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

MacBeth

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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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.

——

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).

——


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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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.

——

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. . . .

——

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).

Mohr back from facial injury . . . Young Stars tourney is on . . . Adding two more sets of twins

MacBeth

D Richie Regehr (Kelowna, Portland, 1998-2004) has been released by mutual agreement by Klagenfurt (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). According to the club, Regehr suffered a “serious upper body injury” at the end of September and had a setback when he returned to practice. He had one goal and one assist in six games. . . .

F Masi Marjamäki (Red Deer, Moose Jaw, 2002-05) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Almtuna Uppsala (Sweden, Allsvenskan) after his release by mutual agreement by Jokerit Helsinki (Finland, KHL). He had two goals and two assists in 24 games. . . .

D Alex Roach (Calgary, 2010-14) has been assigned on loan by Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL) to Eispiraten Crimmitschau (Germany, DEL2) for the duration of the DEL Olympics break. He had three assists in 25 games. . . . The DEL breaks after games on Feb 2 until Feb 28. The DEL2 doesn’t have a break.


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

On Dec. 3, with Edmonton playing against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes, Oil Kings F Kobe Mohr was struck by a puck just below his left eye.

The 18-year-old from Lloydminster, Alta., now has three plates in his face. As he told EdmontonOilKingsDerek Van Diest of Postmedia, he ended up with a broken orbital bone, broken tear duct and broken nose.

“Right away, I soaked the ice up pretty good in blood and I couldn’t see, I couldn’t breathe and I knew my nose was broken for sure and something was wrong with my eye because I couldn’t see,” Mohr told Van Diest. “But I wasn’t sure exactly what was wrong. The first thing was just the pain. I was squirming out there, I couldn’t really control it and the trainer came out and got me off the ice as fast as I could and got me stitched up and took me straight to the hospital, so it was a pretty quick process, which was pretty good.”

He was back in the lineup on Jan. 9, meaning he missed only 13 games.

Van Diest’s story, complete with a post-injury selfie, is right here.


On Thursday, Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow) tweeted a list of the top 10 WHL teams in terms of regular-season victories from September 2003 through last night. I have added to his list by including WHL championships won during that time in parentheses:

  1. Kelowna 639 (3)
  2. Medicine Hat 623 (2)
  3. Calgary 602 (1)
  4. Tri-City 575 (0)
  5. Brandon 573 (1)
  6. Spokane 548 (1)
  7. Portland 547 (1)
  8. Everett 543 (0)
  9. Kootenay 533 (1)
  10. Vancouver 529 (1)

NOTE: Edmonton (2) and Seattle (1) aren’t in the top 10 in victories in that time period, but have won championships.


It seems that there will be Young Stars tournament in Penticton this year, but if you read between the lines it sounds like there may be changes in store.

Trevor Linden, the Vancouver Canucks’ president of hockey operations, has told Kristi Patton of the Penticton Western News that his team is committed to playing in the preseason rookie tournament this year.

“While the format and number of participating teams may change,” Linden said, “we’ve confirmed our continued participation this year. We’ll have more details to share in the near future.”

Andrew Jakubeit, Penticton’s mayor and the event’s chairman, told Patton: “Right now, I’m confident there will be an event this fall. Whatthe shape, size or scope of teams is, I can’t confirm or deny yet.”

In recent years, the Canucks team has faced teams from the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets. The tournament is held in the first half of September, although this year’s dates have yet to be announced.


Attention WHL franchise owners . . .

Darren Rovell, a senior writer with ESPN, filed a piece Thursday explaining what happened when the the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons cut concession prices.

“Steve Cannon, CEO of the AMB Group . . . told ESPN that although food and beverage prices were 50 percent lower in its new Mercedes-Benz Stadium than the prices in the Georgia Dome the previous year, fans spent 16 percent more,” Rovell writes.

Rovell’s story is right here.


If you’re a regular here, you will be aware that organ donation is a big deal in our home.

On Thursday, I stumbled on a truly interesting story involving a 60-year-old single father of five who was in dire need of a kidney. So on a trip to Disney World, he wore a special t-shirt.

The rest, as they say, is history.

His story is right here.


If you like what you get here, please consider clicking on the DONATE button over there to the right and helping the cause.

If you have a tip or just want to chat, email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com. You are able to follow me on Twitter at @gdrinnan.

And don’t forget that the domain name here is greggdrinnan.com.

Enjoy!


We are adding two more sets of twins to our WHL Twins Wall of Fame, both brought to our attention via readers of this blog.

We start today with Brent and Kyle Howarth, forwards from St. Andrews, Man. Brent whlplayed three seasons (2003-06) with the Kelowna Rockets, while Kyle was with the Medicine Hat Tigers, Spokane Chiefs and Prince Albert Raiders. Now 31, they did play together with the MJHL’s Selkirk Steelers in 2002-03 and 2006-07. In fact, they helped the Keith Cassidy-coached Steelers win the 2006-07 MJHL title. Kyle put up 141 points, including 103 assists, in 58 games, while Brent had 131 points, 49 of them goals, in 59 games.

We also have been reminded about Taylor and Travis Sanheim, the pride of Elkhorn, Man., which is also the hometown of Sheldon Kennedy. Taylor and Travis, now 21, played together with the Calgary Hitmen.

Taylor, a forward, played two-plus seasons (2014-17) with the Hitmen; Travis was there for three seasons (2013-16).

Now 21, Taylor is playing senior hockey in Saskatchewan, while Travis is in the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers.

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Twins who played together . . .

Darren and Trevor Kruger, Swift Current (1987-89)

Bob and Ted McAneeley, Edmonton (Calgary Buffaloes, 1966-67; Edmonton Oil Kings, 1968-69)

Trevor and Troy Pohl, Portland (1986-88)

Taylor and Travis Sanheim, Calgary (2014-16)

Jeremy and Joshua Schappert, Seattle (2005-08)

Rich and Ron Sutter, Lethbridge Broncos (1980-83)

Kaeden and Keenan Taphorn, Kootenay (active)

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Twins who played but not together . . .

Connor and Curtis Honey, Seattle, Brandon (2011-14)

Brent and Kyle Howarth, Kelowna, Medicine Hat/Spokane/Prince Albert Raiders (2003-06)

Kris and Ryan Russell, Medicine Hat and Kootenay (2003-07)

Beck and Will Warm, Tri-City and Edmonton (active)

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Officials who are twins and work together . . .

Chad and Cody Huseby, linesmen from Red Deer (active)


Scoreboard

THURSDAY:

No Games Scheduled.


FRIDAY (all times local):

Prince George at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Edmonton at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.

Moose Jaw at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.

Kelowna at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.

Brandon vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m.

Portland at Kamloops, 7 p.m.

Victoria vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7:30 p.m.

Seattle at Everett, 7:35 p.m.


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