Beyak chooses to end things on his terms . . . Revisiting two epic WHL comebacks . . . Oil Kings end Hurricanes’ season

Rich Franklin spent time in the front office of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks and now is an executive with the Coachella Valley Firebirds, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken. . . . The above tweet is from the Kraken’s home game on Wednesday night and I have to tell you that it warms my heart.


DennisBeyak
DENNIS BEYAK

Dennis Beyak, one of hockey’s best play-by-play voices, has decided to partially retire when this season is over, something that will happen for him on Sunday. Beyak has been the voice of the Winnipeg Jets on TSN since 2011. Unfortunately, because of blackout regulations, a lot of hockey fans likely have never heard him call an NHL game. . . . Beyak, who turned 70 on Nov. 23, will call his final Jets’ game on Sunday afternoon when they meet the visiting Seattle Kraken. . . . Thankfully, we will be able to hear him on occasion as TSN plans on giving him some international assignments. His work on many World Junior Championship games that don’t involve Team Canada has been terrific. . . . Here’s hoping he’s on the call for some games from the WJC in Edmonton in August. . . .

If you aren’t aware, Beyak is a former WHL play-by-play man and also a former WHL executive. . . . He began his play-by-play career at CFAR in Flin Flon in 1970 as the voice of the Bombers at a salary of $57.50 per week. He would go on to call the play for the Saskatoon Blades, Victoria Cougars and Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . He had stints in management, too, as the Blades’ assistant general manager and as GM of the Seattle Thunderbirds and Tri-City Americans. . . . He also has been the play-by-play voice of the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs. . . .

Scott Billeck of the Winnipeg Sun wrote that Beyak explained his decision this way: “When I turned 70, I started to think about this, about how much longer I wanted to do this. I always wanted to kind of go out while I was still able to do it. I didn’t want to get to the point where I was questioning myself — should I have done it earlier?” . . .

Oh, and did I mention that he is an excellent emcee, who could have been a standup comedian?


Weight


Only two teams in WHL history have fallen behind 0-3 and gone on to win a best-of-seven series — the 1995-96 Spokane Chiefs and the 2012-13 Kelowna Rockets.

Let’s take a brief look back, shall we . . .

The Chiefs completed the 1995-96 regular season with a 50-18-4 record — that Spokanefour denotes ties (remember them?). They wound up atop the seven-team West Division. The Portland Winterhawks, meanwhile, finished in sixth place, at 30-39-3.

The series opened in Spokane with games on March 22 and 23, and the Winterhawks skated to 3-2 (OT) and 7-4 victories. They won the opener on F Brad Isbister’s goal at 6:23 of OT, then got three goals and two assists from F Richard Zednik in Game 2.

Playing at home on March 26, Portland got two goals and two assists from Todd Robinson, with Zednik chipping in two goals and an assist, in a 6-4 victory. And just like that the Winterhawks led the series, 3-0.

But one night later the Chiefs got out to a 4-1 lead before the first period was 13 minutes old and went on to a 5-3 victory. F Darren Sinclair and F Jason Podollan each scored twice for the visitors.

Back in Spokane on March 29, G David Lemanowicz turned aside 34 shots as the Chiefs won, 5-0. Podollan had three goals and an assist, giving him six scores in the five games.

The series headed back to Portland for Game 6 and the Chiefs won, 4-3, to get back on equal footing. After Spokane F Joe Cardarelli tied it on a PP with his second goal of the game, and fourth of the series, at 19:29 of the third period, the teams went into double OT before deciding it. It ended when F Randy Favaro struck for his first goal at 3:50.

On April 3, the Chiefs, playing at home, wrapped up the series with a 4-3 victory. Again, the teams went to OT, with Sinclair winning it 58 seconds into extra time.

The Chiefs went on to eliminate the Kamloops Blazers in six games, then would lose the WHL championship final to the Brandon Wheat Kings in five games. Only one of Spokane’s last 11 playoff games needed OT.

——

In 2012-13, the Rockets finished with a 52-16-4 record, good for second place Kelownain the Western Conference, while the Seattle Thunderbirds wound up 24-38-10 and in seventh place.

Their seven-game series would feature five games that needed extra time to decide a winner.

The first two games were played in Kelowna with the Thunderbirds winning twice in OT — 5-4 on a goal by F Luke Lockhart at 19:09 and 2-1 when F Alex Delnov scored at 2:41.

The series then headed for Kent, Wash., where Seattle won Game 3, 3-2, scoring the game’s last three goals and winning when D Evan Wardley counted at 4:55 of OT. That left the Thunderbirds with what appeared to be a commanding 3-0 lead.

The Rockets started the long road back on March 27, winning 4-0 in Kent, behind two goals and an assist from F Tyson Baillie, a goal and two assists from F Zach Franko, and 25 saves from G Jordan Cooke.

They played Game 5 three nights later in Kelowna, with the Rockets building a 4-1 lead and hanging on to win, 4-3, as Seattle counted twice in the game’s last minute.

Then it was back to Kent for an April 2 game that the Rockets won, 4-3 in OT, to tie the series, 3-3. Game 6 was bizarre in that the first six goals all were scored in the first period. Lockhart’s third goal of the series gave Seattle a 3-1 lead at 9:23. Kelowna tied it on goals from F Tyrell Goulbourne (14:56) and F Cody Fowlie (16:20). The Rockets, who held a 59-43 edge in shots, won it when D Myles Bell got his fourth goal of the series at 10:39 of OT.

The very next night the series ended in Kelowna as the Rockets completed their remarkable comeback with a 3-2 victory and, yes, it took overtime.

Wardley gave Seattle a 1-0 lead at 9:04 of the second period. The Rockets grabbed a 2-1 lead on two goals from Baillie — his fifth and sixth of the series — at 9:17 of the second period and 13:09 of the third. Lockhart’s fourth goal in seven games tied it at 19:53. That left it for Baillie to complete his hat trick at 5:10 of OT. Baillie finished the series with seven goals and five assists.

The Rockets moved onto the second round where they were swept by the Kamloops Blazers. The last two games of that series needed OT, meaning Kelowna went into extra time in seven of its 11 playoff games that spring.



THURSDAY IN THE WHL:

There was one playoff game last night, and there are six on tap tonight. While the Edmonton Oil Kings completed a sweep of the host Lethbridge Hurricanes last night, four more teams — the Kelowna Rockets, Prince Albert Raiders, Saskatoon Blades and Spokane Chiefs — will face elimination on tonight’s six-game schedule. . . . Here’s a brief look at last night’s game . . .

Eastern Conference

In Lethbridge, F Josh Williams broke a 4-4 tie late in the third period and the EdmontonEdmonton Oil Kings went on to  a 6-4 victory over the Hurricanes. . . . The Oil Kings won the series, 4-0, and now await a second-round opponent. . . . F Justin Hall (1) pulled the Hurricanes into a 4-4 tie at 15:17 of the third period. Williams scored his first goal of the series just 40 seconds later. . . . F Jakub Demek (1) iced it with the empty-netter. . . . Edmonton held a 47-17 edge in shots. . . . F Dylan Guenther scored Edmonton’s first goal, giving him one in each of the four games. . . . The Hurricanes took all four of the game’s minor penalties and surrendered two PP goals. . . . The Hurricanes join Prince George on the outside looking in after the Cougars were swept by the Portland Winterhawks on Wednesday night.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Vancouver Giants will be without D Tom Cadieux and F Matthew Edwards when they entertain the Everett Silvertips in Game 4 of their first-round series tonight in Langley, B.C. Each player drew a one-game suspension for indiscretions in Game 3. The Silvertips hold a 2-1 edge in the series. Game 5 is scheduled for Everett on Saturday. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia has an advancer for tonight’s game right here, including a few words about how things are heating up between the two head coaches. . . .

The AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder has named Sean Brown the interim general manager and head coach. He has been operating his hockey development business, Breakout Hockey, but joined the Thunder earlier as assistant GM/assistant coach. The Thunder announced Wednesday that Eric Thurston was out as GM/head coach after four seasons. . . .

Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks, N.D., Herald tweets that “Scott Langer is out after one season” as head coach of the USHL’s Fargo Force. According to Schlossman, “The top candidate to replace him will be SCSU assistant Nick Oliver, a highly regarded young coach who played for the Force.”


Cops


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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Dad

Scattershooting, with some of this and some of that . . . Winterhawks sign imports . . . Knoblauch a head coach again

MacBeth

F Luke Lockhart (Seattle, 2007-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). Last season, he had one goal and nine assists in 41 games. He also had one goal in one game with KRS-ORG Beijing (China, Vysshaya Liga). . . .

D Jagger Dirk (Kootenay, 2009-14) has signed a one-year contract with the Dundee Stars (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, he had one assist in nine games with the Utica Comets (AHL), and had four goals and 17 assists in 49 games with the Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL). . . .

F Ned Lukacevic (Spokane, Swift Current, 2001-06) has signed a one-year contract with the Manchester Storm (England, UK Elite). Last season, with the Odense Bulldogs (Denmark, Metal Ligaen), he had four goals and three assists in 19 games. He also had four goals and five assists in nine games with Tours (France, Division 1). . . .

G Jackson Whistle (Vancouver, Kelowna, 2011-16) has signed a one-year contract with the Nottingham Panthers (England, UK Elite). Last season, with the Sheffield Steelers (England, UK Elite), he was 3.20, .898, with two assists, in 50 games. . . .

F Dylan Willick (Kamloops, 2009-13) has signed a tryout contract with Podhale Nowy Targ (Poland, PHL). Last season, he had eight goals and seven assists in 68 games with the Worcester Railers (ECHL). . . .

D Brady Gaudet (Kamloops, Red Deer, 2010-15) has signed a one-year contract with Annecy (France, Division 2). Last season, with the Redvers Rockets (Big Six Hockey League), he had nine goals and eight assists in 13 games. . . .

F Marek Škrvně (Kelowna, 2017-18) signed a tryout contract with Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, in 18 games with Kometa Brno Junioři (Czech Republic, Extraliga Juniorů), he had eight goals and 12 assists. On loan to Horácká Slavia Třebíč (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had one goal in 16 games. . . .

F Radovan Bondra (Vancouver, Prince George, 2015-18) signed a tryout contract with Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, with the Rockford IceHogs (AHL), he was pointless in two games. In 66 games with the Indy Fuel (ECHL), he had 10 goals and 25 assists. . . .

F Denis Tolpeko (Seattle, Regina, 2003-06) signed a try-out contract through the end of August with AIK Stockholm (Sweden, Allsvenskan). Tolpeko didn’t play last season. In 2017-18, with Spartak Moscow (Russia, KHL), he had one assist in four games.


ThisThat

I have spent the past couple of days trying to keep up with a three-year-old. So if I fall asleep in the middle of this, you’ll understand why. . . . In the meantime, here’s something of a potpourri. . . . A little Scattershooting, a little of this, and some of that. . . .


I don’t know about where you live, but there sure are a lot of vehicles with faulty turn signals in Kamloops. I mean, drivers are smart enough to use them if they work, right? Right?


The Portland Winterhawks have signed Swiss F Simon Knak, 17, and Danish D Jonas PortlandBrøndberg, 18. . . . Just last week I wrote this about the two of them: Knak has played in the EHC Kloten organization. Last season, he had 14 goals and 11 assists in 37 games with the U-20 team. He also had five goals and eight assists in five games with the U-17 side, and had one assist in three games with the Kloten team in the NLB. Knak also played 26 games with the U-18 national team. He was the captain, and put up 10 goals and six assists. . . . Brondberg played in Sweden last season, splitting 28 games between two U-18 teams (Växjö Lakers), totalling three goals and six assists. He also had one assist in 21 games with a U-20 team. In 14 international games, he had four assists. Brondberg captained Denmark’s U-18 team at the U-18 IIHF World championship tournament.


“Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Leaf and Lance Armstrong — three disgraced pariahs not that long ago — are suddenly high-profile TV commentators,” notes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Pundits said they’d never seen anyone land on their feet like that since Mary Lou Retton.”

——

One more from Perry: “Hungary swamped host South Korea 64-0 in the women’s water polo world championships, breaking the mark for biggest victory margin by 27 goals. Even the U.S. women’s soccer team urged the Hungarians to tone it down a bit.”

——

Here’s Perry, one more time: “A message in a bottle — dropped overboard by a teen boy in 1969 — finally washed up on shore in South Australia. In other words, aimlessly adrift at sea only two years less than the Toronto Maple Leafs.”


Kris Knoblauch is the new head coach of the Hartford Wolf Pack, the AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers. . . . He takes over from Keith McCambridge, who was fired in April. . . . Knoblauch spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Flyers, who fired head coach Dave Hakstol mid-season and hired Alain Vigneault earlier this summer. Scott Gordon, who took over as interim coach when Hakstol was fired, now is the head coach of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Flyers’ AHL affiliate. . . . . . . Knoblauch, 40, worked in the WHL as an assistant coach with the Prince Albert Raiders (2006-07) and Kootenay Ice (2007-10). He was the Ice’s head coach for two seasons (2010-12), and spent four-plus seasons (2012-17) as head coach of the OHL’s Erie Otters.



Jack Finarelli, the Sports Curmudgeon, on NBC Sports Network hiring Lance Armstrong as an analyst for its Tour de France coverage: “The analogy that leaps to mind is that Lance Armstrong doing color commentary for the Tour de France is about as apropos as the Food Network naming Hannibal Lecter as its next Iron Chef.”


If you haven’t yet seen this editorial from the Baltimore Sun, take a couple of minutes out of your day and give it a read.

 


The junior B Grand Forks Border Bruins of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League had agreed to a five-year contract extension with head coach John Clewlow, 30. He is heading into his second season as the team’s head coach. Last season, the Border Bruins finished third in the Neil Murdoch Division. . . .

Grant Sheridan, the president and general manager of the junior B Kelowna Chiefs of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, has died. Sheridan passed away on Sunday night in Kelowna General Hospital. . . . Sheridan’s health problems began during the KIJHL playoffs when he was ended up in hospital in Revelstoke with bacterial meningitis. He was transferred to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, then was moved to Kelowna General Hospital.


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