It sounds like we can expect the Portland Winterhawks to bid on a Memorial Cup in the near future, perhaps even as early as 2026. . . . Joshua Critzer, who covers the Winterhawks for pnwhockeytalk.com, spent some time chatting with Michael Kramer, one of the franchise’s co-owners. . . . The OHL’s Saginaw Spirit will be the host team for the 2024 tournament, the first time it will have been held in an American city since 1998 when the Spokane Chiefs were the host team. . . . Asked his stance on bidding on a future tournament, Kramer told Critzer: “One hundred percent I do, absolutely. I’m thrilled to hear that Saginaw got it. I was talking with those guys while they were bidding for it. I personally spent a lot of time with the CHL talking about why it is important and why United States-based teams can host. We would absolutely love to host the Memorial Cup. Given the right circumstances, we are going all for it. The first opportunity we will have is three years. I don’t know if we will be able to get it done for that or not, but I’m definitely, definitely focused on hosting.” . . . The complete interview — it’s lengthy and worthwhile — is right here.
WHL PLAYOFF NOTES:
The WHL playoff schedule will pause to catch its breath now, with no games until Friday night. That is when the Eastern Conference final, featuring the regular-season champion Winnipeg Ice and Saskatoon Blades is to open. It will begin with games in Winnipeg on Friday and Saturday, then shift to Saskatoon for games on Tuesday and May 3. . . .
The Blades advanced on Tuesday night with a Game 7 victory, beating the visiting Red Deer Rebels, 5-2. . . .
The Blades became the third team in WHL history to win a series after losing the first three games. . . . In 1996, the Spokane Chiefs beat the Portland Winterhawks in Game 7, winning 4-3 when F Darren Sinclair scored 58 seconds into OT. . . . In 2013, the Kelowna Rockets beat the Seattle Thunderbirds, 3-2 in OT, in Game 7, winning on a goal at 5:10 by F Tyson Baillie. Steve Konowalchuk, now Red Deer’s second-year head coach, was in his second season as Seattle’s head coach at that time. . . .
But not only did the Blades lose the first three games to Red Deer, but they surrendered the first two goals in Game 4 before coming back for a 4-2 victory. . . .
Meanwhile, the Western Conference finalists — the No. 1 Seattle Thunderbirds and No. 2 Kamloops Blazers — no doubt are anxious for Saturday to get here. That’s when they will open their series in Kent, Wash. Game 2 is to be played there on Sunday, with Games 3 and 4 in Kamloops on Tuesday and May 4. . . . Each team was 2-1-1 in the season series. And each team is 8-0 in these playoffs. . . .
You will note that the top two seeds in each conference are the only teams still standing. They also are the only four of the WHL’s 22 teams that enjoyed 100-point seasons.
The 2023 Kamloops Kidney Walk is scheduled for June 4, and Dorothy is taking part once again. She will celebrate 10 years as a kidney-transplant recipient in September, so the annual Kidney Walk is a big deal for her. In fact, she is participating for a 10th straight year. Yes, that means she is fund-raising, with all donations going to the Kidney Foundation. . . . Things are rolling right along, too, as she surpassed $3,200 on Tuesday. . . . If you are interested in helping, you are able to do so on her home page, which is right here.
TUESDAY IN THE WHL PLAYOFFS:
Red Deer (3) at Saskatoon (2) — The Saskatoon Blades broke a 2-2 tie with two third-period goals 40 seconds apart and went on to a 5-2 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . The Blades, who had lost the first three games of the series, the first two at home, won the series, 4-3. . . . Saskatoon now is 5-0 in elimination games this spring. . . . The Eastern Conference final will open in Winnipeg on Friday night. The Ice, which won the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as regular-season champions, ousted the Moose Jaw Warriors on Monday night, winning Game 6, 8-2, on the road. . . . The Ice was 4-2-0 in the regular-season series; the Blades were 2-3-1. . . . If you are looking for a Game 7 hero look no further than Blades D Spencer Shugrue. The 19-year-old from Vancouver went into these playoffs with three goals in 125 regular-season games. He scored his first playoff goal in a Game 7 victory over the Regina Pats. Last night, he scored twice, breaking a 1-1 tie at 5:41 of the second period and snapping a 2-2 deadlock at 4:29 of the third period. . . . D Hunter Mayo (2) gave Red Deer a 1-0 lead at 12:10 of the first period, only to have F Conner Roulette (2) get Saskatoon even at 14:45. . . . Shugrue (2) gave the Blades a 2-1 lead at 5:41 of the second period, and F Ryker Singer (1) pulled the Rebels even at 7:35. . . . Shugrue (3) put the Blades in front for good at 4:29 of the third, and Roulette (3) added insurance at 5:09. . . . F Vaughn Watterodt (4) got the empty-netter at 19:32. . . . The announced attendance was 9,489. . . . Saskatoon was 0-for-3 on the PP (7-for-26 in the series); Red Deer was 0-for-2 (2-for-20). . . . The Blades got 23 stops from G Austin Elliott. . . . G Kyle Kelsey stopped 23 for the Rebels. . . . With the score 2-2, Red Deer had what it thought was a second-period PP goal disallowed because of contact with Elliott. . . . The Rebels had F Kalan Lind back after he missed two games with an undisclosed injury. . . . Saskatoon F Justin Lies sat out as he completed a three-game suspension for a high hit on Lind in Game 4. . . . Red Deer F Jhett Larson didn’t play as he served a one-game suspension, while Rebels F Frantisek Formanek returned from a one-game suspension. . . . Saskatoon D Blake Gustafson, who was the subject of the hit that earned Formanek that suspension from Game 5, missed a second straight game.
D Marek Alscher of the Portland Winterhawks will finish his season with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers. Alscher, who turned 19 on April 7, is from Czechia. He was selected by the Florida Panthers in the third round of the NHL’s 2022 draft. . . . This season, his second with Portland, he had eight goals and 16 assists in 60 games. . . .
The SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves have signed Kyle Schneider to a three-year extension through the 2025-26 season. An assistant coach there for the past two seasons, he now is assistant general manager and assistant coach. Schneider played three seasons with the Ice Wolves (2017-20). . . .
In the OHL, the host North Bay Battalion beat the Barrie Colts, 3-1, in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinal. The No. 2 Centennials will meet the No. 4 Peterborough Petes in the conference final. That series is to open in North Bay on Friday. . . . The Western Conference final will feature the No. 2 London Knights and No. 3 Sarnia Sting. Game 1 is scheduled for Friday in London. . . . Terry Doyle (@Terry_Doyle) reports that this is the “first time since the 1999 playoffs the conference finals do not include a regular-season top seed from either conference.” . . .
There was a Game 7 in the BCHL last night, too. The Alberni Valley Bulldogs used two early first-period goals as the springboard to a 3-1 victory over the host Surrey Eagles. . . . The No. 3 Bulldogs will meet the No. 5 Chilliwack Chiefs in Coastal Conference final. . . . The BCHL’s Interior Conference semifinal has the No. 4 Salmon Arm Silverbacks meeting the No. 1 Penticton Vees.
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
Toll free: 1-877-922-9822
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.