Hamilton gets last slot in 2022 Memorial Cup . . . Fun begins Monday in Saint John . . . Long-time Edmonton columnist writes Oil Kings for last time

OK. The field is set, and next week the eyes of junior hockey followers will be on MemCup2022Saint John, N.B., site of the 2022 Memorial Cup tournament. Thanks to COVID-19, this will be the first time the four-team championship has been held since 2019.

(NOTE: If you’re travelling that way, remember that Saint John is in New Brunswick, while St. John’s is in Newfoundland.)

The OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs became the last team to qualify when they beat the visiting Windsor Spitfires, 6-1, on Wednesday night, to win the best-of-seven championship series and the J. Ross Robertson Cup, 4-3. The Bulldogs, who scored the game’s first four goals, got three scores from F Avery Hayes.

The game drew an announced attendance of 11,779. In their seven seasons in Hamilton, the Bulldogs now have won two titles.

This was the first time the OHL had gotten through its playoffs since 2019 when the Guelph Storm won the championship.

The Bulldogs join the host Saint John Sea Dogs, who play in the QMJHL, the QMJHL-champion Shawinigan Cataractes, and the Edmonton Oil Kings, who won the WHL title on Monday by taking out the Seattle Thunderbirds in six games.

The Oil Kings last played in the Memorial Cup in 2014 when they beat the OHL’s Guelph Storm, 6-3, in the tournament final in London, Ont. That was the first time a WHL team had won the trophy since 2008 when the Spokane Chiefs beat the host Kitchener Rangers, 4-1, in the final.

Since 2014, the WHL has been represented by the Kelowna Rockets (Quebec City, 2015), Brandon Wheat Kings and Red Deer Rebels (host team, 2016), Seattle (Windsor, 2017), Swift Current Broncos and Regina (host team, 2018), and Prince Albert Raiders (Halifax, 2019).

How did those WHL teams do? Well, the Rockets lost in the 2015 final, 2-1 in OT to the Oshawa Generals. The Rebels went 2-1 in 2016 before losing a semifinal, 3-1 to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, while the Wheat Kings went 0-3. In 2017, the Thunderbirds were 0-3. In 2018, Regina went 2-1, then beat Hamilton, 4-2, in a semifinal, before losing 3-0 in the final to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. The Broncos, meanwhile, went 0-3.

In 2019, the last time the tournament was held, the Raiders finished 0-3.

What all of this shows us is that the WHL champs haven’t fared well of late; in fact, they have combined to lose their last 13 games. The last time the WHL champion won a Memorial Cup game was on May 29, 2015, when Kelowna beat the Quebec Remparts, 9-3, in a semifinal game.

And every time the WHL champion strikes out the question — Why don’t WHL champions do better at the Memorial Cup? — gets slapped around social media like a Wiffle ball.

Bob Green, a longtime WHL executive who now is the Edmonton Oilers’ chief scout, tried to explain it to columnist Terry Jones:

“The Memorial Cup is a bit of a mystery to everybody. It’s a hard tournament to figure out. I don’t know if you ever do figure it out. You just go there and try to play and see what happens. It’s completely different than the rest of the playoffs. But I believe this Oil Kings team has the best chance of all the clubs of this Edmonton era to do it.”

One other thing about competing in the Memorial Cup — if you get off to a poor start, your tournament is over almost before you know what hit you.

The 2022 Memorial Cup opens Monday in Saint John with Hamilton meeting the host Sea Dogs. On Tuesday, it’ll be Shawinigan facing Edmonton.

——

Terry Jones wasn’t expecting the phone call that he received on Wednesday. A sports columnist with Edmonton newspapers since 1967, he tweeted: “My last scoop. At 1 p.m. today, after beginning my career at The Edmonton Journal in 1967 I received a phone call from Toronto informing me my position had been eliminated by Post Media. Thank you all so much for reading. Hardly the way I hoped it would end.”

Later, he tweeted that he was “just gutted.”

What turns out to possibly be the last column of his newspaper career dealt with the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings and their upcoming appearance at the Memorial Cup. That piece is right here.


Then-owner Ron Dixon moved the WHL’s New Westminster Bruins to Kennewick, Wash., in 1988, and the Tri-City Americans have made the Toyota Center their home. All that time, the team’s fans have spent their game-watching evenings in orange seats. But those days are over. The removal of the old seats began this week and now people are wondering what colour the new seats will be.

Here’s what radio station KFLD discovered: “Apparently, it’s a surprise. We searched, looked, and even asked officials. Several told us we will find out soon enough . . . the suspense builds!”




Trailer


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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Day

Blazers or T-Birds? Who’s going to Edmonton? . . . Seattle d-man gets off-day treat . . . Shedding light on arena deficiencies in Kelowna

The combatants for the WHL’s championship final will be known tonight (Tuesday) after the Seattle Thunderbirds and host Kamloops Blazers meet in WHLplayoffs2022Game 7 of the Western Conference final.

The winner of tonight’s game will open the championship series for the Ed Chynoweth Cup against the Oil Kings in Edmonton on Friday night.

Kamloops, the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed, opened this series by winning, 5-2, at home on May 20, and since then the teams have alternated victories. The No. 4 Thunderbirds tied the series, 3-3, with a 2-1 victory in Kent, Wash., on Sunday.

Seattle has won two of the last three games while holding Kamloops F Logan Stankoven to two assists and shutting out F Luke Toporowski. Stankoven leads all playoff scorers in goals (17) and points (30), while Toporowski is tied for second in points (23).

The Thunderbirds also have been in this position before in this playoff season. In their conference semifinal, they went seven games with the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks. In fact, the Thunderbirds won Game 6 at home, 2-1, and then went into Portland and won Game 7, 6-3, on May 17.

Will history repeat? We’ll find out tonight.

Lucas Punkari of the Brandon Sun informs us via Twitter that this will be the first Game 7 in a conference final since 2013 when the Oil Kings, behind 26 saves from G Laurent Brossoit, beat the Calgary Hitmen, 2-0, at Rexall Place in Edmonton on April 30. . . . The last Western Conference final to go the distance featured the Tri-City Americans and Spokane Chiefs in 2008. The Chiefs won Game 7, 4-1, in Kennewick, Wash., on April 29 to end a series that featured five games that went to OT, with three of those going to double OT.


Treat


One day before playing in Game 7 of the Western Conference final, D Tyrel nhl2Bauer of the Seattle Thunderbirds signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. He was selected by Winnipeg in the sixth round of the 2020 draft. . . . Bauer turned 20 on March 23. If he doesn’t earn a spot with the Jets, he is eligible to return for one more WHL season, or he could end up with the Manitoba Moose, Winnipeg’s AHL affiliate.

Three other NHL draft picks who played in the WHL this season have to sign NHL deals by Wednesday or they will go back into the draft or become unrestricted free agents.

F Connor McClennon of the Winnipeg Ice was a sixth-round pick by the Philadelphia Flyers but hasn’t signed. He is eligible to return to the WHL for his 20-year-old season.

D Alex Cotton of the Vancouver Giants and F Bear Hughes of the Spokane Chiefs completed their 20-year-old seasons so have used up their junior eligibility. Cotton was a fifth-round selection by the Detroit Red Wings, while Hughes went to the Washington Capitals in the fifth round. Neither has signed an NHL deal, although Hughes has signed with the AHL’s Hershey Bears for 2022-23. Still, if he doesn’t sign with Washington, he will become an NHL free agent.


Franklin


More light has been shed on the mystery of the deficiencies at Prospera Place in KelownaKelowna. According to the Kelowna Rockets, those deficiencies prevented them from putting in a bid to host the 2023 Memorial Cup.

The Rockets were to have been the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup only to have it cancelled by the pandemic. On Friday, the CHL announced that the 2023 event will be played in Kamloops with the Blazers as the host team.

Anyway . . . Regan Bartel, the longtime radio voice of the Rockets, posted four tweets on Monday that added some clarification to things:

  1. GSL, the owner and operator of Prospera Place, have some explaining to do on Kelowna’s inability to bid for the 2023 Memorial Cup. Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, “City of Kelowna taxpayers shouldn’t be (footing) a bill that could potentially reach the millions of dollars . . .”
  2. “. . . to host this event (for upgrades to building) when the partner (GSL), who stands to gain the most revenue because of this event, was not coming to the party as a full partner.” Substandard lighting was a concern heading into 2020 tournament. City/Rockets paid for it.
  3. “GSL, which is in care and control of the arena until 2029, was not willing to pay the cost to change the lighting. This has been a long standing issue. One just needs to walk through the building. Tell me what has changed since that facility opened in 1999?”
  4. “This is not a facility that is in the care/control of the City of Kelowna”, Basran added. “I truly believe the CHL wants to bring the event back, but it’s clear we have a partner that’s not quite as accepting to make that happen.”

I have a feeling there’s more to come on this story. Stay tuned!


——

The Chicago White Sox are scheduled to open a series in Toronto against the Blue Jays today, and they’ll be without two of their key pitchers. Starter Dylan Cease and reliever Kendall Graveman, both right-handers, have been placed on MLB’s restricted list, which would indicate that they aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19 so are able to cross the U.S.-Canada border. . . . Players don’t get paid while on MLB’s restricted list.


My wife, Dorothy, a kidney transplant recipient in 2013, will take part in the 2022 #kamloops Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year on Sunday. Yes, it’s virtual again. You are able to sponsor her 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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Senators

Ostapchuk sparks Giants in first-round WHL stunner . . . SJHL has new commissioner . . . Allan, Dach off to AHL

You are free to wonder about the chances of the Lucius brothers both playing in the WHL next season, Chad with the Portland Winterhawks and Cruz with the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . After completing his freshman season at the U of Minnesota with nine goals and 10 assists in 24 games, Chad signed with the Winnipeg Jets on April 27. He was the 18th overall selection in the NHL’s 2021 draft. That came three years after the Winterhawks selected him in the fourth round of the WHL’s 2018 draft. . . . Chad, who turned 19 on Monday, is eligible to play next season in the NHL, with the Jets’ AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, or in Portland. . . . Cruz, 18, had committed to playing at Minnesota starting in 2022-23; however, he de-committed on Monday and now is exploring his options. The Thunderbirds selected him in the eighth round of the WHL’s 2019 draft. Cruz is coming off two seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program. Chad spent two seasons there, too, before going to Minnesota.


Kyle McIntyre is the new commissioner of the 12-team SJHL. He takes over SJHLfrom Bill Chow, who resigned after spending 11 years in the position. . . . From an SJHL news release: “McIntyre, a Saskatoon product, played U18 hockey with his hometown Contacts and Blazers before playing four seasons in the SJHL with Swift Current and Yorkton. He also served recently on the board of directors for the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos and Saskatchewan High School Athletics and was heavily involved in both minor hockey and minor baseball in Swift Current.

“McIntyre holds a Master of Educational Administration and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Saskatchewan and recently retired after a 30-year career in education including the past 20 years in a senior leadership position. McIntyre will assume the role fully on June 1.”


Dumbass


And then there were eight. . . . The first round of the WHL playoffs concluded on WHLplayoffs2022Monday night as the host Vancouver Giants eliminated the Everett Silvertips. . . . So now it’s on to the second round, which will open on Thursday with the No. 3 Red Deer Rebels visiting the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings. The other Eastern Conference series is to being on Friday with the No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors in Winnipeg to meet the No. 1 Ice. . . . In the Western Conference, the No. 8 Giants will be in Kamloops to face the No. 2 Blazers on Friday, while the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds will open at home in Kent, Wash., to the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks on Saturday. Due to building availability in Portland — the arena is booked for high school graduation ceremonies — the Portland-Seattle series will have a 1-2-1-1-1-1-1 format. . . . Meanwhile, here’s a look at what happened last night in Langley, B.C. . . .

——

MONDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference

In Langley, B.C., the Vancouver Giants scored three first-period goals, each one from a defenceman, as they completed one of the biggest playoff upsets in WHL Vancouverhistory with a 6-3 victory over the Everett Silvertips. . . . The No. 8 Giants, who finished 47 points behind the No. 1 Silvertips, won the series, 4-2. . . . How large was this upset? Prior to the game, Steve Ewen of Postmedia wrote: “Since the junior league went to a 16-team post-season split between two conferences in 2002, a No. 8 seed has never beaten a No. 1 in the first round of the playoffs, according to the league office.” . . . D Connor Horning (2) gave the Giants 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 1:15, with D Alex Cotton (4) upping it to 2-0 at 3:15, and D Mazden Leslie (2) making it 3-0 at 11:43. . . . After Horning’s goal, the Giants’ PP was 13-31 (41.9) in the playoffs. In the regular season, it operated at 17.7, good for 18th in the 22-team league. . . . F Ben Hemmerling (1) got Everett to within two goals at 12:40 of the second, only to have F Zack Ostapchuk (3), who assisted on each of the first two goals, get that one back at 17:51. . . . F Ryan Hofer’s sixth goal of the series, on a PP, at 10:00 of the third period cut the Everett deficit to two. . . . Vancouver restored its three-goal lead when D Damian Palmieri (1) scored at 15:32. . . . F Adam Hall’s seventh goal in six games, at 16:52, upped the lead to 6-2. . . . Everett D Jonny Lambos (1) closed out the scoring at 18:35. . . . Ostapchuk finished with a goal and four assists, giving him a WHL-leading 16 points, including 13 assists, in the series. . . . F Fabian Lysell added four assists. He totalled 15 points in the series. . . . The Silvertips were without three of their five leading scorers. Already without 46-goal F Jackson Berezowski (season-ending surgery), they lost F Niko Huuhtanen to an apparent leg injury in Game 5 on Saturday. He didn’t play last night and neither did F Michal Gut. Those three combined for 101 goals and 126 assists in the regular season.


Marty Hastings covers the Kamloops Blazers for Kamloops This Week.


PhoneBooth


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: D Nolan Allan of the Prince Albert Raiders has joined the Rockford IceHogs, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. Allan, 19, has signed with the Blackhawks, who selected him 32nd overall in the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . F Colton Dach of the Kelowna Rockets also has joined the IceHogs. Dach, 19, was selected by Chicago in the second round of the 2021 draft and signed an NHL contract on Oct. 1. . . . Rockford opens a best-of-three first-round series against the visiting Texas Stars on Wednesday. . . .

Nick Oliver is the new head coach of the USHL’s Fargo Force. He had been an assistant coach with the St. Cloud State Huskies since 2018, after working as assistant coach/director of scouting with the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede for three seasons (2015-18). He also spent two seasons (2009-11) playing with the Force. He replaces Scott Langer, who spent one season as head coach. The Force was 28-28-4 and lost out in the first round of the playoffs. Langer remains the winningest regular-season coach in NAHL history, thanks to a five-season run with the Aberdeen, S.D., Wings.


Oz


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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Brunch

Government hits WHL’s Sask. teams with PST . . . Big crowd watches Blades dump Pats . . . Garand blanks Rockets again

By now you will be aware that the cost of most everything is rising, rising, rising . . . with no end in sight. Well, six WHL teams learned earlier this week that their ticket prices will be going up, too, and there isn’t anything they can do about it.

That’s because this increase is thanks to the Saskatchewan government having slapped a six per cent PST on various entertainment events, all of which had been exempt. That announcement was part of the government’s latest budget that was announced on Wednesday.

“I’m just not sure about pairing an additional tax with the recovery of the live entertainment industry,” Tim Reid, the president and CEO of Regina Exhibition Association Limited, the Regina Pats’ landlord, told Regina radio station 980 CJME. “After everything we’ve been through, I just feel like the timing and the consultation has been not in the right place. . . .

“I think it probably gives us an opportunity to understand the co-dependencies between what we do to drive the visitor economy that they depend on and some of the decisions that they make fiscally.

“This is not an insignificant item for a business like ours, and it does change the affordability of our events.”


Safe


The IIHF recently created an Ethics Board and, according to a news release, its purpose “is to determine if the actions of an IIHF Member National Association IIHFor an individual associated with the IIHF or its members could constitute an ethical conduct violation.” . . . That Ethics Board now has two cases on its table. . . . From that same news release: “The IIHF Council has referred the Russian Ice Hockey Federation to the Ethics Board for review, due to reports that the RIHF allegedly sent instructions to Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) teams to take demonstrative actions in support of the Russia-Ukraine war. As such an action would constitute a violation of the IIHF Ethics Code, the Ethics Board will investigate further and determine whether this case will be referred to the IIHF Disciplinary Board. . . . The IIHF Council also decided to refer IIHF Life President René Fasel to the Ethics Board for review, following reports of his involvement with Russia and the KHL as well as public statements made about the war.” . . . Fasel has long been a supporter of Vladimir Putin, the Russian dictator who chose to launch attacks on Ukraine. . . . The Ethics Board will ponder things and then decide whether to refer either case, or both of them, to the Disciplinary Board. . . . Fasel, 72, now works as an advisor to the KHL. He has been critical of the IIHF’s decision to ban Russian and Belarus from future competitions.


Yes, those were the days. . . . Back in the days when newspapers were seriously into newspapering, we at the Regina Leader-Post tried to cover the local scene like a blanket. That included a nightly SJHL roundup that sometimes gave a headline to Cam Moon. Yes, that Cam Moon, who now is a radio voice of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers after all those years with the Red Deer Rebels. . . . BTW, on nights when Ian Hamilton was at his desk at The Leader-Post, we often had SJHL roundups that included quotes. . . . Yes, those really were the days! . . . BTW, Part 2: Lucas Punkari, who covered the Prince Albert Raiders for the Daily Herald not that long ago, now is at the Brandon Sun. Just in case you were wondering. These days he is busy churning out MJHL playoff previews.



The World Figure Skating Championships are taking place this week in Montpellier, France, and somehow things are just fine even though the Russians aren’t there, having been punted by the International Skating Union. . . . And just how have things been without the Russians? . . . Jon Wertheim of sicom wrote: “One official, who preferred to remain anonymous, remarked that, if anything, the event would be more legitimate, not less, since without Russians competing, there would be considerably less skepticism and speculation ‘over who was and was not doping.’ ” . . . Wertheim’s piece on whether various sports are missing the Russians is excellent and it’s right here.


Fashion


FRIDAY NIGHT IN THE WHL:

Habscheid
Marc Habscheid, the head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders, asks the on-ice officials why the fire alarm hasn’t sounded during Friday night’s game in Brandon. (Photo: wheatkings.com)

F Nolan Ritchie scored twice and added two assists as his Brandon Wheat Kings Brandongot past the visiting Prince Albert Raiders, 5-3. . . . The Wheat Kings also got a goal and two assists from F Riley Ginnell. . . . Ritchie, who scored on the PP and while shorthanded, has 29 goals, while Ginnell has 14. . . . Brandon G Ethan Kruger blocked 34 shots as the Raiders held a 37-19 edge in shots. . . . The Raiders’ loss allowed the idle Moose Jaw Warriors to clinch a playoff spot. . . . The Wheat Kings (29-24-5) appear headed for the sixth-place finish in the Eastern Conference. They are nine points behind Saskatoon and seven ahead of Lethbridge. . . . The Raiders (24-30-5) are ninth, two points out of the last playoff spot that is held by Swift Current. The Raiders hold two games in hand. . . .

In Lethbridge, F Carter Souch put up four points to lead the Edmonton Oil Kings Edmontonto a 5-2 victory over the Hurricanes. . . . Souch had three assists as the Oil Kings took a 4-0 lead through two periods, then added his 20th goal into an empty net at 19:42 of the third. . . . Souch now has 68 points in 61 games. . . . Edmonton G Sebastian Cossa stopped 24 shots in running his numbers to 31-7-3, 2.26, .914 this season. . . . Freshman F Brayden Edwards scored both goals for Lethbridge, giving him four in 39 games. . . . Edmonton (46-12-3) is tied with the idle Winnipeg Ice for top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Ice has two games in hand. . . . Lethbridge (26-29-4) is seventh, seven points behind Brandon and one ahead of Swift Current. . . .

G Chase Coward stopped 13 shots to help the Red Deer Rebels to a 3-0 victory RedDeerover the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Coward has two career shutouts, both of them this season. . . . F Arshdeep Bains, the WHL’s leading point getter, scored his 35th goal and added an assist. His goal, at 14:05 of the second period, was the winner. . . . Red Deer F Ben King had an assist and now has at least a point in 14 straight games. He has 31 points, including 13 goals, during that stretch. . . . Bains now has 96 points, two more than King. . . . The Rebels (40-17-4) are sixth in the Eastern Conference and appear headed to a first-round series with Brandon. . . . The Tigers (11-44-4) have lost three in a row. . . .

D Marek Schneider’s first WHL goal proved the winner as the host Saskatoon SaskatoonBlades beat the Regina Pats, 3-1. . . . The Blades (34-22-4) now have clinched a playoff spot. They are fifth in the conference, one point behind Moose Jaw and nine ahead of Brandon. . . . Schneider, who turned 19 on Feb. 5, scored his first goal in his 56th game, 36 of them this season. He broke a 1-1 tie at 16:14 of the second period. . . . The announced attendance was 7,523 as the Blades ran a Kids Takeover promotion and also welcomed Regina F Connor Bedard for perhaps the last time this season. . . . Bedard had his point streak end at 21 games, the longest in the WHL this season. He put up 23 goals and 22 assists in those 21 games. . . . Regina (23-30-5) has lost three straight. It is 10th in the conference, four points behind eight-place Swift Current but with three games in hand. . . .

G Dylan Garand turned aside 41 shots in winning for the 30th time this season Kamloopsas the host Kamloops Blazers blanked the Kelowna Rockets, 6-0. . . . The Blazers have won nine in a row and six of those victories are over Kelowna. These two teams played home-and-home each of the previous two weekends and are doing it again this weekend. Yes, they’ll play in Kelowna tonight. . . . Garand, who blanked the Rockets, 4-0, in Kamloops last Saturday, has four shutouts this season 12 in 129 career appearances. This season, he is 30-7-0, 1.98, .929. . . . The Blazers got two goals and an assist from F Logan Stankoven, who now has 85 points, including 37 goals, in 51 games.. . . . F Reese Belton helped out with three assists. . . . Kelowna has lost seven in a row (0-5-2). . . . When the same two teams hit the ice in Kelowna tonight, it will be the 14th meeting between them this season. Kelowna is 7-4-2; Kamloops is 6-6-1. . . . Kamloops (44-14-2) will clinch the B.C. Division pennant with a victory tonight. The Blazers are second in the Western Conference, two points behind Everett. . . . The Rockets (34-19-6) are fifth, six points in arrears of Seattle, their likely first-round opponent. . . .

F Niko Huuhtanen struck for three goals and an assist as the Everett Silvertips Everettskated to a 7-2 victory over the visiting Spokane Chiefs. . . . Huuhtanen, an 18-year-old freshman from Finland, has 35 goals and 37 assists in 57 games. Interestingly, he scored just one goal in his first 15 games. . . . This was his first hat trick. . . . F Michal Gut picked up his 14th goal and two assists, with F Jackson Berezowski getting three assists. . . . Everett F Alex Swetlikoff had his 29th goal and an assist to run his point streak to 15 games. He’s got eight goals and 14 assists in those games. . . . Everett had a 48-15 edge in shots, including 20-2 in the third period. . . . This was the 12th meeting of the season between the Chiefs and Silvertips, each of whom now has played 60 games. So they have played 20 per cent of their games against each other. . . . BTW, the Silvertips won all 12 games; the Chiefs are 0-10-2. . . . Everett (42-10-8) leads the Western Conference by two points over Kamloops. . . . The Chiefs (19-36-5), who have lost four in a row, are tied with Prince George for the conference’s last playoff spot. . . .

F Marcus Almquist scored in a third straight game as his Victoria Royals VictoriaRoyalsdoubled up on the visiting Prince George Cougars, 4-2. . . . Almquist, an 18-year-old from Denmark, has four goals in 36 games with three of them coming in his last three games. . . . F Riley Gannon’s 21st goal, at 2:19 of the third period, gave the Royals a 3-1 lead. . . . Victoria now has won five in a row. . . . The Royals (22-34-6) are tied for sixth with Vancouver in the conference, with the Giants holding four games in hand. . . . The Cougars (20-35-3), who have lost three in a row, are tied with Spokane for the conference’s last playoff spot. . . . Prince George has two games in hand over Spokane. . . .

The host Portland Winterhawks got two goals and two assists from F Gabe PortlandKlassen en route to a 7-1victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . The home side led this one 6-0 early in the second period. . . . Klassen’s second goal was his 30th of the season. . . . F James Stefan scored his 33rd goal and added two assists, with F Jaydon Dureau and F Cross Hanas each earning three assists. . . . The Winterhawks (41-15-5) are third in the conference, three points behind Kamloops. . . . Tri-City (17-38-5) is four points out of the last playoff spot. . . .

F Lukas Svejkovsky scored twice as his Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Vancouver SeattleGiants, 5-2, in Langley, B.C. . . . Sjejkovsky played 85 games over two seasons (2018-20) with the Giants, who dealt him to the Medicine Hat Tigers. Seattle acquired him from the Tigers this season. He has 27 goals this season, 14 of them in 27 games with the Thunderbirds. . . . F Reid Schaefer and F Jared Davidson, who combined to score nine goals in the 2021 development season, each scored his 30th goal for Seattle. Davidson also had two assists. . . . Seattle (37-17-6) is a comfortable fourth in the Western Conference, seven points behind Portland and six ahead of Kelowna. . . . Vancouver (23-31-4) is tied for sixth with Victoria, 24 points behind Kelowna and seven ahead of Prince George.



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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Chute

Hockey venues almost ready in Beijing . . . Chow to leave SJHL after season . . . Milestone night ahead for Lazaruk

BeijingNIS
The NIS (National Indoor Stadium) is sparkling in preparation for the start of the men’s and women’s Olympic hockey competitions. (Photo: Dan Courneyea)

Dan Courneyea, Taking Note’s man in Beijing, reports that folks are hard at work as they put the final touches on venues with the Olympic Winter Games about to get rolling. While organizers refer to Feb. 4 as the opening date, some competitions actually start today (Wednesday).

“Lots of final preparation still being done before the first puck drop,” Courneyea told Taking Note late Monday night Pacific Time. “Everything is coming together.” That missive, with the National Indoor Stadium photo, arrived Monday at 11:15 p.m. PT, which was 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday in Beijing.

The women’s hockey begins with Pool A games today. It’s Switzerland and Canada in the NIS and China against Czechia in the Wukesong. Both games start at 8:10 p.m. PT.

BeijingWukesong
Only some final touches are left before Wukesong Arena is ready for the Olympic hockey competitions in Beijing. (Photo: Dan Courneyea)

Bill Chow announced on Monday that he will be leaving his post as commissioner of the SJHL on May 31. Chow, who has been commissioner for sjhl10-plus years, said that he won’t complete his contract that is set to expire on May 31, 2023. . . . Chow didn’t give a specific reason for his decision, saying in a news release that “there have been many factors that have gone into my final decision.” . . . Chow was named commissioner in the spring of 2011 after having retired at the age of 52 after almost 30 years with the Prince Albert Police Service and leaving as a staff sergeant. . . . In his last few years with the SJHL, he dealt with, among other things, the bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos that took 16 lives and then the first two years of the pandemic. . . . He also spent 25 years as a WHL scout, 10 of them with the Spokane Chiefs.


Chad Leslie was named general manager of the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos on ScurrentMonday, more than two months after he stepped in as the interim GM. Leslie, from Elkhorn, Man., had been the club’s assistant GM since the start of the 2020-21 season. He was named interim GM on Oct. 14 when Dean Brockman, who had been GM and head coach, resigned. . . . Before becoming the assistant GM, Leslie spent two seasons as the Broncos’ director of scouting. . . . The complete news release is right here.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Les Lazaruk, the play-by-play voice of the Saskatoon Blades, will call his 2,000th WHL game tonight (Wednesday) from Regina.“To put 2,000 games under your belt is just an astonishing achievement at any level, in any capacity, in any industry,” Tyler Wawryk, the Blades’ director of business operations, told Pat McKay of CTV News. “When you think of Blades hockey, especially when you think of the sound of Blades hockey, it’s Les Lazaruk.” . . . Of course, 2,000 games means a whole lot of bus miles. Here’s Wawryk, again: “He has a knack for sleeping on the bus. It doesn’t matter what the weather’s like and how loud it is and what position he’s in, he can always find a way to grab a couple of Zs on the bus. I have a few videos of him sleeping upright, and he snores like a chainsaw.” . . . The Blades will salute Lazaruk on Friday as they play host to the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . McKay’s complete story is right here. . . .

The Thief River Falls, Minn., Norskies of the Superior International Junior Hockey League have shut down for the remainder of this season. A news release from the league stated that “an issue that the Norskies struggled with since the outset of the campaign — a shortage of players — is ultimately what led to the decision.” . . . The departure of the Norskies, who are expected back next season, leaves the SIJHL with six teams as it prepares to resume play on Feb. 4. The league has been shut down since Jan. 5 because of Ontario government restrictions due to COVID-19. . . . A complete news release is right here.


It would seem that you don’t have to be a hockey fighter in order to end up with CTE. Ralph Backstrom, who died on Feb. 7 at the age of 83, played 15 seasons in the NHL and four more in the WHA, totalling 490 penalty minutes in 1,336 games. He was hardly a fighter, but he still was found to have CTE.




The Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team was to have met Switzerland in an exhibition game on Tuesday. However, that game, which was to have been played in Zug, was postponed after Swiss D Christian Marti tested positive. Canada is to open preliminary play in Beijing against Germany on Feb. 10 at 5:10 a.m. PT.


One of the more bizarre happenings of this pandemic occurred in San Francisco on Saturday night as the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets visited the Golden State Warriors. . . . Kyrie Irving of the Nets is unvaccinated and not allowed to play home games because of a New York City regulation that allows only those who are vaccinated in city facilites. The San Francisco Department of Public Health also has such a mandate, however it made an exception for visiting NBAers. That meant that on Saturday night every person in the Chase Center was vaccinated . . . except for one.

Here’s Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle: “If anyone can find a plausible explanation for this exemption, please come forward. It’s reckless and irresponsible, although not terribly surprising in light of so many people, companies, counties and government agencies mistakenly letting their guard down as the pandemic rages on. The local health order states that visiting players ‘are, by definition, present in the venue only occasionally,’ but how does that make sense? You might ‘only occasionally’ stray from your personal safe zone in these difficult times, but that’s when you put yourself most at risk.”



Facebook


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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Dads

Winterhawks land rights to high-end goaltender . . . Cougars, Broncos swap goalies . . . MJHL’s Neepawa franchise rebrands


Jesper Wallstedt of Sweden is NHL Central Scouting’s No. 1-ranked PortlandAlternateinternational goaltender going into the 2021 NHL draft. The Portland Winterhawks acquired his WHL rights on Monday, giving the Moose Jaw Warriors a sixth-round selection in the 2023 WHL draft. . . . Joshua Critzer of pnwhockeytalk.com reported that the Winterhawks also sent “several conditional selections” to the Warriors. . . . Critzer’s piece is right here. . . .

The Winterhawks have two other import players on their roster — D Jonas Brøndberg and Swiss F Simon Knak, 19. However, Brøndberg, a Dane, is 20 and the Winterhawks may not want to make room for a two-spotter — a 20-year-old import — on their roster. . . . Knak, who captained Switzerland’s team at the 2021 World junior tournament in Edmonton, began the 2020-21 season on loan to HC Davos of the Swiss National League, so might be thinking of staying home, although that may depend on whether he gets selected in the NHL’s 2021 draft, something that didn’t happen in 2020. . . . Brøndberg opened the 2020-21 season on loan to the Aalborg Pirates of Metal Ligaen, Denmark’s top league. . . .

Wallstedt, who won’t turn 19 until Nov. 14, is from Vasteras, Sweden. In 2020-21, he played in 22 regular-season games with Lulea in the SHL, Sweden’s highest pro league, putting up 11 victories and going 2.23, .908, with two shutouts. . . . The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Wallstedt also played for Sweden at the 2021 World junior championship in Edmonton. He got into two games (2.40, .923). . . The Warriors had selected him in the 2019 CHL import draft. . . . The Winterhawks have two other goaltenders on their roster — Dante Giannuzzi, the starter in 2020-21, who turns 19 on Sept. 3, and backup Brock Gould, who will turn 20 on Dec. 11. They also have signed G Lochlan Gordon, 18, who was a third-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft.


JFK


The WHL rights to two other goaltenders also were swapped on Monday, as the Prince George Cougars dealt Jacob Herman, 18, to the Swift Current Broncos for Jordan Fairlie, also 18. The deal is a homecoming of sorts for both players, both of whom actually are late-2002s. . . . Fairlie is from Fort St. John, B.C., while Herman is from Swift Current. . . . Fairlie, who will turn 19 on Nov. 5, got into one game with the Broncos in 2019-20 (0-1-0, 13.50, .700). In 2020-21, he played seven games (5-2-0, 2.16, .907) with the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings. . . . Herman will turn 19 on Oct. 23. He played two games (0-2-0, 6.00, .831) with the Cougars in 2019-20. In 2020-21, he went 1-0-1, 4.20, .874 in three appearances with the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers.


I’m a bit late with the above tweet, but if you hustle over to the Prince Albert Daily Herald’s website, who should be able to find the already-published stories in this series.


The MJHL’s Neepawa franchise, which had been known as the Natives, NeepawaTitansannounced on Monday that it has changed its nickname to Titans. . . . Ken Pearson, the Titans’ general manager and head coach, played for the Natives in the 1990s and said the previous nickname had been around since the 1960s. The franchise has been part of the MJHL since 1989. . . . In a news release, Pearson explained the new nickname: “A Titan is known as one that stands out for greatness of achievement and we feel our community is full of Titans in every facet of life. Neepawa is known as the ‘Land of Plenty’ and we feel Neepawa is a Titan in the agriculture, lumber, pork production and brewing industries. . . . The colours chosen reflect a field of canola on the horizon, the silver and black pay tribute to the classic look of junior hockey clubs of the ’90s.”


Marlin Vanrobaeys, a forward who was a key contributor to the MJHL’s Selkirk Steelers when they won the 1974 Centennial Cup, has died. He was 66. . . . Vanrobaeys, who was a fun-lover with a great sense of humour, also was known for his hair. I was with the Winnipeg Tribune and covered the Steelers when they were a dominant MJHL franchise in the mid-1970s. One spring day, Gordie Howe and the WHA’s Houston Aeros were in Winnipeg for a game with the Jets and found themselves in the Winnipeg Arena at the same time as the Steelers. Spotting Vanrobaeys, Howe took one look at him and asked: “Hey, did you get your finger stuck in a light socket?” . . . Well, Vanrobaeys and Co. thought that was just the greatest thing ever. . . . The Steelers won the national junior A championship with a 1-0 victory over the Smiths Falls Bears in the seventh game of the final. . . . In the photo in the above tweet, Vanrobaeys is in the front row, second from right, quite identifiable from the hair-do.


The BCHL announced on Monday that it plans to open its 2021-22 regular season on Oct. 8, which is about a month later than what used to be normal. . . . The league played games in a pod format in its 2020-21 season. Prior to that, it had a four-division format, something that now has been changed to two conferences, each with nine teams. . . . The Interior Conference will include the Cranbrook Bucks, an expansion franchise for 2020-21 that took part in the pod season but has yet to play a home game. . . . The 2021-22 season also calls for the return of the Wenatchee, Wash., Wild, which sat out 2020-21 because of the U.S.-Canada border being closed to non-essential travel.


Garbage


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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: William Sadonick-Carriere, the Brandon Wheat Kings’ athletic therapist for the past two seasons, is leaving to join the Manitoba Moose, the Winnipeg Jets’ AHL affiliate. He actually had been working with the Moose before joining the Wheat Kings for the 2019-20 season. . . . Former NHLer Ian Laperriere has been named head coach of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers announced last month that head coach Scott Gordon and assistant coach Kerry Huffman were out. Laperriere has been an assistant coach with the Flyers for the past eight seasons. . . . The Lake Tahoe Lakers, who are preparing for their first season in the USPHL’s Premier level, have signed Dan Bogdan as their first head coach. He was an assistant coach with the NAHL’s Maine Nordiques in 2020-21.


Princess

The strain of loving a critically ill child . . . Bedard scores twice in WHL debut, but Pats lose . . . BCHL prepping to play games

Ferris2
That’s Elmo from Sesame Street keeping Ferris company in her hospital bed in Vancouver. Ferris’s mother, Lindsey, says her daughter often crosses her legs in this fashion. (Photo: Lindsey Backmeyer/Facebook)

If you’re a parent with a young child, you will have known the helpless feeling that takes over when your youngster is ill. Still, you know that the illness will be gone in a day or two and your child will be back to running and playing and generally creating havoc.

But what if your child was four years of age and had been ill, seriously ill, for most of that time? What does that do to your emotional state and to that of others in your family? What about your family’s financial status when there have been numerous trips to Vancouver, along with a number of lengthy stays?

That is the situation in which Lindsey and Pat Backmeyer find themselves. Ferris, their four-year-old daughter, was diagnosed with Mainzer-Saldino Syndrome shortly after birth and has been on dialysis — peritoneal dialysis (PD) or hemo-dialysis — for most of her life. She now is in B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver after having undergone a kidney transplant a week ago. Unfortunately, the kidney began bleeding into Ferris’s abdomen and had to be removed a few hours later.

Ferris was moved from the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit on Thursday but still has a long road ahead of her.

Lindsey is a respiratory therapist at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops and hasn’t been shy about telling Ferris’s story, even if it means baring her own soul. It’s hard to read Lindsey’s writings without your gut tightening, your heart breaking and your eyes tearing up.

“We have felt an overwhelming cocoon of support by my work family . . since the beginning,” Lindsey wrote earlier this week after Alexa McMillan, a co-worker, issued a plea for financial help to the Kamloops business community. “They protect me, provide for me and my family and have provided endless emotional support.”

As someone who works in the healthcare field, Lindsey has “a pretty solid understanding of critical care medicine and the reality is Ferris has been critically ill for a huge part of her life.

“I’ve spent four years assessing her and caring for her and very few people actually know what it’s taking to keep our ship afloat. My immediate family, closest friends, home nurses and then my work people probably understand best.

“I’ve worked on the other side of what I witnessed Saturday. It was like the hardest night shift ever, where you just did all the things working on your patient for hours except I so rarely see people survive that. I’ve been scared for Ferris’s life before and every time I’ve had a work person by my side . . . through the night. Saturday night was no exception.”

Her training and understanding of all that she and her family — including daughters Tavia, 9, and Ksenia, 7 — have been through has Lindsey knowing full well what’s happening to them from an emotional standpoint, but also financially.

“I have ridiculous trauma to overcome,” Lindsey explained. “My work family would also attest that I’ve worked really hard to keep it all going. If we aren’t here or she’s not admitted, I’ve been at work. Lots of times it’s the very next day. The reality is Ferris’s life has been financially devastating and I really just want to be able to maintain the quality of life we’ve had. For my big girls and for Ferris.

“Even if we get to make our way home . . . I know now this will never be over.”

While the Backmeyers do have a home in Kamloops, they have been in a rental in Vancouver since the last week of December. Pat has been doing a lot of commuting as he attends Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, with plans to become a registered nurse.

The whole family, including Lindsey’s mother, Leslie, thought they were on their way back to Kamloops last weekend, but then the call came saying that a kidney was available and transplant surgery had been scheduled.

“Living in limbo is pretty accurate,” Lindsey wrote, “or like a marathon that you never get to finish but always have to run. Feels like we are on a runaway train. It’s bumpy and scary and makes you nauseous and every once in awhile we get allowed off and create life and memories and then the train comes and we have no choice but to get back on.

“If and when we get to go home I need to give myself a bit of time before coming back. I never have done that before. Ever.”

In her plea to local businesses, McMillan asked that they contact her or donate to a GoFundMe page that has been set up to benefit the Backmeyers. That page is right here.



The WHL’s Regina hub swung into game action with two games on Friday. The Pats dropped a 6-3 decision to the Prince Albert Raiders in the second game, with highly touted Regina F Connor Bedard, 15, scoring his first two goals at 5:01 and 5:49 of the second period. . . . In the earlier game, the Moose Jaw Warriors got past the Brandon Wheat Kings, 4-3, in OT. . . .

Meanwhile, the Portland Winterhawks announced that their final 11 home games of this developmental season will be played at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland. Their first home game, on March 21, is to be played at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash. . . .

As first reported by Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post earlier this week, Shaun and Gavin Semple of the Brandt Group of Companies now own all of the Regina Pats. They had owned 50 per cent and now have purchased the other half from Todd Lumbard and Anthony Marquart. The move was unanimously approved by the WHL’s board of governors on Friday. Shaun Semple has replaced Marquart as the franchise’s governor. Lumbard, a former goaltender with the Pats and Brandon Wheat Kings, had been the team president; he remains with the organization as an advisor.


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The BCHL has received the all-clear for the return of game play from provincial government and health officials. The league plans to set up pods in five league centres — Chilliwack, Coquitlam, Penticton, Port Alberni and Vernon — with three or four teams in each place. The abbreviated season will begin the first week of April and the hope is that each team will play 18 or 20 games before it ends. . . . The Wenatchee, Wash., Wild opted out of this season because the U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential travel. That leaves the BCHL with 17 teams that could being play in April, although the league has given teams a couple of days to make that decision. . . .

Meanwhile, the AJHL had 13 of its 15 teams back playing games on Friday for the first time since Nov. 21. The final all-clear came earlier in the day when it announced that its third round of testing featured 389 players and staff, and no positives. . . . The Canmore Eagles and Lloydminster Bobcats are the only two teams not playing, both having opted out. . . . On Friday, five games were played in five different venues with all teams playing in their home arenas.


Deadspin has put together a brief slideshow that provides some first-person information on a handful of high-profile athletes who have contracted COVID-19 and their experiences. It’s right here and well worth a look.

One slide features Demi Washington, a Vanderbilt basketball player. Washington, 19, had a mild case, but wasn’t allowed to return to play until she had a cardiac MRI. That test uncovered acute myocarditis.

“It’s horrifying to think that, without that MRI, I would have gone back out there and played and something could have gone wrong,” she wrote for The Athletic. “I could have passed out on the court. I could have died. I saw what happened to Keyontae Johnson and it terrified me. After he collapsed, he was ultimately diagnosed with acute myocarditis — just like me. I wonder how many other athletes are playing with it right now and have no idea.”


Quarantine


The Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball team had its season come to an end on Thursday with the news that one player tested positive. That knocked the Blue Devils (13-11) out of the ACC tournament and may have taken away any chance they had of qualifying for March Madness. The last time Duke was in the NCAA tournament was 1995. . . . “If they do get an invitation, it will be a basketball equivalent of a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award,’ Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, wrote on Friday. “This year’s Duke squad is not nearly as powerful as the ones that fans have come to expect for most of the Mike Krzyzewski Era in Durham.” . . . On Friday came word that No. 16 Virginia had to pull out of the ACC tournament because of a positive test, thus forfeiting a semi-final game to Georgia Tech. Virginia no doubt will get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Virginia won the title in 2019; there was no tournament a year ago. . . . Also on Friday, No. 11 Kansas withdrew from the Big 12 tournament after a positive test. The Jayhawks were to play No. 13 Texas in a semifinal game, so the Longhorns now are into the final. . . . Florida International and North Carolina A&T are among smaller schools that have had to withdraw from tournaments. . . . The 2021 tournament is scheduled to begin on Friday in Indianapolis. . . . The Sports Curmudgeon has more on the tournament right here.


You will recall that Clarkson shut down its men’s hockey program for this season earlier in the week and there was speculation that the move was virus-related. College Hockey News reported via Twitter on Thursday that it “was a school decision based not on positive COVID tests — but on a party attended by most of the team that broke the school’s COVID safety protocols.”

——

College Hockey News also reported that the Bentley Falcons (5-11-0) had withdrawn from the Atlantic hockey tournament. One week earlier, Holy Cross pulled out before the first round began. . . . Bentley had beaten Air Force to move into a second-round best-of-three series against American International, which now gets a bye into the semifinals. . . . From CHN: “For its part, AIC hasn’t played since January, due to its own COVID-19 issues and that of other league teams. By the team of the semifinals, the Yellowjackets will have gone almost seven weeks without a game. Bentley missed most of January with COVID issues, though played most of February.”


Once again, thanks for asking how things are going in B.C., as government and health officials work on loosening some restrictions . . .

Robyn Crawford, CKNW/Global BC — 648 new cases; no new deaths; 255 in hosp, 67 in ICU; 5,070 active; 9,155 in isolation; 79 new variant cases (total at 717).

CBC News — Alberta is reporting 425 new cases of COVID-19 and 2 additional deaths. And 365 more people have recovered from coronavirus.

CBC News — Number of new COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan climbs again with 176. That pushes the province’s 7-day average up to 134; 3 additional deaths have also been recorded.

CBC News — Manitoba announces 104 new cases of COVID-19, the 1st time the number has been above 100 since February 18. The province’s 7-day average now rises to 74. Health authorities also say there has been 1 additional death.


——

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.



JUST NOTES: Former WHL F Ryan Hollweg is the new head coach of the U18 AAA Vancouver North West Hawks. Hollweg, 37, played 233 games with the Medicine Hat Tigers over five seasons (1999-2004) before going on to a pro career that included 228 NHL games. He finished up playing (2012-18) with HC Plzen in the Czech Extraliga. Hollweg was the North West Hawks’ associate coach for two seasons (2018-20) under Chris Shaw.


Wreath

B.C.’s top doc: I don’t see spectators being a large part of the season this year . . . Virus takes big bite out of Raiders . . . Things get worse in QMJHL


If it hasn’t been apparent before, it should be now.

The WHL, which has maintained that its teams can’t/won’t operate without whlbeing allowed to play before crowds of 50 per cent capacity, won’t be playing for a while in B.C., not unless something changes.

Brendan Pawliw, a reported with Vista Radio and mypgnow.com, spoke with Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, on Tuesday.

Here is what Dr. Henry said in regards to attendance at such events as hockey games:

“We have been in ongoing discussions with a number of professional and amateur sports leagues about how to do sports safely, and the challenge we are going to have particularly as we go into the next few months is that we’re not having large groups of people together.

“In B.C., the order around no more than 50 people still stands and I know that the WHL and the BCHL are very dependent on gate receipts to keep the league going. But it is just very dangerous during this pandemic to have people in that type of an environment, so I don’t see spectators being a large part of the season this year.

“I know that’s a difficult thing for these leagues and I know the government is looking at how we can support these leagues or postpone seasons until we have something like a vaccine, so it’s still ongoing . . . very concerning and challenging discussions.”

That entire interview is right here.


The Prince Albert Raiders, who won the WHL championship in 2018-19, held their annual general meeting on Wednesday night and announced they had lost Raiders50$331,895 in 2019-20, quite a difference from a year ago when they revealed a profit of $633,314.

The WHL has four community-owned teams that are required to hold AGMs and release their financial statements.

Late last month, the Swift Current Broncos announced a loss of $791,000 for the abbreviated 2019-20 season, while the Moose Jaw Warriors dropped $391,299.

I will do the math for you . . . the three Saskatchewan-based community-owned teams combined to lose $1,514,194.

The Lethbridge Hurricanes, the WHL’s fourth community-owned team, is to hold their AGM sometime in November.

Prior to their championship season, the Raiders had shown losses totalling $806,571 in four of five seasons; the exception being a profit of $3,892 in 2015-16.

When the 2019-20 season was halted, the Raiders were 36-18-10 and had clinched first place in the East Division. They had two home games remaining and may well have had a deep playoff run in their future. Their average attendance also was up 27 over the previous season, meaning the championship love affair in that city still was in full bloom.

The pandemic short-circuited any kind of playoff run, though, and the results of that were evident on Wednesday night.

In explaining the loss, Gord Broda, the Raiders’ president, mentioned a couple of things that were pandemic-related. The Memorial Cup, which was to have been played in Kelowna, was cancelled, taking with it a revenue-sharing plan that included WHL teams. With the season ending prematurely, Sportsnet didn’t have to fulfil the financial aspects of its contract with the CHL.

There also was the matter of a minimum wage-related class-action lawsuit that the CHL chose to settle for $30 million. The Raiders say they had to pay $166,667 as their share of the settlement. Interstingly, the Warriors, at their AGM, said their share of that settlement was $180,846. (BTW, that settlement, while agreed to by the parties involved, hasn’t yet been approved by the court.)

“If you take those things out of the equation,” Broda told Lucas Punkari of the Prince Albert Daily Herald, “we would have had another season in the black.”

Punkari’s story is right here.

Trevor Redden also covered the meeting, for panow.com, and his story is right here.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The QMJHL appears to have lost another team at least until the end of October. The Drummondville Voltigeurs play out of a region that is being declared a red zone by the provincial government, which means suspending play until at least month’s end. . . . The Voltigeurs are expected to play two weekend games — tonight and Saturday against the visiting Val-d’Or Huskies — and then shut things down. . . . The same thing has happened to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and Quebec Remparts. . . . Meanwhile, the Sherbrooke Phoenix has been hit by at least eight positive tests after playing a weekend doubleheader agains the Armada, which has had 18 positives. The Phoenix also has shut down operations indefinitely.

With officials in the Saskatchewan government having approved return-to-play guidelines the SJHL has the OK to begin exhibition games on Oct. 17 and start its regular season on Nov. 1. . . . The Regina Leader-Post has more on the province’s return to play right here.

The NFL’s Tennessee Titans reported two more positive tests on Thursday, bringing the total to 25, and there were reports that the NFL and NFLPA are looking into multiple instances of players taking part in unauthorized workouts. Once the positive tests started coming in, the team was ordered to shut down everything. Apparently, some players held workouts away from the team’s facility. . . . With the Titans’ facility still closed on Thursday, the NFL moved Sunday’s game with the visiting Buffalo Bills to Tuesday night. Of course, that is only if there aren’t more positives with the Titans. . . . The Bills were scheduled to play the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 15, but that game will go to Oct. 18, as long as the Buffalo-Tennessee game doesn’t get postponed again. . . .

Les Miles, the head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks football team, has tested positive. Miles, 66, found out Thursday and is in self-isolation. . . . Kansas is next scheduled to play on Oct 17 when it visits West Virginia. . . .

The New England Small College Athletic Conference, which includes 11 NCAA Division III schools, has cancelled its winter season. The conference said the decision by NESCAC presidents was unanimous. . . . The schools involved are Amherst College, Bates College, Bowdoin College, Colby College, Connecticut College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, Trinity College, Tufts University, Wesleyan University and Williams College. . . .

St. Francis Xavier University, which is located in Antigonish, N.S., “has suspended all varsity practices and training privileges for two weeks after some student-athletes attended a Saturday off-campus party that exceeded more than 50 people,” reports Glenn MacDonald of the Halifax Chronicle Herald. . . . Leo MacPherson, the school’s director of athletics and recreation, said “there were a number of athletes from a number of teams present . . . in numbers greater than allowed by the public health authority guidelines.” . . . The complete story is right here. . . .

NBC New York reported Thursday night that The Broadway League is to announce today that the theatres will remain closed through May 30, 2021. Broadway performances have been shut down since March 12.


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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Toigo: TV deal “terrible” for WHL. . . . ACC to honour Wheat Kings’ owner. . . . ECHL loses Monarchs


MacBeth

F Juraj Bezúch (Lethbridge, 2011-12) has signed a one-year contract with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Hradec Králove (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had three goals and four assists in 30 games. On loan to Slavia Prague (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had two goals and two assists in three games, and on loan to Dukla Jihlava (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had one goal and two assists in seven games. . . .

F Curtis Valk (Medicine Hat, 2009-14) has signed a two-year contract extension with Barys Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan, KHL). This season, he had nine goals and 18 assists in 50 games. He averaged 19:17 time on ice, the most of all forwards on the team. . . .

G Juha Metsola (Lethbridge, 2007-09) has signed a three-year contract extension with Salavat Yulaev Ufa (Russia, KHL). This season, in 48 games, he was 25-20-1, 2.02, .934, with four shutouts and one assist. He was the KHL’s goaltender of the month for October and April. He also was the KHL’s goaltender of the week in during the quarterfinals and semifinals. . . .

F Chris Collins (Chilliwack, Saskatoon, 2007-12) has signed a one-year contract with Villach (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with the Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL), he had 28 goals and 37 assists in 60 games. He led the Wings in goals and points. On loan to the Manitoba Moose (AHL), he had two goals in nine games. . . . Collins was named the ECHL’s rookie of the year and to the ECHL’s all-rookie team. . . .

D Neil Manning (Vancouver, 2006-12) has signed a one-year contract with Angers (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with the Rockford Ice Hogs (AHL), he was pointless in three games. He had two goals and 15 assists in 30 games with the Indy Fuel (ECHL), and seven assists in 13 games with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). . . . Angers’ head coach is Brennan Sonne (Everett, Red Deer, Edmonton, 2005-08), who will be entering his third season as head coach after three years as an assistant coach with Everett. . . .

F Marcin Kolusz (Vancouver, 2003-04) has signed a one-year contract extension with Podhale Nowy Targ (Poland, PHL). He had three goals and 13 assists in 16 games. . . .

F Alexander Kuvayev (Lethbridge, Vancouver, 2010-12) has signed a one-year contract with Buran Voronezh (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). This season,  with Yermak Angarsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), he had one goal and one assist in eight games; two goals and two assists in 17 games with Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk (Kazakhstan, Vysshaya Liga); and no points in three games with Lada Togliatti (Russia, Vysshaya Liga).


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Jeff Pearlman is a prominent writer who has produced some terrific football- and baseball-based books. His most-recent work, Football for a Buck, was subtitled The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL. In a word, it is awesome. If you have ever wondered about the role a guy named Donald Trump played in the death of the USFL, well, Pearlman’s book has it all.

But the best thing Pearlman has ever written appeared Wednesday on his blog and carried this headline: My wife donated one of her kidneys to a stranger this morning.

If you have ever wondered what a person’s thought process is as they begin to think about being a kidney donor, or if you have ever wondered what someone goes through along the way to being a donor, you will want to read this.

Heck, even if you have never wondered about either of those things take the time to give this a read.

In the end, it’s about life and the gift of life.

The story is right here.


If you were wondering why Rogers Sportsnet, which owns the television rights to all CHL games, didn’t show any games in the WHL final, it seems you aren’t alone.

Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the Vancouver Giants, isn’t at all enamoured with VancouverSportsnet, either.

The Giants just finished playing in the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. They took the Prince Albert Raiders to Game 7 before dropping a 3-2 OT decision in the Saskatchewan city on Monday night.

However, Sportsnet, which holds the rights through the 2025-26 season, didn’t televise any games in the final. In fact, Sportsnet didn’t show any games after bringing us the first three games of a second-round series between the Raiders and Saskatoon Blades.

On Tuesday, Toigo appeared with Donnie and The Moj on TSN 1040 Radio in Vancouver.

“It was terrible. Absolutely terrible,” Toigo said of Game 7 not being televised. “Sportsnet . . . it’s a terrible deal for the league. We should have gone with TSN.”

At the time Sportsnet landed the CHL rights, it also cut a long-term deal for the NHL rights.

“(Sportsnet) had all that NHL content . . . the capacity to promote our games wasn’t there,” Toigo continued. “We should have realized that.

“TSN didn’t have any NHL content. What they’ve done with the World Juniors, they would have just folded us into that kind of presentation. It would have been a better way to go.

“But it is what it is.”

As for Game 7, Toigo said: “The ratings for Sportsnet to have this game in a market this size would have been off the charts. I don’t know who’s making those decisions but they certainly aren’t very good.”

Bruce Hamilton, the owner of the Kelowna Rockets and the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, wasn’t nearly as critical.

“They make their decisions,” Hamilton told David Trifunov, writing for the Kelowna Daily Courier.


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Kelly McCrimmon, the owner of the Brandon Wheat Kings, will be presented with an BrandonWKregularhonourary diploma in Business Administration by Assiniboine Community College. The Brandon-based college will make the presentation during its graduation ceremony on June 13. . . . McCrimmon has been a player, coach and general manager with the Wheat Kings, as well as the franchise’s owner. He also spent four years at the U of Michigan — yes, he played hockey for the Wolverines after playing in the WHL — and later, while working with the Wheat Kings, earned an MBA from Queen’s U in Kingston, Ont. . . . He now is the assistant GM with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights; he will take over as GM on Sept. 1. . . . McCrimmon also will be inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame this year.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed F Jonah Bevington, who will turn 16 on Sept. 7. The Winterhawks selected him in the fifth round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, Bevington had 13 goals and 13 assists in 29 games with the OHA Edmonton Elite 15s. . . . A native of Yellowknife, NWT, Bevington now is an Edmonton resident.


Former WHLer Giffen Nyren, 30, has been granted bail and has returned to Kelowna from a psychiatric facility in Port Coquitlam. . . . While in Kelowna, doctors will continue to do a mental assessment on Nyren, a defenceman who played in the WHL with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Kamloops Blazers and Calgary Hitmen. . . . Nyren was arrested in Kelowna on April 28 after a baby was grabbed from its mother in a downtown Kelowna park. The man eventually let the baby go, then shed his clothes and jumped into Okanagan Lake. Shortly after, he was arrested. . . . Nyren also has been charged with wilfully resisting or obstructing a police officer. . . . His next court appearance has been scheduled for June 13 in Kelowna.


The AJHL’s Calgary Canucks have signed Brad Moran to a three-year contract extension as general manager and he’d coach. Moran has been the Canucks’ head coach since Nov. 27 when he replaced Darryl Olsen. Moran had been in his first season as an assistant coach when he stepped up to head coach. . . . Moran, 40, is a native of Abbotsford, B.C. He played five seasons (1995-2000) with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen, putting up 450 points, including 204 goals, in 357 regular-season games.


The Manchester, N.H., Monarchs, an ECHL team affiliated with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, are finished. The Monarchs had been in Manchester, in the AHL or ECHL, for 18 years. . . . “It’s just clear to us minor league is not viable in Manchester at the ECHL level,” Brian Cheek, the Monarchs’ chief executive, told Mark Hayward of the New Hampshire Union Leader. . . . The Monarchs were the Kings’ AHL affiliate until NHL teams began putting those teams in California. The Kings’ AHL affiliate now is the Ontario Reign. . . . Hayward’s story is right here.

Jon Rosen of lakingsinsider.com has lots more right here.


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Giants force Game 7 in WHL final. . . . Ed Chynoweth Cup to be awarded tonight. . . . Guelph Storm advances to Memorial Cup

Fire-051219
An airtanker unloads retardant on a fire about 25 km east of downtown Kamloops on Sunday afternoon.

The calendar reads May 12, but the thermometer shows that the temperature already is above 30 C. Records already are being set in the Pacific Northwest, along the West Coast of B.C., and into the province’s Interior.

That, of course, means that fire season is upon us, despite the fact that we have yet seen even one bolt of lightning. To date, every mention I have seen of a fire this season has referred to “human-caused.”

There already have been a number of relatively small fires, but the first big one involving evacuation orders started on Saturday near Fraser Lake, which is west of Prince George.

On Sunday, the fire pictured above — it is the Buse Creek fire — broke out about 25 km east of downtown Kamloops, on the south side of the Trans-Canada Highway. By 1:30 p.m., they were working it with two airtankers. By 5:30 p.m., the tankers were gone and a pair of helicopters were filling up in the South Thompson River and going back and forth, dropping water on the fire.

As evening fell, the fire was still considered to be out of control, and appeared to be moving slowly in a southerly direction. Ground crews were scheduled to work it through the night.

The forecast calls for a 30 per cent of showers tonight and Monday, and more rain on Tuesday. Here’s hoping it doesn’t change.


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The Guelph Storm won the OHL championship on Sunday, dumping the visiting Ottawa GuelphStorm67’s, 8-3, to win the series, 4-2. . . . This is the fourth time the Storm has won the J. Ross Robertson Cup. . . . The 67’s had gone into the series with a 12-0 record in these playoffs and had won the first two games. . . . The Storm trailed, 2-0, after one period, then scored five times in the second period to take control. . . . Guelph got two goals and two assists from each of F Isaac Ratcliffe, the team captain, and D Dmitri Samorkov. . . . F Nick Suzuki of the Storm was the playoff MVP. He led all scorers with a franchise record 42 points, including 16 goals, in 24 games. . . . The Storm has had quite a run. It is the only team in OHL history to have trailed three series, 2-0, and come back to win them all. . . . Guelph trailed the London Knights, 3-0, in the first round before coming back to win the series. Then, in a semifinal, the Storm was down 3-1 to the Saginaw Spirit before winning the last three games. . . . The Storm will be in the Memorial Cup for the sixth time. . . .

The QMJHL will be represented at the Memorial Cup by the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, who won the championship on Saturday, and the host Halifax Mooseheads. The Huskies beat the Mooseheads, 4-2 in the championship series. . . . The Memorial Cup is to run from Friday through May 26.


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EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup will be decided tonight (Monday) when the Vancouver Giants and the host Prince Albert Raiders meet in the Art Hauser Centre. . . . The Giants forced Game 7 with a 4-2 victory over the host Raiders on Sunday night. . . . The road team now is 7-0 in Game 6s in these playoffs. . . .

This will be the 12th time in WHL history, and the first time since 2014, that Game 7 has been needed to decide the WHL championship. In 2014, the Edmonton Oil Kings became the first team to win a final series Game 7 on the road when they beat the Winterhawks, 4-2, in Portland. . . . However, that series was 2-2 after four games. . . . ICYMI: I took a look in a post here on Saturday night at the first 11 championship series to go seven games. . . .

In WHL history, teams have come from behind 3-1 deficits to win series on 13 occasions. Two of those were teams that trailed 3-0 — the 1996 Spokane Chiefs, in a first-round series with the Portland Winterhawks, and the 2013 Kelowna Rockets, in the Western Conference final against the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . .

However, only one team — the Jack Shupe-coached Victoria Cougars — has managed to erase a 3-1 deficit in the championship series and then win Game 7. The Cougars fell behind the Calgary Wranglers in 1981, before winning the last three games of the series. . . . They opened with three games in Victoria — Calgary won the opener, 3-2; Victoria tied it, 5-1; then Calgary posted an 8-6 victory to go home with a 2-1 edge. The Wranglers then went ahead, 3-1, with a 6-5 victory. The Cougars then rolled to three victories in as many nights — 7-4 on April 29 and 4-2 the next night, both in Calgary, and 4-2 in Victoria on May 1. . . . This was the first time in WHL history that a team had won a best-seven-series in any round after trailing 3-1. . . .

To sum it up: The Giants are trying to become the 14th team in WHL history to erase a 3-1 deficit in the final series and win the championship. They also are trying to become only the second team in WHL history to win Game 7 of the championship series on the road. . . . You can bet that Vancouver head coach Michael Dyck will let his guys know that history awaits!

The Raiders, meanwhile, haven’t lost three games in a row this season, and now are hoping to follow the example set by the 1992 and 1994 Kamloops Blazers. In both seasons, the Blazers met the Saskatoon Blades in the championship series. In each instance, Kamloops took a 3-1 lead and then found itself playing Game 7. In 1992, the Blazers won the title with an 8-0 victory at home. In 1994, the Blazers beat the Blades, 8-1, in Game 7 in Kamloops.

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SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

G David Tendeck stopped 36 shots and F Davis Koch scored twice as the Vancouver VancouverGiants skated to a 4-2 victory over the Raiders in Prince Albert. . . . The WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup is tied, 3-3, with the winner of tonight’s Game 7 going home with the big bauble. . . . The Giants last won the title in 2006; the Raiders haven’t won it since 1985. . . . Vancouver, down 3-1 in the series, had won Game 5, 4-3, in Langley, B.C., on Friday night. . . . Last night, F Parker Kelly (7) gave the Raiders a 1-0 lead just 53 seconds into the first period when he put his own rebound in behind Tendeck. Kelly had scored 41 seconds into Game 3, which the Raiders went on to win, 8-2, in Langley, B.C. . . . Koch (4) pulled the Giants even at 6:58, getting a nifty backhand shot past Raiders G Ian Scott. . . . Vancouver went ahead 2-1 at 15:17 when F Owen Hardy scored his fifth goal of the playoffs. . . . Kelly (8) pulled the Raiders even with 32.2 seconds left in the period, taking a pass from F Aliaksei Protas and scoring. . . . After a scoreless second period, the Giants went ahead 3-2 at 3:40 of the third as F Jared Dmytriw, their captain, scored his ninth goal, coming free in front of Scott and putting in a rebound off a shot by F Lukas Svejkovsky. . . . Dmytriw had the primary assist on Hardy’s goal, too. . . . The Raiders had a glorious chance to pull even when Vancouver F Jadon Joseph went off for tripping at 11:30. However, Tendeck closed the door and Prince Albert was penalized for too many men at 13:23. The Giants weren’t able to score on their PP, either. . . . Koch (5) put it away with an empty-netter with 14.2 seconds left to play. . . . Each team finished 0-2 on the PP. . . . The Raiders had a 38-27 edge in shots, including 16-10 in the first period and 11-7 in the third. . . . Scott finished with 23 saves. . . . The referees were Mike Campbell and Steve Papp, with Sean Dufour and Michael Roberts on the lines.

Steve Ewen of Postmedia has a game story right here.

Lucas Punkari of the Prince Albert Daily Herald has a gamer right here.


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