketing staff and potential student-athletes to help build a new team for the BCIHL in Kelowna.” . . . The BCIHL is down to three active teams, with the Trinity Western Spartans moving to USport’s Canada West conference and Selkirk College having cancelled its hockey program. . . . You know that expansion will be on the agenda when the BCIHL holds is annual general meeting virtually on May 18 and 19.


Donuts


It would appear that Mark Rassell, a former WHLer, is thinking about a new career! A native of Calgary, he played four seasons (2014-18) with the Medicine Hat Tigers, then spent two seasons at the U of New Brunswick. . . . He doesn’t mention here whether he knows how to drive a bus, though.


The Kelowna Rockets are scheduled to return to game action tonight in Kamloops against the Prince George Cougars. The Rockets have played only two games in this developmental season, having been sidelined since March 28 because of a COVID-19 outbreak. While the original schedule had the Rockets playing 24 games, the one now on the WHL website has them with 13 games remaining. . . .

Meanwhile, there were four games played on Friday night . . .

F Owen Pederson broke a 3-3 tie at 10:27 of the third period and F Michael Milne Winnipegadded another at 12:30 as the Winnipeg Ice beat the Swift Current Broncos, 5-4, in Regina. . . . Pederson, who has 10 goals, and Milne, who has three, each scored twice in this one. . . . D Owen Williams (4) got the Broncos’ last goal at 15:57 of the third. . . . While the Ice improved to 13-5-0, the Broncos (3-14-1) have lost seven in a row. . . . Winnipeg F Peyton Krebs had his point streak snapped at 16 games. Krebs put up nine goals and 21 assists over that stretch. . . . Winnipeg F Connor McClennon, who had his 12th goal and an assist, ran his streak to 11 games. He has 12 goals and 15 assists in 18 games and has only been blanked twice. . . . G Daniel Hauser stopped 40 shots for Winnipeg. . . . Swift Current was presented with the only PP opportunities of the game, and went 1-for-5. . . . The Ice went into the game with a PP that was running at a 34.6 efficiency rate (27-for-78), behind only to the Medicine Hat Tigers (41.8). . . .

The Medicine Hat Tigers scored the game’s last four goals and beat the visiting TigersRed Deer Rebels, 4-2. . . . F Ben King scored both Red Deer goals, at 10:14 of the first period and 4:36 of the second. He has seven goals, and has put up four goals and five assists over his past five games. All told, he’s got seven goals and 10 assists in 15 games for a Red Deer team that now is 2-13-2 and has lost 10 in a row. . . . F Corson Hopwo (12) scored twice for the Tigers, getting them started at 13:34 of the second period and adding the insurance goal at 13:08 of the third. . . . Hopwo has goals in seven straight games. . . . F Brett Kemp (9) tied the game, at 3:29 of the third, and D Eric Van Impe (3) snapped the tie just 33 seconds later. . . . The Tigers, with points in seven straight (6-0-1), now are 10-3-1. . . . Medicine Hat was 3-for-5 with the man advantage. . . .

The Everett Silvertips scored three goals in the second half of the third period to Everettbeat the host Seattle Thunderbirds, 5-3. . . . Everett, which had lost two in a row, improved to 10-3-0. . . . Seattle, which had won its previous two games, now is 7-6-0. . . . F Gage Goncalves gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 17:20 of the third period and F Cole Fonstad made it 2-0 just 50 seconds later. . . . Seattle F Henry Rybinski (4) scored in his third straight game, getting his guys on the board at 10:03 of the second period. . . . F Jared Davidson (5) put Seattle out front with goals at 13:48 of the second and 9:25 of the third. Davidson also assisted on Rybinski’s goal. . . . The Silvertips tied it on F Jacob Wright’s fifth goal, at 10:15. . . . Goncalves, who has 10 goals, broke the tie at 11:17 and Fonstad, now with 10 goals, got the empty-netter. He also had an assist. . . . Goncalves also had two assists. He has 19 points in 13 games. . . . Everett G Dustin Wolf stopped 34 shots. He’s 9-2-0, 1.81, .938. . . . Seattle dressed 17 skaters, one under the maximum, with F Payton Mount sitting out this one. He was taken to hospital following a game on Tuesday after being struck on the head by a puck that glanced off the wall behind the Seattle bench. He was checked over and released on Wednesday morning. . . .

In Kelowna, F Jonny Hooker broke a 2-2 tie at 18:08 of the second period and PGthe Prince George Cougars went on to a 5-2 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . Victoria (1-8-1), which has lost five straight, led 1-0 after one period on a PP goal by F Brayden Tracey (6). . . . D Majid Kaddoura (1) pulled the Cougars even at 2:09 of the second period and D Keaton Dowhaniuk (1) gave them the lead just 1:14 later. . . . Dowhaniuk, the third overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft, scored his first WHL goal. . . . F Trentyn Crane, a fifth-round pick in 2018, got the Royals into a tie at 11:40 with his first WHL score. . . . Hooker broke the tie, and F Kuren Gronick (2) and F Tyson Upper (1) added insurance in the last minute of the period. . . . Prince George (4-3-2) outshot Victoria, 41-21, and had a 39-16 edge in the face-off circle.


Carpenter


My wife, Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant more than seven years ago, will take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk on June 6. Unfortunately, it will be a virtual walk for a second straight year, but that won’t keep her from fund-raising on behalf of the Kidney Foundation. If you would like to help her out, you are able to make a donation right here.

——

If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Gaelan Patterson is leaving the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves to take over as director of hockey operations for the Nanaimo Minor Hockey Association. Patterson, 30, who played four seasons (2006-10) with the Saskatoon Blades, joined the Ice Wolves prior to the 2018-19 season. From La Ronge, he had been the Ice Wolves’ associate GM/associate head coach. . . . Blaine Gusdal won’t be returning for a 14th season as the head coach of the U of Alberta-Augustana Vikings. The school made the announcement on March 31. Gusdal, 53, is from Erickson, Man. He played two WHL seasons (1984-86), splitting time between the Prince Albert Raiders (one game), Moose Jaw Warriors (59) and Saskatoon Blades (34).


Brunch

Sutter steps down as Rebels’ head coach . . . Winterhawks win a wild one . . . Cougars end Miner’s shutout streak

I’m guessing that Brent Sutter went to bed on Friday night and spent the next few hours arguing with himself.

His Red Deer Rebels had been beaten, 6-3, by the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes a few hours earlier, their seventh straight loss dropping their record to 2-10-2.

After the game, Brent talked with Shaun Sutter, a nephew who is the Rebels’ RedDeerassistant general manager and director of personnel, and Merrick, his son who is the senior vice-president. The decision for him to step aside, Brent said, basically was reached at that time.

But there still was time for him to change his mind. After all, he’s the boss and he was born to coach.

As Sutter tossed and turned, the owner, governor, president and general manager titles were perched on one shoulder; on the other was the coach.

The argument, I’m thinking, raged all night long.

Sutter has owned the Rebels since 1999. He has been their head coach for all but five seasons since then. He spent two seasons (2007-09) as the head coach of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. And for the following three seasons, he was the Calgary Flames’ head coach.

This season, though, has been unlike any other. On the ice, it started in February for the Alberta teams. But for the likes of Sutter, with all their titles and responsibilities, it started long before then and it has gone on seemingly forever.

And then COVID-19 found the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks and Sutter’s son, Brandon, ended up sick — perhaps with the P.1 variant — and quarantined in his basement, with a pregnant wife and two children, ages 2 and 3, upstairs. There isn’t a more-helpless feeling than being the parent of an ailing child, even a 32-year-old NHL player, and being unable to provide help.

Combine everything — oh, and I should mention that the injury bug has hit the Rebels hard, leaving them almost out of defencemen — and it could be that Brent Sutter simply wore down.

As he told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com: “Everthing (negative) that could happen has happened.”

So, at some time in the wee hours of Saturday, Sutter, the husband and father, the owner, governor, president and general manager, won out over the coach.

Early Saturday afternoon, the Rebels announced that Sutter was out as the team’s head coach. Shaun will join assistant coaches Ryan Colville and Brad Flynn in running the coaching side of things.

Once the organization gets this season behind it, a decision will be made on the next head coach.

“You have to put so much time into it, and when you’re doing that plus the management side of it . . . because you’re so dialled in on the coaching side you’re not there to help out with some of the other side,” Sutter told Meachem. “Mentally it’s been really tough for everyone with the whole environment we’re in. We need to get the players upbeat again.”

Including this screwy season, Sutter has 526 regular-season WHL coaching victories, eighth on the all-time list. The Rebels won the Memorial Cup under him in 2001.

Sutter also won back-to-back World Junior Championship gold medals in 2005 and 2006 as the head coach of Canada’s national team.

“I’ve been coaching for 22 years and two months and I’ve been so dialled into it, so passionate about it,” he told Meachem. “Yet you can’t be selfish. The players and the front of the jersey always come first, no matter what. The right thing for this hockey team and this organization is for me to step down right now. For me personally, it’s the right thing.”


Spy


Please don’t forget that Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant more than seven years ago, is preparing to take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. Unfortunately, it will be a virtual walk for a second straight year, but that won’t keep her from fund-raising on behalf of the Kidney Foundation. If you would like to help her out, you are able to make a donation right here.


LethOn the ice, the Rebels were involved in one of six games played in the WHL on Saturday night. Playing in Lethbridge, the Rebels dropped a 5-2 decision to the Hurricanes, who got a goal, his third, and three assists from F Liam Kindree. . . . Lethbridge (5-6-2) has points in three straight (2-0-1). . . . The Rebels (2-11-2) have lost eight in a row. . . . If you’re wondering, the online game sheet didn’t list a Red Deer head coach. . . . F Logan Barlage scored his fourth goal and added two assists for Lethbridge, which also got goal No. 9 and two assists from F Justin Hall. . . . The Rebels lost D Trey Patterson, perhaps for the remainder of this season, with an undisclosed injury in Friday’s 6-3 loss to the visiting Hurricanes. The Rebels, with nine games remaining, are down to four healthy defencemen — Kyle Masters, Joel Sexsmith, Mason Ward and Jace Weir. Due to COVID-19 protocol, they aren’t able to bring in reinforcements, either. . . .

F Conor Geekie scored at 2:13 of OT to give the Winnipeg Ice a 4-3 victory over Winnipegthe Prince Albert Raiders in Regina. . . . Geekie’s fifth goal allowed Winnipeg (11-4-0) to run its winning streak to five games. . . . The Raiders (4-9-2), who have lost three straight, had erased a 3-1 deficit with second-period goals from F Michal Horon (2) and F Evan Herman (4). . . . F Peyton Krebs scored his ninth goal for the Ice, running his point streak to 14 games. He was blanked in the season’s first game, and has nine goals and 19 assists in his past 14 games. . . . Ice F Zachary Benson, 15, had a goal and an assist. The 14th overall pick in the 2020 bantam draft, he’s got six goals and seven assists in 15 games. . . .

F Tristen Robins scored twice and added an assist to help the Saskatoon Blades Bladesto a 4-2 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors in Regina. . . . F Brayden Yager (4) gave Moose Jaw (7-8-1) at 1-0 lead at 9:01 of the first period. . . . Robins, who has 10 goals, tied it at 10:20 and gave the Blades (11-2-2) the lead at 14:11. . . . F Wyatt McLeod (2) upped the lead to 3-1 at 1:25 of the second. . . . F Tate Popple (5) got the Warriors to within a goal at 17:57, but Saskatoon F Kyle Crnkovic (6) scored shorthanded at 1:10 of the third. . . .

On most nights, you would think a five-goal period would guarantee a team PortlandAlternatevictory. That wasn’t the case with the host Spokane Chiefs who, despite scoring five times in the third period, dropped a 7-6 decision to the Portland Winterhawks. . . . The Winterhawks (5-4-2), who had lost three straight, scored three second-period goals and took a 4-1 lead into the third. . . . The Chiefs tied it by scoring three times in 2:19 early in the period. . . . Portland responded with three straight goals to take a 7-4 lead. . . . The Chiefs (2-5-3) finished the scoring with two goals in the final 36 seconds. . . . Portland F Simon Knak (8) was credited with the game-winner and it was rather fitting that it came into an empty net. . . . F Seth Jarvis (6) had two goals and an assist for the winners, with F Jaydon Dureau (3) adding a goal and two helpers. . . . F Adam Beckman ran his goal-scoring streak to four games with his sixth of the season. . . . The Chiefs’ last two goals came from F Ty Cheveldayoff and D Chase Friedt-Mohr, the first WHL score for each. . . .

The Tri-City Americans scored the game’s first three goals and the last three to Americanstake a 6-2 victory over the visiting Everett Silvertips. . . . F Samuel Huo (7) and F Jake Sloan (2) each had a goal and two assists for the Americans (5-5-0). . . . Everett (9-2-0), which had won its previous four games, got PP goals from F Cole Fonstad (7) and G Gage Goncalves (8) in the second period to get within a goal. . . . But F Booker Daniel (2) restored Tai-City’s two-goal lead at 16:07 of the second and Huo scored shorthanded at 11:16 of the third. . . .

F Jonny Hooker had a goal and three assists as the Prince George Cougars skated PGto a 6-3 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Kamloops. . . . Hooker drew the lone assist on F Craig Armstrong’s first goal, shorthanded, that broke a 2-2 tie at 4:40 of the second period. . . . Hooker (3) scored on a PP at 19:55, and D Hudson Thornton (1) made it 5-2 at 9:55. Thornton scored in his first WHL game. . . . D Mazden Leslie, who turns 16 on Thursday, had two goals for the Giants. He has four goals in his first six WHL games. . . . F Eric Florchuk drew three assists for Vancouver. . . . F Ethan Browne (3) scored for Prince George at 8:43 of the first period. That ended G Trent Miner’s shutout string at 234:31. Each of his previous three starts had ended in a shutout. Chris Worthy of the 1967-68 Flin Flon Bombers holds the record (265:13). . . . The Cougars (2-2-2) had lost their previous three games (0-1-2). . . . The Giants (5-2-0) had won five straight. . . . G Tyler Brennan stopped 26 shots for the Cougars. It was his final WHL game of this season as he now will join Canada’s U18 team at the IIHF World championship that opens in Frisco and Plano, Texas, on April 26.


The NHL has decreed that the Vancouver Canucks, who are still recovering from Canucksan ugly run-in with COVID-19, will return to game action on Friday. Yes, this Friday. . . . They are to play host to the Edmonton Oilers that night, and it is to start the Canucks on a schedule that calls for them to play 19 games in 31 nights. Seriously! . . . The Canucks last played on March 24. . . . The Canucks had seven games postponed. Their schedule now is to end on May 16. . . . The Canucks still had 19 players on the COVID-19 protocol list on Saturday and some of them, judging from reports, have been quite ill. If Saturday’s tests come back OK, the Canucks will re-open their facilities today, 12 days after F Adam Gaudette was identified as the first of their positive tests. . . . Today’s activities are to include some training and individual practice sessions. The team isn’t likely to practice as a team until Wednesday. . . . All told, the organization had 21 players and four coaches test positive.


joy


The UMass Minutemen won the NCAA men’s hockey championship on Saturday, beating the St. Cloud State Huskies, 5-0, in the final game in Pittsburgh. . . . This was UMass’s first NCAA hockey title. . . . Anthony Travalgia of College Hockey News has all the details right here.


If everything falls into place, the World men’s curling championship, which postponed all of Saturday’s games in its Calgary bubble, could hold three draws today. . . . The competition ground to a halt after four people from three different teams tested positive for COVID-19 during exit testing. Participants have to be tested before leaving the bubble, and they can’t go without a negative result. . . . Players on four other teams were deemed close contacts. Some of those teams were to have played on Saturday had play gone on as scheduled. . . . Still to be played are a qualification game between Switzerland and the U.S., the semifinals, a third-place game and the championship game. . . . The tests carried out on Friday were the first in the bubble since April 1. Dr. Bob McCormack, the event’s chief medical officer, was asked if there should have been more testing. His response: “What I would say to that is that we had a lot of discussion with experts and also Alberta Health to come up with the protocols that we felt were safe to establish a clean bubble. The bottom line is the protocols were established with experts and Alberta Health, saying this is reasonable, appropriate and safe.” . . . There are three more events scheduled for the Calgary bubble — two Grand Slam of Curling competitions and the World women’s championship that is to run from April 30 through May 9.


The Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association was to have held a Secret Dream Gap Tour showcase in St. Louis this weekend, but it had to be postponed because “of a COVID exposure one of our teams,” according to the PWHPA. The St. Louis event was to have included two games. It is expected to be rescheduled.


DST


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


HorseGames