The International Ice Hockey Federation has barred Russia and Belarusian teams from its competitions. The decision was made at an IIHF Council meeting on Tuesday. . . . “Based on a detailed risk assessment from a renowned company that specializes in assessing risks due to various global challenges,” the IIHF said in a news release, “the IIHF Council determined that it is not yet safe to reincorporate the Russian and Belarusian teams back into IIHF competitions, and that it will not be safe for the upcoming 2023-24 IIHF championship season. Therefore, the IIHF will move forward with the 2023-24 IIHF championship season without the Russian and Belarusian teams.” . . . You may recall that the IIHF dumped Russia and Belarus from international play in February 2022 because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia was to have played host to the 2023 men’s Worlds and the 2023 World Junior Championship. . . . The men’s Worlds will be played in Tampere, Finland, and Riga, Latvia, in May. . . . The WJC was to have been played in Novosibirsk and Omsk, Russia, but was moved to Halifax and Moncton.
Hockey Canada has named Peter Anholt, the general manager of the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, as part of its Program of Excellence management group for 2023-24. Anholt, according to a news release, “will advise the under-20 program and Canada’s national junior team through the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship.” . . . Anholt, who has led the U-18 program for the past two seasons, takes over from James Boyd of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s. . . . Canada’s national junior team has won back-to-back gold medals. . . . The 2024 WJC is scheduled to be played in Gothenburg Sweden, from Dec. 26, 2023, through Jan. 5, 2004. . . . There is a Hockey Canada news release right here.
If the WHL playoffs started today (x-locked in):
Winnipeg (1) vs. Medicine Hat (8)
Red Deer (2) vs. Calgary (7)
Saskatoon (3) vs. Regina (6)
Moose Jaw (4) vs. Lethbridge (5)
x-Seattle (1) vs. Kelowna (8)
x-Kamloops (2) vs. Vancouver (7)
x-Portland (3) vs. Everett (6)
x-Prince George (4) vs. Tri-City (5)
(NOTE:There are excellent playoff previews available on the WHL’s website.)
WEDNESDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:
The Kamloops Blazers coughed up 4-0 and 5-1 leads before getting past the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds, 6-5. . . . The Thunderbirds had beaten the Blazers, 6-3, in Kent, Wash., on Tuesday night. It was Pride Night in Seattle for that one, and the Blazers wore Pride Night sweaters last night. . . . The Blazers scored four times in the first period, only to surrender five goals in the second. . . . F Caedan Bankier (36) scored the only goal of the third period, breaking a 5-5 tie at 13:43, scoring off a feed from F Logan Stankoven, who had pilfered the puck in the Seattle zone. . . . Stankoven, a Kamloops native, also scored his 34th goal. As you can see from the above tweet, he had some fans from Royal Inland Hospital in the house. In the end, he answered their request. . . . Blazers D Olen Zellweger scored his 32nd goal of the season. He has 22 goals and 30 assists in 30 games since coming over from the Everett Silvertips on Jan. 8. For the season, he has 80 points in 53 games. . . . F Colton Dach (11), in his second game after being out since March 4, had a goal and two assists for Seattle, as did D Jeremy Hanzel (13), who tied the game, 5-5, with 8.7 seconds left in the second period. . . . Kamloops (48-12-6) will be the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed and play No. 7 Vancouver in the first round. . . . Seattle (53-10-3) had a 19-game point streak (18-0-1) come to an end. The Thunderbirds, No. 1 in the Western Conference, will meet No. 8 Kelowna in the first round. . . .
The Calgary Hitmen scored the game’s last three goals to beat the host Lethbridge Hurricanes, 3-2. . . . F Hayden Smith (13) scored two first-period goals to give the Hurricanes the lead. . . . Calgary tied it before period’s end on goals from F Oliver Tulk (24) and F Sean Tschigerl (26). . . . D Keagan Slaney (5) broke the tie at 8:44 of the third period. . . . Calgary (30-28-8) has won three in a row. It is seventh in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of Medicine Hat. . . . Lethbridge (35-25-6) had won its previous two games. It is fifth in the conference, four points ahead of Regina. Each team has two games remaining. If Regina (34-28-4) wins out and Lethbridge loses both its game, the Pats would finish fifth with more victories. . . .
F Brendan Lee scored three times to help the Medicine Hat Tigers to an 8-2 victory over the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Lee, 20, who also had an assist, enjoyed his first career hat trick after five two-goal outings, four of them this season. He has 32 goals in 55 games. Last season, he scored five in 30 games with the Saskatoon Blades and five more in 22 games with the Tigers. . . . Medicine Hat, which scored the first five goals, got a goal (3) and two assists from F Gavin McKenna, the first overall selection in the WHL’s 2022 draft. McKenna, who won’t turn 16 until Dec. 20, He has 15 points, 12 of them assists, in 14 games. . . . Medicine Hat (29-28-9) is eighth in the Eastern Conference, three points ahead of Swift Current (30-32-4). Each team has two games remaining. . . . Edmonton (9-53-4) has lost six in a row (0-5-1). . . .
The Moose Jaw Warriors erased a 3-1 deficit with four straight goals, two from F Brayden Yager, en route to a 6-4 victory over the Ice in Winnipeg. . . . Moose Jaw won the season series, 3-2-1; the Ice was 3-3-0. . . . Yager, who has 28 goals, tied the game with second-period goals at 3:49 and 9:01. . . . F Atley Calvert (38) broke the tie, on a PP, at 10:40, and F Ryder Korczak (27) made it 5-3 at 11:32 of the third period. . . . Korczak also had two assists, with F Jagger Firkus (38) getting the empty-netter, on a PP, and also picking up two assists. . . . F Zack Ostapchuk (31) scored twice for the Ice. . . . Moose Jaw got 34 saves from G Jackson Unger. . . . Moose Jaw (40-23-3) has won 40 games for the eighth time in franchise history. The Warriors will finish fourth in the Eastern Conference, and will face either Lethbridge or Regina in the first roiund. . . . Winnipeg (55-10-1) had won its previous seven games. The Ice leads the overall standings by two points over Seattle with each team having two games remaining.
The junior B Delisle Chiefs of the Prairie Junior Hockey League had hired Mike Zambon as their head coach. He replaces Eric Ditto, who stepped down after 11 seasons with the Chiefs. . . . Zambon has extensive coaching experience, including NCAA, U-18, junior B in Saskatchewan and B.C., SJHL and the PJHL. His most-recent head-coaching job was with the U18 AAA Saskatoon Westleys. He left that position in 2016 to become the PJHL’s president, and now is leaving that post to take over as the Chiefs’ head coach. . . . At the same time, the Chiefs have added former WHL player/coach Randy Smith to their organization as a senior advisor. Smith played for the Saskatoon Blades and was an assistant coach and head coach with the Swift Current Broncos.
THINKING OUT LOUD: I’m old enough to remember when the “blue paint” in hockey was simply called the crease. . . . Would you agree that it appears the NHL really isn’t for everyone? . . . Gotta admit that it would be fun to be living in Regina or Saskatoon if the Pats and Blades end up meeting in the first round of the WHL playoffs. . . . It’s time for organizers to put together a World Cup of Hockey and to do it without Russia and Belarus. Get it done before it’s too late for Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, Nathan McKinnon, Cale Makar et al to play together on a big stage even if it means the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin wouldn’t be there.
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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
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