It seems that hockey fans in Calgary are in for some interesting times with the news that the NHL’s Flames are moving their AHL affiliate, the Heat, from Stockton, Calif., to Calgary. . . . The AHL announced on Monday that its board of governors has approved the relocation of the franchise in time for next season. . . . With the exception of the 2020-21 season that was impacted by the pandemic, the Heat had been in Stockton since 2015. . . . The Flames and Heat are owned by the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp., which also owns the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen and the National Lacrosse League’s Calgary Roughnecks. . . . All four teams play out of the Scotiabank Saddledome. . . . “At this point,” wrote Danny Austin of the Calgary Sun, “it remains unclear whether the Heat will play at the Scotiabank Saddledome. It’s already a busy rink, so one of the CSEC tenants may need to move.” . . . Former WHL player and coach Mitch Love is the Heat’s head coach and has them in the third round of the AHL playoffs. They opened a best-of-five Pacific Division final against the visiting Colorado Eagles on Monday night. The Heat won that game, 5-0, behind 23 saves from G Dustin Wolf and two goals from F Justin Kirkland.
After taking Sunday off, the WHL playoffs resumed on Monday night with the Winnipeg Ice meeting the Oil Kings in Edmonton in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final. They will play Game 4 in Edmonton on Wednesday and Game 5 there on Friday. . . . The Western Conference final will be back on the ice tonight with the Kamloops Blazers and Seattle Thunderbirds tied, 1-1, in Kent, Wash.
MONDAY IN THE WHL:
Kaiden Guhle and Jake Neighbours help out on Jalen Luypen's tying marker with 1:18 to go. Guhle put home only goal of 2nd period, his fourth of postseason for a 2-point game. Neighbours also sets up winning marker, 2nd multi-assist & 2nd multipoint game thus far. https://t.co/366mZjiIL8
In Edmonton, F Justin Sourdif scored in the first OT period to give the No. 2 Oil Kings a 4-3 victory over the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice. . . . The Oil Kings, who held a 55-21 edge in shots, have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven conference final. . . . They’ll play Games 4 and 5 in Edmonton on Wednesday and Friday. Because of the distance between the cities, this series is following a 2-3-2 format. . . . This was the second game in the series to be decided in OT; the Oil Kings won Game 1, 5-4, in Winnipeg on Friday. F Tyler Horstmann scored the winner at 1:07 of the first OT period. . . . Last night, the teams were tied 1-1 after the first period for the third time in as many games. . . . The home side went ahead 1-0 when F Dylan Guenther (12) struck at 14:28, with F Jack Finley (7) pulling Winnipeg even, on a PP, at 18:02. . . . The Oil Kings went back in front at 2:12 of the second period when D Kaiden Guhle (4) scored. . . . The visitors scored a pair of third-period goals — by F Connor McLennon (7), at 9:00, and F Zach Benson (9), at 16:14 — to take a 3-2 lead. . . . But Edmonton F Jayden Luypen (4) tipped in a Guhle shot at 18:42 to force extra time. . . . Sourdif scored the winner off a rush through the neutral zone. He split two defencemen at the top of the circles in the Ice zone and sent in to beat G Gage Alexander at 8:04 of OT. . . . F Jake Neighbours, Edmonton’s captain, drew an assist on each of his club’s last two goals. . . . Alexander finished with 51 saves, 33 more than Edmonton’s Sebastian Cossa. . . . Winnipeg was 1-for-2 on the PP; Edmonton was 0-for-4. . . . The Oil Kings were without F Jaxsen Wiebe, who also will sit out Game 4. He was suspended for two games after being tossed from Game 2 for a headshot on Winnipeg D Max Streule, who wasn’t injured on the play. . . . Winnipeg had McClennon in the lineup, but F Matt Savoie was scratched with an undisclosed injury. Neither player finished Game 2. . . . The Ice had to scratch F Owen Pederson, who drew a one-game suspension under supplemental discipline for high-sticking D Luke Prokop. Pederson was given a double minor on the play at 17:25 of the first period.
My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.
Ken Campbell at Hockey Unfiltered wrote on Monday about the impending sale of the OHL’s Niagara Falls IceDogs to Darren DeDobbelaer and speculation that Wayne Gretzky is in for five per cent. Both men are from Brantford, Ont. . . . Campbell also had this:
“DeDobbelaer also declined to comment on the purchase price, which is believed to be $18 million, which is actually 10 percent less than the $20 million owners Bill and Denise Burke were seeking for the franchise. And that makes sense, since the league had suspended GM Joey Burke and coach Billy Burke, the sons of the owners, until at least 2024 for violating the league’s harassment, abuse and diversity policy. And while the Burkes were not forced to sell, they were definitely a motivated seller, which served to bring the price down.
“(And, once again, the next time you hear these junior hockey owners complain that they have to pay their players poverty wages in order to keep the lights on — and the government of the day agrees with them by allowing them to skirt minimum-wage laws — remember that they do just fine. When their teams are competitive and enjoy long playoff runs, they make plenty of money. And as the Burkes did, they always, always cash out when they sell.)”
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As the WHL’s 2021-22 regular season winds down, let’s take a look back and wonder what one player’s final season might have been. It’s a season that shouldn’t be forgotten.
It was 1977-78. Bill Derlago of the Brandon Wheat Kings had turned 19 about a month before the season began. This would be his third full season with the Wheat Kings. In 1976-77, he had totalled 96 goals, which was a WHL record at the time, and 82 assists — 178 points — in 72 games.
Fans could only imagine what was to come.
Well, the native of Birtle, Man., didn’t disappoint, putting up 152 points, including 89 goals, in 52 games. That’s 1.17 goals and 2.92 points per game. Those are great numbers. Right?
But they could have been even better.
In early December, Derlago, playing between Brian Propp and Ray Allison, had 80 points, including 48 goals, in 26 games when he suited up with a WCHL all-star team in Regina against a touring side from what was then the Soviet Union. (The team, travelling as the Moscow Selects, won the game, 6-5. The WCHL team featured players from Brandon, the Regina Pats, Flin Flon Bombers and Medicine Hat Tigers.)
Over a 72-game season, Derlago was on pace for 218 points, including 133 goals. Rob Brown of the 1986-87 Kamloops Blazers holds the WHL record for most points in one season. He put up 212 in 63 games that season, an average of 3.37 points per game.
Had Derlago stayed healthy and maintained his pace, he would have averaged 1.85 goals and 3.03 points per game.
But it wasn’t to be.
On his second shift of that game in Regina, Derlago “lined up Boris Verigin . . . and took a run at him,” wrote Dave Senick of the Regina Leader-Post. “The Soviet went down and slipped past Derlago’s check.
“The Wheat King flew over Verigin and couldn’t get up after hitting the ice. The reason was a good one. He was taken to hospital and was diagnosed (with) possible torn knee ligaments.”
As it turned out, he had torn ligaments in his left knee.
“Sure, I’m disappointed and the records mean something to me,” Derlago told Senick. “But I’m not going to get worried. I just want to get back and play. It’s the first time I’ve had a serious injury in three years. I had my adrenaline flowing for this season.”
He did return and was able to finish up that 152-point season, but we were left to wonder what might have been.
BTW, Derlago’s 96 goals from 1976-77 stood up as the WHL single-season record until 1983-84 when Ray Ferraro, who had been acquired by the Wheat Kings from the Portland Winterhawks in the offseason, scored 108 times. That remains the WHL’s single-season record to this date.
The Vancouver Canucks selected Derlago with the fourth overall pick of the NHL’s 1978 draft. He went on to play 555 regular-season NHL games, most of them with the Toronto Maple Leafs for whom he enjoyed 35-, 34-, 40- and 31-goal seasons.
Jake Milford was the Canucks’ general manager at that time. He had been in the Wheat Kings’ front office, either as GM, head coach or both, from 1958-59 through 1963-64. McCallum had played two seasons (1958-60) with the Canucks.
And so it was that the Canucks, under Milford’s guidance, were putting the Canucks through their paces during Derlago’s first NHL training camp. That included running some sprints, something at which Derlago, who had large calves, wasn’t proficient.
When Milford called McCallum to update him on Derlago’s progress, the Canucks’ GM complained about Derlago’s poor performance on the track.
To which McCallum replied: “Jake, are you putting together a track team or a hockey team?”
It should be pointed out that Bill Derlago wasn’t the first WCHL superstar to lose a possible monstrous statistical season to injury. In 1968-69, Reggie Leach, the Riverton Rifle, finished with 46 points, including 36 goals, in 22 games with the Flin Flon Bombers, losing most of the season to a shoulder injury.
Over a 60-game schedule, which is what they played back in the day, that works out to 125 points, including 98 goals. Had Leach scored 98 goals, he would be two ahead of the 96 Derlago scored in 1976-77.
But let’s also think about Flin Flon captain Bobby Clarke, who won the scoring title that season with 137 points in 58 games. The Bombers’ second-leading scorer was Brian Marchinko, with 86 points.
Had Leach been riding shotgun with Clarke for the entire season, who knows how many points the league’s top player might have put up? One season earlier, Clarke won the scoring title with 168 points; Leach was second with 131.
Unfortunately, we’ll never know what might have been for Leach in 1968-69.
Not to overload you with Flin Flon-related chatter, but . . .
If you are having a discussion about the most intimidating hockey arena anywhere you have to have Flin Flon’s Whitney Forum at or near the top of the list. I haven’t been there in years, but I did take in the odd Bombers game back in the days of Gerry Hart, Bobby Clarke, Reggie Leach, Steve Andrascik, Wayne Hawrysh et al. Yes, it was a noisy, scary place. . . . Now there is talk that Hudbay — today, it’s Hudbay Minerals Inc.; in my time it was Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting — “is slated to shut down much of its operations nearby later this year,” Eric Westhaver wrote in the Flin Flon Reminder the other day. . . . What will that mean to the folks of Flin Flon and the Fabulous Forum? Westhaver takes a look right here at the past, the present and the future of a Canadian landmark.
Daren Millard will miss tonight’s game; he was hospitalized after a bicycle accident yesterday. He suffered significant injuries but is expected to make a full recovery.
F Justin Sourdif and F Dylan Guenther each had two goals and two assists as the host Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Red Deer Rebels, 6-4. . . . The Oil Kings clinched their fourth straight Central Division pennant and will meet the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the first round of the playoffs. They will open in Edmonton on April 21. Edmonton won the season series, 6-2-0; Lethbridge was 2-5-1. . . . Edmonton snapped a 2-2 tie and took control with three goals in a span of 4:11 early in the second period, the last two coming via the PP after Red Deer F Frantisek Formanek was hit with a kneeing major and game misconduct. . . . Guenther now has 44 goals; Sourdif has 25. . . . Sourdif, who turned 20 on March 24, went into the game with 199 points in 195 career regular-season games. His first goal, at 8:50 of the first period, was his 200th career point. The Oil Kings acquired him from the Vancouver Giants earlier in the season. He has 37 points, including 16 goals, in 25 games with Edmonton. . . . Red Deer got a goal and two assists from each of D Christoffer Sedoff (8), F Ben King and F Arshdeep Bains. King and Bains each went into the game with 199 career regular-season points. . . . King, who leads the WHL with 50 goals in his 19-year-old season, now has 202 points in 204 career games. Bains, who leads the WHL with 105 points in his 20-year-old season, has 202 points in 255 career games. . . . King is the first Red Deer player to get to 50 since F Kyle Wanvig scored 55 in 2000-01. The franchise record (58) belongs to F B.J. Young (1996-97). . . . F Jake Neighbours, the Oil Kings’ captain, had two assists in his return to the lineup. He had last played on Feb. 21. . . . Edmonton (47-14-4) will finish second in the conference, while Red Deer (44-18-4) will be third. The Rebels, though, will have to wait to find out their first-round opponent — either the Saskatoon Blades, Moose Jaw Warriors or Brandon Wheat Kings. . . .
In Winnipeg, F Chase Wheatcroft scored twice and added an assist as the Ice beat the Medicine Hat Tigers, 6-1. . . . He’s got 16 goals. . . . F Cole Muir (11) scored twice and F Jakin Smallwood (24) had a goal and two assists. . . . Winnipeg held a 44-17 edge in shots, including 22-4 in the third period. . . . G Daniel Hauser earned the victory with 16 saves. This season, he is 31-3-1, 1.97, .914. . . . Winnipeg (50-10-5) will finish atop the conference and will face the eight-place team in the first round. Four teams — the Swift Current Broncos, Calgary Hitmen, Regina Pats and Prince Albert Raiders — are within two points of each other in the scrap for the last spot. . . . The Tigers (11-51-4) have lost 10 in a row. . . .
F Nate Danielson scored the only goal of a shootout as the Brandon Wheat Kings got past the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors, 3-2. . . . Moose Jaw led this one 2-0 early in the second period on goals from F Eric Alarie (22) and F Ryder Korczak (23). . . . F Nolan Ritchie (32) got Brandon to within one at 7:22 of the second period and D Vincent Iorio (11) tied it just 2:28 later. . . . Danielson was the fifth shooter in the circus. The Wheat Kings put it away when Korczak couldn’t beat G Ethan Kruger. . . . Brandon (35-25-5) is sixth, three points behind Moose Jaw (36-23-6) and the idle Saskatoon Blades (37-26-4). . . .
The Lethbridge Hurricanes ensured themselves of a seventh-place finish with a 5-1 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . F Jett Jones, who scored twice, broke a 1-1 tie with his first goal at 1:21 of the second period. He added his 20th of the season, shorthanded, at 19:22 of the third. . . . That seventh-place finish means the Hurricanes (31-30-5) will face the Edmonton Oil Kings in the first-round of the playoffs. These two teams have never played each other in the playoffs. . . . The Hitmen (25-32-8) are tied for eighth with Swift Current, one point ahead of Regina and Prince Albert. . . . Calgary and Regina each have three games remaining, Prince Albert has two and Swift Current one. . . .
F Connor Bedard scored twice and added an assist as the host Regina Pats beat the Prince Albert Raiders, 5-3. . . . Bedard gave his guys a 2-1 lead at 6:19 of the second period, then put them ahead 4-2, on the PP, at 6:46 of the third. . . . Bedard now has 92 points, including 49 goals, in 58 games. . . . The Pats also got a shorthanded goal and two assists from F Tanner Howe, who was playing against his hometown team. Howe, who won’t turn 17 until Nov. 28, has 66 points, 26 of them goals, in 61 games. . . . F Evan Herman scored twice for the Raiders, giving him 25. . . . Regina (26-34-5) and Prince Albert (26-25-5) are tied for 10th, two points from a playoff spot.
D Ethan Samson’s third-period PP goal broke a 1-1 tie as the host Prince George Cougars scored a 2-1 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . F Marcus Almquist (5) gave the Royals a 1-0 lead at 1:27 of the first period. . . . F Jonny Hooker (16) tied it 10:06 later. . . . Samson, who has 15 goals, snapped the tie at 13:29 of the third period. He also drew an assist on Hooker’s goal. . . . G Ty Young stopped 29 shots for the Cougars, including 10 in the third period. . . . Prince George (23-38-5) is tied for sixth with the Spokane Chiefs. The Cougars have two games remaining — in Kamloops on Friday and in Kelowna on Saturday. . . . Victoria (22-38-6) is tied with the Vancouver Giants for eighth. The Royals have two games remaining with Spokane to visit on Friday and Saturday. . . .
In Kamloops, F Jaydon Dureau’s OT goal gave the Portland Winterhawks a 5-4 victory over the Blazers. . . . Andy Kemper, the Winterhawks’ historian, points out that the winning goal “was the 22nd of the season for No. 22 Dureau at 2:22 of OT.” . . . D Marek Alscher (7) had pulled Portland even, at 4-4, at 8:01 of the third period. . . . F Logan Stankoven had two goals, giving him 44, and an assist for Kamloops. His first goal, 57 seconds into the game, was his 100th point of the season. . . . Stankoven’s 102 points has him tied with F Ben King of the Red Deer Rebels for second in the WHL scoring race. They are three points behind Red Deer F Arshdeep Bains. . . . Stankoven leads the WHL in points per game, at 1.79. . . . The Blazers got three assists from F Daylan Kuefler. . . . Kamloops (47-16-3) is second in the conference. With two games to play, it is three points behind the idle Everett Silvertips (45-10-10) and two ahead of Portland (45-16-5), which also has two games remaining. . . .
F Andrew Cristall and F Colton Dach each had five points in leading the Kelowna Rockets to an 8-4 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . Cristall had two goals and three assists, with Dach scoring once and adding four helpers. . . . Cristall has 26 goals, which breaks the franchise record for goals by a 16-year-old. F Shane McColgan (2009-10) and F Nick Merkley (2013-14) had shared the record prior to the game. . . . The Rockets also got two goals and two assists from F Mark Liwiski, who has 23 goals, and two goals and an assist from F Adam Kydd. He’s got 17 goals. . . . F Zack Ostapchuk scored three times for Vancouver. His first career hat trick gave him 23 goals this season. . . . D Alex Cotton added his 15th goal and two assists for the visitors. . . . These teams will play again today in Kelowna and then will clash on Friday in Langley, B.C. . . . The Rockets (40-19-6) are fourth, two points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds and the two teams are headed for a first-round playoff clash. Each team has three games remaining, and all that remains to be decided is who will have home-ice advantage. . . . Vancouver (23-27-4) is tied with Victoria for the conference’s last playoff spot. . . .
At Kent, Wash., F Jared Davidson had a goal and three assists to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds past the Spokane Chiefs, 6-2. . . . The start of the game, scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PT, was delayed about two hours because weather conditions through the Snoqualmie Pass slowed the Chiefs’ trek. . . . Spokane, trailing 3-0 late in the second period, got to within a goal at 3-2 before third period was two minutes old but wasn’t able to equalize. . . . Davidson has 82 points, including 36 goals, in 61 games. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky added two goals for Seattle, giving him 34, with D Kevin Korchinski drawing three assists. . . . Seattle (41-18-6) is fourth, two points ahead of Kelowna. . . . Spokane (23-38-5) is tied for sixth with Prince George, one point ahead of Vancouver and Victoria.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: There is speculation that the QMJHL is seriously considering exempting 20-year-old goaltenders from the CHL rule that limits teams to three such players. That makes sense to me. I also would do away with the two-spot rule — teams are allowed three 20-year-olds and two imports — that has a 20-year-old import taking up a spot in each category. I have long thought that with teams having invested so much energy, money and time in import players they should have to declare a 20-year-old import as one or the other. . . . The BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks had their first season come to an end on Saturday when they lost, 3-2 in OT, to the visiting Prince George Spruce Kings, who won the best-of-seven series, 4-2. The announced attendance was 3,002.
Dorothy is preparing to take part in the annual Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year. She has participated in every one since she underwent a kidney transplant at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver on Sept. 23, 2013. . . . The 2022 Kidney Walk will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . You are able to support her by making a donation right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Just about the time the Portland Winterhawks and the Royals were facing off in Victoria on Tuesday night, a photo showing part of the crowd was posted on Twitter.
Shortly after it surfaced, a friend sent me a message: “Is Victoria only allowed 15 per cent capacity?”
After the game, with the Royals having announced attendance as 2,070, the friend sent another note: “Oh my goodness! Is the league as we know it dying in front of us?”
That likely is a bit of an overstatement, but there has to be more than a little concern in WHL circles, especially when the Winnipeg Ice, which plays in a city of more than 800,000 people, announces a crowd of 1,030 as it did on Tuesday night.
No, there aren’t any attendance restrictions in Manitoba sporting facilities these days. The Ice plays in the Wayne Fleming Arena on the campus of the U of Manitoba. The arena’s capacity once was said to be 1,400, but the Ice said in a Feb. 2 news release that the U of M “has confirmed the capacity . . . is 2,000 persons.”
The Ice, of course, played out of Cranbrook through the 2018-19 season, after which owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell packed up and moved to the Manitoba capital.
You may recall Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, visiting Cranbrook in January 2019 and telling people: “The WHL appreciates the support we have received from the City of Cranbrook, the corporate community, and, in particular, hockey fans in the East Kootenay region. However, after many years of monitoring the operations of the Kootenay Ice, it is evident this franchise is not viable in the market moving forward. It is a difficult decision, but given low attendance trends and the support required to operate a WHL Club, it is necessary to move the franchise to a market where it can be sustainable on a long-term basis.”
In 2018-19, its last season in Cranbrook, the Ice’s average announced attendance was 2,214. (BTW, the BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks, in their first season after moving into the Ice’s former home, are drawing 2,199 fans per game, according to hockeydb.)
Announced attendances at Wednesday night’s five WHL games: 2,426 . . . 1,837 . . . 2,035 . . . 2,824 . . . 2,056.
Granted, this has been a tough season thanks to the pandemic and various mandates and restrictions, but according to figures compiled by the WHL the Ice is averaging 1,500 fans through 23 home games. Only the Swift Current Broncos, playing in a city of about 17,000 people, are playing in front of fewer fans — 1,392 through 27 games.
Those same WHL figures show that the 22 teams have an average announced attendance of 3,047 through 586 games. In 2019-20, the season that the pandemic brought to a premature end in March, the average was 4,154 for 694 games. In 2018-19, the last complete season, teams average 4,361 fans for 748 games.
This season, the WHL has three teams averaging more than 4,000 fans per game. There are 13 teams under 3,000.
With attendance numbers where they are and with so many costs on the rise — both for the teams and for the ticket-buying public — one has to think there will be some head-scratching and soul-searching going on in the WHL’s Calgary office and a whole lot of team offices once this season is over . . . if there isn’t already.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT IN THE WHL: F Josh Williams, who reached the 100-goal career mark, and F Justin Sourdif each scored twice as the Edmonton Oil Kings ran their winning streak to 12 games by beating the Tigers, 7-3, in Medicine Hat. Williams has 32 goals; Sourdif has 18. F Hayden Wheddon, playing his first WHL game, scored for Edmonton in the second period. Wheddon, from Stonewall, Man., was a ninth-round pick in the WHL’s 2020 draft. . . . Williams has scored 79 goals with the Oil Kings, after starting his career with 21 for the Tigers. . . .
In Saskatoon, F Brandon Lisowsky scored twice, including his 30th goal of the season at 4:30 of OT, as the Blades beat the Lethbridge Hurricanes, 4-3. F Trae Wilke, who is from Saskatoon, scored his first WHL goal in his first game with the Hurricanes. He was a second-round pick in the WHL’s 2021 draft. Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was there and his report is right here. . . . Saskatoon has points in seven straight (5-0-2). . . . The Hurricanes are 2-3-0 while on a seven-game road swing with the Canadian men’s curling championship in their home building. . . .
F Nolan Ritchie scored at 1:11 of OT to give the host Brandon Wheat Kings a 2-1 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. Ritchie, who is from Brandon, has 26 goals. . . . The Wheat Kings are sixth in the Eastern Conference, 11 points ahead of Lethbridge and 13 up on Calgary. . . . The Hitmen hold down the last playoff spot, one point ahead of the Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos. . . .
F Blake Swetlikoff scored his ninth goal and added two assists to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 5-2 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . Matthew Hutchison became the fourth 15-year-old goaltender in Giants’ franchise history to start a game — after Ryan Kubic (2013), Payton Lee (2012) and Tyson Sexsmith (2005). Hutchison, from Nanaimo, stopped 28 shots. He was a third-round pick in the WHL’s 2021 draft. . . . G Jesper Vikman, the Giants’ starter, is on the sidelines with an undisclosed injury. . . . Spokane moved into a tie with the idle Prince George Cougars for seventh in the Western Conference, two points behind the Giants. . . .
In Victoria, F Cross Hanas had two goals, giving him 22, and two assists to help the Portland Winterhawks to a 5-2 victory over the Royals. Victoria had beaten the Winterhawks, 5-3, on Tuesday night. Last night, the Royals’ second goal came from Danish F Marcus Almquist, who got his first WHL goal in his 29th game. . . . The Winterhawks are third in the Western Conference, one point behind the Kamloops Blazers and Everett Silvertips. . . . The Royals are ninth, three points out of a playoff spot.
If #MLB cancels any more games, the Pirates are going to get mathematically eliminated from the playoffs
The BCHL has reinstated Colin Birkas, the Nanaimo Clippers’ associategeneral manager/associate coach, who was suspended early in February while the league had an unidentified independent investigator review what it said were “allegations of Code of Conduct breaches.” . . . On Wednesday, the league said that while it is reinstating Birkas, “the investigation has been partly completed but is still ongoing.” . . . At the same time, the BCHL said that Darren Naylor, the Clippers’ vice-president, general manager, head coach and director of hockey operations, “will continue on administrative leave until May 31, 2022.” . . . While Naylor and Birkas were sidelined, the Clippers brought in long-time junior coach Bob Beatty to work with assistant coach Ken McPhalen. . . . At the time of the suspensions, Clippers Hockey Limited Partnership, Naylor and Birkas filed a civil claim, arguing, according to CHEK News, “that the league acted ‘erroneously and in a high-handed manner’ in issuing the suspensions when no allegations have been proven, irreparably damaging the coaches’ reputations and putting the team’s season in jeopardy because there are no alternate coaches to take over.” . . . A B.C. Supreme Court judge issued a temporary injunction that would have allowed Naylor and Birkas to continue coaching; however, the team ended up putting the two on administrative leave just prior to what would have been their first game after the league had taken action. . . . With seven games remaining in their regular-season schedule, the Clippers are 29-16-2 and in third place in the nine-team Coastal Conference.
In Edmonton, the refs ignored infractions the way the broadcast ignored the booing of Alex Ovechkin. Nothing to see here, nothing to hear here. Not sure which was worse.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The QMJHL has unveiled its playoff format, with games to begin on May 5 with the final running from June 4 through June 15, depending how many games are needed. The first three rounds will feature best-of-five series with the championship final a best-of-seven series. There is a news release right here.
Today is World Kidney Day. . . . My wife, Dorothy, who underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, is preparing to take part in her ninth kidney walk, albeit virtually, on June 5. She has been involved in every walk since she had her transplant. If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do that right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
In light of developments involving Russia and Ukraine, there is a move afoot, started by the British government, to move soccer’s Champions League final out of St. Petersburg. The game is scheduled to be played on May 28 at Gazprom Arena. Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy giant, has sponsored the Champions League for 10 years.
UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, apparently is re-evaluating the situation.
You have to wonder, too, if the Russia-Ukraine situation might have repercussions in the world of hockey. Gord Miller of TSN, who is more than a little familiar with the world of international hockey, posted a series of tweets on this subject on Monday. Here’s a few of them . . .
“Start with the KHL, where the playoffs are set to start next Monday.One of the top KHL teams is Jokerit, located in Helsinki, but the team and arena are Russian owned. Jokerit is scheduled to play Spartak Moscow, would the Finnish government bar travel to and from Russia?
(Note: It’s worth noting that Chelsea, one of the soccer teams still alive in the Champions League’s round of 16, is owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.)
“Then there’s the Men’s World Championship set for Finland in May. If the Russians invade Ukraine, would the IIHF bar them from competing? That seems unlikely, but it did strip Belarus of it’s co-hosting of the 2021 WC. And again, would the Finnish government step in?
“This summer, the U.S. will host the Women’s U18 tournament, Canada will host the Hlinka/Gretzky U18 tournament and the World Juniors in August. Since severe travel restrictions to and from Russia are among the sanctions being discussed, would their teams be allowed to play?
“Further out, Russia is scheduled to host the 2023 World Junior Championship in December and the Men’s Worlds in May of 2023. New arenas have been built in Novosibirsk and St. Petersburg to host the two events, which stand to be very lucrative and high-profile for Russia.
“Again, even if the IIHF doesn’t take steps in the event of a Russian invasion, would a boycott of those two events by the other competing nations be possible? It might not even be in the hands of the hockey federations, national governments could make that call.”
Who knows what the future holds, but all of this definitely is food for thought and it all will be worth watching as it plays out.
When the Prince Albert Raiders skated out of Medicine Hat with a 4-1 victory over the Tigers on Monday afternoon, it marked another milestone for veteran head coach Marc Habscheid.
Unofficially, this was the 572nd regular-season victory of Habscheid’s WHL head-coaching career. (It’s all unofficially because the WHL hasn’t made available a Guide and Record Book since early in the 2019-20 season.)
By my count — and I’m the first to admit that I’ve been wrong before — Habscheid now is tied with Mike Williamson for fifth spot on the all-time list. Habscheid, who will turn 59 on March 1, worked as the head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets and Chilliwack Bruins/Victoria Royals before taking over the Raiders during the 2015-16 season.
The Raiders are next scheduled to play tonight (Wednesday) against the host Calgary Hitmen. (Habscheid earned his 500th victory on Feb. 9, 2019, in Lethbridge, and celebrated on the way out of town by having the bus stop at a Dairy Queen. He had a large chocolate sundae and treated everyone else. “The boys got whatever they wanted,” he said at the time. “Best $180 I ever spent.” Might there be another DQ stop in the Raiders’ future?)
Williamson had stints as the head coach with the Winterhawks, Hitmen and Tri-City Americans. BTW, a hearty Happy Birthday to Williamson, who turned 50 on Tuesday (Feb. 22).
Here’s the WHL’s top 10 winningest regular-season coaches: Don Hay, 750; Ken Hodge, 742; Don Nachbaur, 692; Lorne Molleken, 626; Williamson and Habscheid, each 572; Ernie McLean, 548; Brent Sutter, 526; Pat Ginnell 518; and Shaun Clouston, 485.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The WHL has suspended F Matthew Rempe of the Seattle Thunderbirds for two games after he was hit with a kneeing major and game misconduct during a game against the host Portland Winterhawks on Saturday night. Rempe was tossed at 1:55 of the first period for a hit on Portland F Jack O’Brien. Although O’Brien looked to have suffered an injury to his left leg at the time, he was back in the lineup the next night and had two goals and an assist in a 9-1 victory over the visiting Spokane Chiefs. . . . Although things have been quiet of late in terms of COVID-19, don’t think for a moment that it has gone away. The QMJHL has postponed two games involving the Cape Breton Eagles because of what are reported to be several positive tests among players. The games, both against the visiting Charlottetown Islanders, were to have been played on Feb. 25 and 26. The Eagles haven’t played at home since Dec. 15. . . . The WHL’s Victoria Royals (14-30-5), who recently snapped a 17-game losing streak, are tied for eighth in the Western Conference. They have 19 games remaining, with seven of those against the sixth-place Prince George Cougars (19-27-3). The Vancouver Giants (19-25-2) are between those two, one point behind the Cougars and seven ahead of the Royals and Tri-City Americans (14-29-5). . . . Meanwhile, the Kamloops Blazers (35-13-2) are second in the conference while leading the B.C. Division. The Kelowna Rockets (29-12-4) are fifth in the conference and second in the division, 10 points behind Kamloops. They will play in Kelowna on Friday and in Kamloops on Saturday. Later, from March 11-26, they will play each other six times. That’ll be six straight games for Kamloops, while Kelowna will squeeze in a doubleheader in Victoria during that stretch. . . . The Rockets will come out of the games with Kamloops to play four in a row against Prince George.
MONDAY IN THE WHL: F Reece Vitelli scored twice, giving him 18, as the visiting Prince Albert Raiders scored the game’s last four goals and beat the Medicine Hat Tigers, 4-1. Raiders D Trevor Thurston likely should expect a call from the WHL office, if he hasn’t had one already, after picking up two major penalties on the same play with 30 seconds left in the third period. He took a charging major for a hit on F Brayden Boehm. Yes there was a scrum, during which Thurston picked up a cross-checking major. . . . F Karson King (4) and F Josh Davies (15) each scored twice as the Swift Current Broncos beat the Pats, 4-3, in Regina. Davies broke a 3-3 tie at 7:59 of the third period. F Connor Bedard (31) and F Tanner Howe (19) each had a goal and an assist for Regina. . . .
The host Edmonton Oil Kings erased a 2-0 deficit with five straight goals en route to a 6-3 victory over the Winnipeg Ice. F Justin Sourdif (15) and F Josh Williams (25) had two goals each for Edmonton. Sourdif’s second goal, which gave Edmonton a 5-2 lead, was the first shorthanded score surrendered by the Ice this season. F Jake Neighbours of the Oil Kings had an empty-net goal as he ran his point streak to 14 games, the WHL’s longest active streak. . . . G Tyler Palmer blocked 35 shots to lead the Victoria Royals to a 3-0 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. An 18-year-old freshman from Fernie, B.C., Palmer, who is 5-0-0, 1.36, .961 against Vancouver, has two shutouts this season, both against the Giants. The Royals (14-30-5) have won eight of 10 meetings with the Giants (19-25-2) this season. They’ll go home-and-home this weekend to wrap up their season series. . . .
In Kelowna, F Turner McMillen scored twice, giving him nine goals as the Rockets dumped the Tri-City Americans, 5-3. Tri-City G Tomas Suchanek turned aside 51 shots . . . F Logan Stankoven had his points streak stopped at 19 games but did score in the shootout as the Kamloops Blazers clinched a playoff spot by beating the visiting Everett Silvertips, 4-3. Stankoven had 39 points, including 17 goals, in the WHL’s longest points streak to date this season. Kamloops F Daylan Kuefler (25) forced OT at 19:17 of the third period with his second goal of the game. Stankoven and F Luke Toporowski scored for Kamloops in the shootout, while F Jackson Berezowski counted for Everett.
If you didn’t happen to watch the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks playing on Monday night, there was a bizarre few moments when six players scrapped for a puck that wasn’t in the corner where they thought it was. Take a look . . .
It was May 23, 2010 and the Chicago Blackhawks were ahead 3-0 in the best-of-seven Western Conference final with the San Jose Sharks. At some point prior to Game 4, seven men held a meeting to discuss an alleged sexual assault that had occurred one of the two previous days. The incident involved video coach Brad Aldrich and Kyle Beach, one of the Black Aces.
Beach had gone to one of the men to tell him what had happened. According to a report filed by the Chicago law firm of Jenner & Block following its investigation, these seven men met to decide where to go from here. As we now know, they chose to do nothing, to let nothing get in the way of the train that was head for a Stanley Cup championship.
The Blackhawks completed the sweep of the Sharks that night, then went on to beat the Philadelphia Flyers in six games in the Stanley Cup final.
Beach, a power forward who had been the 11th overall selection in the NHL’s 2008 draft, never played a game in the NHL. While his name isn’t on the Stanley Cup, Aldrich’s is — although likely not for long.
Six of the seven men who were in attendance at that meeting now are out of the NHL. John McDonough, the team president; James Gary, the mental health coach; general manager Stan Bowman; Al MacIsaac, senior vice-president of hockey operations; Jay Blunk, an executive vice-president; and head coach Joel Quenneville.
Quenneville resigned Thursday as head coach of the Florida Panthers after meeting with Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner. Cheveldayoff, who was an assistant GM with Chicago, now is the Winnipeg Jets’ general manager. He met with Bettman on Friday and wasn’t disciplined, apparently because he is seen as having been only a minion in the Chicago scheme of things more than 11 years ago.
Still, Cheveldayoff was in attendance at that meeting.
Former NHL coach John Tortorella, now an analyst with ESPN, put it best when he said on ESPN’s The Point: “That’s what’s crazy to me, it’s multiple people. This wasn’t a one-man decision, it was multiple people. I don’t know why one guy couldn’t stand up and go, ‘You know what, no, this is wrong.’ ”
Tortorella hit the nail squarely on its head. But therein lays the rub. Until the people in suits quit trying to protect the shield at all costs and as long as they put winning before humanity this kind of stuff will continue to happen. No matter how many hotlines are set up . . . no matter how many committees are struck . . . no matter how many investigations are held . . .
Former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy, who knows a thing or two about sexual abuse, told Gregory Strong of The Canadian Press: “Posters and buttons and policies and procedures don’t change culture. Until sport makes this a priority as they do winning, they’ll never have the change that I think people expect from them.”
And then there was this from veteran forward Taylor Hall, now with the Boston Bruins.
“Every culture needs to keep getting better, and hockey’s no different,” he said. This is a game that’s a little bit of a . . . I guess what you’d call an old boys’ club. There’s definitely some secrecy and things that need to change and hopefully they can.”
Manny Viveiros, the head coach of the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights, is back with the team after being away following a diagnosis of prostate cancer. He will be taking another leave in December as he undergoes surgery.
“Unfortunately,” he tweeted, “I’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer. I had to take a leave of absence at the first part of the season. We’ve been trying at the very early stages a game plan of what we want to do going forward. Now that we have one in place through the doctors, we have an opportunity now to go after this and treat this. I’ve been able to get back to work, which is, for me, a really important part of my life.”
Viveiros is a former WHL player who was the general manager and head coach of the Swift Current Broncos when they won the 2018 championship.
He said his diagnosis was the result of a blood test in training camp: “It started with a simple blood test. The staff and players at the Golden Knights training camp went through physicals and everybody got a blood test. My PSA levels came back really high, and we did a follow up of another blood test and they came back very high again. Right away the VGK medical staff set me up with a urologist here in Las Vegas. I went in and saw him and obviously he was very concerned right away. He checked me out and we ended up doing a biopsy and unfortunately it came back that I do have prostate cancer.”
He also believes that the blood test “probably saved my life. Just having a simple blood test. I’m at the age where I’m over 50 and in perfect health. You just never know. I figured if I feel good, there’s probably nothing wrong. Getting a simple blood test can make the difference in catching something very early or saving a person’s life. I can’t help but encourage people, especially if there’s a history in their family, to go get a simple blood test. That can make a world of difference in the future.”
There were nine WHL games on Friday night. Some highlights . . .
In Edmonton, the Oil Kings’ derailed the Winnipeg Ice’s run at a record by scoring three third-period goals in a 3-1 victory. . . . F Connor McClennon (10) gave the Ice a 1-0 first-period lead. . . . F Dylan Guenther (4) tied it at 3:28 of the third, and F Carson Latimer (5) broke the tie at 11:42. F Jaxsen Wiebe (2) added the empty-netter. . . . The Oil Kings (7-2-1) have won three in a row. They also have posted 10 straight victories against the Ice. . . . The Ice (11-1-0) had won its first 11 games. The 1988-89 Swift Current Broncos hold the WHL record for longest winning streak to open a season (12). . . . The Ice and Oil Kings were ranked second and third, respectively, in the CHL’s weekly release. The No. 1-ranked Quebec Remparts (9-2-0) lost, 2-1, to the visiting Shawinigan Cataractes on Thursday. . . .
In Everett, the Portland Winterhawks erased a 3-0 deficit and beat the Silvertips, 4-3, in a shootout. . . . G Dante Gianuzzi stopped 36 shots for Portland (4-5-1), which had lost three straight. . . . Everett (6-0-1) had a 7-0 edge in OT shots. Silvertips Color Guy (@TipsATG) tweeted that Everett hit three crossbars in OT. . . . The Silvertips scored three first-period goals, two via the PP. . . . D Clay Hanus (3) pulled Portland into a tie at 18:37 of the third period. . . . Portland’s first two goals also came via the PP. . . . F Cross Hanas, the first shooter, scored the lone goal of the shootout. . . .
In Kamloops, the Blazers outshot the Victoria Royals, 58-16, in skating to a 7-1 victory. . . . Kamloops held a 20-5 edge in shots in each of the first and third periods. . . . F Matthew Seminoff (3) scored the game’s first two goals. . . . The Blazers (7-1-0) have won three in a row. . . . Victoria (1-10-0) has lost nine straight. . . .
In Spokane, F Mekai Sanders scored twice to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 4-1 victory over the Chiefs. . . . Sanders has four goals this season. He went into this season with three goals in 47 career games over two seasons. . . . F Jared Davidson (1) added a goal and two assists. . . . Seattle (6-2-1) has won four in a row. . . . The Chiefs are 3-5-1. . . .
In Langley, B.C., the Vancouver Giants went 4-for-5 on the PP and scored twice while shorthanded in beating the Kelowna Rockets, 7-2. . . . The Giants’ PP was 1-for-17 when the game began. . . . F Justin Sourdif (4) scored twice and added two assists, and F Fabian Lysell (2) had a goal and three assists as the Giants improved to 4-2-0. . . . The Rockets are 2-3-0. . . . The Giants were without D Cade McNelly, 20, due to what the team said was personal reasons. Steve Ewen of Postmedia tweeted that GM Barclay Parneta “had no timeline for a return.” . . .
In Lethbridge, the Hurricanes scored the game’s last three goals to beat the Saskatoon Blades, 4-3. . . . F Ty Nash scored his first two goals of the season to tie the game in the second period. . . . F Justin Hall (9) snapped the tie at 1:11 of the third period. . . . F Jayden Wiens (2) scored twice for the Blades, giving them a 2-0 lead by 7:08 of the first period. . . . Saskatoon (7-2-1) had picked up points in each of its previous eight games (7-0-1). . . . The Hurricanes now are 5-3-0. . . .
In Moose Jaw, F Brayden Yager’s seventh goal, on a PP at 4:52 of OT, gave the Warriors a 4-3 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . F Ryder Korczak (5) had a goal and two assists for the Warriors (4-6-0), who halted a four-game skid. . . . F Noah Danielson (4) had pulled the Tigers (4-4-2) into a 3-3 tie at 18:30 of the third period. . . . Medicine Hat got three assists from F Lukas Svejkovsky. . . .
In Prince Albert, F Brett Hyland had a goal and two assists in regulation and added a shootout goal as the Brandon Wheat Kings beat the Raiders, 5-4. . . . G Ethan Kruger, who had been out of Brandon’s lineup since being injured on Oct. 9, stopped 33 shots. . . . Hyland’s first career three-point game came in his 33rd outing over three seasons. He has a goal and four assists in seven games this season. . . . The Wheat Kings (5-6-0) had lost their previous three games. . . . The Raiders (2-7-1), who have lost three in a row, got three assists from D Kaiden Guhle. . . . D Remy Aquilon scored his first two goals of the season for Prince Albert. . . . Hyland and F Tyson Zimmer scored shootout goals for Brandon, with Guhle doing the same for the Raiders. . . . Darren Steinke, the travelling blogger, was on hand and posted this story right here. . . .
In Swift Current, the Regina Pats halted a seven-game losing run with a 4-1 victory over the Broncos. . . . While the Pats improved to 3-7-0, the Broncos slid to 2-6-2 with their eighth straight loss (0-6-2). . . . F Zack Stringer (4) and F Cole Dubinsky (6) each scored twice.
JUST NOTES: With the Winnipeg Ice (11-1-0) and Everett Silvertips (6-0-1) both losing on Friday night, the OHL’s London Knights (8-0-0) are the only team in the CHL not to have lost yet this season. . . . Steve Hunter of the Kent Reporter has written a story right here about the Seattle Thunderbirds and attendance for their games at the accesso ShoWare Center. . . . Elizabeth Mantha worked her first game as an AHL referee on Friday night. Her brother, Anthony, plays for the NHL’s Washington Capitals. Elizabeth and former WHLer Cody Beach — yes, he’s Kyle’s brother — were the referees as the Rochester Americans scored a 4-3 victory over the Rocket in Laval.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
F Nikita Popugaev — sometimes it is spelled Popugayev — says he has retired. Popugaev, who is to turn 23 on Nov. 20, is from Moscow. He played two-plus seasons in the WHL, starting with 110 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors (2015-17) and finishing with 44 with the Prince George Cougars (2016-18). . . . He put up 123 points, including 47 goals, in 154 regular-season WHL games. . . . The New Jersey Devils selected him in the fourth round of the NHL’s 2017 draft.
While Popugaev was burning his gear, there were eight WHL games played on Friday night . . .
F Ridly Greig, newly named captain of the Brandon Wheat Kings, scored twice in a 5-2 victory over visiting Prince Albert Raiders (0-3-0). . . . F Ben Thornton also scored twice for Brandon. . . .
D Matthew Gallant’s first WHL goal stood up as the winner as the host Moose Jaw Warriors edged the Regina Pats, 3-2. . . . Gallant, the eldest son of former Pats’ radio voice Kevin Gallant, broke a 2-2 tie at 17:52 of the second period. . . . F Cade Hayes had Moose Jaw’s other two goals. . . .
F Lukas Svejkovsky scored three times to lead the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers to a 4-2 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . It was Svejkovsky’s first career WHL hat trick. He has five goals in two games. . . . Svejkovsky also had an assist, giving him his first career four-point game. It came in his 141st regular-season game. . . .
D Simon Kubicek broke a 1-1 tie with a PPG at 2:36 of the third period as the Edmonton Oil Kings got past the host Swift Current Broncos, 2-1. . . . Edmonton’s Sebastian Cossa, with 23 saves, won the goaltending duel with Isaac Poulter, who stopped 35 shots. . . .
G Braden Holt blocked 23 shots as the Everett Silvertips beat the visiting Portland Winterhawks, 4-0. . . . F Jackson Berezowski scored twice. . . . Holt, an 18-year-old from Bozeman, Montana, has two career shutouts. On March 6, 2020, he stopped 16 shots in a 6-0 victory over the visiting Tri-City Americans. . . . Mike Benton worked his final Silvertips’ game as the play-by-play voice. He left the Silvertips for six seasons, and now is with Seattle radio station KJR where he is the host for Kraken pre-game, intermission and post-game shows. He handled the Silvertips’ first two regular-season games while they get a new radio voice in place. There should be an announcement coming shortly. . . .
The Victoria Royals scored four times on five second-period shots and went on to beat the visiting Kelowna Rockets, 6-3. . . . F Brayden Schuurman, 17, scored three times and added an assist for the Royals. Yes, it was his first hat trick. Yes, it was his first four-point game. . . .
The Seattle Thunderbirds broke a 3-3 tie with two late third-period goals to beat the Chiefs, 5-3, in Spokane. . . . D Tyrel Bauer scored the eventual winner at 13:06, with F Conner Roulette wrapping it up at 17:26. . . . The Chiefs got a goal and two assists from F Bear Hughes. . . .
In Langley, B.C., the Vancouver Giants snapped a 3-3 tie with three straight goals as they beat the Prince George Cougars, 6-4. . . . The Giants got two goals from F Adam Hall, with F Ty Thorpe and F Justin Sourdif each adding a goal and two assists, and D Mazden Leslie drawing three helpers. . . . The Cougars had taken a 3-1 lead into the second period.
The Ontario government has listed some COVID-19-related restrictions so that OHL teams based in the province will be permitted to play before crowds of 100 per cent capacity with everyone fully vaccinated. That all is effective today (Saturday).
Fighting in the NHL is at historic lows. But the problem is the guys who are fighting now are bigger and more powerful than ever before. And it might not end well. My latest for Hockey Unfiltered. You'll need a free or paid subscription to access. https://t.co/zpSmy81rIY
There were six fights in WHL games on Friday night. The time for the WHL to get rid of fighting — teens punching each other in the face — passed us by a long time ago.
Plans are in place for a documentary series on the hockey rivalry between Canada and what was the USSR. It has the working title “72” and is to focus on the 1972 Summit Series, “a pivotal set of eight games played between the two nations in 1972 in Canada and Russia where political rivalry equalled the on-field competition,” wrote Naman Ramachandran of variety.com. “The tournament was rife with allegations of dirty play and disputes over officiating. In Canada, the games were set against a backdrop of a home-grown terrorist movement that had turned violent, while KGB agents and Soviet soldiers sat in the stands for the games in Moscow.” . . . . There is more right here.
The Medicine Hat News reported Friday that the Medicine Hat Minor Hockey Association is in a state of flux. According to James Tubb of The News, a source “with close knowledge of the situation” has said that some board members “have manipulated tryout evaluations to ensure their children play at a higher level than they are rated. One recently departed board member is backing that claim, and they both say it’s coming at the cost of other children’s development.” . . . The complete story is right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Terry Massey lives in Regina and knows his way around computers. Over the years, he has helped me a lot with my blog/website, especially when I was operating with a different host than this one. . . . Like so many of us, he, his wife and their twin boys have been impacted by COVID-19. . . . Terry, for example, is looking for work through all of this, and now everything has been interrupted by two positives tests. . . . Here’s his story; give it a read. . . . And then make sure to get vaccinated.
Hope in the pandemic? Well I was vaccinated caught #COVID19 one day before I was considered "vaccinated" and wonder can we see a light at the end of the tunnel? Can we really?
Following the final game last night, the Tigers Willie D. His coaching staff and players presented me with this motorcyle helmet commemorating my 50 plus years broadcasting Tiger hockey. What a tremors honor . An awesome group to be a small part of. pic.twitter.com/NRe7B0hqbV
That’s it for the Medicine Hat Arena. As Collin Gallant of the Medicine Hat News wrote on Friday: “The ice is out, the asphalt is coming up and the Medicine Hat Arena may start coming down this year. Machinery and fencing was delivered to the shuttered facility in the North River Flats as the city begins reworking utility lines in the area as part of a delayed conditional sale announced in 2019 and set to close this summer.” . . . Shouldn’t Bob Ridley get to swing the first sledgehammer or push the plunger or whatever is going to happen when the destruction begins? . . . Gallant’s story is right here.
When the Regina Pats closed out their part of the WHL schedule in the Regina hub on April 27, it marked more than the end of a team’s season. It also signalled the end of a career for Phil Andrews, their one-time play-by-play voice who rejoined the team just to call the developmental season’s games. . . . On Friday, in thanking the team and the fans, Andrews revealed that he is joining Athletes in Action at the U of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.
“It’s been a six-year journey to get here,” he wrote. “I found myself in a tough spot personally in 2015, making some serious mistakes and was left trying to pick up the pieces at home. In that process, I have found God and a faith that has changed my outlook on life. As a result, I have been in search of a career working with people and hopefully allowing my story to make a difference. I am very excited to announce I will be joining the campus staff of Athletes in Action at the U of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. I am really looking forward to this next chapter for myself and my family.”
F Dante Hannoun, now 22, played five seasons (2014-19) in the WHL, spending four-plus seasons with the Victoria Royals and finishing up with 28 regular-season games and a run to a championship with the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . This season, the native of Delta, B.C., played with Sterzing/Vipiteno in the Alps Hockey League. He finished 20th in the scoring race, putting up 49 points, 16 of them goals, in 40 regular-season games. . . . Why am I dropping Hannoun’s name here? Well, during every Vancouver Canucks’ game there is an online 50/50 draw to benefit the Canucks Kids Fund. . . . The Canucks beat the Edmonton Oilers, 6-3, on Thursday night and the draw brought in $121,080, with half of that going to the winner. According to the Canucks’ website that winner is “Dante Hannoun” and he pocketed $60,540. . . . Might it be the WHL’s Dante Hannoun or are there two of them out there? Whoever it is, I hope he’s buying lunch for his pals.
Lacrosse Canada announced Friday that it has cancelled nine 2021 national championships because of the pandemic. From that announcement: “The minor box lacrosse nationals, including the 12U, 14U, 14U girls, 17U and 17U girls National Championships, have been cancelled. The Founders’ Cup Junior B National Championship has been cancelled. As well, the field lacrosse nationals, including the U15 boys’ field, U18 men’s field and the senior men’s field National Championships, have been cancelled for 2021.”
Right now our arena is full of dedicated professionals ready to help in this mission. @KCPubHealth along with the doctors, nurses, medics, logistics, EMS, and @ShoWareCenter staff have answered the call but they need us to roll up our sleeves. #WeAre
The Vancouver Giants got two goals and two assists from F Tristen Nielsen as they scored five times on special teams en route to a 6-2 victory over the Kelowna Rockets in Kamloops on Friday night. . . . Vancouver (11-9-0) had lost its previous two games. . . . Kelowna (8-4-1) has lost three in a row (0-2-1). . . . Nielsen, who turned 21 on Feb. 23, now has 15 goals and 13 assists in 20 games. He scored once on the power play and once while shorthanded, and drew two PP assists. . . . The Giants were 3-for-3 on the PP and 3-for-4 on the PK, while also scoring two shorthanded goals, the eighth and ninth allowed by the Rockets in 13 games. . . . Vancouver scored four second-period goals as it outshot Kelowna 17-5. . . . Nielsen opened the scoring, shorthanded, at 1:52 of the first period. . . . D Tanner Brown (2) made it 2-0 at 5:13 of the second. . . . F Steel Quiring (2) got Kelowna’s first goal at 6:44. . . . Nielsen added a PP goal at 10:10 and F Justin Sourdif then scored twice — on a PP at 10:44 and shorthanded at 14:53. . . . F Adam Hall (7) added another PP goal for the Giants at 9:43 of the third period. . . . D Kaedan Korczak (3) had Kelowna’s second goal, on a PP, at 12:57. . . . Sourdif also had an assist for a three-point outing. . . . In four games with the Rockets, Nielsen and Sourdif have combined for 21 points. Sourdif has four goals and seven assists; Nielsen has five goals and five assist. . . . The Giants got 18 saves from G Trent Miner. . . .
The Seattle Thunderbirds erased a 2-0 second-period deficit with five goals and beat the host Tri-City Americans, 5-2. . . . Seattle (9-11-1) has points in three straight (2-0-1). . . . Tri-City (7-10-0) has lost two in a row. . . . F Nick Bowman (4) and F Connor Bouchard (5) had the Americans ahead 2-0 early in the second period. . . . F Jared Davidson, who scored twice and added an assist, got the Seattle comeback started at 5:53 of the second period. . . . F Henry Rybinski tied it with his first of two goals at 7:08. . . . Rybinski (7) gave the Thunderbirds the lead at 9:45 with the club’s first shorthanded goal of the season. . . . F Nico Myatovic (3) upped the lead to 4-2 at 17:46 and Davidson (9) got the empty-netter. . . . Davidson has nine goals and nine assists in 21 games. Last season he had eight goals and eight assists in 59 games. . . . G Scott Ratzlaff, who turned 16 on March 9, stopped 18 shots to earn the victory in his first WHL start. From Irma, Alta., he was a second-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft. . . . The Americans opened up five sections to vaccinated fans and youngsters with proof of negative tests. Unfortunately, they didn’t show an attendance figure on the online game sheet. . . .
The Everett Silvertips outshot visiting Spokane, 45-15, as they skated to a 5-1 victory over the Chiefs. . . . Everett (18-4-0) has won three in a row. . . . The Chiefs (6-8-5) had points in each of their previous four games (2-0-2). . . . The Silvertips outscored the Chiefs 3-1 in a second period in which they held a 24-4 edge in shots. . . . F Ethan Regnier (7) gave the winners a 1-0 lead at 19:43 of the first period, with F Matthew Ng making it 2-0 with his first WHL goal at 4:12 of the second. . . . Ng, from Cupertino, Calif., was playing in his fourth WHL game. Undrafted, he turned 17 on Jan. 13. . . . F Eli Zummack (9) struck for Spokane, on a PP, at 6:05, but F Cole Fonstad (16) and F Jackson Berezowski (7), on a PP, replied for Everett before the period ended. . . . D Ronan Seeley (5) finished Everett’s scoring at 2:54 of the third period. . . . Everett G Dustin Wolf stopped 13 shots in 55:04, then made way for Evan May to make his WHL debut. May, an undrafted 16-year-old from Nanaimo, stopped the only shot he faced in 4:56.
Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Two of the WHL’s top forwards — Ridly Greig of the Brandon Wheat Kings and Peyton Krebs of the Winnipeg Ice — are preparing to play some AHL games. . . . Greig, 18, is in quarantine in Ottawa and will join the AHL’s Belleville Senators for their final seven games. The parent Ottawa Senators selected him 28th overall in the NHL’s 2020 draft. He had two assists in four games will Belleville earlier this season. In the WHL’s Regina hub, he had 32 points, 10 of them goals, in 21 games. . . . Krebs, who turned 20 on Jan. 26, will be joining the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights for the remainder of their season, and then could well be added to the Vegas Golden Knights’ roster for their Stanley Cup run. Vegas selected him 17th overall in the NHL’s 2019 draft. Krebs actually began the season with the Silver Knights, scoring once and adding four assists in five games. In the WHL this season, he led the Regina hub in scoring with 43 points, 30 of them assists, in 24 games. . . . Note that there won’t be any playoffs in the AHL this season.
While Greig and Krebs and looking forward to AHL games, 12 WHL teams were on the ice Saturday night . . .
The Tri-City Americans opened up an early 3-0 lead and hung on for a 3-2 victory over the host Portland Winterhawks. . . . With Portland having lost in regulation time, it means the idle Everett Silvertips will finish atop the U.S. Division. . . . The Americans (6-8-0) had lost their previous three games. . . . The Winterhawks now are 9-7-3. . . . Tri-City grabbed that lead on first-period goals from F Nick Bowman (2), at 0:30, F Tyson Greenway (2), at 11:13, and F Sasha Mutala (6), at 12:50. . . . F Reece Newkirk, playing in his 200th regular-season game with Portland, got his eighth goal, on a PP, at 8:32, and F Jaydon Dureau (5) cut the deficit to one at 10:12 of the third. . . . Tri-City G Talyn Boyko stopped 37 shots to earn the victory. . . . The Winterhawks had F Cross Hanas, D Clay Hanus and F James Stefan in the lineup for the first time. They spent most of this season with the USHL’s Lincoln Stars. . . . F Jack O’Brien, the fourth Portland player to have skated with Lincoln, played in his second game back with the Winterhawks. . . .
F Adam Beckman scored three goals for a second straight game, helping the host Spokane Chiefs to an 8-3 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Spokane (6-7-3) has won two in a row. . . . Seattle (7-11-0) has lost six straight. . . . Beckman, who led the WHL with 48 goals in 63 games last season, now has scored 15 times in 16 outings this season. . . . Beckman scored two second-period goals — on a PP at 2:28 for a 3-1 lead and at 16:50 for a 6-2 lead. He completed the hat trick with a shorthanded goal at 13:24 of the third period. That gave the Chiefs a 7-3 lead. . . . Spokane’s other goals came from F Eli Zummack (8), F Copeland Fricker (2), F Blake Swetlikoff (4), D Matt Leduc (1) and F Ben Thornton (1). Thornton was the 15th overall pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . Spokane D Bobby Russell had three assists. . . . F Jared Davidson (6), D Cade McNelly (1) and F Keltie Jeri-Leon (12) replied for Seattle. . . . Seattle F Payton Mount played in his second game after being injured on April 13 when he struck on the head by a puck that glanced off the wall behind the team’s bench. . . . F Luke Toporowski was back with the Chiefs for the first time, after playing 32 games with the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede. He had 33 points, including 14 goals. . . . G Scott Ratzlaff made his WHL debut by playing the third period for Seattle. A second-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft, he stopped eight of 10 shots. . . .
The Lethbridge Hurricanes scored the game’s first three goals en route to a 6-3 victory over the host Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . The Hurricanes improved to 9-11-2, while the Tigers slipped to 13-7-1. . . . F Logan Barlage (8), on a PP, and F Cole Miller (1) got Lethbridge into a first-period lead, and F Alex Thacker (3) made it 3-0 at 8:49 of the second. . . . Miller, the 16th overall pick in the 2020 bantam draft, scored his first WHL goal in his 10th game. . . . F Teague Patton (2) scored for the Tigers at 9:15, but the Hurricanes opened the third period with goals from F Dino Kambeitz (6), at 4:00, and F Chase Wheatcroft, on a PP, at 6:34, to take a 5-1 lead. . . . F Corson Hopwo (14) and F Carlin Dezainde (1) scored for the Tigers before game’s end, with Wheatcroft (7) getting the empty-netter. . . . Dezainde, an undrafted skater from Calgary, got his first WHL goal in his 11th game. . . .
The Red Deer Rebels ended a 13-game losing skid with a 4-2 victory over the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Red Deer (3-15-3) had been 0-12-1 in its previous 13 outings. . . . The Oil Kings had won the past 17 meetings between these teams. . . . Edmonton (18-2-1) had points in each of its previous 10 games (9-0-1). . . . F Ben King (10) gave the Rebels a 2-0 lead with goals at 0:40 and 4:07 of the first period, the second one coming via a PP. . . . F Logan Dowhaniuk got Edmonton on the scoreboard at 15:52. . . . Red Deer got that one back when F Chris Douglas (7) scored, shorthanded, at 7:56 of the second period. . . . Dowhaniuk got his fourth of the season, on a PP, at 15:57. . . . F Ethan Rowland (6) of the Rebels got the empty-netter. . . . Edmonton F Jake Neighbours, who is on a 19-game point streak, sat out with an undisclosed injury. . . . Chase Coward, an undrafted goaltender from Swift Current, earned his first WHL victory in his second start with 24 saves. . . . F Josh Tarzwell was back in Red Deer’s lineup after being out since April 9 with an undisclosed injury. . . . Edmonton head coach Brad Lauer was fined $500 after taking a game misconduct at the end of Friday’s game, an 8-3 victory over the host Calgary Hitmen. . . .
F Caedan Bankier scored with 12.4 seconds left in OT to give the host Kamloops Blazers a 4-3 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Kamloops (13-4-0, .765) had lost its previous two games. . . . Kelowna (8-2-1, .773) had won five in a row. . . . Bankier, a sophomore from Surrey, B.C., had 20 points, including seven goals, in 55 games last season. His OT goal gave him his first career hat trick. He has 17 points, including eight goals, in 17 games this season. . . . Bankier, on a PP at 3:45 of the second period, and F Josh Pillar (9), shorthanded at 9:23, gave Kamloops a 2-0 lead. . . . The Rockets tied it on second-period PP goals by F David Kope and F Alex Swetlikoff (4), at 11:09 and 17:43. . . . Bankier scored on a PP at 2:38 of the third period for a 3-2 lead, only to have Kope (5) tie it at 8:59. . . . Kope also had an assist for a three-point night. . . . Kamloops got 35 stops from G Dylan Garand. . . . The Rockets had beaten him and the Blazers 6-1 in Kelowna on Friday night. . . . Kamloops F Connor Zary missed his second straight game after absorbing a high hit from F Jonny Hooker of the Prince George Cougars on Wednesday night. Hooker has been suspended, although the length of the suspension has yet to be announced. . . . The Cougars are scheduled to play the Vancouver Giants in Kamloops tonight. . . .
F Justin Sourdif and F Tristen Nielsen scored in the shootout to give the Vancouver Giants a 5-4 victory over the Victoria Royals in Kelowna. . . . Vancouver (10-7-0) had lost four in a row. . . . The Royals now are 2-13-2. . . . The Giants held a 42-19 edge in shots, including 15-3 in the third period. . . . F Carter Dereniwsky (1) gave Victoria a 1-0 lead at 1:46 of the first period. . . . A second-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft, he was playing in his 16th game. . . . D Connor Horning (1) and F Adam Hall (6), on a PP, gave the Giants the lead before the period ended. . . . Victoria went back out front with second-period PP goals from F Keanu Derungs (3), at 2:39, and F Brandon Cutler (7), at 3:00. . . . D Alex Kannok Leipert (6) and F Kaden Kohle (1), at 4:29 and 5:02, got Vancouver back into the lead. . . . F Taren Fizer (4) scored, shorthanded, at 13:29 of the second to get Victoria into a 4-4 tie. . . . Vancouver G Drew Sim stopped 15 shots, while Victoria’s Connor Martin turned aside 38.
The playoff stage is set after Saturday’s games at the IIHF U18 World Championship in Frisco and Plano, Texas. . . . Canada ran its record atop Group A to 4-0 with a 5-2 victory over Belarus (2-2). Team Canada will play Czech Republic (1-2-1) in a quarterfinal game on Monday (TSN4, 1 p.m. PT) in Frisco. . . . Team USA (3-0-1) beat Finland 5-4 in OT to finish third, behind Finland (3-0-1) and Russia (3-0-1) in Group B, and now will meet Sweden (3-1-0) in a Monday quarterfinal game (TSN1, 6 p.m.PT). . . . The other quarterfinals on Monday will have Russia (3-0-1) against Belarus (10:30 a.m. PT) and Finland against Switzerland (1-3) (3:30 p.m. CT). . . . Latvia (0-4 in Group A) and Germany (0-4 in Group B) didn’t qualify for the playoffs.
Don’t forget that my wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
JUST NOTES: The junior B Kelowna Chiefs of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League announced Saturday that Ken Law has moved into a full-time position as general manager, with Travers Rebman, who had been an assistant coach, moving up to head coach. Head scout Larry Hamilton has added the assistant general manager’s job to his duties. Thierry Martine and Carl Poole remain as assistant coaches, with Travis Hoy staying on as goaltender coach and Shea Kearns as strength-and-conditioning coach. . . . Law had been the head coach and assistant GM, with owner Jason Tansem serving as the GM.
So after covering the Freedom Rally last week and hearing about how "the plandemic" doesn't actually exist, I am now required to isolate until May 1 as that very rally may have spread the virus further. Being a reporter during this pandemic is impossible🥴🥴🥴 https://t.co/Vq5X2osbRm
Alex Kopacz, 31, is an Olympic gold medallist, having won the two-man bobsleigh competition as pilot Justin Kripps’ brakeman in 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Today, he’s in hospital in London, Ont., just happy to be alive. . . . “I’ve never felt so close to my own death before,” he told Donna Spencer of The Canadian Press. “It’s been horrible.” . . . Yes, he has COVID-19, and he is on oxygen to help him breathe. But he is showing improvement and hopes to be out of the hospital in a few days, although he doesn’t know what the future holds. . . . In the meantime, he wants everyone to know that “it’s not a joke. The only thing that’s a joke is people who don’t believe in scientists. The anti-maskers are a joke. An absolute hazard to society.” . . . Spencer’s complete story is right here.
The Western Canadian Baseball League lost another team on Saturday when the Medicine Hat Mavericks announced they have chosen to opt out of the 2021 season. . . . The league announced late last month that its Alberta teams were going to go ahead with a season using only Canadian players. At this point, the Edmonton Prospects, Lethbridge Bulls, Sylvan Lake Gulls and two teams of Okotoks Dawgs seem poised to play.
The Canadian College Baseball Conference announced Saturday that it has cancelled its 2021 spring season “due to public health restrictions.” . . . From a statement: “The CCBC board of governors was optimistic in the early spring that a return to play would happen and worked diligently to pursue every avenue to make the conference season happen. With provincial authorities extending current restrictions it has made for challenges that can’t be overcome.” . . . The CCBC comprises eight teams in Alberta and B.C.
Hey, want to be part of a team? Dorothy, my wife of almost 49 years, had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, and now is preparing to take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. It happens virtually on June 6. You are able to join her team with a donation right here.
Athletics Canada has decided not to send a team to the two-day World Athletics Relays that are scheduled for Chorzow, Poland, May 1 and 2. Australia, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the U.S. have also said they won’t be there. . . . Simon Nathan, Athletics Canada’s high performance director, in a statement: “The safety of our athletes, coaches and staff is our top priority. Though showing signs of improvement, Poland is reporting a very high level of COVID-19 and travellers are strongly encouraged to avoid all non-essential travel in and out of Poland, even those who are fully vaccinated.” . . . The Canadian team, which has been training in Baton Route, La., was to have comprised 24 athletes.
The WHL’s Regina hub season will end with two games on Wednesday. The five Saskatchewan and two Manitoba teams have been there since early March, staying in dormitories at the U of Regina and Luther College. . . . The WHL said on Saturday that the seven teams have gotten through their final COVID-19 testing period without any positive tests. Teams are tested once a week. In the period from April 18-24, those seven teams experienced 213 tests without a positive. . . . In total, there were 1,020 tests administered to WHL teams in that time period, with one positive test for a player with the Tri-City Americans. According to the WHL, that player “was deemed to have been a close contact resulting from the previous one case of COVID-19, as announced April 17. The player remains in isolation at this time.” . . . The Americans, then, have had two players test positive. . . . According to the WHL, it has administered 8,220 tests from Feb. 12 through April 24 with 14 of those coming up positive.
Meanwhile, there were five games on Saturday . . .
F Seth Jarvis scored Portland’s last three goals as the host Winterhawks skated to a 6-3 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Portland improved to 7-5-3, while Seattle, which has lost three straight, slipped to 7-8-0. . . . The Thunderbirds fell behind 2-0 before this one was two minutes old and weren’t ever able to catch up despite getting to within a goal on three occasions — 2-1, 3-2 and 4-3. . . . F Simon Knak (9) and D Ryan McCleary (3) scored on Portland’s first two shots. . . . F Gabe Ludwig scored for Seattle at 10:49 of the first period, but Portland F Mason Mannek (6) got that one back at 13:55. . . . Seattle F Sam Oremba scored his first WHL goal at 14:12 — he was the seventh overall selection in the 2020 bantam draft — and Jarvis replied 54 seconds into the second period. . . . D Tyrel Bauer (2) pulled Seattle back to within a goal at 4:22. . . . Jarvis completed his third career hat trick with goals at 11:13 of the second and 11:09 of the third, both via the PP. He’s got 10 goals. . . . Portland was 3-for-7 on the PP; Seattle was 0-for-3. . . . These teams will play again tonight in Portland. . . .
D Braden Schneider scored in OT to give the Brandon Wheat Kings a 5-4 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders in the Regina hub. . . . Schneider, a native of Prince Albert, struck for his fifth goal at 2:30 of OT. . . . He also had the OT winner on April 18 in a 5-4 victory over the Winnipeg Ice. . . . Brandon F Ben McCartney (13) had tied the score at 14:39 of the third period. . . . The Wheat Kings (17-3-2) have won six in a row. . . . The Raiders (8-10-4) have points in two straight (1-0-1). . . . Prince Albert erased 2-1 and 3-1 deficits to lead 4-3 in the third period. . . . The Wheat Kings led 2-0 after one period on goals by F Brett Hyland (4) and F Lynden McCallum, on a PP. . . . F Dallyn Peekeekoot (4) got the Raiders on the board at 7:23 of the second period, with McCallum, who has 15 goals, restoring the two-goal lead at 7:23. . . . The Raiders then scored three straight goals — from D Landon Kosior (4) at 9:09 of the second, F Evan Herman (8), on a PP, 23 seconds into the third and F Matthew Culling (3) at 8:55 — for a 4-3 lead. . . . F Nate Danielson drew three assists for Brandon. The fifth overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft, he has three goals and 12 assists in 22 games. . . . The Wheat Kings get their first opportunity to clinch the Regina hub’s best record when they play the Regina Pats today. Brandon holds a three-point lead over the Winnipeg Ice. . . .
Linemates Jake Neighbours and Kaid Oliver each had a goal and two assists to lead the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 4-1 victory over the host Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . The Oil Kings (16-1-1) have points in eight straight (7-0-1). They had beaten the visiting Tigers, 3-0, on Friday. . . . Medicine Hat now is 12-5-1. . . . They’ll play again tonight in Edmonton. . . . Oliver (10) and Neighbours (9) gave Edmonton a 2-0 first-period lead. . . . D Cole Clayton’s eight goal got Medicine Hat on the board at 8:22 of the second. . . . F Josh Williams (11), the third member of Edmonton’s big line, and D Matthew Robertson (4) scored PP goals in the third period to put it away. . . . Neighbours has played in 17 games this season and has at least a point in each one. He has 10 multi-point games. All told, the fourth overall pick in the 2017 bantam draft has nine goals and 22 assists. . . . According to Andrew Peard of the Oil Kings, this was head coach Brad Lauer’s 100th regular-season victory. He is 100-31-19. Peard reports that Lauer “becomes the fastest coach in Oil Kings history to the century mark, doing it in 150 games. Derek Laxdal had done it in 175 games. . . .
F Sean Tschigerl’s three goals led the Calgary Hitmen to a 7-2 victory over the Hurricanes in Lethbridge. . . . The Hitmen (8-5-2) have points on four straight (3-0-1). . . . The Hurricanes (7-10-2) have lost three in a row. . . . The Hitmen, in their first game since April 5, had beaten the visiting Hurricanes, 6-3, on Friday. . . . They’re back at it again tonight in Calgary. . . . Lethbridge F Chase Wheatcroft (5) tied the game 2-2 at 10:41 of the second period. . . . The Hitmen followed that with three goals in 4:20 to take a 5-2 lead into the third period. . . . Calgary wrapped it up with two shorthanded goals, 25 seconds apart, in the third, with F Josh Prokop getting his eighth and Tschigerl completing his first WHL hat trick with his ninth. . . . Prokop also had two assists. . . .
In Kelowna, the Rockets snapped a 2-2 tie with two third-period goals as they beat the Vancouver Giants, 4-3. . . . Kelowna (5-2-0) has won two straight. . . . Vancouver (9-4-0) had won its previous four games. . . . D Jake Lee’s first goal of the season got the Rockets into a 3-3 tie two minutes into the third period. . . . F Mark Liwiski (5) broke the tie at 5:15. . . . The Giants had opened the scoring at 9:11 of the first period on a goal by D Alex Kannok Leipert (5). . . . F Dillon Hamaliuk (3) pulled Kelowna even at 18:35, on a PP. . . . F Justin Sourdif put the Giants back out front with a shorthanded score at 12:47 of the second period, only to have D Kaedan Korczak (2) tie it at 15:02. . . . Sourdif, who has seven goals, gave the Giants their third lead at 17:54. . . . Kelowna was 1-for-4 on the PP; Vancouver was 1-for-1.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
It sure looked as though the IIHF Women’s World Championship was going to start in Halifax and Truro on May 6. But that’s before COVID-19 reared its ugly head and said: “Not so fast.”
On Wednesday, with Team Canada already training in Halifax and one day before nine other teams were to begin arriving for their quarantine sessions, the Nova Scotian government chose to inform the IIHF and Hockey Canada that the tournament was off.
In a statement, Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney and Scott Smith, the president and COO, said: “While we are disappointed with the cancellation, we understand the decision was made with the health and safety of all participants and the community at large as the top priority.”
René Fasel, the IIHF president, said: “This is very disappointing news to receive with just a few weeks until the tournament was to begin. We strongly believe that we had the adequate safety measures in place to protect players, officials, spectators and all residents in Halifax and Truro, based on the IIHF and Hockey Canada’s experiences from hosting the IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton. In the end, we must accept the decision of the government.”
On Wednesday, Nova Scotia reported 25 new COVID-19 cases, which, according to CBC News, is “the highest daily total since November 24 when 37 cases were diagnosed. It pushes the province’s seven-day average to 10, which is the first time it has been in double digits since early December.”
On April 15, Nova Scotia had 42 active cases; on Wednesday, it announced that it now had 79.
In a news release, Premier Iain Rankin admitted to being “very concerned” about the rising number.
“We are seeing early signs of community spread and we must strictly follow all public health protocols to get back on track, especially in the greater Halifax region,” Rankin said.
CBC News reported that “19 of the new cases are in the central health zone, which includes the Halifax area. Four cases are related to travel outside the region.”
Canada’s Atlantic provinces have done better than the rest of the country — the far north excluded — at keeping COVID-19 at bay and one of the major weapons has been travel restrictions. So with the numbers threatening to keep going up, the province chose the health of its citizens over playing host to an international tournament.
Really, it’s hard to argue with the decision.
The IIHF and Hockey Canada are still hopeful of holding the tournament at some point during the summer. There also were reports later Wednesday that the Dallas Stars and USA Hockey are exploring the possibility of playing it in Texas, perhaps in Frisco and Plano, where the U18 IIHF World championship is to open on Monday.
But, at least for now, the Women’s world championship has been scrubbed for a second straight year. The tournament also was to have been held in Halifax and Truro a year ago.
The WHL announced a number of schedule changes on Wednesday, all of them necessitated by teams having missed games because of positive tests. . . . The end result is that without any more postponements a number of teams won’t play 24 games in this developmental season as was originally hoped. . . . Two of the teams that have experienced positive tests, the Calgary Hitmen and Kelowna Rockets, will play 21 and 16 games respectively. . . . The Hitmen, by the way, have completed their 14-day isolation period and have been cleared to resume team activities. They now are scheduled to return to game action on Friday afternoon against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The WHL’s news release on the schedule changes is right here. . . .
Meanwhile, there were three WHL games played on Wednesday and PP goals were the hot item. All told, the six teams involved struck for 26 goals, with 13 of them coming with the man advantage. . . .
F Nolan Ritchie scored twice to help the Brandon Wheat Kings to a 6-2 victory over the Swift Current Broncos. . . . The Wheat Kings (16-3-2), who have won five straight, now hold a three-point lead over the idle Saskatoon Blades (14-3-3) and the Winnipeg Ice (15-5-1), which beat the Moose Jaw Warriors last night, atop the Regina hub standings. . . . The Broncos (4-16-1) have lost two in a row. . . . F Lynden McCallum (13) gave Brandon a 1-0 first-period lead, with Ritchie, who has 10 goals, making it 2-0 at 14:49 of the second. . . . D Mat Ward (5) scored for the Broncos, on a PP, at 16:39. . . . Ritchie got that one back at 17:33 and D Rylan Thiessen (1) added another at 19:04. . . . F Brett Hyland (3) and D Vince Iorio (5) added PP goals for Brandon in the third period. . . . The Wheat Kings were 3-for-6 on the PP; the Broncos were 1-for-6. . . . Brandon held a 33-18 edge in shots. . . .
F Jakin Smallwood opened and closed the scoring as the Winnipeg Ice got past the Moose Jaw Warriors, 6-5 in OT, in the Regina hub. . . . The Ice (15-5-1) has points in four straight (3-0-1). . . . The Warriors are 8-11-2. . . . F Cade Hayes (4) gave the Warriors a 5-4 lead with a PP goal at 14:38 of the third period. . . . F Peyton Krebs (13), who now has points in 20 straight games, tied the game at 18:48 with G Carl Stankowski on the bench for the extra attacker. . . . Smallwood, who had opened the scoring at 1:08 of the first period, won it with his 13th goal at 1:46 of OT. . . . The Ice erased deficits of 3-2, 4-3 and 5-4 to win this one. . . . Winnipeg was 2-for-4 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 2-for-3. . . . Krebs finished with two goals. After being blanked in his first game, he’s got 13 goals and 26 assists in his 20-game streak. Last season, he scored 12 times in 38 games. . . . The Ice also got two goals from F Skyler Bruce. He has three on the season. . . . Hayes finished with two goals and an assist. . . .
F Justin Sourdif and D Alex Kannok Leipert each scored once and added two assists to help the Vancouver Giants to a 5-3 lead over the Victoria Royals in Kelowna. . . . The Giants (9-3-0) have won four in a row. . . . The Royals (1-10-1) have lost seven straight. . . . The game’s first five goals came via the PP. . . . F Brayden Tracey (8) gave the Royals a 1-0 lead at 3:25 of the first period. . . . Kannok Leipert (4) tied it at 15:32. . . . Victoria went back out front on a goal by F Tarun Fizer (3) at 2:58 of the second period. . . . The Giants took control with the next three goals — from F Eric Florchuk (4), at 14:58, Sourdif (5), at 16:21, and F Zack Ostapchuk (4), at 3:18 of the third. . . . F Ty Yoder (3) got Victoria to within a goal at 4:57, but F Justin Lies (2) restored Vancouver’s two-goal lead at 13:47. . . . The Giants finished 3-for-9 on the PP; the Royals were 2-for-5. . . . Vancouver had a 38-20 edge in shots, including 11-5 in the first period and 12-5 in the second.
The CFL said Wednesday that it hopes to open its 2021 season on Aug. 5, which would be almost two months later than the June 10 opening date at which it once was aiming. . . . The plan is to open training camps in late June, have each team play 14 games, down from the normal 18, and hold the Grey Cup game in Hamilton on Dec. 12 instead of Nov. 21. . . . Here’s Randy Ambrosie, the CFL commissioner: “We will play CFL football in 2021.” . . . He then admitted that it all hinges on getting approval from public health officials in various jurisdictions and getting the OK from government and health officials to have “a significant number of fans in the stands, in a significant number of venues at the start of the season, and in the rest of our venues soon after that, so a 2021 season is financially tenable for our clubs.” . . . In the end, like so many other things, the CFL will go ahead if the virus allows it. . . . In the meantime, get vaccinated so that we can get all sports back and with fans in the stands. . . .
In Regina, Jeremy O’Day, the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ general manager, informed players that the reporting date is July 2, followed by a seven-day quarantine period. Training camp is set to open on July 10. . . . O’Day also had this message for players: “We know these have been challenging times. One major way to help us with our return to play and getting fans in the stands is by getting vaccinated. Our medical professionals are strongly encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. The vaccines are safe, effective and are critical to getting our team back on the field. If you would like to speak to one of the Roughrider doctors about the vaccine, please let me know and we will arrange that.” . . . Justin Dunk of 3Down Nation has more right here.
The seven-team Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) was to have opened its 2021 season on June 5. It announced on Wednesday that it has moved opening day of its 14-game season to June 24. Under normal circumstances, teams each would play 20 games. . . . The CEBL spent its 2020 season in a bubble in St. Catharines, Ont., but says it won’t be playing in that environment this season.
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JUST NOTES: The Regina Pats unveiled their player card sets on Wednesday morning and sold out the first printing — 500 sets — in fewer than three hours. It wasn’t long before there was a Connor Bedard card available on eBay for $100, and a complete set — including “Connor Bedard Official WHL Rookie Card” — for $149.95 or best offer. . . . The AJHL’s Blackfalds Bulldogs, who are to being their first season in the fall, have added Brady Bakke to their coaching staff. He spent two seasons (2017-18) as an assistant coach with the U18 AAA St. Albert Raiders, and then two seasons as an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats. Bakke, 27, is from Red Deer.