Kelowna positives no surprise to IHA top doc: We knew this was most likely going to happen . . . AJHL has positives on three teams


If you’re keeping track, you will be aware that the virus had a pretty good day on Thursday.

One MLB Opening Day game was postponed due to positive tests, while the NHL, WHL and AJHL were forced into shutting down teams and/or shuffling schedules, or both.

You could even make a case for the virus having caused some national consternation in Canada where the QMJHL has chosen not to free up any of its players to play for the U18 team at the IIHF world tournament in Texas later this month.

But no to worry because, according to a tweet from Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate, Jason Kenney, Alberta’s premier, at a news conference Thursday was “continually saying we will be out of this in ‘a few weeks.’ ”

So there’s that ray of sunshine amid all the gloom. Right?

Oh, did I mention that the numbers in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan are indicative of huge victories for the virus? Yes, the three western provinces could best be described as disaster zones at the moment.


Hockey Canada named its 25-player roster and the coaching staff for the U18 team that will play in the 2021 IIHF World Championship in Frisco and Plano, Texas, from April 26 through May 6.

The Canadian roster includes nine players from WHL teams — G Thomas Milic (Seattle Thunderbirds), G CanadaTyler Brennan (Prince George Cougars), D Nolan Allan of the Prince Albert Raiders, D Olen Zellwegger (Everett Silvertips), F Logan Stankoven (Kamloops Blazers), F Conner Roulette (Seattle Thunderbirds), F Connor Bedard (Regina Pats), F Dylan Guenther (Edmonton Oil Kings) and D Carson Lambos (Winnipeg Ice). Lambos is out with a leg issue and there were reports that he won’t play again this season. So chances are that he won’t be available.

F Cole Sillinger, who played last season with the Medicine Hat Tigers and now is on loan to the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede, also is on the Canadian roster.

With those players having to self-isolate beginning on April 12, they aren’t long for the WHL teams that will have to continue without them in this developmental season. Bedard, for example, will play his final game with Regina on April 9, meaning he will miss the Pats’ last nine games.

While in self-isolation, players and staff will be subjected to three COVID-19 tests before the team heads for Texas on April 17. The team then will go into a four-day quarantine before starting a pre-tournament camp on April 21.

Canada will play Finland in an exhibition game on April 26, before opening the 10-team tournament against Sweden on April 26. Canada will be in Group A with Belarus, Latvia, Sweden and Switzerland. Group B comprises Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Russia and the U.S.

Dave Barr is Canada’s head coach, with Gordie Dwyer and Mike Stothers, a former Moose Jaw Warriors head coach, as the assistants. Barr has extensive coaching experience, most recently as an assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks (2017-19). Dwyer was head coach of the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes last season. Stothers spent five seasons (2015-20) as head coach of the AHL’s Ontario Reign.

The Hockey Canada news release is right here.


The WHL and its teams are playing games without any fans in the arenas and without any playoffs on the horizon, so obviously don’t have an issue with having players leave for the IIHF U18 tournament in Texas. The OHL hasn’t been able to get started, so it wasn’t an issue there either, and it has 13 players on the roster. There are two from the USHL, including Sillinger, and one from the AJHL.

No, there aren’t any players on the Canadian roster from the QMJHL. It is trying to finish a regular season that is nearing its completion and has a plan to hold playoffs, so apparently didn’t want to give up any of its players for an international competition just now.


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The Kamloops Blazers were to have travelled to Kelowna to play the Victoria Royals on Thursday night. However, with the Kelowna Rockets having experienced seven positive tests, four of them to players, the WHL2WHL chose to postpone the game “out of an abundance of caution.”

Instead, the Blazers stayed home and met the Prince George Cougars in a game that originally was scheduled to be played on Sunday.

Despite the positives in Kelowna, Dr. Albert de Villiers, the Interior Health Authority’s chief medical officer, said there aren’t any plans to shut down the WHL’s B.C. Division, which is playing games in Kamloops and Kelowna.

Regan Bartel, the Rockets’ long-time play-by-play voice, tweeted Thursday that de Villiers said: “We were anticipating there might be a few cases because it’s young people and they live in the community and they isolated as best they can.

“We knew this was most likely going to happen and (the WHL) do have things in place to make it safe.”

The Rockets are staying with billets, while the Royals are in a Kelowna hotel. In Kamloops, the Blazers are staying with billets, with the Cougars and Vancouver Giants in a hotel.


Walmart


The Swift Current Broncos scored the game’s last four goals and beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 8-5, in ScurrentRegina on Thursday. . . . F Brad Ginnell (1) gave the Warriors a 5-4 lead on a PP at 18:40 of the second period. . . . The Broncos tied it on D Owen Pickering’s first WHL goal at 19:40, then took the lead at 3:14 of the third on D Mathew Ward’s second goal of the season. . . . F Aiden Bulych (4) and F Michael Farren (7) added insurance. . . . Farren and Bulych also had two assists each. . . . Broncos D Kaleb Bulych, Aiden’s older brother, scored his first goal — Aiden drew the lone assist — and was plus-5. . . . The Broncos (3-7-1) had lost their previous two games. . . . The Warriors (4-6-1) have lost six in a row (0-5-1). . . .

The Brandon Wheat Kings scored four times in the first period, two of them by F Lynden McCallum (9), en Brandonroute to a 7-2 victory over the Pats in Regina. . . . The Wheat Kings (8-2-1) have won five in a row. . . . The Pats (4-5-2) had won their previous two games. . . . Brandon D Braden Schneider (3) gave his guys a 2-0 lead with a shorthanded goal in the first period. Brandon, in 11 games, and the Portland Winterhawks, in six games, lead the WHL with four SH goals apiece. . . . Regina F Connor Bedard ran his point streak to 11 games — his WHL career is 11 games old — with an assist on F Carson Denomie’s 10th goal. . . .

In Kamloops, the Blazers struck four times in the second period and went on to dump the Prince George KamloopsCougars, 6-1. . . . The game had been scheduled for Sunday, but was moved up because of the virus-related difficulties in Kelowna. The Blazers had been scheduled to play the Victoria Royals in Kelowna last night. . . . Kamloops now is 3-0-0; the Cougars are 1-2-0. . . . D Mats Lindgren (1) gave Kamloops a 1-0 lead at 7:38 of the first period, with D Jack Sander (1) equalizing at 17:14. . . . F Matthew Seminoff broke the tie 45 seconds into the second period and it was all Kamloops after that. . . . Seminoff added a second goal, his fourth, and F Caedan Bankier added a goal and two helpers for the winners. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 25 shots for Kamloops. . . . The Blazers were without F Logan Stankoven with an undisclosed injury, while F Dylan Sydor, 17, made his WHL debut and picked up an assist. He is the son of Darryl Sydor, a former Blazers and NHL defenceman who owns a piece of the Blazers.


F Adam Gaudette of the Vancouver Canucks tested positive on Tuesday and a Wednesday night game against the visiting Calgary Flames was postponed 90 minutes before the puck was to be dropped because of another positive and a coach going into COVID-19 protocol. . . . On Thursday, Vancouver D Travis Hamonic, who opted out of the last NHL season for family reasons, was added to the protocol list and the NHL postponed the team’s next three games — on Saturday in Edmonton against the Oilers and in Winnipeg against the Jets on Sunday and Tuesday. . . . The Canucks next are scheduled to play on April 8 in Calgary. . . . Patrick Johnston of Postmedia spoke with Gaudette’s wife, Micaela, and has a rather interesting story right here.


The AJHL has three teams from the same cohort each with at least one positive test. . . . The Drayton Valley ajhlThunder, Grande Prairie Storm and Whitecourt Wolverines were playing on one cohort. Earlier Thursday, the league announced that the Thunder had a positive test. Later in the day, the league revealed that “positive COVID19 results” also have been identified with the Storm and Wolverines. . . . All three organizations have been shut down for at least 14 days. That includes the cancellation of games involving those teams through Sunday, which is when the schedule involving the three-team cohort is to end. . . .

At the same time, the AJHL has cancelled two weekend games involving the Okotoks Oilers “to allow for the analysis of a COVID-19 test” as per its return-to-play protocol. The Oilers were to have played the visiting Calgary Canucks tonight (Friday) and the host Brooks Bandits on Sunday.


Chips


The Washington Nationals were to have played host to the New York Mets in one of Opening Day’s most-anticipated games — the starters were Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom — but it didn’t happen “because of contact tracing within the Nationals organization.” . . . MLB decided that out of an abundance of caution the teams won’t play a makeup game on Friday. . . . At the time of the announcement, the Nationals had one player having tested positive and four others quarantined as close contacts. Later, GM Mike Rizzo said that two other players had were positive and another was “likely positive.” . . . Rizzo also said that he has no idea when the Nationals might play their first game.

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The San Francisco Giants will be allowed to have about 8,900 fans for games in Oracle Park, at least to start the MLB season. In order to attend, a fan is going to have to have had a negative test or proof of vaccination. Their home opener is scheduled for April 9. . . . Larry Baer, the Giants’ CEO, told the San Francisco Chronicle: “This is all about April right now. We understand the inconveniences here, but we’ve also heard from our fans that they want to the safest experience possible.” . . . In the meantime, the Oakland A’s, who like the Giants play in California, had 10,436 fans at their home opener last night. The A’s don’t have any requirements attached to attendance. . . .

And this brings us to the Texas Rangers, who could have as many as 43,000 fans in the stands on Monday when they play their home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays. That, U.S. President Joe Biden told ESPN, is “not responsible.” . . . He added: “I think it’s a mistake. They should listen to Dr. Fauci and the scientists and the experts. But I think it’s not responsible.”


——

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Computers

Broncos add d-man, release forward . . . Giants win 13-round shootout . . . Lambert a winner in return to Swift Current


MacBeth

F Marek Tvrdoň (Vancouver, Kelowna, 2010-14) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Klagenfurt II (Switzerland, Alps HL). This season, he had one goal in four games with Saryarka Karaganda (Kazakhstan, Russian Vysshaya Liga). The contract with Klagrenfurt II has a one-month “probationary” period. . . .

G Barry Brust (Spokane, Calgary, 2000-04) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). Last season, with Fribourg-Gottéron (Switzerland, NL A), he was 2.29, .926 in 38 games. . . . Side note on Kunlun Red Star: The KHL schedule states that Kunlun has played or will play all of its home games in Shanghai until Christmas Day, when they will move their home games to Beijing. . . .

D Brett Carson (Moose Jaw, Calgary, 2001-06) has signed a contract with KooKoo Kouvola (Finland, Liiga). The contract is for the rest of this season, but there is an unspecified “probationary” period. Last season, he had two goals and five assists in 56 games with SaiPa Lappeenranta (Finland, Liiga). He was an alternate captain. . . .

F/D Curt Gogol (Kelowna, Saskatoon, Chilliwack, 2007-11) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Manglerud (Norway, GET-Ligaen). This season, with Kalmar (Sweden, Division 1), he had one assist in four games.


ThisThat

The Swift Current Broncos have acquired D Garrett Sambrook from the Brandon Wheat SCBroncosKings for a conditional ninth-round selection in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft. . . . From Medora, Man., Sambrook, 18, was a sixth-round pick by Brandon in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . The Wheat Kings released him earlier this season and he has been playing with the MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals, recording three assists in seven games. . . . In 70 games with the Wheat Kings over three seasons, he put up one goal and nine assists. . . . Sambrook didn’t play in the Broncos’ 4-1 loss to the visiting Spokane Chiefs on Friday night.

Later Friday, the Broncos announced that they had released F Colum McGauley. The 18-year-old, from Wilcox, Sask., was pointless in two games with the Broncos this season. . . . Last season, he had two goals in 47 games with the Kelowna Rockets. . . . The Spokane Chiefs selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 WHL bantam draft. . . . The Rockets dealt F Tanner Wishnowski to Spokane for McGauley, on Oct. 27, 2016. On July 10, Kelowna dealt him to the Broncos for an eighth-round selection in the 2021 bantam draft.


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The Kamloops Blazers have released D Tylor Ludwar, 19, and he is expected to join the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers. Ludwar, from Regina, had gotten into only one game with the Blazers this season. . . . Ludwar had one goal and two assists in 53 games last season, after recording two assists in 19 games in 2016-17.


Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette has more on Lyle Odelein and what he has been through right here. Odelein, 50, is from Quill Lake, Sask. He played three seasons (1985-88) with the Moose Jaw Warriors. Odelein was tough, but he also put up 163 points in 189 regular-season games.


The Moose Jaw Warriors have signed F Josh Hoekstra to a WHL contract. From Edmonton, he was a fourth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, he is played with OHA-Edmonton’s Elite 15s. In five games, he has three assists. Last season, he had eight goals and 18 assists in 30 games with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team.


Ryan Oulahen has stepped aside from his position as head coach of the OHL’s Flint ohlFirebirds. A post on the team’s website reads that Oulahen has left “due to personal and family reasons. He will be leaving the position effective immediately.” . . . Greg Stefan, the team’s goaltending coach, worked as the head coach on Friday night, with associate coach Darcy Findlay and assistant coach Garrett Rutledge staying in their roles. . . . The Firebirds were 0-7-0 going into Friday’s games, leaving them last in the 10-team Western Conference. Last night, they fell to 0-8-0 with a 5-3 loss to the visiting North Bay Battalion. . . . Oulahen, 33, was in his third season as Flint’s head coach. . . . Brendan Savage of mlive.com has more right here.


FRIDAY NIGHT NOTES:

D Kaleb Bulych scored in the 13th round of a shootout as the Vancouver Giants beat the VancouverKamloops Blazers, 4-3, in Langley, B.C. . . . The Giants ran their winning streak to five games. . . . The Blazers have lost six in a row (5-0-1). . . . F Luc Smith’s second goal of the game, at 15:33 of the third period, gave Kamloops a 3-1 lead. . . . F Davis Koch got the Giants to within one at 17:33 and F Milos Roman tied it with 10.7 seconds left in the period. . . . The Giants won the shootout, 2-1, getting their other goal from D Bowen Byram in the third round, after F Connor Zary had scored for Kamloops to end the second round. . . . A pregame note from Steve Ewen of Postmedia: “Also of note with Friday’s game is the coaching matchup. Michael Dyck signed on as bench boss with the Giants in June, but not before talking to the Blazers about their open post, if you believe the rumour mill. The Blazers announced Serge Lajoie as their new coach three days ahead of the Dyck addition in Vancouver, but Lajoie had spoken to the Giants, according to scuttlebutt.”


F Max Gerlach scored three times, including the OT winner, as the Saskatoon Blades beat the visiting Red Deer Rebels, 3-2. . . . Gerlach, who has seven goals, tied the game, 2-2, at 19:44 of the third period and won it at 3:44 of OT. . . . Saskatoon G Nolan Maier stopped 23 shots. F Alex Morozoff of the Rebels came up short on a penalty shot at 16:41 of the third period with his guys ahead 2-1. . . . The Blades have won four in a row; the Rebels are 4-0-1 in their past five. . . . D Jackson Caller was back in Saskatoon’s lineup after missing four games with an undisclosed injury.


F Bryce Kindopp broke a 3-3 tie with 2:57 left in the third period as the host Everett Silvertips got past the Edmonton Oil Kings, 5-3. . . . Kindopp’s third goal of the season came via the PP. . . . F Connor Dewar had two goals — giving him six — and two assists for Everett, for his second career four-point game. . . . The Oil Kings have lost six in a row (0-5-1); they are 0-4-0 in the U.S. Division. They wrap up this six-game road trip tonight in Kent, Wash., against the Seattle Thunderbirds.


G Bailey Brkin stopped 28 shots to help the Spokane Chiefs to a 4-1 victory over the Broncos in Swift Current. . . . The Broncos, the WHL’s reigning champions, now are 0-7 to open the season. . . . Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow) notes that this is the Broncos’ first seven-game losing streak “since an 11-game winless stretch in November and December of 2015.” Brandow adds that the Broncos are the “first defending title holder in Internet Era to lose first six the following season.” . . . The Chiefs have points in six straight (4-0-2). . . . This game marked the return of Dan Lambert to Swift Current for the first time as head coach of the Chiefs. Lambert was an all-star defenceman with the Broncos and helped them win the 1989 Memorial Cup. He is in his second season as the Chiefs’ head coach; they didn’t play in Swift Current last season.


D Linus Nassen had a goal and two assists, his first goal of the season coming 28 seconds into the game, to help the host Medicine Hat Tigers to a 4-1 victory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . The Tigers improved to 4-5-1. . . . Prince George (2-5-1) has lost four in a row. . . . After the game, Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat Tigers tweeted: “Tigers not commenting on the status of Gary Haden, who was scratched from tonight’s game.” . . . McCracken also tweeted that Tigers skaters “Joel Craven and Trevor Longo both left tonight’s game and are questionable” for Saturday’s game.


D Schael Higson had five points, including two goals, as the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings scored a 5-4 OT victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . F Connor Gutenberg (3) won it 25 seconds into extra time. . . . Higson, 20, has three goals and eight assists in six games. Last season, he had career highs of five goals and 23 assists in 71 games. . . . The Warriors got four assists from F Justin Almeida, with F Tristin Langan adding two goals and an assist. . . . The Wheat Kings (5-0-1) have yet to lose in regulation time. . . . The Warriors are 3-0-2 in their last five. . . . This was the fourth meeting in three weeks between these teams — Brandon is 3-0-1; Moose Jaw is 1-2-1.


In Cranbrook, B.C., the Regina Pats built up a 3-0 lead and hung on for a 2-1 victory over the Kootenay Ice. . . . The Pats (2-6-0) had lost their previous two games; the Ice had won its previous two games. . . . Freshman F Sergei Alkhimov gave the visitors a 2-0 lead when he scored his second goal of the season on a penalty shot at 7:46 of the second period. . . . According to the online scoresheet, Regina was 46-for-65 on faceoffs. That’s 71 per cent.


The Kelowna Rockets snapped a four-game losing skid with a 3-2 victory over the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. The Rockets improved to 2-8-0. . . . F Kyle Topping (3) gave the Rockets a 3-1 lead at 5:30 of the third period. . . . F Michael Farren, acquired Thursday from the Saskatoon Blades, wasn’t in Kelowna’s lineup. The Rockets also scratched two 20-year-olds — F Lane Zablocki, who has yet to play, and F Ryan Bowen. . . . The two head coaches — Jason Smith of Kelowna and Tri-City’s Kelly Buchberger — both are former captains of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . The Rockets and Americans will play again tonight, this time in Kelowna.


The Calgary Hitmen won for the first time in seven games, beating the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes, 6-5. . . . Calgary (1-5-1) built up a 6-2 lead, then allowed three goals, two of them by F Logan Barlage (4), in the game’s last 6:05. . . . The Hitmen got two goals and an assist from F Mark Kastelic (5), a goal and two helpers from F Jake Kryski (5), and three assists from D Vladislav Yeryomenko. . . . G Jack McNaughton stopped 34 shots to earn his first WHL victory.


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