D Michal Plutnar (Tri-City, 2011-14) signed a one-year contract with Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He had been assigned on loan by Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga) to Karlovy Vary for this season. In 45 games, he had four goals and 10 assists.
The WHL’s Department of Discipline came down on two players, a head coach and a general manager on Thursday, less than 24 hours after what was a wild Wednesday on the ice.
Before he was done, Kevin Acheson, a former referee who handles discipline for the WHL, had handed out two indefinite suspensions and $2,000 in fines.
For starters, F Kody McDonald of the Victoria Royals has been suspended indefinitely after being hit with a match penalty for intent to injure during a 6-3 loss to the Blazers in Kamloops.
F Sean Richards of the Seattle Thunderbirds also has been suspended indefinitely after taking a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct during a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Kent, Wash.
Michael Dyck, the Giants’ head coach, was fined $1,000 “for public comments” that he made to Steve Ewen of Postmedia for a story that he wrote on Wednesday.
Finally, Alan Millar, the general manager of the Moose Jaw Warriors, was fined $1,000 “for actions following” a 3-2 loss to the visiting Saskatoon Blades on Tuesday.
The WHL went so far as to issue news releases related to the suspensions of McDonald and Richards, although each one was only four paragraphs in length and contained minimal information.
Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was quoted in the McDonald news release: “The WHL takes incidents of this nature very seriously. Actions of this kind are unacceptable to the WHL. The WHL Director, Player Safety is undergoing a complete review of the incident at this time.”
And here is Robison in the Richards news release: “Player safety is the first priority for the WHL at all times. The WHL will continue to take a strong position in dealing with checking-from-behind penalties and players classified as repeat offenders. As Sean Richards has been suspended previously, the WHL Director, Player Safety is undergoing a complete review of this latest incident at this time.”
If you missed it, McDonald was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at 5:34 of the third period of Wednesday’s game with the teams tied, 3-3. As he skated to the penalty box, he kept trying to show the officials that he was bleeding from the mouth area.
After the Royals killed the penalty, McDonald returned to the players’ bench. He was standing at one end when, apparently riled by chatter of some kind coming from Kamloops F Zane Franklin, McDonald swung his stick a couple of times at the Blazers bench. He appeared to connect once with Franklin’s helmet, and also struck Kamloops trainer Colin (Toledo) Robinson, whose glasses were damaged.
McDonald was quickly escorted from the ice surface. Franklin was given an unsportsmanlike minor. The Blazers scored on the 4-on-4 and again on the PP, jumping out front 5-3. They would win the game, 6-3, and the series now is tied, 2-2. They’ll play Game 5 in Victoria on Saturday, then return to Kamloops for Game 6 on Monday.
There may be more to the McDonald story, too.
Blazers broadcaster Jon Keen tweeted Thursday morning that McDonald was “involved in incident with vendor staff under the stands while coming off the ice. I couple of high school students taking the garbage out from concessions. Security intervening. Report filed.”
Meanwhile, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week reported: “Kamloops brass is looking into an alleged fracas that took place while the Victoria forward was making his way to the dressing room, with security guards allegedly involved. Security would have to report the incident to the WHL to spark a league investigation, according to a Blazers’ source.”
McDonald, 20, won’t play again in the series with the Blazers, and that will be a tough blow for the Royals, who will miss his scoring — he put up three goals in the four games — and his experience.
This is the second time this season that the Blazers have been involved in a situation that seemed to involve taunting. On Feb. 2, in a game in Kelowna, Rockets F Conner Bruggen-Cate appeared to say something that set off Blazers D Montana Onyebuchi. No one from either of the teams or the league has stated publicly what happened, but each of the players was given a two-game suspension.
As for Richards, he was penalized at 4:16 of the first period for a hit on Vancouver F Aidan Barfoot, who left the game and didn’t return.
Barfoot isn’t likely to play tonight when the teams play Game 5 in Langley, B.C. The series is tied 2-2 after Seattle overcame a 3-0 deficit for a 4-3 victory in Game 4 on Wednesday.
Richards, 20, is a repeat offender, having been suspended twice earlier in the season, once for eight games and the other time for five, while with the Everett Silvertips.
Dyck’s comments came in a story written by Ewen about the return of Seattle D Jake Lee to the Thunderbirds’ lineup after he had served a two-game suspension. He was suspended after taking a cross-checking major and game misconduct for a hit on F Justin Sourdif with six seconds left in the Giants’ 7-1 victory in Game 1.
Sourdif, an offensive threat, hasn’t played since and isn’t expected to be in the lineup tonight for Game 5.
Dyck, who felt Lee should have received more than two games, was a defenceman with the Regina Pats in 1986-87 when F Brad Hornung was left a quadriplegic after being hit from behind.
“I played with Brad Hornung. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it,” Dyck told Ewen. “It was the same type of play. The only thing that saved Justin Sourdif was the net. It’s a terrible play. He (Lee) is a young guy. But somebody has to teach him. All two games is … I don’t know.
“It’s one of the worst plays in hockey. It had nothing to do with making a play. It’s emotion. I understand that. But you have to learn.”
You should know that Dyck is absolutely correct. I covered the game in which Hornung was injured and later wrote extensively about the aftermath. With some of the hits in danger areas that I witness, and the way in which those who manage the game at this level have allowed cross-checking to creep back into the game, I fear that what Dyck calls “one of the worst plays in hockey” is going to bring with it devastating consequences one of these games.
As for Millar’s fine, perhaps he had something to say about the officiating, or to the officials, after the Warriors’ 3-2 series-ending loss. The Blades won that game when F Max Gerlach broke a 2-2 tie at 15:39 of the third period.
That goal came on a 5-on-3 PP after the Warriors were hit with two delay-of-game minors in 32 seconds.
The Portland Winterhawks will be facing elimination when they meet the Chiefs in Spokane on Saturday night. After splitting the first two games in Spokane, the teams played Tuesday and Wednesday in Portland with the Chiefs winning twice in OT — 5-4 and 4-3. . . . Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ general manager and head coach, told Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune that “we played really well” in Game 4. . . . Johnston added: “All we have to do is play the same the next game. We’re going to be fine in the series. We win in Spokane, then we come back here (for Game 6) on Monday. (The Chiefs) don’t want to come back here. As the series has gone along, our team has gotten better every game.” . . . Johnston also told Eggers that “we expect Cody (Glass) to be able to play on Saturday.” . . . Glass, who will turn 20 on Monday, was limited to 38 games this season, thanks to knee woes and a stint with Canada’s national junior team. But he did big damage in those games, putting up 15 goals and 54 assists. . . . The Vegas Golden Knights selected him sixth overall in the NHL’s 2017 draft. Eggers reports the Golden Knights’ medical staff has cleared Glass to play, as have Portland’s medical people. . . . As Johnston said, “He’s the best player in the league. It’s huge to have him back. If we get that game and get momentum back on our side, that’s all we need.” . . . Of course, this being the WHL playoffs you have to remember that you can’t believe 90 per cent of what you hear or read about injuries, and you have to take the other 10 per cent with a huge grain of salt.
Eggers’ complete story is right here.
And if you haven’t read his new book, you should. It is titled Jail Blazers: How the Portland Trail Blazers Became the Bad Boys of Basketball.
NOTES: There were two games on Thursday night. . . . The Calgary Hitmen beat the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes, 5-2, to even that series, 2-2. They’ll play Game 5 in Lethbridge’s Nicholas Sheran Arena on Saturday because the world men’s curling championship is in the Enmax Centre. The Hurricanes’ temporary home has 968 seats and room for 200 standees. . . . Game 6 will be played in Calgary on Sunday. . . .
Also last night, the Everett Silvertips beat the Tri-City Americans, 3-0, in Kennewick, Wash., to take a 3-1 lead. They will play Game 5 in Everett on Saturday. . . .
The Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades, who have advanced to the second round, will open their series with games in Prince Albert on April 5 and 7. . . .
The Vancouver Giants and Seattle Thunderbirds are 2-2 as they go into Game 5 tonight in Langley, B.C. . . . Neither F Aidan Barfoot nor F Justin Sourdif practised with the Giants on Thursday. Sourdif hasn’t played since being cross-checked by Seattle D Jake Lee in Game 1. Barfoot left Game 4 following a hit by Seattle F Sean Richards. Lee has returned from a two-game suspension; Richards has been suspended indefinitely. . . . Seattle D Cade McNelly will complete a two-game suspension by sitting again tonight. It seems that while in the penalty box during Game 3, he made a throat-slash gesture in the direction of Vancouver D Bowen Byram. . . .
The only other game tonight will have the Medicine Hat Tigers in Edmonton to face the Oil Kings. That series is tied, 2-2. . . . Game 6 is scheduled for Medicine Hat on Sunday.
The Calgary Hitmen broke a 2-2 tie with three third-period goals en route to a 5-2 victory over the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The series is tied, 2-2, with Game 5 set for Lethbridge on Saturday. . . . The Hitmen took a 1-0 lead at 3:28 of the first period on a goal by F Riley Stotts (1). . . . Lethbridge F Jake Elmer (1) tied it at 1:36 of the second period. . . . Calgary took a 2-1 lead when F James Malm (1) scored at 8:53, only to have F Logan Barlage (1) tie it, on a PP, at 12:42. . . . Calgary F Josh Prokop (2) broke the tie at 1:44 of the third period, and D Vladislav Yeryomenko (1) added insurance, on a PP, at 5:04. . . . F Luke Coleman (2) added an empty-netter at 17:45. . . . The Hitmen got three assists from F Ryder Korczak, with Stotts adding two to his goal. . . . Calgary was 1-4 on the PP; Lethbridge was 1-5. . . . G Jack McNaughton earned the victory with 37 saves, seven more than Lethbridge’s Carl Tetachuk. . . . Calgary was without F Mark Kastelic, its captain, for a second straight game. He is in concussion protocol. . . . Calgary also is without F Jake Kryski, 20, who last played on Jan. 11.
G Dustin Wolf stopped 24 shots to help the Everett Silvertips to a 3-0 victory over the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. . . . The Silvertips lead the series, 3-1, and get their first opportunity to wrap it up at home on Saturday. . . . Last night, the Silvertips scored once in each period. . . . F Bryce Kindopp (2) opened the scoring, on a PP, at 12:34 of the first period. . . . F Max Patterson (2) made it 2-0 at 7:56 of the second. . . . F Zack Andrusiak (2) got the empty-netter at 19:19 of the third. . . . Everett was 1-5 on the PP; Tri-City was 0-2. . . . Wolf posted his first playoff shutout. He has 11 career regular-season shutouts, seven of them this season. . . . The Americans got 35 stops from G Beck Warm.
Having been born and raised in northern Manitoba, this tugs at the feelies . . .