WHL’s conference finals all even . . . Milne, Alexander lead Ice to win . . . Roulette, Milic spark Thunderbirds


Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was in Kamloops for Game 1 of the Western Conference final between the Blazers and Seattle Thunderbirds on Friday night.

WHLplayoffs2022Matt O’Dette, the head coach of the Thunderbirds, wasn’t there, though. It seems an undisclosed illness — sorry, no idea whether it’s an upper-body or lower-body illness — kept him at home in Kent, Wash.

And, furthermore, it seems that no one wanted to talk about it.

Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week visited the Seattle dressing room after the game and met up with assistant coach Kyle Hagel. Here’s what Hastings wrote:

“He’s just not here,” Seattle assistant coach Kyle Hagel told KTW.

Why is he not here?

“He’s just not here,” Hagel said.

Is it health related?

“He’s just not here,” parroted the T-Birds’ assistant coach.

Hastings added: “Hagel does not expect O’Dette to return for Game 2 . . .”

O’Dette wasn’t there for Game 2 on Saturday night, a game the Thunderbirds won, 4-1, to tie the Western Conference final, 1-1.

The question now becomes: Will O’Dette be back behind the Seattle bench for Game 3 in Kent, Wash., on Tuesday night?

Of course, there also are all kinds of questions concerning O’Dette’s health.  Thom Beuning, the Thunderbirds’ veteran play-by-play man, said in the third period of Friday’s broadcast that O’Dette was out because of “illness” and that he had stayed home as a precautionary measure.

You are free to wonder if O’Dette has the flu or whether his “illness” is related to COVID-19. He didn’t respond to a text on Saturday night asking if he could provide clarification about his health and/or his status for Game 3.


Eastern Conference

In Winnipeg, the No. 1 Ice scored the game’s last four goals, all in the third WinnipegIceperiod, as it beat the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings, 5-1, to even the best-of-seven final, 1-1. . . . This was Edmonton’s first loss after nine straight playoff victories. . . . The Oil Kings had won, 5-4 in OT, on Friday night. . . . The next three games are scheduled to be played in Edmonton — Monday, Wednesday and Friday. . . . F Mikey Milne, who finished with three goals, got the scoring started, giving the Ice a 1-0 lead at 10:08 of the first period. . . . The Oil Kings pulled even at 18:45 when D Logan Dowhaniuk (2) scored, on a PP, at 18:45. . . . After a scoreless second period, Edmonton F Jaxsen Wiebe took a headshot major and game misconduct two minutes into the third. The Ice promptly took control with a pair of PP goals. . . . F Owen Peterson (7) struck at 3:15 and Milne made it 3-1 at 6:20. . . . Milne completed his hat trick with an empty-netter at 18:24. That was his 13th goal of these playoffs. . . . D Max Streule (1), who had been the victim of Wiebe’s high hit, completed the scoring at 19:17. . . . Winnipeg was 2-for-5 on the PP; Edmonton was 1-for-4. . . . Chances are Wiebe won’t be around for the next game or two as he almost certainly will be hearing from the WHL’s Dept. of Discipline. . . . The Ice got a big game from G Gage Alexander, who finished with 35 stops. Alexander started a game for the first time since March 5. He had come into Game 1 in relief of Daniel Hauser and stopped 18 of 19 shots. . . . G Sebastian Cossa turned aside 18 shots for the Oil Kings. . . . As per the tweets from Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press, Ice forwards Matt Savoie and Connor McClennon didn’t finish the game. Both will be evaluated Sunday before the teams heads for Edmonton. Savoie was the Ice’s leading regular-season scorer, with 90 points, while McClennon was tied for second, with 81. McClennon had a team-high 43 goals.


Western Conference

In Kamloops, F Conner Roulette broke a 1-1 tie early in the second period and Seattlethe Seattle Thunderbirds went on to a 4-1 victory over the Blazers, evening the best-of-seven conference final, 1-1. . . . Kamloops had put up a 5-2 victory on Friday night. . . . The series now shifts to Kent, Wash., for games on Tuesday and Wednesday, with Game 5 scheduled for Kamloops on Friday. . . . Last night, the Thunderbirds scored the game’s last four goals after F Logan Stankoven gave the Blazers a 1-0 lead with his WHL-leading 14th goal at 1:39 of the first period. . . . F Lucas Ciona (7) shot Seattle into a tie at 6:39. . . . Roulette (2) gave the visitors the lead at 5:32 of the second period. . . . F Sam Oremba (2) added some insurance at 5:25 of the third period, and F Reid Schaefer (6) iced it with the empty-netter at 17:55. . . . Seattle G Thomas Milic was the game’s first start, with 40 saves. He beat Stankoven on a late second-period breakaway with Seattle leading 2-1, then made a wonderful come-across stop on Kamloops D Viktor Persson off a Stankoven pass. In the third period, Milic stopped F Luke Toporowski on a breakaway immediately after the Thunderbirds had gone ahead 3-1. . . . The Blazers got 23 saves from G Dylan Garand. . . . The Thunderbirds were without F Henrik Rybinski, who apparently suffered an undisclosed injury in Game 1 of the series. He has 13 points, including 10 assists, in 13 playoff games. . . . Seattle also was again without head coach Matt O’Dette, who stayed home with an apparent illness. In his absence, assistant coaches Kyle Hagel and Matt Marquardt ran things for a second straight game.

JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning has signed F Jaydon Dureau of the Portland Winterhawks to a three-year entry-level contract. Dureau, who turned 21 on Jan. 20, was a fifth-round pick by the Lightning in the NHL’s 2020 draft. From White City, Sask., Dureau had 66 points, including 24 goals, in 49 regular-season games with the Winterhawks this season.


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca


Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182



Or, for more information, visit right here.


Blazers, fans to celebrate with Hay . . . T-Birds assistant coach looks back, ahead


The Kamloops Blazers will honour head coach Don Hay in a pregame ceremony on Feb. 16 with the Kelowna Rockets in the house.

Hay became the winningest regular-season coach in WHL history on Saturday when he Kamloops1got No. 743 as the Blazers beat the visiting Portland Winterhawks, 4-2. He had tied the record one night earlier when his guys beat the visiting Winterhawks, 5-2.

The record had been held since 1993 by former Portland head coach Ken Hodge, who retired after the 1992-93 season.

Hay also holds the WHL coaching record for most career playoff victories (108). Hodge (101) is No. 2 on that list, too.

On Feb. 16, the first 4,000 fans will receive commemorative pucks. There also will be a banner raising as part of the celebration.

It likely is safe to assume there will be representation from the WHL office, too, although that isn’t mentioned in the news release.

Kyle Hagel is in his first season as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Seattle SeattleThunderbirds; in fact, he’s in the first season of what he hopes will be a long and fruitful coaching career. He admits that it wasn’t easy to leave his playing career behind, but he also admits that his playing career wasn’t easy. . . . Scott Radley of the Hamilton Spectator has a piece right here on Hagel, who looks back at his career as a middleweight enforcer and wonders what’s ahead.

The CHL’s Top Prospects Game will be played in Red Deer next season. The 24th annual game is scheduled for Jan. 23. This season’s game was played in Guelph, home of the OHL’s Storm, on Jan. 25. . . . The game was last played in a WHL city in 2014 when it was held in Calgary. It also has been played in Calgary in 1999 and 2001, Edmonton in 2008, Saskatoon in 2002, Vancouver in 2005 and 2016, and in Kelowna in 2012.

Meanwhile, the WHL has scheduled its annual awards show and the 2018 bantam for Red Deer. The awards luncheon is scheduled for May 2, with the bantam draft on May 3.

The Swift Current Broncos have signed F Alex Thacker to a WHL contract. Thacker, a sixth-round selection by the Broncos in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft, plays for the midget AAA Fort Saskatchewan Rangers. He told Lindsay Morey of the Fort Saskatchewan Record that he signed on Jan. 23. . . . With the Rangers, he has 13 goals and 17 assists in 30 games.

The junior B Beaver Valley Nitehawks of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have a new general manager. Jamie Cominotta, the assistant GM for three years, has moved up to the GM’s position. Terry Jones, a former WHL player, had been GM and head coach; he now will focus on his head-coaching duties. He has been the head coach since 1997. . . . “Over time we’ve been looking at the process of our entire coaching staff and we’ve worked hard to delegate all the duties,” Jones told Jim Bailey of the Trail Times.“We’re doing this all largely as a hobby, so with all of us breaking down our duties it makes the job more manageable, and it also creates a team approach to building a hockey team.” . . . Jones played two seasons (1982-84) with the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Bailey’s 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.




No Games Scheduled.

FRIDAY (all times local):

Red Deer at Moose Jay, 7 p.m.

Saskatoon at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Prince George at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.

Swift Current at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.

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

Everett at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.

Portland vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.

Medicine Hat at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

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

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