OHL teams look to bring U.S. teams north . . . B.C.’s top doc says “many more months of this to come” . . . NAHL team out for season

If you are a junior hockey fan living in Western Canada or the Pacific Northwest, there hasn’t been much to cheer about the past few days. The COVID-19 numbers haven’t been good. And with summer’s last long weekend around the corner and schools soon to open in Canada, I really wonder what is in our immediate future. . . . On Monday, in releasing the latest statistics for B.C., Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s top medical official, offered this ominous note: “There are many more months of this to come.” . . . She also said: “What we need to do is figure out how to do all that we want to do in our society safely for the next year, maybe longer.” . . . The maximum number of people allowed at indoor gatherings in B.C. these days is 50 and, Dr. Henry said, there is “no opportunity” to change that in the near future.

Adam Wodon, the managing editor at collegehockeynews.com, addressed a few things in a piece he posted on Tuesday. This column really resonated because it deals with those folks who get upset when people like him report things that point out it is going to be difficult to get hockey in at some levels in 2020. . . . “I pointed out the delusion of thinking the sports-minded ‘go get ‘em’ mentality was going to get us through this,” he writes. “These remarks have been interpreted wrong in a variety of ways, which is frustrating, to say the least. I’ve heard three main negative critiques, all of which are preposterous, frankly.” . . . He addresses those right here as he hammers the nail on the head.

Interestingly, The Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper at the U of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, has decided that it no longer will use the term “student athlete,” opting instead for “college athlete,” “athlete” or “student.” . . . The newspaper’s reasoning is in an editorial that is right here. . . . Gotta wonder if major junior hockey pooh-bahs might ever consider doing the same. Nah, never mind.


The Corpus Christi IceRays announced Monday that they are suspending operations for the 2020-21 NAHL season. . . . From a team-issued statement: “After much consideration surrounding the developments of COVID-19, and for the health and safety of our organizational family, which includes our players, our coaches, our operating and arena staff, our billet families, and the fans that make up the Greater Corpus Christi and Coastal Bend communities, we have made the difficult decision to suspend operations for the upcoming 2020-21 season and return or the 2021-22 season.” . . .

Retired track star Usain Bolt has tested positive and is in self-isolation, albeit asymptomatic, in his Jamaican home. Bolt, 34, may have contracted the virus at his recent 34th birthday party. . . . The Jamaican government has limited gatherings to 20 people, and Andrew Holness,the country’s prime minister, has said Bolt won’t be given any special treatment, so there could be discipline of some sort involved once an investigation is completed. . . . Two international soccer players — Raheem Sterling of Manchester City and Leon Bailey of Bayer Leverkusen — also were in attendance at the birthday party. . . .

The NFL’s San Francisco 49ers are scheduled to open the regular season on Sept. 13 and they will do it in front of empty seats at Levi’s Stadium. Chances are good that fans won’t be allowed at any of their next three home games, either — Oct. 4, Oct. 11 and Oct. 18. At the moment, the Santa Clara County public health department is limiting outdoor gatherings to 60 people. . . . Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Raiders have said they won’t have fans at home games all season, and the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams, both of whom play at SoFi Stadium, said they won’t have spectators “until further notice.” . . . The Buffalo Bills say they won’t have fans in attendance at their first two home games, on Sept. 13 and Sept. 27. . . . When the Bills open on the road against Miami on Sept. 20, the Dolphins say they will allow in 13,000 fans, all of whom must wear masks while in the stadium. . . .

The Rural Manitoba Football League suspended its 2020 season on Tuesday “with an eye toward playing our competitive season in the spring of 2021,” it said in a news release. . . .

The U of Alabama has reported 531 positives on its Tuscaloosa campus, along with another 35 on campuses in Birmingham and Huntsville. Those come after six days of classes. . . . There are countless reports of American universities suspending students for reckless behaviour at off-campus parties and a lack of social distancing, including 23 by Syracuse U, 36 by Purdue U, more than 200 at Ohio State, 11 at Montclair State and on it goes.



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Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Dwight Eisenhower, a former U.S. president: “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from a corn field.”

The 52-team Provincial Junior Hockey League, a junior C circuit in Ontario, hopes to begin a regular-season schedule on Dec. 1 that will have teams playing at least 24 games. Of course, that is contingent on approval from all of the appropriate health and hockey officials.

Jamie Russell, a native of Kamloops, is the new director of hockey operations and head coach of the 18U team at South Kent School, a private all-boys boarding school in South Kent, Conn. . . . Russell has extensive NCAA coaching experience with stops at Ferris State, Cornell, Michigan Tech and Providence College. He also was the director of hockey operations and head coach with the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals. . . . He spent three seasons (2016-19) as the general manager and head coach of the ECHL’s Worcester Railers. . . . There is a news release right here.


Blades and T-Birds add forwards . . . Rebels’ Hagel gets NHL deal . . . Two goalies get first WHL victories


The Saskatoon Blades have acquired F Zach Huber, 18, from the Calgary Hitmen for a Saskatoonsixth-round pick in the 2020 WHL bantam draft. . . . This season, Huber had four goals and an assist in 14 games with the Hitmen, who selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 bantam draft. . . . Last season, he had two goals and three assists in 56 games as a freshman with Calgary. . . . Huber could be in the Blades lineup when they entertain the Kootenay Ice on Thursday. . . . “Zach adds some depth scoring and some grit to our lineup,” Colin Priestner, the Blades’ general manager, said in a news release. “He’s a right-handed shot and 18 years old as well, which we feel fits our needs.”

The Seattle Thunderbirds have acquired F Brecon Wood, who will turn 18 on Dec. 5, Seattlefrom the Moose Jaw Warriors for a seventh-round pick in the 2020 WHL bantam draft. . . . From Edmonton, Wood was a seventh-round pick by the Warriors in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . In 91 regular-season games with Moose Jaw, he had five goals and two assists. This season, he had one goal in seven games before choosing to leave the Warriors and join the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints.

The Chicago Blackhawks have signed F Brandon Hagel, 20, to a three-year entry-level Red Deercontract. Hagel is third in the WHL scoring race with 28 points, including 12 goals, in 15 games. . . . Hagel, from Morinville, Alta., wasn’t selected in the WHL bantam draft. In 208 regular-season games, all with the Rebels, he has 205 points, 74 of them goals. . . . Hagel, who will remain with the Rebels, signed as a free agent. He was selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the sixth round of the 2016 NHL draft but was never signed. Prior to this season, Hagel was in the Montreal Canadiens’ rookie camp. . . . “Negotiations started a few days ago and were just kind of finalized today,” Hagel told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com. “It’s a dream come true. My goal was to prove (the Sabres) wrong and I think I did a pretty good job of it. . . . Meachem’s story is right here.

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There is a move afoot in the United States to change the process by which athletes are recruited by NCAA Division 1 schools. . . .

Here’s Matt Wellens of the Duluth, Minn., News Tribune: “Last month the NCAA Division I council introduced two recruiting proposals into the legislative process in hopes of slowing down recruiting not only in hockey, but all sports. Should the proposals pass in April, the days of verbal commitments by high school sophomores, freshmen and even eighth-graders will be a thing of the past.

“The creators behind these proposals also believe the changes will reduce the number of decommitments and maybe even bring some civility back to a recruiting environment that has become hostile in recent years as the validity of verbal commitments is questioned.”

Wellens’ complete story is right here.

The BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks have added Tyler Shattock to their staff as an assistant coach. Shattock, 28, is from Salmon Arm.  . . . He played four seasons (2006-10) in the WHL, three-plus with the Kamloops Blazers and the last part of 2009-10 with the Calgary Hitmen. He won a WHL title with the Hitmen and put up seven points in four Memorial Cup games. . . . He had an eight season pro career that ended after he played last season with the EIHL’s Braehead Clan.


The Kootenay Ice scored the only goals of a shootout and beat the host Swift Current KootenaynewBroncos, 2-1. . . . The Ice (5-7-3) had lost its previous two games, and now is 1-3-2 on the road. . . . The Broncos (1-14-1) have lost eight in a row. They are 0-4-1 at home. . . . F Peyton Krebs and F Brett Davis scored in the first two rounds of the shootout, while both Swift Current shooters were blanked. . . . F Ethan Regnier (3) gave the Broncos a 1-0 lead at 14:32 of the first period. . . . Davis (6) tied it, on a PP, at 15:49 of the third. . . . The Broncos spent the first four minutes of OT on the PP after Kootenay F Jaeger White was given a double minor for slewfooting as the third period ended. . . . The Ice got 41 stops through OT from G Jesse Makaj as he posted his first WHL victory. He now is 1-3-1 this season. . . . Earlier in the day, the Broncos released D Carter Spenst, 17. He was pointless in four games. He is expected to join the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team, which is where he played last season. . . . Meanwhile, the Ice added F Owen Pederson, 16, to its roster. He had 20 points, six of them goals, in 12 games with the OHA Edmonton prep team. Peterson was a fifth-round pick by the Ice in the 2017 WHL bantam draft.

The Brandon Wheat Kings erased a 3-1 deficit and went on to beat the host Prince George BrandonWKregularCougars, 5-4. . . . The Wheat Kings (7-3-5) are 1-2-2 on a seven-game road trip; they now are 1-1-1 in the B.C. Division. The trip wraps up after games in Kamloops on Friday and Kelowna on Saturday. . . . The Cougars (5-7-3) have lost four in a row (0-2-2). . . . F Josh Maser (4) gave the home side a 3-1 lead at 19:41 of the first period. . . . The Wheat Kings got second-period goals from F Connor Gutenberg (6), on a PP, F Linden McCorrister (3) and D Braden Schneider (2) for a 4-3 edge. McCorrister added two assists to his goal. . . . F Stelio Mattheos (14), who also had three assists, upped the lead to 5-4 at 10”14 of the third period. . . . Prince George got to within a goal when F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (2) scored at 11:20. Mikhalchuk also had two assists. . . . Mattheos has 25 points, including 14 goals, in 15 games. This was his fourth career four-point game. . . . Brandon got 26 saves from G Ethan Kruger as he earned his first WHL victory. He is 1-0-2 in three starts this season. . . . The Cougars started G Taylor Gauthier, but he left after being shaken up in a goal-mouth collision with three seconds left in the second period. Gauther, who stopped 23 of 27 shots. was on the bench for the third period as Isaiah DiLaura stopped 16 of 17.

D Ty Smith drew three assists to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 4-1 victory over the visiting SpokaneChiefsSeattle Thunderbirds. . . . The Chiefs improved to 8-4-3; the Thunderbirds now are 7-4-2. . . . F Riley Woods (10) scored two PP goals for Spokane, giving it a 2-0 lead at 7:59 of the second period and making it 3-1 at 6:20 of the third. . . . F Egor Arbuzov (1) added the empty-netter at 18:57. . . . The Chiefs got 22 saves from G Bailey Brkin. . . . Spokane was without F Jaret Anderson-Dolan, who has an undisclosed injury.