A pandemic check in WHL territories as new season nears . . . Pats, Thunderbirds swing deal . . . Nachbaur not afraid of some Heat

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Teams in the WHL are about three weeks from opening training camps, and about four weeks from the start of the exhibition season. . . . While the OHL and QMJHL have adopted mandatory vaccination policies, it would appear that the WHL has no such plan because there hasn’t been a peep out of the Calgary office about it. . . . The WHL and its teams also have yet to announce any plans, protocols or anything else regarding fans in any of the arenas in the four provinces and two states in which the franchises operate. Perhaps the league and its 22 teams are still in discussions with provincial and state health officials on that subject. . . . Anyway, here’s a look at some of Tuesday’s pandemic related news from WHL country . . .

The New York Times — Oregon is preparing to restore a statewide mandate on Wednesday, ordering both vaccinated and unvaccinated people to use face coverings when gathering indoors. . . . Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon, a Democrat, said on Tuesday that she would formally announce the return of the mask mandate on Wednesday. She said that masks were needed to fight rising caseloads driven by the Delta variant, and that face coverings were a simple tool to help keep schools and businesses open.

CBC Kamloops — 7-day average nearly doubles in 1 week as B.C. records 395 new cases of COVID-19. . . . The seven-day rolling average of new cases has nearly doubled in one week from 196 on Aug. 3 to 383. . . . (Note: 187 of the new cases revealed Tuesday were in Interior Health, an expansive region that is home to Kamloops and Kelowna, and where numbers haven’t been good for the past while.)

Tri-City Herald — Franklin County has highest COVID rate in 4 Western states. Benton County 2nd in WA. . . . The number of people hospitalized locally for COVID-19 continues to climb, matching the previous high during the past 12 months, based on Tri-City Herald records. . . . The 74 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment Tuesday accounted for nearly 20% of the 380 patients in the Richland, Kennewick, Pasco and Prosser hospitals. Hospital officials and doctors are urging Tri-Cities area residents to be vaccinated, saying almost all COVID-19 patients they are treating in hospitals have not been vaccinated against COVID-19. . . . (Note: Kennewick, home of the Tri-City Americans, is in Benton County. Pasco and Richland, which with Kennewick comprise the Tri-Cities, are in Franklin County.)

KOMO News — Snohomish County held a briefing Tuesday, where it announced a mask directive for anyone indoors older than five. This includes both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. (Note: Everett is located in Snohomish County.)

Tina Karst, CJOC Lethbridge — Lethbridge COVID stats for Aug 9 (released today): 14 new cases out of 37 in the South Zone; no deaths; no recoveries; active cases up by 14 to 80 — the highest count since June 4 (84).

CBC News — Alberta reported 279 net new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and two additional deaths. . . . The number of known active cases rose by 83 since the last update to 3,463. . . . Four more Albertans have been admitted to hospital to be treated for COVID-19 since the last update. There are now 133 hospitalizations, including 29 patients in intensive care units. . . . There were 5,424 tests conducted Monday. The province’s test positivity rate is 5.25 per cent.

CBC News — Manitoba’s COVID-19 website shows 31 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths on Tuesday. . . . The current five-day test positivity rate in Manitoba is 2.7 per cent, up from 2.5 on Monday. 

CBC News — Saskatchewan reports 2 additional deaths and 65 new cases of COVID-19. That pushes the 7-day case average to 80; a week ago it was 51.

Oregon Public Broadcasting — Masks are back. Beginning this Friday, all people in Multnomah County (including Portland) will be required to wear a mask in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status. This applies to everyone age 5 or older.



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The Boston Bruins have signed Swedish F Fabian Lysell, 18, to an entry-level Vancouvercontract (ELC). The Bruins selected him in the first round, 21st overall, of the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . The Vancouver Giants grabbed Lysell’s major junior rights in the CHL’s 2021 import draft and have been hoping that the Bruins might steer Lysell their way. . . . Because he was drafted out of Europe, Lysell is eligible to play in the NHL, AHL or WHL. That means the Bruins could choose to assign him to the AHL’s Providence Bruins. . . . He had three goals and six assists in seven games for Sweden at the 2021 IIHF U-18 World Championship in Texas. . . . Lysell is seen as a tremendous skater with a great work ethic who is a real offensive threat. . . .

Meanwhile, Joshua Critzer, who covers the Portland Winterhawks for Portland@pnwhockeytalk, tweeted on Monday afternoon that he is “hearing Jesper Wallstedt and the Minnesota Wild have informed” the WHL team that “he will not be reporting.” . . . Wallstedt, a native of Västerås, Sweden, who will turn 19 on Nov. 14, was selected 20th overall by the Wild in the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . The Winterhawks acquired the rights to Wallstedt from the Moose Jaw Warriors on June 7, giving up a sixth-round pick in the WHL’s 2023 draft. . . . In 2020-21, Wallstedt was 12-10-0, 2.23, .908 with Lulea HF of the SHL, Sweden’s top pro league. . . .

On Tuesday, the Winterhawks announced that F Dawson Pasternak, 18, “will be joining our roster from the Chicago Steel of the USHL.” . . . From Winnipeg, Pasternak had six goals and 17 assists in 61 games with the Steel in 2020-21, up from five and nine in 35 games in 2019-20. . . . The Winterhawks selected him in the fourth round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.


The Regina Pats have added some size and experience to their roster with the Patsacquisition of D Luke Bateman, 19, from the Seattle Thunderbirds for a sixth-round selection in the WHL’s 2021 draft. . . . That draft, which normally is held in the spring, is scheduled for Dec. 9, thanks to the pandemic. . . . The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Bateman was picked by Seattle in the fourth round of the 2017 bantam draft. . . . From Kamloops, he has two goals and 16 assists in 83 regular-season games. . . .

Thom Beunig, the long-time radio voice of the Thunderbirds, pointed out on Twitter that Seattle has only six defencemen on its roster at the moment — Tyrel Bauer, 19; Ryan Gottfried, who turns 20 on Aug. 21; Jeremy Hanzel, 18; Kevin Korchinski, 17; Spencer Penner, 17; and recent Import selection Leon Okonkwo Prada. From Colchester, England, Okonkwo Prada played last season in Sweden. He has signed with the Thunderbirds after being selected in the CHL’s 2021 import draft.


Time


Sir Vincent Rogers Sr., a 35-year-old offensive lineman with the CFL’s Edmonton Elks, tested positive and has a few things he wants to say about his experience . . .


Dusty Imoo, 51, is a former WHL goaltender from New Westminster, B.C. He played four seasons (1987-91) with the New Westminster Bruins, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Regina Pats. . . . He went on to a pro career that included 13 seasons in Japan. He also played for Japan in three IIHF World Championships and in the 1998 Olympic Winter Games. . . . Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun has more right here.


Chris Moulton, a long-time WHL scout and front-office type, now is director of player personnel with the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . It’s not even the middle of August and he has a rather pertinent message for parents and young players . . . 


Ethan in the below tweet is former Seattle Thunderbirds D Ethan Bear, who was traded by the Edmonton Oilers to the Carolina Hurricanes last month . . .


Don Nachbaur has left the Tri-City Americans for the AHL’s Stockton Heat. Nachbaur, the third-winningest head coach in WHL history, joined the Americans as associate coach in February. Now he is off to the Heat as an assistant coach where he will work alongside new head coach Mitch Love, who signed on after spending the previous three seasons as the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Nachbaur has had a couple of other AHL coaching stints, as the head coach of the Binghamton Senators (2009-10) and as an assistant with the Philadelphia Phantoms (2000-02). . . . From a Heat news release: “In his 26-year coaching career, Nachbaur has accumulated 20 seasons of WHL experience, three campaigns in the AHL, two behind an NHL bench as an assistant with the Los Angeles Kings (2017-19) and one with HKM Zvolen in Slovakia. He won the WHL’s Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy, awarded to the league’s coach of the year, three times (2010-11, 2007-08, 1994-95) and had a role with Canadian national junior teams at the 2011-12 U-18 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and 2012-13 World Junior Championship.”


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Jason Benetti, the TV play-by-play voice of the Chicago White Sox, is on the sidelines after testing positive. He had been at the Tokyo Olympics for NBC-TV, calling baseball and softball. Benetti is fully vaccinated and has said that he is “mildly symptomatic.”

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NewsRadio 610 KONA — Washington will soon require most state employees, on-site contractors, and workers in private healthcare to be vaccinated as a condition of employment. Governor Jay Inslee says they’ll have until October 18 to do so.

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“A charity hockey tournament at Abbotsford’s The Rinks at Summit Centre has been flagged by Fraser Health as having a COVID-19 public exposure,” reports Ben Lypka of the Abbotsford News. . . . Lypka’s complete story is right here.

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Lamar Jackson, the starting quarterback for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, has returned to practice after testing positive for the second time in eight months. No, he isn’t vaccinated. . . . His plan is, uhh, to “keep learning as much as I can about it. We’ll go from there.” . . . Jamison Hensley of ESPN wrote: “Jackson said last December that he ‘wouldn’t wish (COVID) on anybody’ and reiterated that Monday. But he still wouldn’t budge on whether he would get the vaccine, even when pressed that it puts the Ravens at a competitive disadvantage.” . . . According to head coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens went into training camp with 90 per cent of their players fully vaccinated, meaning Jackson is one of a relatively few who aren’t vaccinated.

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U of Ottawa — University of Ottawa announces that vaccination will be mandatory for all students, faculty, staff, and anyone returning to or visiting campus as of September 7th, 2021.

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The New York Times — A Dallas school district announced that everyone — students, employees and visitors — must wear a mask while on school property starting Tuesday, defying an executive order by Gov. Greg Abbott that bans school districts from requiring masks.

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CBC News — Anyone wanting to go to a restaurant, bar, theatre, festival or gym in Quebec will have to produce a vaccine passport as of September 1.

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CBS News — Pentagon announces COVID-19 vaccines will be mandatory for troops by mid-September.

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In the west, we’ve had the pandemic and a heatwave or two, wildfires that have all but destroyed two B.C. communities, and now we’re in the middle of a drought. How bad is it? . . . A ski resort in Manitoba announced on Monday that it won’t be opening for the 2021-22 season. Holiday Mountain, located southwest of Winnipeg at La Rivière. . . . A tweet from the resort: “We use 17 million gallons of water for snowmaking and the Pembina River is so dry you can walk across it. No chance of that kind of recovery in the next few months. We’re talking 10+ feet below normal.” . . . The plague of locusts is expected to arrive by month’s end.

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Pete Muntean, CNN — Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines will NOT REQUIRE employees to get vaccinated, breaking with United Airlines’ mandate that workers get vaccinated by October 25th or face getting fired.

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Rolling Stone — Jason Isbell’s upcoming shows will require proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test. “If the venue won’t allow that, we won’t play,” performer says.

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Rolling Stone — The Eagles have added an additional Seattle date to their rescheduled Hotel California tour, but unlike the other shows, attendees will have to provide proof of vaccination upon entering. The November 5th show at Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena requires that guests be fully vaccinated 14 days prior to the show, while children under 12 years old may show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test. Tickets go on sale Friday at 1 pm E.T.

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Rolling Stone — Stevie Nicks has withdrawn from her upcoming festival appearances due to the spread of the Delta variant. Nicks was slated to headline the Jazz Aspen Festival and BottleRock Napa Valley early next month; Chris Stapleton will be replacing her for the latter. She was scheduled to perform both weekends at Austin City Limits in October, but the Texas festival has yet to announce a replacement. (Nicks was also on the bill for the New Orleans Jazz Fest, but the event was cancelled just the other day.) “These are challenging times with challenging decisions that have to be made,” Nicks tells Rolling Stone. “I want everyone to be safe and healthy, and the rising Covid-19 cases should be of concern to all of us. While I’m vaccinated, at my age, I am still being extremely cautious and for that reason have decided to skip the five performances I had planned for 2021.”

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Rolling Stone — A group of Nashville clubs has announced new Covid-19 rules: to enter, fans must show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test.

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Ana Cabrera, CNN — Average pace of new vaccinations (people getting their first shot) tops 500,000 people per day for first time since June, CDC data shows.

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Rolling Stone — Milwaukee’s Summerfest 2021 joins the growing list of events requiring a Covid-19 vaccine or negative test for entry.

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Rolling Stone — Bonnaroo just released a statement announcing that it will require attendees to show proof of vaccination or a negative test.

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Rolling Stone — The Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam, a country-music festival set for Labor Day weekend in Florida, has been postponed until next year, as Covid cases spike across the state.


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JUST NOTES: Jake Wagman, who had been Kelowna’s director of video and hockey operations, is leaving the Rockets to join the NHL Arizona Coyotes organization. He will be the video coach for the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners, replacing Brady Morgan, who now is a video assistant with the NHL’s Seattle Kraken. Morgan spent one season as a hockey operations assistant with the Seattle Thunderbirds before joining Tucson.


Batman

Flashing back to an amazing 1981 tiebreaker. . . . Winnipeg has first pick in 2019 bantam draft. . . . Red Deer’s Alexeyev out for first round


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At least three times in the past few days, a list of WHL tiebreaker games has appeared in this space. It turns out that there were two errors in it, both of them involving the first such game in league history.

According to that list, the Spokane Chiefs beat the host New Westminster Bruins, 10-9, to earn a spot in the 1980-81 playoffs.

Well, it actually was the Spokane Flyers who won the game, and it was decided in SpokFlyersovertime.

A reader has passed along a story — and a tip of the Taking Note Fedora to him, too — by Earl Gerheim of the Spokane Spokesman-Review and here are a few highlights . . .

The game was played on March 27, 1981, and it was held in the Cominco Arena in Trail, B.C., because Queen’s Park Arena, the home of the Bruins, was embroiled in a labour dispute. . . . The Bruins had vacated their arena because of the dispute and played home games in such outposts as Bellingham, Wash., Trail, Duncan, B.C., Coleman, Alta., and Kamloops.

One night earlier, the Bruins had beaten the Seattle Breakers, 7-4, to move into a tie with NewWestthe Flyers for fourth place in the Western Division. The Bruins had lost 25 straight games before beating Spokane and Seattle to forge the tie with the Flyers, each with a 17-54-1 record. They were 17 points behind the Breakers in the five-team division. . . . As an aside, the Flyers had scored 288 goals and allowed 488; the Bruins were 306 and 512. Yes, 512 goals against. . . .

Amazingly, Spokane management had no idea that there would be a tiebreaker; they assumed that the Bruins’ 6-3-1 edge in the season series would put New Westminster into the playoffs. . . .

F Mark Sochatsky scored the Flyers’ winning goal at 9:24 of OT. He finished the game with five goals and two assists, while linemate Ivan Krook had two goals and five assists. . . .

Three times the Flyers held a three-goal lead and three times the Bruins came back to tie it, the last time at 17:19 of the third period on a score by F Mike Winther. . . .

Winther’s goal came via the PP after the Bruins asked for a stick measure — remember those days? — on Flyers’ F Richard Zemlak. According to Gerheim: “Referee Jerry Pateman asked Zemlak for the stick, but Zemlak skated away, holding on to the timber and refusing to surrender it. Pateman got the stick away and assessed Zemlak a minor penalty for illegal equipment plus a misconduct penalty.” . . .

When he was asked about the call, Spokane head coach Wayne Coxworth said: “I hate to see it. I don’t like it, but it’s in the rules. It’s a heck of a way to do it.” . . .

The Victoria Cougars, who finished 60-11-1, swept the Flyers from a best-of-seven first-round series.

Before the 1981-82 season arrived, the Bruins had moved to Kamloops. The Flyers, with a record of 3-22-1, folded in the middle of the season.


The WHL held its bantam draft lottery on Wednesday, with the Winnipeg Ice emerging with the first pick.

The 2019 bantam draft is scheduled to be held in Red Deer on May 2.

The Ice had the second-poorest regular-season record and moved into the No. 1 spot wpgicewhen one of its balls was drawn at the WHL office in Calgary.

Following the Ice in order will be the other non-playoff teams — the Prince George Cougars (from the Swift Current Broncos), Saskatoon Blades (from Regina Pats), Prince George, Kelowna Rockets and Brandon Wheat Kings.

The complete first round looks like this at the moment:
1. Winnipeg; 2. Prince George (from Swift Current); 3. Saskatoon (from Regina); 4. Prince George; 5. Kelowna; 6. Brandon;

7. Kamloops; 8. Seattle; 9. Winnipeg (from Red Deer); 10. Brandon (from Victoria); 11. Calgary (from Tri-City); 12. Medicine Hat;

13. Calgary; 14. Swift Current (from Portland); 15. Spokane; 16. Brandon (from Moose Jaw); 17. Regina (from Lethbridge); 18. Edmonton;

19. Victoria (from Saskatoon); 20. Kamloops (from Everett); 21. Swift Current (from Vancouver); 22. Prince Albert.

From the WHL’s news release: “Players eligible for the 2019 WHL bantam draft will be 2004-born players who reside in Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.”


The WHL also announced all-star teams and conference award nominees on Wednesday. If you haven’t seen any of that, it’s all at whl.ca.


Marty Hastings, who covers the Kamloops Blazers for Kamloops This Week, wonders if Kamloops1the Blazers’ 5-1 victory over the visiting Kelowna Rockets on Tuesday night resulted in the exorcism of a few demons, especially from the conspiracy theorists. . . . “So that’s what it feels like,” he writes. “That’s how fans feel when 6,000 strong vicariously harpoon the Ogogopo, leaving its innards to freeze on the Kamloops Blazers’ B at centre ice. They haven’t felt anything like that in a long time — a 5-1 victory over the institution inside a sold-out barn. What they have felt, at least a few of them, is disillusionment with the system, which they perceive to be the WHL and the Kelowna Rockets, the devious alliance that rules them all.” . . . The complete column is right here.


The Red Deer Rebels won’t have D Alex Alexeyev for their first-round playoff series Red Deeragainst the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Alexeyev, a first-round selection by the Washington Senators in the 2018 NHL draft, suffered a knee injury in a 5-3 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings on March 8. . . . In a Wednesday tweet, Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate quoted Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ general manager and head coach: “It’s a huge challenge. There’s no team out there that doesn’t lose their best defenceman and their horse — guy who plays 30 minutes a night — that doesn’t impact the back end. Whether it’s our level or the pro level, you lose your top player on your back end and it certainly changes things. That being said, it also give others opportunities and they have to rise to the occasion.” . . . The Rebels, the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card team, open against the Raiders, who finished atop the overall standings, on Friday night in Prince Albert.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have added D Luke Bateman to their roster for the playoff run. SeattleBateman, 16, is from Kamloops. He was a fourth-round selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had nine goals and 11 assists in 32 games with the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. . . . He also was pointless in four games with the Thunderbirds. . . . The Thunderbirds, the Western Conference’s second wild-card team, will be in Langley, B.C., on Friday to open a series with the Vancouver Giants, who finished in first place.


The OHL has cut the penalty that it applied to the Niagara IceDogs in February for a ohlviolation of player recruitment rules. The OHL had fined the organization $250,000 and taken away two first-round draft picks. . . . On Wednesday, the OHL announced that the fine has been reduced to $150,000 and the team will forfeit its first-round pick in the league’s 2021 draft. . . . From an OHL news release: “The club has acknowledged that it violated OHL player recruitment rules. The club recognizes the importance of these rules and agrees to comply.” . . . If you didn’t see the story about this situation that was filed by Rick Westhead of TSN on Monday, it’s right here.


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