WHL loses Americans to positive test . . . Broncos end losing skid . . . Rockets return with offensive bang


Dorothy . . . Kamloops Kidney Walk . . . June 6, virtually . . . Join her team with a donation right here. Thank you!


While the Kelowna Rockets returned to WHL game action on Saturday after Americansbeing sidelined by positive tests, the Tri-City Americans have been shut down.

The WHL announced Saturday that the Americans have had a positive test to a player in their cohort.

While the Rockets and Calgary Hitmen had team activities suspended for 14 days because of positive tests, they are Canadian teams. Perhaps things are different in  Washington state because the WHL news release doesn’t mention a two-week shutdown.

From that news release: “The WHL is working in consultation with the Washington State Department of Health regarding the matter concerning the Tri-City Americans. Pending determination of close contacts and further test results, the WHL will provide further information.”

In the meantime, the WHL postponed a Saturday night game in which the Spokane Chiefs were to have visited the Americans. Also postponed were two Tri-City road games — today at Spokane and Wednesday in Kent, Wash., against the Seattle Thunderbirds.

At this point, only the seven teams playing in the Regina hub haven’t been impacted by COVID-19 positive tests. The Brandon Wheat Kings, Winnipeg Ice, Regina Pats, Moose Jaw Warriors, Swift Current Broncos, Saskatoon Blades and Prince Albert Raiders have been staying in dormitories at the U of Regina and Luther College.

In the B.C. Division, the Rockets, who are with billets, and the Victoria Royals, who are sequestered in a hotel, are headquartered in Kelowna, with the Kamloops Blazers (billets) and Prince George Cougars and Victoria Giants (hotel) in Kamloops. The division schedule underwent some revisions because the Rockets were shut down on March 28 and ended up missing nine games.

In Alberta, the Hitmen got hit with a positive test on April 9 and have yet to get back on the ice. The Medicine Hat Tigers, who had played the Hitmen on April 5, were identified as close contacts so they, too, had team activities suspended. The Tigers returned to play on Friday night.

The Americans last played on Tuesday when they dropped a 4-2 decision to the host Thunderbirds. According to the WHL, “The Thunderbirds are not considered close contacts based on the time of the receipt of the positive test result for the Americans.”


The Vancouver Canucks, who haven’t played a game since March 24 because of a COVID-19 outbreak, will return to action against the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight, and you have to think that this one will draw some big TV numbers. After all, it’s going to be just like one of those train wrecks that you can’t take your eyes off.


Notes


Minnesota’s scheduled Saturday and Sunday games in Anaheim against the Los TwinsAngeles Dodgers have been postponed by MLB because the Twins are having issues with COVID-19. . . . The Twins reportedly have had at least four positive tests in the past few days. . . . OF Kyle Garlick, who played in the Twins’ 10-3 loss to the Angels on Friday, is one of the players who tested positive. . . . One other unidentified player and a staff member also have tested positive, as did SS Andrelton Simmons. . . . The Twins remain in Anaheim and are undergoing more testing and contact tracing. . . . Minnesota next is scheduled to play Monday against the A’s in Oakland. . . .

Simmons, who signed with the Twins in January after five seasons with the Angels, didn’t make the trip west after testing positive early in the week. He has been away from the team since Tuesday. . . . He had turned to Twitter last month and posted this: “I’ve received some questions and some requests regarding the vaccine. And for personal reasons and experience, I will not be taking it or advocating for it. I hope I don’t have to explain myself. And hope you all make the best decision for you and your family’s health.”

——

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic also reported that sources have told him “one major-league umpire as tested positive for COVID-19.”


With the IIHF Women’s world championship to open in Halifax on May 6, the U.S. national women’s team has moved assistant coach Joel Johnston into the head coach’s spot following the sudden resignation of Bob Corkum. . . . In a text to The Associated Press, Corkum explained: “I was not comfortable with the protocols. It was a difficult decision to make, but one that I am at peace with.” . . . John Wawrow of AP wrote: “Corkum has questioned the value of wearing masks and Canada’s coronavirus pandemic support plans in posts made on his LinkedIn account. In response to a post by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announcing a program to boost funding for vaccines, health care and for municipalities, Corkum wrote: ‘Propaganda . . . Think! What is there agenda? Your safety? I think not!’ ”


The NHL’s New Jersey Devils have told the owners of their AHL affiliate, the Binghamton, N.Y., Devils that the franchise is to be moved. . . . Interestingly, Robert Esche, the president of the AHL’s Utica Comets, who are hooked up with the Vancouver Canucks, has filed for a Utica Devils trademark. . . . There has been speculation for a few years that the Canucks are interested in moving their AHL affiliate closer to Vancouver. The Utica Observer-Dispatch has reported that the Comets’ contract with the Canucks has an opt-out after this seaosn. . . . There’s more right here. . . . Due to the pandemic, Binghamton actually is playing this AHL season in Newark.


Riot


The Kelowna Rockets didn’t show a whole lot of offensive rust on Saturday night as they opened their first game since March 28 with a goal just 23 seconds after the first puck was dropped. By game’s end, they had scored seven times. . . . All told, there were six games in the WHL last night. . . .

The Brandon Wheat Kings scored four second-period goals en route to a 4-1 Brandonvictory over the Moose Jaw Warriors in Regina. . . . F Brad Ginnell (2) gave Moose Jaw a 1-0 lead at 19:15 of the first period. . . . Brandon took control in the second with goals from F Jake Chiasson (9), F Ben McCartney (12), who was playing in his 200th game, and F Lynden McCallum (12). . . . McCartney, who also had two assists, has 27 points, 15 of them helpers, in 19 games. . . . F Ridly Greig (8) added a shorthanded goal at 17:50 of the second. Greig has three shorthanded goals and the Wheat Kings have six, which is tied with the Portland Winterhawks for the league lead. . . . Brandon (14-3-2) has won three in a row. . . . Moose Jaw (7-11-1) has lost four straight. . . . The Wheat Kings are 3-0-1 against the Warriors this season, having won 8-2 and 8-3 after losing 4-3 in OT the first time the teams met. . . .

D Mat Ward missed on a second-period penalty shot but scored in the shootout Scurrentto give the Swift Current Broncos a 3-2 victory over the Saskatoon Blades in Regina. . . . The Broncos (4-14-1) snapped a seven-game losing streak. . . . The Blades (14-2-3) have points in seven straight (5-0-2). . . . Ward was the sixth and final shooter in the circus. . . . Blades D Charlie Wright, a fourth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft, scored his first WHL goal in his 59th game, 19 of them this season, just 43 seconds into the game. . . . D Owen Pickering (2) got the Broncos even at 4:59 of the second period. . . . Saskatoon D Chase Wouters (8) gave the Blades the lead again at 19:48. . . . F Braeden Lewis (2) forced OT with a goal at 2:03 of the third period. . . . Saskatoon G Nolan Maier stopped 35 shots, two more than the Broncos’ Reid Dyck. . . . Maier stopped Ward on a penalty shot at 11:48 of the second period. . . .

In Portland, the Winterhawks scored the game’s last three goals and beat the PortlandAlternateSeattle Thunderbirds, 3-1. . . . F Keltie Jeri-Leon (10) put Seattle out front at 13:23 of the second period. . . . F Reece Newkirk (7) tied it at 15:41 and D Nick Cicek (3) put the Winterhawks in front 12 seconds into the third period. . . . D Brody Tallman’s first WHL goal, at 5:59, provided the insurance. Tallman, an eighth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft, was playing in his sixth WHL game. . . . The Winterhawks (6-4-3) have points in three straight (2-0-1). . . . Seattle now is 7-7-0. . . . Seattle F Payton Mount missed a second straight game. He was injured Tuesday night when a puck glanced off the wall behind the team bench and struck him on the head. He was taken to hospital and was released on Wednesday morning. . . .

F Logan Barlage scored the lone goal of a four-round shootout to give the LethLethbridge Hurricanes a 6-5 victory over the host Edmonton Oiler Kings. . . . Lethbridge now is 7-7-2. . . . Edmonton, which had won its previous four games, is 13-1-1. . . . The Hurricanes took a 5-4 lead into the third period. Edmonton D Ethan Cap, playing on his 21st birthday, tied it with his second goal of the season, on a PP, at 10:46. . . . Lethbridge had led 3-1 after one period, on two goals from F Noah Boyko and a singleton from F Justin Hall (12), but F Kaid Oliver and F Jake Neighbours (6), on a penalty shot, tied it early in the second. . . . Oliver, who has nine goals, scored while wearing No. 16 — he usually wears No. 34 — in honour of his late grandfather Garnet (Ace) Bailey. If you aren’t familiar with Ace, let Google be your friend. . . . Boyko put Lethbridge back out front with his third goal of the game and eighth of the season at 7:12 of the second. That was his first WHL hat trick. . . . F Caleb Reimer, the 18th overall selection in the 2019 bantam draft, got Edmonton back into a tie with his first WHL goal at 13:44, only to have F Zack Stringer (5) tie it at 17:34. . . . Lethbridge D Trevor Thurston left in the second period after sliding awkwardly into the boards. Edmonton F Tyler Horstmann received a major and game misconduct for slewfooting on the play. . . .

The visiting Medicine Hat Tigers erased a 2-0 deficit with five goals and beat Tigersthe Red Deer Rebels, 5-2. . . . The Tigers had posted a 5-2 victory over the Rebels in Medicine Hat on Friday. . . . The Tigers improved to 11-3-1 and have points in eight straight (7-0-1). . . . The Rebels (2-14-2) have lost 11 in a row. . . . The Rebels led 2-0 after one period, thanks to goals from F Arshdeep Bains (6) and F Ben King (8), who has scored in three straight. . . . F Ryan Chyzowski (7), who also had two assists, got Medicine Hat started at 6:23 of the second period and D Reid Andresen (1) tied it at 18:20. Andresen, the 11th overall pick in the 2020 bantam draft, got his first goal in his fifth game. . . . F Corson Hopwo (13) broke the tie at 4:28 of the third. He’s got goals in eight straight. . . . D Cole Clayton (7) and F Brett Kemp (10) added insurance, both scoring on the PP. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky helped out with three assists. . . . Medicine Hat held a 34-17 edge in shots. . . . According to the Tigers, the victory was No. 375 behind their bench for Willie Desjardins, their general manager and head coach. That ties him with Shaun Clouston for No. 1 on the franchise’s all-time list. Clouston now is the head coach of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Desjardins gets his first opportunity to move atop the list on Monday when the Rebels are back in Medicine Hat. . . .

F Trevor Wong scored four times to lead the Kelowna Rockets to a 7-5 victory Rocketsover the Prince George Cougars in Kamloops. . . . The Rockets hadn’t played since March 28 because of positive tests. . . . They improved to 2-1-0, while the Cougars now are 4-4-2. . . . Wong’s fourth goal, shorthanded, came 23 seconds into the third period and gave the Rockets a 6-2 lead. . . . Wong had completed his first WHL hat trick at 14:06 of the second. . . . The Cougars got to within one on a goal from D Keaton Dowhaniuk (2) at 1:06 of the third and two from F Karen Gronick (4) at 14:09 and 17:32, the first on a PP and the second while shorthanded. . . . Kelowna F Mark Liwiski (1) got the empty-netter at 18:35. . . . F Andrew Cristall scored his first career goal for the Rockets. He was the eighth overall pick in the 2020 bantam draft.


VanGogh


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——

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——

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Nike

Comings, goings and happenings . . . and now back to baseball and The Border

If you’re wondering where I’ve been, well, I’ve been right here. I am taking some time away from writing, just taking a break. . . . I also have cracked open The Border, the third book in author Don Winslow’s terrific trilogy about, yes, the U.S.-Mexico border and a whole lot more. So I have been spending some time with Art Keller (hey, Google is your friend). . . . If you haven’t read the trilogy, start with The Dogs of War, then move on to The Cartel. After that you’ll be ready for The Border. . . . A warning though — this stuff is gritty. . . .

Some stuff has happened over the last few days, so what follows is a summary. No, I’m not back on a daily basis. Not yet. . . . You see, I’m only halfway through The Border. . . .


MacBeth

F Radim Valchar (Portland, Lethbridge, 2007-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with Csíkszereda Miercurea Ciuc (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, he put up 42 goals and 43 assists in 61 games. He was tied for the league lead in goals and was second in points. . . .

D Brenden Kichton (Spokane, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Vienna Capitals (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with SaiPa Lappeenranta (Finland, Liiga), he had eight goals and 15 assists in 46 games. . . .

F Lukáš Králík (Victoria, 2011-12) has signed a one-year contract with Nový Jičín (Czech Republic, 2. Liga). Last season, in 28 games with Draci Šumperk (Czech Republic, 2. Liga), he had seven goals and four assists. . . .

D Matt Pufahl (Red Deer, Saskatoon, Everett, 2010-14) has signed a one-year contract with the Glasgow Clan (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, with the Utah Grizzlies (ECHL), he had one assist in six games. He also had one goal and one assist in 26 games with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga). . . . The Glasgow press release states that Pufahl will enrol in the MBA program at Glasgow Caledonian University while playing for the Clan. . . .

F Wacey Rabbit (Saskatoon, Vancouver, 2001-07) has signed a one-year contract with Corona Brașov (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, with the Jacksonville IceMen (ECHL), he had 29 goals and 31 assists in 70 games. He led the team in goals and points, and was tied for the lead in assists. . . .

F Michael Burns (Edmonton, Vancouver, 2007-12) has signed a try-out contract with the Hannover Indians (Germany, Oberliga Nord). He didn’t play last season. In summer 2018, with the Sydney Bears (Australia, AIHL), he had five goals and five assists in nine games. He holds dual German-Canadian citizenship. . . .

F Kevin King (Kootenay, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with Cortina (Italy, Alps HL). Last season, in 45 games with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite), he had five goals and 13 assists. . . .

F Austin Carroll (Victoria, 2011-15) has signed a one-year contract with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). Last season, with the Utah Grizzlies (ECHL), he had 15 goals and 20 assists in 45 games. On loan to the Manitoba Moose (AHL), he had one goal in seven games. . . .

F Michal Řepík (Vancouver, 2005-08) has signed a one-year contract with Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL), he had 10 goals and 11 assists in 42 games; he was an alternate captain. . . . He was traded to Vityaz Podolsk (Russia, KHL) on Dec. 26, and had five goals and four assists in 19 games. . . .

F Jim O’Brien (Seattle, 2007-09) has signed a one-year contract with the Nuremberg Ice Tigers (Germany, DEL). Last season, with the Belleville Senators (AHL), he had one goal and two assists in 11 games. . . .

F R.J. Reed (Vancouver, Prince Albert, 2010-11) has signed a one-year contract with Diez-Limburg (Germany, Regionalliga West). Last season, with the Nijmegen Devils (Netherlands, BeNeLiga), he had 33 goals and 17 assists in 19 games. He led the team in goals and was second in points. He was third in the league in goals. . . .

D Brendan Mikkelson (Portland, Vancouver, 2003-07) has signed a one-year contract with Red Bull Salzburg (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, in 47 games with Adler Mannheim (Germany, DEL), he had six goals and eight assists in 47 games.


ThisThat

The Kamloops Blazers have signed Shaun Clouston as their head coach, replacing Serge Lajoie who was one-and-done. Clouston arrives in Kamloops after spending 16 seasons with the Medicine Hat Tigers. He was dismissed as general manager and head coach on Kamloops1May 30 so that the Tigers could bring back Willie Desjardins to fill both roles. . . . The Blazers also named co-owner Darryl Sydor an associate coach. He was named an assistant coach on Feb. 12. . . .

A tip of the Taking Note fedora to Clouston for not ducking questions about what happened in Medicine Hat. The Tigers announced his departure in a three-paragraph news release in which the team said they and Clouston “have parted ways.” . . . Clouston told reporters in Kamloops on Wednesday that he was in shock — he likened it to a “punch in the stomach” — when the Tigers dumped him. . . .

The Blazers didn’t announce any terms of their contract with Clouston, but you have to think it is at least four years in length. After all, they originally offered Kyle Gustafson a four-year deal, only to have him choose to remain with the Portland Winterhawks as associate coach and assistant GM. The offer to Gustafson was made before Clouston’s time ran out in The Hat. . . .

What makes things interesting in Kamloops is Sydor’s presence as associate coach. He also is one of the team’s five co-owners and hasn’t hidden his desire to be a WHL head coach. Sydor has never been a head coach, but has ample experience as an NHL assistant coach, having worked with the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. . . .

With the Blazers having hired Clouston, it leaves the Brandon Wheat Kings, Prince George Cougars and Spokane Chiefs as the only WHL teams still searching for head coaches. . . . The NHL’s Edmonton Oilers have a announced the hiring of Jim Playfair as an associate coach under head coach Dave Tippett. There continues to be speculation that Mark Lamb, presently the Cougars’ general manager, could be joining the Oilers as an assistant coach. He has a long history with Tippett.


There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping here, why not consider donating to the cause? Thank you very much.


A couple of notes from Postmedia’s Jim Matheson:

“Connor McDavid’s junior coach Kris Knoblauch lost out for the Columbus farm team head job in Cleveland to Mike Eaves. . . . Hearing Los Angeles head coach Todd McLellan would have hired his other Oilers assistant Manny Viveiros, but there’s only room for two assistants for budgetary reasons. Viveiros is very much in running for an assistant’s job in Ottawa, though. No surprise Trent Yawney, who’ll look after L.A.’s defence, is joining McLellan again.”



I watched most of the Minnesota Twins’ 17-inning victory over the visiting Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night. One night later, Dick Bremer, the TV play-by-play voice of the Twins, passed along some interesting numbers. In a nine-inning game, he said, MLB teams will go through between six and 18 dozen baseballs. On Tuesday, in a game that included 487 pitches, they used up 27 dozen baseballs. . . . That’s a lot of souvenirs!


Shawn Mullin, the radio voice of the Swift Current Broncos for the past nine seasons, will be the new play-by-play voice of the OHL’s Peterborough Petes, according to Mike Davies of the Peterborough Examiner. . . . According to Davies, Mullin will replace Rob Snoek of Extra 90.5FM. Snoek told Davies that he won’t be back and that “it wasn’t my decision.” . . . Davies’ story is right here.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes have acquired F D-Jay Jerome, 20, from the Victoria Royals Lethbridgefor a pair of unspecified conditional bantam draft picks, one in 2021 and the other in 2022. Jerome is from Lethbridge. . . . Other 20-year-olds on Lethbridge’s roster include D Koletrane Wilson, D Ty Prefontaine, F Scott Mahovlich and F Zach Cox. F Jake Leschyshyn, F Jordy Bellerive and F Nick Henry also are 1999-born players, but are likely to begin their pro careers in the fall. . . .

The Royals also lost D Jake Kustra, 20, on waivers to the Swift Current Broncos. Kustra played under Broncos head coach Dean Brockman when both were with the Saskatoon VictoriaRoyalsBlades. . . . With Kustra, the Broncos have three 20-year-olds on their roster, the others being F Ian Briscoe and F Ethan O’Rourke. . . .

Having trade away Jerome and placed Kustra on waivers, Victoria has six 20s on its roster — D Will Warm, who was acquired from the Edmonton Oil Kings on June 13, Belarusian F Igor Martynov, F Tanner Sidaway, who is from Victoria, D Jameson Murray, D Scott Walford and G Shane Farkas, an offseason acquisition from the Portland Winterhawks. . . .

Meanwhile, the Broncos have signed F Mat Ward to a WHL contract. From Kamloops, he was the 14th overall pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have waived F Zach Russell, 20. He got into 36 games with them last season. Earlier, the Oil Kings had dealt D Will Warm, 20, to the Victoria Royals. . . . The Oil Kings are left with four 20s on their roster — F Riley Sawchuk, who was acquired from the Tri-City Americans on May 16, G Dylan Myskiw, D Conner McDonald and D Parker Gavlas. . . . F Trey Fix-Wolansky also is 20, but is likely to begin his pro career in the Columbus Blue Jackets’ organization.


Bart


An interesting note from Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian Pilot: “Bob Molinaro in the Hampton-Roads Virginian-Pilot: “Forbes has put out another list of the highest-paid athletes. It’s the usual dull cluster of dollar signs and numbers, but with one amusing twist. Strictly by salary, Tom Brady ranks fifth on the list — among Boston athletes alone. The top paid Beantown jock is Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, followed by teammates Gordon Hayward and Al Horford. Red Sox left-hander David Price slips into fourth place. Not taken into account is the cash value of six Super Bowl rings.”


The Kamloops Blazers are down to three 20-year-olds with F Travis Walton having cleared WHL waivers and signed with the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers. . . . Walton had nine goals and nine assists in 48 regular-season games over three seasons with the Blazers. . . . The 20s remaining on the Blazers’ roster are F Zane Franklin, F Kobe Mohr and D Jackson Caller. . . .

Meanwhile, the Blazers announced Thursday that they have signed Colin (Toledo) Robinson, their trainer, to a contract extension. The length of the extension wasn’t revealed. . . . Robinson has been with the Blazers since then GM/head coach Dean Clark signed him in 2005. Robinson is prepping for his 25th WHL season, having also worked for the Swift Current Broncos and Vancouver Giants.


The Prince Albert Raiders named Curt Brownlee as their director of player personnel. He has been with the Raiders since 2011 when he signed on as a scout. He takes over from the late Ron Gunville, who died in December.


There is zero chance of the Tampa Bay Rays splitting their American League seasons between the Florida city and Montreal. None. Zilch. Nada. . . . This is simply a cheap way for the Rays to try and pressure their way to a new ballpark in Tampa.


If you’re wondering about the costs of operating a junior A hockey team, consider this from Michael Reeve of radio station Q101.1 from the AGM of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials:

“Beth Nadeau, the team’s treasurer, provided an update on last (season’s) financials. While the team’s expenses came in at approximately the same amount as last (season), this (season’s) revenue was down close to $23,000. All of that resulted in the team losing $95,644.68 last (season), up from a loss of $75,329.99 the season before.”

Meanwhile, the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders held their AGM on Wednesday night and reported a deficit of $6,402.95. The Stampeders had a long playoff run or it would have been a lot worse. . . . For more, check out Benny Walchuk’s blog right here.


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