KIJHL delivering vaccine-related message . . . Seattle-area teams go to mandatory vaccination policies; Thunderbirds follow suit

A tip of the Keeping Score fedora to the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League for this campaign . . .

We have news from the junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, and let’s hope it isn’t a harbinger of things to come. . . . The Lake Cowichan Kraken, a new VIJHL team, and the host Westshore Wolves were to have opened the regular season tonight (Wednesday), but that won’t happen. . . . The game has been postponed “due to a COVID exposure,” according to the league, and “will be rescheduled and played later in the season.”

B.C. residents were able to start downloading proof of vaccination on Tuesday, with these co-called “passports” needed to access various non-essential businesses beginning on Sept. 13 and running through at least Jan. 31. . . . When scanned, these passports will show whether the holder is fully or partially vaccinated, or that no records were found. . . . Fans attending home games of any of the WHL’s five B.C. clubs will have to present proof of vaccination. . . . At a Tuesday afternoon news conference, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, suggested that people who aren’t vaccinated would be able to watch the Vancouver Canucks game on TV and contribute to local economies by ordering takeout. Presumably, the same will hold true for WHL fans in B.C. cities.

The NHL’s Seattle Kraken announced on Tuesday that it “will require all guests, Krakenages 12+, attending games, concerts and events at Climate Pledge Arena to provide proof of vaccination to keep fans, staff, players and artists safe.” . . . Ian Furness of Seattle radio station KJR followed that with a tweet: “My understanding is that every other major team/school will be making the same announcement for proof of vaccinations . . .” There were the usual comments — mostly in favour, but some others, too. Nothing beat this exchange in the comments after Furness’s tweet. . . . Someone with the handle Former Seattleite wrote: “F— em. That will be the end of 4 generations of season tickets at” U of Washington football. . . . UWDawgsPod followed with: “0-12 didn’t stop him, but getting a vaccine, that’s his line in the sand.”


The Kraken is to play NHL exhibition games in three WHL arenas — in Everett, Kent, Wash., and Spokane. Proof of vaccination will be required to attend any of those games. . . . Following a tweet on that subject, one person responded with: “So only progressive democrats can watch hockey. So 10 fans?” . . . To which someone else responded: “Sell me your tickets since they are sold out already.” . . . Another person replied: “Guess I won’t be supporting hockey.” . . . That brought this response from someone else: “Oh no we are so devastated to lose you.”


Later in the day, the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds announced that “all guests Seattleage 12 and older will be required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination” in order to attend their games at accesso ShoWare Centre. . . . “In accordance with current Washington state and King County mask mandates,” the Thunderbirds said in a news release, “fans and staff will also be required to wear masks at all times except while actively eating or drinking.” . . . Those policies will be in place on Oct. 2 when the Seattle Kraken and Calgary Flames meet in an NHL exhibition game, and on Oct. 9 when the Thunderbirds entertain the Portland Winterhawks’ in Seattle’s home-opener. . . .

The Winterhawks announced on Aug. 25 that “all fans ages 12 and up will be Portlandrequired to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 upon entry. . . . Your final dose of the vaccine must have been administered more than 14 days before the attending event. Those who cannot provide proof of vaccination will be allowed to show documentation of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of puck drop. Ticket holders with religious or medical exemptions against the vaccine must still provide documentation of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of puck drop. Children under the age of 12 are exempt from both the vaccine requirement and alternative testing option.” . . . As well, the Winterhawks announced that “all attendees and staff ages five and over will be required to wear masks at all times inside Veterans Memorial Coliseum, except when actively eating and drinking. This policy is per the mask mandate issued on Aug. 13 in Multnomah County.”



On Aug. 23, the Calgary Hitmen announced that “Calgary Sports and Entertainment (CSEC) will be implementing a COVID-19 vaccination policy that will require all fans (eligible to receive the vaccine), event staff and employees to be fully vaccinated for attendance at live events at the Scotiabank Saddledome and McMahon Stadium. We are targeting Sept. 15 as the effective policy date.” . . .

The Edmonton Oil Kings are operating under a similar policy after the parent Edmonton Oilers announced that proof of vaccination or a negative test within 48 hours will be needed for fans 12 and older to attend games at Rogers Place. . . .

On Aug. 16, the WHL announced that “effective immediately, all WHL roster players, hockey operations staff and other team and WHL office personnel along with officials must be fully vaccinated with a Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the start of the 2021-22 WHL regular season. . . . In addition to players, the mandatory vaccination policy will apply to general managers, coaches, head scouts or director of player personnel, trainers, equipment managers, on-ice and off-ice consultants, on-ice officials and ice level off-ice officials (penalty box attendants, timekeepers and scorekeepers) and any other individuals who interact directly and on a regular basis with players.”

I have lost track of what other junior teams are doing in terms of demanding proof of vaccination from fans — just like I have lost track of all the recommendations and restrictions that seem to change every month in various jurisdictions — but I would guess that it will become standard procedure at every junior hockey arena in Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest before long.

The IIHF’s 2022 men’s U-18 world championship will be played in Germany — in Landshut and Kaufbeuren — from April 21 through May 1.


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Will Lamb stay, or will he go? . . . Cranbrook: Ice isn’t tenant, so doesn’t control lease. . . . Royals sign local twins


F Davis Vandane (Saskatoon, Spokane, Prince Albert, 2009-13) has signed a one-year contract with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had 10 goals and 27 assists in 55 games. . . .

F Jens Meilleur (Brandon, 2010-14) has announced his retirement through the website of the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Kassel, he had 15 goals and 20 assists in 52 games. Meilleur is quoted in the announcement as saying that he is returning to Manitoba to work on the family farm. . . .

D Patrik Maier (Kamloops, Moose Jaw, 2014-16) has signed a one-year contract with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he was pointless in four games, while, in 47 games on loan to Benátky nad Jizerou (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had six goals and nine assists.


The Prince George Cougars have been without a head coach since their season ended in PrinceGeorgeMarch. You are free to wonder if they soon also will be looking for a general manager. . . . Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen took a look at the situation in a story for Wednesday’s paper. . . . Mark Lamb, the Cougars’ general manager, is friends with, and has worked with, Dave Tippett, the new head coach of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . “Now entering the second year of a four-year contract with the Cougars,” Clarke writes, “Lamb would neither confirm nor deny whether he’s about to be hired by the NHL team, but the stars appear to be aligned in that direction.” . . . Clarke’s complete story is right here.

As it played its final WHL season in Cranbrook’s Western Financial Place, the Kootenay Ice had a lease that ran through the 2022-23 season. Now that the team has moved to Winnipeg, the city feels the Ice no longer is a tenant so doesn’t control the lease. . . . That’s the word from Paul Heywood, the city’s acting director of community services, who was responding to charges from a group that attempted to purchase and relocate an AJHL franchise (Calgary Mustangs) and later a KIJHL team (Kelowna Chiefs) to Cranbrook. . . . The group said in a news release that the city’s refusal to approve a sublease between it and the Ice ended the chances of placing a team in Cranbrook. . . . Heywood told Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman: “The City has not turned down any offers, and we presently have a questionnaire open for any hockey organizations that are willing to submit an offer to bring their team to Cranbrook. The City of Cranbrook decided that the Kootenay Ice (is) no longer a tenant in Western Financial Place, after establishing offices in Winnipeg and selling tickets for a new season at the Wayne Fleming Arena at the University of Manitoba. The City of Cranbrook has clearly stated that the Winnipeg Ice no longer (has) the right to assign a sublease to any hockey organization. It will remain at the discretion (of) the City of Cranbrook to choose which hockey team will be coming to WFP.” . . . Crawley’s complete story, including the group’s news release, is right here.

The Victoria Royals have signed twin brothers Jason and Ryan Spizawka to WHL VictoriaRoyalscontracts. Both were taken in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Jason, a defenceman, was selected in the first round. Last season, with the bantam prep team at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., he had two goals and 23 assists in 28 games. . . . Ryan, also a defenceman, was taken in the seventh round. He also played at Yale Hockey Academy, putting up eight goals and 12 assists in 28 games. . . .

This Victoria franchise, which entered the WHL as the Chilliwack Bruins, has had at least one other set of brothers, but the Walker boys weren’t twins. From Edina, Minn., Ben played from 2011-14, and Jack was there from 2012-17.


The WHL’s 22 teams now have signed 15 first-round selections from the May 2 draft. . . .



1. Winnipeg — F Matthew Savoie

3. Prince George — D Keaton Dowhaniuk

4. Prince George — F Koehn Ziemmer

7. Kamloops — D Mats Lindgren

14. Swift Current — F Matthew Ward

20. Kamloops — F Connor Levis

21. Swift Current — D Tyson Jugnauth



2. Winnipeg — F Conor Geekie

5. Brandon — F Nate Danielson

6. Brandon — F Tyson Zimmer

8. Seattle — F Jordan Gustafson

9. Saskatoon — F Brandon Lisowsky

10. Seattle — D Kevin Korchinski

11. Moose Jaw — D Denton Mateychuk

12. Medicine Hat — F Oasiz Wiesblatt

13. Calgary — D Grayden Siepmann

15. Spokane — F Ben Thornton

16. Brandon — F Rylen Roersma

17. Regina — D Layton Feist

18. Edmonton — F Caleb Reimer

19. Victoria — D Jason Spizawka

22. Prince Albert — F Niall Crocker

It is always interesting to compare ticket prices between WHL teams. Hartley Miller, the news and sports supervisor at 94.3 the GOAT in Prince George, has done just that, taking a look at the Cougars and the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Miller also is the analyst on broadcasts of Cougars’ home games. . . . His comparison piece is right here.

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Mike Pelino, a former WHL coach, will spend next season working as an assistant coach with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL. He will be working alongside first-year head coach Craig MacTavish. . . . Pelino, 59, spent two seasons (1997-99) as an assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs. . . . He has spent the past six seasons working in the KHL. This season, he was an assistant coach with Avangard Omsk. Prior to that, he was on staff with Metallurg Magnitogorsk for five seasons.

The junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers are in the market for a general manager/head coach after Curtis Toneff signed on as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. . . . The Buccaneers play in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . Toneff, who is from Nanaimo, was the Buccaneers’ head coach for two seasons. . . .

The VIJHL’s Saanich Braves also are looking for a general manager/head coach, with Sam Waterfield having joined the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express as an assistant coach. . . . Waterfield spent two seasons with the Braves.


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