‘Canes down $1,500, two players. . . . Lee, Leason are suspended, too. . . . Will Zary return for Blazers tonight?

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F Kris Schmidli (Kelowna, Prince Albert, 2013-15) signed a one-year contract with Dübendorf (Switzerland, MySports League). This season, he had two assists in 21 games with Winterthur (Switzerland, Swiss League). . . . A note on naming of leagues in Switzerland. What was known as National League B (NL B) now is known as Swiss League. MySports League is the third level in the Swiss hockey structure. . . .

D Stefan Ulmer (Spokane, 2007-10) signed a two-year contract with Biel-Bienne (Switzerland, NL). This season, with Lugano (Switzerland, NL), he had three goals and three assists in 44 games.


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The Lethbridge Hurricanes are out $1,500 and will be short two players for their playoff game tonight. . . . There was a brouhaha at the end of Lethbridge’s 4-1 victory over the whlvisiting Calgary Hitmen on Saturday night and there is no doubt which team the WHL felt was responsible. . . . The Hurricanes were fined $500 for a one-man fight in the last five minutes of a game, another $500 because one of their players instigated a fight in the last five minutes of a game, and yet another $500 for its first multiple fight situation. . . . As well, F Scott Mahovlich and F Jackson Shepard each was suspended for one game. Mahovlich was involved in a one-man fight, while Shepard instigated a scrap in the last five minutes. . . . So they both will sit out tonight as the Hurricanes take their 2-0 lead in the series into Calgary for Game 3. . . .

Meanwhile, D Jake Lee of the Seattle Thunderbirds was given a two-game suspension for his cross-checking major and game misconducts late in the opener of their series with the Vancouver Giants. On Friday night, with the Giants about to close out a 7-1 victory in Langley, B.C., Lee was penalized for a hit on F Justin Sourdif. . . . Lee didn’t play in Game 2 on Saturday and will sit out Game 3 tonight in Kent, Wash. Sourdif was injured on the play and didn’t play in Game 2. He isn’t expected to play in Games 3 and 4, either. . . .

F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders was given a one-game suspension after he took a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct in his club’s 6-4 victory over the visiting Red Deer Rebels on Saturday night. . . . Red Deer F Cam Hausinger wasn’t injured on the play. . . . Leason won’t play in Game 3 tonight in Red Deer. . . . The Raiders hold a 2-0 lead in that series.


The guessing game about who’s in and who’s out will continue until game time tonight as VictoriaRoyalsthe Victoria Royals prepare to meet the host Kamloops Blazers in a series that is 1-1. . . . Kamloops F Connor Zary, who sat out the first two games with an undisclosed injury, seems likely to return tonight. . . . The Royals, meanwhile, are really banged up, especially on the back end where Jake Kustra, Jameson Murray, Mitchell Prowse and Matt Smith all have missed time. As well, Ralph Jarratt is believed to have leg and shoulder injuries. . . . On top of that, the Royals won’t have F Kaid Oliver, their leading scorer, at all as he has a season-ending shoulder injury. . . . As well, F D-Jay Jerome, their third-leading scorer, played only a handful of shifts in Saturday’s 4-3 OT loss to the visiting Blazers. . . .

Kamloops will be without F Kobe Mohr tonight as he completes a two-game suspension Kamloops1for what the WHL called “action at Victoria on March 22.”

As Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week writes:
“Why can’t the league be a little more specific?

“When I first read ‘action at Victoria,’ before I realized the suspension was for hacking an official, my first thought was Mohr might have uttered some sort of offensive slur.

“I’m not the only one who thought that.”

As has been mentioned here on more than one previous occasion, the WHL and transparency oftentimes are strangers. This is one time when the league should have explained itself.

Hastings’ complete piece is right here.


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Habscheid questions penalty call to Leason. . . . QMJHL game goes to fourth OT period. . . . Oil Kings pull even with Tigers


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F Antonín Honejsek (Moose Jaw, 2009-11) has signed a one-year contract extension with Zlín (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, he had six goals and 12 assists in 40 games.


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As of Sunday night, the WHL’s Department of Discipline hadn’t suspended F Brett Leason PrinceAlbertof the Prince Albert Raiders after he was given a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct for a second-period hit on F Cam Hausinger of the visiting Red Deer Rebels. . . . “It was amazing how (Hausinger) recovered quickly and was back out there the next shift,” Lucas Punkari of the Prince Albert Daily Herald quoted Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid as saying after the game. “There are two good officials (Adam Bloski and Adam Byblow) out there, but they fell for the embellishment, which is too bad as we lost a really good player.” . . . The Raiders won the game, 6-4, to take a 2-0 lead in the series, which continues Tuesday night in Red Deer.


The QMJHL experienced the third-longest game in its history on Saturday as the qmjhlRimouski Oceanic beat the visiting Chicoutimi Sagueneens, 3-2, in the fourth OT period. . . . F D’Artagnan Joly scored the winner at 9:15 of the fourth extra period, meaning the goal came after 129 minutes 15 seconds of hockey. . . . Rimouski had forced OT with a goal at 18:56 of the third period. . . . The Oceanic leads the first-round series, 2-0, with Game 3 in Chicoutimi on Tuesday. . . . The longest game in QMJHL history lasted 146:31 when the host Hull Olympiques beat the Victoriaville Tigres, 3-2, on March 19, 1999. . . . The second-longest game (132:57) featured the visiting Cape Breton Screaming Eagles beating the Quebec Remparts, 3-2, on April 3, 2009. . . . The longest game in CHL history occurred on April 2, 2017, when the visiting Everett Silvertips beat the Victoria Royals 3-2 in a game that went 151:36. F Cal Babych scored the winner at 11:36 of the fifth OT period. That was Game 6 of a first-round series, and Everett won it, 4-2, on Babych’s goal.


Dean Maynard is the new general manager and head coach of the junior Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Maynard had been the Coyotes’ interim head coach since Mark Chase was fired on Jan. 14. . . . Maynard had been an assistant coach on Chase’s staff.


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NOTES: There was only one playoff game on Sunday, with the Medicine Hat Tigers visiting the Edmonton Oil Kings for Game 2 of their series. The Oil Kings won that game to pull even, 1-1, in that series. . . . The WHL will be dark today (Monday), before a seven-game Tuesday. Only the Everett Silvertips and Tri-City Americans won’t play on Tuesday; they resume Wednesday in Kennewick, Wash. . . . After Sunday’s game, home teams now are 12-4. . . . When Kamloops G Dylan Ferguson skated onto the ice in Victoria for the Blazers’ game with the Royals on Saturday night, it was the first playoff experience of his WHL career. Ferguson, 20, made 156 regular-season appearances, all with the Blazers. Ferguson, from Lantzville, B.C., which is 125 km northwest of Victoria, was the game’s first star as the Blazers beat the Royals, 4-3, in OT to even the series, 1-1. . . . The Blazers went into Saturday’s game having lost nine straight games in Victoria.

SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Edmonton Oil Kings scored the only two goals of the third period to beat the visiting EdmontonOilKingsMedicine Hat Tigers, 4-3. . . . The series is tied, 1-1, as the teams head to Medicine Hat for games on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. . . . F Liam Keeler (1) gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead at 2:26 of the first period, but the Tigers took a 2-1 lead before the period ended on a pair of goals from D Linus Nassen. The first, on a PP, came at 11:36. He broke the tie at 14:39. . . . F Vince Loschiavo (1) scored, on a PP, to get the Oil Kings into a 2-2 tie at 12:49 of the second period. . . . Medicine Hat went back on top at 18:42 when F Brett Kemp (1) scored, on a PP. . . . The Oil Kings moved back into a tie at 7:25 of the third period as F Carter Souch (1) scored. . . . F Quinn Benjafield (1) won it with a goal at 17:04. . . . Nassen also had an assist, giving him a three-point outing. . . . Medicine Hat was 2-3 on the PP; Edmonton was 1-2. . . . Edmonton G Dylan Myskiw recorded the victory with 18 saves. . . . Mads Søgaard of the Tigers, who had made 49 saves in a 2-1 victory on Saturday night, blocked 37 shots in this one. . . . Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News points out that the Tigers have yet to beat the Oil Kings twice in the same playoff series. In two previous meetings, Edmonton swept Medicine in 2013 and won in five games in 2014.


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Cougars’ Lamb doesn’t plan to coach. . . . Leschyshyn hat trick sparks Lethbridge win. . . . J-Train carries Blazers past Royals

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It appears that the Prince George Cougars will be hiring a head coach before the start of PrinceGeorgethe 2019-20 WHL season. General manager Mark Lamb has been the interim head coach since firing Richard Matvichuk on Feb. 6. . . . “That’s not the plan to come back,” Lamb has told Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen. “I’m interim head coach since I took over and that’s still what I am. There’s going to be a search for it, I haven’t put a lot of thought into it yet.” . . . “Obviously when you’re in a situation like this,” Lamb added, “people kind of know, so I’ve gotten a lot of resumes already. I just wanted to concentrate on finishing the year strong and I think that’s what we did.” . . . The Cougars, who missed the playoffs, finished 3-11-2 under Lamb, after going 16-30-6 under Matvichuk. . . . Clarke’s complete story is right here.


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SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

NOTES: After home teams went 7-0 on opening night, they were only 4-4 on Saturday, with one visiting team — the Kamloops Blazers — winning in OT. . . . The Lethbridge Hurricanes’ 4-1 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen featured a line brawl late in the third period. . . . The Prince Albert Raiders got huge games from their two Belarusians as they took a 2-0 lead over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Three players were suspended by the WHL after Friday’s games. F Kobe Mohr of the Kamloops Blazers, D John Ludvig of the Portland Winterhawks and D Jake Lee of the Seattle Thunderbirds didn’t play last night. . . . F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders may be looking at a suspension after taking a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct last night.


F Aliaksei Protas and D Sergio Sapego, the Prince Albert Raiders’ Belarusian connection, PrinceAlbertcombined for six points — each had two goals and an assist — to lead them to a 6-4 victory over the visiting Red Deer Rebels. . . . The Raiders lead the series, 2-0, with Games 3 and 4 in Red Deer on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Protas scored the game’s first goal, at 6:08 of the first period, and Sapego made it 2-0, on a PP, at 8:32. . . . F Chris Douglas (1) pulled the Rebels to within a goal, on a PP, at 14:55, only to have Sapego (2) get that one back at 16:19. . . . F Dante Hannoun drew an assist on each of Prince Albert’s first three goals. . . . The Raiders lost F Brett Leason to a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct at 3:50 of the second period. F Cam Hausinger, the subject of the check, wasn’t injured. . . . Red Deer F Brandon Hagel scored a PP goal at 8:00 and then tied the game at 9:00, just 10 seconds after the major expired. . . . The Raiders took control by scoring the next three goals. . . . D Brayden Pachal (1) broke the tie at 11:14. . . . Protas (2) made it 5-3 at 2:08 of the third period. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt (2) upped the lead to 6-3 at 7:47. . . . Hagel (3) completed his hat trick, on a PP, at 10:24. . . . Red Deer was 3-5 on the PP; Prince Albert was 1-5. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 19 shots for the Raiders, six fewer than Red Deer’s Ethan Anders, whose night’s work included a stop on D Jeremy Masella on a penalty shot at 14:27 of the second period. The Raiders were ahead 4-3 at the time.


F Max Gerlach scored twice to help the host Saskatoon Blades to a 3-1 victory over the SaskatoonMoose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Blades lead the series, 2-0, with the teams headed to Moose Jaw for games on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Gerlach, who has three goals in the first two games, gave the Blades a 1-0 lead at 11:55 of the second period. . . . F Carson Denomie (1) pulled the Warriors into a tie, on a PP, at 5:07 of the third period. . . . Gerlach snapped the tie at 10:05, and F Kirby Dash (1) added the empty-netter at 19:24. . . . D Dawson Davidson had two assists as he was in on both of Gerlach’s goals. . . . Moose Jaw was 1-3 on the PP; Saskatoon was 0-2. . . . Saskatoon outshot Moose Jaw, 30-22, including 13-5 in the third period. . . . The Blades got 21 stops from G Nolan Maier. . . . The Warriors, who started Brodan Salmond on goal in the opener, switched to Adam Evanoff for Game 2. He finished with 27 saves.


F Jake Leschyshyn stuck for three straight goals to lead the Lethbridge Hurricanes to a 4-Lethbridge1 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . The Hurricanes lead the series, 2-0, as the teams head to Calgary for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Thursday. . . . Nick Henry (2) got Lethbridge started with a goal just 25 seconds into the game. . . . Leschyshyn made it 2-0, on a PP, at 12:16, and then upped it to 3-0 at 19:13. . . . Leschyshyn scored his third goal of the game, and of the series, on another PP, at 8:57 of the third. That was his first playoff hat trick. . . . D Dakota Krebs (1) got Calgary’s goal, on a PP, at 11:28 of the third period. . . . The Hurricanes acquired Leschyshyn and Henry, who also had an assist, from the Regina Pats in a deal earlier in the season. . . . While Lethbridge was 2-4 on the PP, Calgary went 0-7. . . . G Carl Tetachuk blocked 32 shots to record the victory over Jack McNaughton, who made 28 saves. . . . There was a multi-fight situation at 19:44 of the third period — officials handed out 86 penalty minutes, 49 to Lethbridge — so there just might be some discipline forthcoming. . . . D Devan Klassen and D Layne Toder of the Hitmen, along with Lethbridge D Nolan Jones, F Scott Mahovlich and F Jackson Shepard all received fighting majors and game misconducts.


G Mads Søgaard stopped 49 shots, 23 of them in the second period, to lead the Medicine Tigers Logo OfficialHat Tigers to a 2-1 victory over the Oil Kings in Edmonton. . . . This was the opener in this series, with Game 2 set for Edmonton tonight. . . . F James Hamblin (1) got Medicine Hat in front, while shorthanded, at 4:18 of the second period, and F Hayden Ostir (1) made it 2-0 at 13:20. . . . F Josh Williams (1) got Edmonton’s goal at 17:58 of the third period. . . . Edmonton was 0-3 on the PP; Medicine Hat was 0-1. . . . The Oil Kings got 25 saves from G Dylan Myskiw. . . . Edmonton had closed out the regular season on an 11-game winning streak.


G Roddy Ross, who didn’t finish Game 1, stopped 39 shots as his Seattle Thunderbirds Seattledumped the Vancouver Giants, 4-1, in Langley B.C. . . . The series is tied with Games 3 and 4 in Kent, Wash., on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . The Giants had won the opener, 7-1, on Friday. . . . Last night, Seattle took a 2-0 lead on first-period goals from F Sean Richards (1), at 4:38, and D Simon Kubicek (1), on a PP, at 15:09. . . . F Jadon Joseph (2) got Vancouver on the scoreboard, on a PP, at 18:10. . . . The Thunderbirds got third-period insurance from F Andrej Kukuca (2), at 4:33, and F Nolan Volcan (1), into an empty net, at 17:58. . . . Volcan also had two assists. . . . Ross stopped 28 shots over the last two periods. . . . Vancouver was 1-4 on the PP; Seattle was 1-2. . . . The Giants got 24 saves from G Trent Miner. . . . Seattle was without D Jake Lee, who drew a TBD suspension for a cross-checking major and game misconduct in Game 1. Vancouver F Justin Sourdif, who took that hit, didn’t play last night.


The Portland Winterhawks scored four times in the third period and beat the host PortlandSpokane Chiefs, 5-3. . . . The series is tied, 1-1, as it heads to Portland for games on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Last night, Spokane took a 2-0 lead on goals from F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (2), at 6:19 of the first period, and F Luc Smith (1), at 13:19 of the second. . . . Portland responded with the next four goals. . . . F Josh Paterson (1) scored at 15:25 of the second period, and F Lane Gilliss (1) tied it at 8:11. . . . Paterson (2) gave Portland the lead at 9:51 and F Mason Mannek made it 4-2 at 12:37. . . . Spokane F Adam Beckman (2) pulled the Chiefs to within a goal at 17:26, only to have Portland D Matt Quigley (1) get the empty-netter just 19 seconds later. . . . G Joel Hofer stopped 23 shots for Portland, seven fewer than Spokane’s Bailey Brkin. . . . The two teams combined for 13 PPs in Game 1; there weren’t any — not one — in Game 2. . . . Referees Steve Papp and Ward Pateman didn’t call any penalties. Zero. Zilch. Nada! . . . According to a news release from the Winterhawks, it was the first time in the team’s “43-year history both teams were held without a power-play chance.” . . . Portland was without D John Ludvig, who was suspended for two games after taking a headshot major and game misconduct in Game 1. F Ethan McIndoe of the Chiefs, who was hit by Ludvig, wasn’t injured on the play. . . . Spokane’s scratches included D Nolan Reid, who took a stick to the face early in Game 1, and F Luke Toporowski, who had an assist in the opener.


The Everett Silvertips erased a 1-0 deficit with four straight goals and then hung on for 4-Everett3 victory over the visiting Tri-City Americans. . . . Everett leads the series, 2-0. . . . They’ll play Games 3 and in Kennewick, Wash., on Wednesday and Thursday. . . . F Krystof Hrabik (1) gave the Americans a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 10:51 of the first period. . . . F Martin Fasko-Rudas (2) got Everett into a tie, on a PP, at 17:15. . . . D Jake Christiansen (1) gave the Silvertips the lead at 9:02 of the second period and F Gage Goncalves (1) stretched it to 3-1 just 19 seconds later. . . . F Robbie Holmes (1) made it 4-1 at 18:28. . . . The Americans got to within a goal on third-period scores from F Nolan Yaremko (2), shorthanded, at 2:36, and D Aaron Hyman (1), on a PP, at 18:58. . . . Christiansen also had an assist, and now has a goal and four helpers in the first two games. . . . Tri-City was 2-7 on the PP; Everett was 1-6. . . . Referees Mike Campbell and Dexter Rasmussen handed out 140 minutes in penalties, 76 to Everett. . . . That final total included 90 minutes worth of misconducts. . . . G Dustin Wolf stopped 28 shots for the Silvertips, seven fewer than the American’s Beck Warm. . . . Everett F Connor Dewar, who didn’t finish Game 1, was scratched from Game 2.


F Jermaine Loewen scored on a rebound in OT to give the Kamloops Blazers a 4-3 victory Kamloops1over the Royals in Victoria. . . . The series is tied, 1-1, with Games 3 and 4 scheduled for Kamloops on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Loewen’s winner came as he followed F Martin Lang to the Victoria net. Lang had cut in from the left side and tried to stuff in the winner, but the puck ended up laying loose in the crease for Loewen at 5:14 of OT. . . . The Blazers had scored on their first two shots of the game, F Kyrell Sopotyk (1) finding the range at 5:21 of the first period, and F Brodi Stuart (1) making it 2-0 at 7:06. . . . The Royals tied it on second-period PP goals from F Kody McDonald (1), at 2:53, and F Carson Miller (2), at 9:15. . . . Sopotyk (2) gave Blazers the lead, on a PP, at 3:54 of the third period, with McDonald (2) tying it at 4:11. . . . Victoria was 2-4 on the PP; Kamloops was 1-2. . . . The Blazers were outshot 41-31 through three periods, but had a 4-1 edge in OT. . . . Kamloops got 39 saves from G Dylan Ferguson, who was playing his first game since leaving a 5-0 loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants on March 6 with an undisclosed injury. . . . Victoria G Griffen Outhouse, who had been 6-0-0 against the Blazers this season, turned aside 31 shots. . . . The Blazers scratched F Connor Zary for a second straight game. . . . Kamloops was without F Kobe Mohr, who was hit with a two-game suspension “for action at Victoria” in Game 1, according to the WHL website. It seems that Mohr’s stick came in contact with a linesman during that game. The Blazers claimed that the Royals filed for supplemental discipline; however, the Royals say they didn’t. . . . The Royals appear to be running into more injury problems. . . . They dressed seven defencemen — including APs Noah Lamb and Carson Golder — after scratching D Mitchell Prowse, who had played in Game 1. . . . In Game 2, the Royals mostly went with four defencemen — Lamb, Scott Walford, Ralph Jarratt and Rene Aquilon. D Jameson Murray, scratched from Game 1, was on the bench but didn’t play a shift. Jarratt, who has had an injury-plagued season, appeared to suffer a shoulder injury as Kamloops scored its third goal of the game. . . . Victoria F D-Jay Jerome played a couple of first-period shifts, but that was about all until he was out on a PP in OT. . . . Kamloops killed off that penalty, then won the game a couple of minutes later.


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Flashing back to an amazing 1981 tiebreaker. . . . Winnipeg has first pick in 2019 bantam draft. . . . Red Deer’s Alexeyev out for first round


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At least three times in the past few days, a list of WHL tiebreaker games has appeared in this space. It turns out that there were two errors in it, both of them involving the first such game in league history.

According to that list, the Spokane Chiefs beat the host New Westminster Bruins, 10-9, to earn a spot in the 1980-81 playoffs.

Well, it actually was the Spokane Flyers who won the game, and it was decided in SpokFlyersovertime.

A reader has passed along a story — and a tip of the Taking Note Fedora to him, too — by Earl Gerheim of the Spokane Spokesman-Review and here are a few highlights . . .

The game was played on March 27, 1981, and it was held in the Cominco Arena in Trail, B.C., because Queen’s Park Arena, the home of the Bruins, was embroiled in a labour dispute. . . . The Bruins had vacated their arena because of the dispute and played home games in such outposts as Bellingham, Wash., Trail, Duncan, B.C., Coleman, Alta., and Kamloops.

One night earlier, the Bruins had beaten the Seattle Breakers, 7-4, to move into a tie with NewWestthe Flyers for fourth place in the Western Division. The Bruins had lost 25 straight games before beating Spokane and Seattle to forge the tie with the Flyers, each with a 17-54-1 record. They were 17 points behind the Breakers in the five-team division. . . . As an aside, the Flyers had scored 288 goals and allowed 488; the Bruins were 306 and 512. Yes, 512 goals against. . . .

Amazingly, Spokane management had no idea that there would be a tiebreaker; they assumed that the Bruins’ 6-3-1 edge in the season series would put New Westminster into the playoffs. . . .

F Mark Sochatsky scored the Flyers’ winning goal at 9:24 of OT. He finished the game with five goals and two assists, while linemate Ivan Krook had two goals and five assists. . . .

Three times the Flyers held a three-goal lead and three times the Bruins came back to tie it, the last time at 17:19 of the third period on a score by F Mike Winther. . . .

Winther’s goal came via the PP after the Bruins asked for a stick measure — remember those days? — on Flyers’ F Richard Zemlak. According to Gerheim: “Referee Jerry Pateman asked Zemlak for the stick, but Zemlak skated away, holding on to the timber and refusing to surrender it. Pateman got the stick away and assessed Zemlak a minor penalty for illegal equipment plus a misconduct penalty.” . . .

When he was asked about the call, Spokane head coach Wayne Coxworth said: “I hate to see it. I don’t like it, but it’s in the rules. It’s a heck of a way to do it.” . . .

The Victoria Cougars, who finished 60-11-1, swept the Flyers from a best-of-seven first-round series.

Before the 1981-82 season arrived, the Bruins had moved to Kamloops. The Flyers, with a record of 3-22-1, folded in the middle of the season.


The WHL held its bantam draft lottery on Wednesday, with the Winnipeg Ice emerging with the first pick.

The 2019 bantam draft is scheduled to be held in Red Deer on May 2.

The Ice had the second-poorest regular-season record and moved into the No. 1 spot wpgicewhen one of its balls was drawn at the WHL office in Calgary.

Following the Ice in order will be the other non-playoff teams — the Prince George Cougars (from the Swift Current Broncos), Saskatoon Blades (from Regina Pats), Prince George, Kelowna Rockets and Brandon Wheat Kings.

The complete first round looks like this at the moment:
1. Winnipeg; 2. Prince George (from Swift Current); 3. Saskatoon (from Regina); 4. Prince George; 5. Kelowna; 6. Brandon;

7. Kamloops; 8. Seattle; 9. Winnipeg (from Red Deer); 10. Brandon (from Victoria); 11. Calgary (from Tri-City); 12. Medicine Hat;

13. Calgary; 14. Swift Current (from Portland); 15. Spokane; 16. Brandon (from Moose Jaw); 17. Regina (from Lethbridge); 18. Edmonton;

19. Victoria (from Saskatoon); 20. Kamloops (from Everett); 21. Swift Current (from Vancouver); 22. Prince Albert.

From the WHL’s news release: “Players eligible for the 2019 WHL bantam draft will be 2004-born players who reside in Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.”


The WHL also announced all-star teams and conference award nominees on Wednesday. If you haven’t seen any of that, it’s all at whl.ca.


Marty Hastings, who covers the Kamloops Blazers for Kamloops This Week, wonders if Kamloops1the Blazers’ 5-1 victory over the visiting Kelowna Rockets on Tuesday night resulted in the exorcism of a few demons, especially from the conspiracy theorists. . . . “So that’s what it feels like,” he writes. “That’s how fans feel when 6,000 strong vicariously harpoon the Ogogopo, leaving its innards to freeze on the Kamloops Blazers’ B at centre ice. They haven’t felt anything like that in a long time — a 5-1 victory over the institution inside a sold-out barn. What they have felt, at least a few of them, is disillusionment with the system, which they perceive to be the WHL and the Kelowna Rockets, the devious alliance that rules them all.” . . . The complete column is right here.


The Red Deer Rebels won’t have D Alex Alexeyev for their first-round playoff series Red Deeragainst the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Alexeyev, a first-round selection by the Washington Senators in the 2018 NHL draft, suffered a knee injury in a 5-3 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings on March 8. . . . In a Wednesday tweet, Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate quoted Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ general manager and head coach: “It’s a huge challenge. There’s no team out there that doesn’t lose their best defenceman and their horse — guy who plays 30 minutes a night — that doesn’t impact the back end. Whether it’s our level or the pro level, you lose your top player on your back end and it certainly changes things. That being said, it also give others opportunities and they have to rise to the occasion.” . . . The Rebels, the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card team, open against the Raiders, who finished atop the overall standings, on Friday night in Prince Albert.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have added D Luke Bateman to their roster for the playoff run. SeattleBateman, 16, is from Kamloops. He was a fourth-round selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had nine goals and 11 assists in 32 games with the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. . . . He also was pointless in four games with the Thunderbirds. . . . The Thunderbirds, the Western Conference’s second wild-card team, will be in Langley, B.C., on Friday to open a series with the Vancouver Giants, who finished in first place.


The OHL has cut the penalty that it applied to the Niagara IceDogs in February for a ohlviolation of player recruitment rules. The OHL had fined the organization $250,000 and taken away two first-round draft picks. . . . On Wednesday, the OHL announced that the fine has been reduced to $150,000 and the team will forfeit its first-round pick in the league’s 2021 draft. . . . From an OHL news release: “The club has acknowledged that it violated OHL player recruitment rules. The club recognizes the importance of these rules and agrees to comply.” . . . If you didn’t see the story about this situation that was filed by Rick Westhead of TSN on Monday, it’s right here.


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Kamloops dumps visiting Kelowna in tiebreaker. . . . Two shorthanded goals in 28 seconds seal deal. . . . Blazers go to playoffs; Rockets go home

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The Kamloops Blazers scored two goals in 28 seconds on the same third-period penalty kill en route to a 5-1 victory over the visiting Kelowna Rockets in the seventh tiebreaker game in WHL history on Tuesday night. . . . With the victory, the Blazers move into the playoffs. They will open against the Royals in Victoria on Friday. . . . Last night was only the second time in the seven tiebreakers that the home team has won. . . .

Kamloops had taken a 2-1 lead in the third period when Blazers F Ryley Appelt was Kamloops1penalized for tripping at 8:16. . . . F Connor Zary got an early jump off the Kamloops bench during a change, allowing him to get to the back of the Kelowna net in a hurry. He stripped the puck from G Roman Basran, came out the back side and stuffed it home for a 3-1 lead at 8:44. . . . A short time later, Kamloops F Brodi Stuart avoided an attempt by Basran to get a hip into him behind the net, skated out and scored for a 4-1 lead at 10:12. . . . The Rockets, whose offence pretty much dried up late in the season, weren’t able to get back in this one. . . . F Jermaine Loewen got the Blazers’ last goal, into an empty net. . . .

The Blazers dominated the first period, especially the first 12 or 13 minutes, and held a 17-7 edge in shots. Only Kelowna G Roman Basran, a post and a crossbar kept the Blazers off the scoreboard. . . . Kamloops D Jackson Caller drilled a post from the point at 9:00; F Connory Zary glanced a bad-angle flip off the crossbar two minutes later. . . . Kamloops G Dylan Garand had his moments later, especially stoning F Alex Swetlikoff from the doorstep. . . .

Kelowna pushed back in the second, but Kamloops got the game’s first goal at 4:11, just six seconds after Rockets F Dallon Wilton was penalized for interference for a hit on D KelownaRocketsJeff Faith. Zary pulled the face-off win back to F Kyrell Sopotyk on the point. He ripped a wrist shot past Basran’s blocker, off a post and in. . . . The officials went to video review at 7:38 after the Blazers crashed the Kelowna net, but whatever had happened was ruled no goal. . . . The Rockets tied it at 7:56 when D Kaedan Korczak got to a shoot-in along the right boards, and slipped a pass to F Mark Liwiski. His quick backhand seemed to surprise Garand and got past him for the equalizer. . . . The Blazers thought they might have scored at 13:14 when the puck bounced off the back boards, over top of the net and into the Kelowna crease area. However, it was ruled that Kamloops F Logan Stankoven had come in contact with the puck with a high stick. . . . Kelowna got its first PP at 15:26 after Faith was hit with an interference penalty for a hit on F Nolan Foote. Other than Foote hitting a post early, the Rockets really didn’t threaten. . . . Kelowna outshot Kamloops, 13-7, in that period. . . .

The Blazers broke the 1-1 tie at 6:10 of the third period when Kelowna D Dalton Gally went down early in an attempt to cut off a pass, only to have Blazers F Kobe Mohr toedrag around him and snap a shot past Basran from the high slot. . . . Then came Zary’s shorthanded goal, followed by a Mohr penalty shot on which Basran was able to get his five-hole closed in time to prevent a goal. . . . It was left for Stuart to get his shorthanded goal and for Loewen to add the empty-netter. . . .

Garand, a 16-year-old freshman from Victoria, made his seventh straight start in the absence of the injured Dylan Ferguson. The Blazers are 6-0-1 over that stretch. . . . Garand finished with 27 saves in this one. . . . Ferguson skated with the Blazers on Monday, but wasn’t dressed last night. The burning question in Kamloops until Friday night will be this: Does Garand get to start his first playoff game in his hometown if Ferguson is healthy? . . . G Danton Belluk, whose WHL rights belong to the Everett Silvertips, remains with the Blazers on an emergency basis. He backed up Garand last night. . . .

Basran, who kept the Rockets from getting blown out in the first period, self-destructed in the third when he gave up the two shorthanded goals. He was beaten four times on 34 shots in 50:12. James Porter came on to finish up after the Blazers’ fourth goal. He stopped all five shots he faced. . . .

As expected, each team added a first-round 2018 bantam draft pick to its lineup. Stankoven, who won the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League scoring title with the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers, was in the Kamloops lineup. F Trevor Wong, from the major midget Greater Vancouver Canadians, played for the Rockets. . . . Stankoven was the fifth-overall pick in that draft; Wong was taken with the 18th selection. . . .

Attendance was announced at 5,876, and there weren’t many empty seats. It was the Blazers’ second announced sellout of the season. On Feb. 18, the Blazers beat the visiting Tri-City Americans, 3-1, on Family Day. The announced crowed that day also was 5,876, but there were about 1,000 empty seats. . . .

While the Blazers head for Victoria, the Rockets’ season has ended. This means that the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup won’t appear in this spring’s playoffs. . . . The Rockets fired head coach Jason Smith after a 4-10-0 start. They hired Adam Foote to replace him and went 24-22-8, plus last night’s loss, with him in control. . . .

The WHL’s draft lottery is scheduled to be held today (Wednesday). As one of six non-playoff teams, the Rockets will be participants. The six lottery teams, with regular-season points in parenthesis, are the Swift Current Broncos (28), Winnipeg Ice (36), Regina Pats (42), Prince George Cougars (46), Kelowna Rockets (64) and Brandon Wheat Kings (70). . . . A team is able to move up only two spots in the lottery, so one of those first three teams will own the first pick. However, the Cougars hold Swift Current’s selection, and the Saskatoon Blades own Regina’s pick. . . . When the draft is held on May 2 in Red Deer, the Blazers will hold the seventh selection.

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There have been seven tiebreakers in WHL history . . .

2018-19: Kelowna 1 at Kamloops 5.

2015-16: Edmonton Oil Kings 6 at Medicine Hat Tigers 4.

2013-14: Prince Albert Raiders 5 at Red Deer Rebels 3.

2008-09: Edmonton Oil Kings 2 at Prince Albert Raiders 1 (OT).

1989-90: Brandon Wheat Kings 4 at Swift Current Broncos 5.

1983-84: Calgary Wranglers 8 at Saskatoon Blades 7 (OT).

1980-81: Spokane Flyers 10 at New Westminster Bruins 9 (OT).

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You may recall that on Feb. 15 the OHL announced that the Niagara IceDogs had been ohlfined $250,000 and also had two first-round draft picks taken away for recruiting violations. . . . Rick Westhead of TSN reported Tuesday that all of this had to do with a player emailing David Branch, the OHL commissioner, to say that the IceDogs had promised to pay him $10,000 for each season he played with them, and then reneged on the deal. . . . As Westhead reported: “A law firm hired by the Ontario Hockey League concluded that the Niagara IceDogs breached the league’s player recruitment rules by entering into a secret ‘side deal’ with a former player, according to a court decision obtained by TSN.” . . . Westhead’s story is right here.


The Prince George Cougars have signed D Ethan Samson to a WHL contract. He was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. From North Delta, B.C., he played this season with the Delta Hockey Academy’s Elite 15 team. In 33 games, he had seven goals and 17 assists.



The Brandon Wheat Kings have signed D Logen Hammett to a WHL contract. From Regina, Hammett will turn 16 on April 3. This season, with the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians, he had four goals and 19 assists in 40 games. The Wheat Kings selected him in the fifth round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.


F Rieger Lorenz, a likely first-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft, announced via Twitter on Tuesday that he has committed to the U of Denver Pioneers. Lorenz, who will turn 15 on March 30, is from Calgary. He had 11 goals and 25 assists in 30 games with the Edge School’s bantam prep team this season. . . . Lorenz is the fourth high-end bantam draft prospect to announce a commitment to the NCAA route in the last while, following F Matt Savoie (Denver), D Mats Lindgren (Michigan) and F Connor Levis (Michigan).


F Tanner Nagel, who finished up his WHL career with the Swift Current Broncos on Saturday, made his pro debut on Tuesday night with the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies. . . . Nagel was pointless in a 4-3 loss to the visiting Rapid City Rush. . . . With the Broncos, Nagel had 13 goals and 10 assists in 65 games.


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Scattershooting on a Tiebreaker Tuesday. . . . The doors are open and 5,800 hockey fans are on the move

Scattershooting

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We’re perched high — well, maybe not that high — above the ice surface at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops awaiting a full house of more than 5,800 people with the Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets about to meet in a play-in game. . . . The winner will open a first-round playoff series with the Royals in Victoria on Friday. The loser? Don’t ask. It’s over. . . .

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G Dylan Garand, a 16-year-old from Victoria, will make his seventh straight start for the Blazers in the absence of the injured Dylan Ferguson. Danton Belluk, whose WHL rights belong to the Everett Silvertips, remains with Kamloops on an emergency basis and will be on the bench. . . . The Blazers are 5-0-1 in Garand’s six recent starts. . . . On the season, Garand is 11-7-3, 2.94, .902. Against Kelowna, he is 2-0-0, 0.96, .964. . . . The Rockets will counter with G Roman Basran (20-19-4, 2.79, .906). Against the Blazers this season, he is 4-3-1, 1.61, .942. . . . Judging by those numbers, someone wins by a 2-1 count tonight. . . .

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The Rockets have scratched D Lassi Thomson, D Matt Barberis and F Cole Carrier. . . . The Blazers will scratch F Travis Walton, Ferguson, and either F Jerzy Orchard or D Joonas Sillanpaa. . . .

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According to WHL regulations, the home team keeps tonight’s gate “after applicable expenses are paid” to the visitors. “This includes hotel expenses for one night, applicable meals (two days maximum) and applicable bus expenses to a maximum of $3 per mile. All expenses are in effect even if the visiting club wins the game.” . . .

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The Blazers being on the hook for the expenses may, or may not, have had anything to do with the Rockets having arrived in Kamloops on Monday for a Tuesday night game. During the regular season, these teams make the two-hour drive on game days and return after each game. A tiebreaker, of course, involves extraordinary circumstances. . . . The Blazers paying to bed and feed Rockets? That can only help the rivalry, eh!

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I’m hardly a math major, so I will leave it up to you to guesstimate what the gate receipts from tonight’s game might be with a crowd of more than 5,800 on hand. But the on-ice officials will get a cut — each of the referees is to be paid $155, with the linesmen getting $100 apiece. . . . Tonight’s referees are veterans Chris Crich and Brett Iverson. Nick Bilko and Nathan Van Oosten are on the lines. Willy Saari is the video goal judge.



Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, weighs in on one of last week’s hot topics: “Jose Canseco used a Tweet to accuse A-Rod of cheating on his fiancée, Jennifer Lopez, with Canseco’s ex-wife. Minutes after that tweet ‘hit the streets,’ Canseco put out another one to challenge A-Rod to a boxing match or an MMA match ‘anytime you want’ — apparently as a way for Canseco to defend Jennifer Lopez’ honor. I guess I am glad that he suggested boxing or MMA to settle this matter and stopped short of suggesting they reinstitute duelling with pistols at 10 paces.”


RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com asks: “Lo-Rod is: a) Engaged couple J-Lo and A-Rod’s married nickname, or b) Where Astros star Jose Altuve hangs his clothes?”



Headline at The Onion: Antonio Brown Buys Pittsburgh Billboard To Thank Antonio Brown For Putting Up With City.



Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times reports: “Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson apologized for posting a picture on Instagram that showed him driving at 105 mph. On the bright side, Vegas oddsmakers now list Jackson at 35-1 to win the Super Bowl and 5-2 to win the Indy 500.”

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“How do MLB apologists try to spin it when a player vanishes for half a season because of a marijuana suspension?” asks Perry, before answering: “Tommy Chong surgery.”



Ken Rosenthal and Emily Waldon reported on the weekend that the Toronto Blue Jays are going to give every play in their system a raise of more than 50 per cent. . . . “When the ‘Save America’s Pastime’ act passed in March 2018,” they wrote, “depriving minor leaguers of overtime pay beyond a 40-hour work week, the Blue Jays already were talking about how they could improve the compensation of players in their farm system. A year later, the team is in the process of finalizing a pay increase of more than 50 percent for any player who is on a roster of an affiliated minor-league club, from the lowest rung in the Dominican Summer League to the highest level at Triple A, club officials told The Athletic.”

Prepping for Tiebreaker Tuesday. . . . Blazers will play in front of huge crowd. . . . Winner moves on; loser goes home

There will be more than 5,800 hockey fans in the Sandman Centre in Kamloops tonight (Tuesday) as the Blazers and Kelowna Rockets play in the WHL’s first tiebreaker game in three years.

The winner will head for Victoria to open a first-round series with the Royals on Friday night. The loser is done for this season.

A tiebreaker is held only when teams are tied for a final playoff position.

The Rockets and Blazers finished tied for third place in the B.C. Division, each at 28-32-8. Kamloops1With each team having 28 victories, the league had to go to its second tiebreaker — the season series between the teams — to determine a home for tonight’s game. The Blazers won the season series, going 6-3-1; the Rockets were 4-4-2.

These teams last met on March 8 and 9, with the Blazers winning 2-1 in a shootout at home in the first game, then posting a 2-1 victory in regulation time in the second game.

The Blazers have played 10 games in March, going 5-3-2, while outscoring the opposition, 36-31. In their past six games, they are 5-0-1, having scored 24 goals while surrendering 10.

The Rockets are 2-3-3 in March — but in four of those games they were able to score only one goal. They won’t win tonight if they score only one goal.

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Some notes before Tiebreaker Tuesday. . . .

The Rockets are expected to start G Roman Basran, who is 4-3-1, 1.61, .942 against the Blazers this season. It’s awfully hard to knock numbers like those ones. . . .

G Dylan Ferguson, 20, hasn’t dressed since appearing to suffer a groin injury during a 5-0 loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants on March 6. He did skate with the Blazers on Monday. However, G Dylan Garand, 16, has started six games in a row since Ferguson was injured. The Blazers are 5-0-1 in those Garand starts. Two of those were against Kelowna — Garand is 2-0-0, 0.96, .964. . . .

D Lassi Thomson, Kelowna’s Finnish freshman who is terrific on the PP, suffered a KelownaRocketsconcussion when he was checked by Kamloops F Jermaine Loewen in that March 8 game and hasn’t played since. Thomson skated on Monday, but he was wearing a yellow non-contact sweater, which would seem to indicate that he won’t play tonight. . . . His return, if it were to happen, would be huge. Thomson finished the season with 17 goals and 24 assists in 63 games. Against Kamloops, he had three goals and five assists in eight-plus games. . . .

Kelowna’s Matt Barberis, a defenceman with 179 games of WHL experience, also was in a non-contact sweater yesterday. However, he has played only 20 games this season — nine with the Vancouver Giants and 11 with the Rockets — and hasn’t been in a game since Feb. 9. . . .

The Blazers may have F Logan Stankoven in their lineup after he skated with them on Monday. He won the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League scoring championship, putting up 103 points, including 49 goals, in 38 games with the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers. He was the fifth-overall selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . He had one assist from seven earlier appearances with the WHL’s Blazers. . . .

The Rockets may get F Trevor Wong into their lineup. From Vancouver, he played for the major midget Greater Vancouver Canadians, putting up 42 points, 30 of them assists, in 34 games. He was the 18th-overall selection in the 2018 bantam draft. The consensus is that he would have been taken earlier had he not indicated that he would be going to the U of Denver. Wong, 15, skated with the Rockets on Monday. . . . Wong played four earlier games with the Rockets, scoring once. . . .

F Alex Swetlikoff of the Rockets took a puck to the face during a 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C., on Friday night. That resulted in more than two dozen stitches. On Saturday, he scored Kelowna’s second goal and set up the OT winner as the Rockets beat the visiting Giants, 3-2. . . .

The Rockets will be host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup. They have missed the playoffs only once (2006-07) since moving to Kelowna from Tacoma in time for the 1995-96 season. . . . The Blazers, meanwhile, missed the playoffs last season and three of the past five seasons. . . .

F Kobe Mohr of the Blazers was on the Edmonton Oil Kings’ roster on March 22, 2016, the date of the last WHL tiebreaker game, but he didn’t get into the game. . . .

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There have been six other tiebreakers in WHL history. The road team has won five of them. Here they are, courtesy of whl.ca . . .

2015-16: Edmonton Oil Kings 6 at Medicine Hat Tigers 4.

2013-14: Prince Albert Raiders 5 at Red Deer Rebels 3.

2008-09: Edmonton Oil Kings 2 at Prince Albert Raiders 1 (OT).

1989-90: Brandon Wheat Kings 4 at Swift Current Broncos 5.

1983-84: Calgary Wranglers 8 at Saskatoon Blades 7 (OT).

1980-81: Spokane Flyers 10 at New Westminster Bruins 9 (OT).