Immuno-compromised stuck in ‘pandemic limbo’ . . . Englot keys Kamloops victory; Garand leaves with injury . . . Habscheid joins Bears’ staff


More than 7 million American adults are trying to survive in a pandemic world while immuno-compromised. . . . At the same time, restrictions are being rolled Covidback, moves that oftentimes don’t make things any easier for those people with compromised immune systems.

In a story in The Atlantic that is headlined The Millions of People Stuck in Pandemic Limbo, Ed Yong writes:

“A significant proportion of them don’t respond to COVID vaccines, so despite being vaccinated, many are still unsure whether they’re actually protected — and some know that they aren’t Much of the United States dropped COVID restrictions long ago; many more cities and states are now following. That means policies that protected . .  . immunocompromised people, including mask mandates and vaccination requirements, are disappearing, while accommodations that benefited them, such as flexible working options, are being rolled back.

“This isn’t a small group. Close to 3 percent of U.S. adults take immunosuppressive drugs, either to treat cancers or autoimmune disorders or to stop their body from rejecting transplanted organs or stem cells. That makes at least 7 million immunocompromised people — a number that’s already larger than the populations of 36 states, without even including the millions more who have diseases that also hamper immunity, such as AIDS and at least 450 genetic disorders.”

Please take a few minutes out of your day and give Yong’s piece a read. It will help you understand what a large part of our community has had to go in these pandemic days. . . . That story is right here.


The Memorial Cup tournament has been moved to later in June, something that will allow the three major junior leagues to complete regular-season schedules that have been repeatedly interrupted by pandemic-related issues. . . . The four-team tournament will be held in Saint John, N.B., meaning the QMJHL’s Sea Dogs will be the host team. . . . The opening game now is scheduled for Monday, June 20 with the final on Wednesday, June 29. One day, June 26, is set aside for a tiebreaker, if needed, with June 28 a day off for the finalists. . . . The tournament had been scheduled to run from June 4 through June 13. . . . It became evident that a schedule change would be made after the QMJHL, which didn’t play any games between Dec. 18 and Feb. 4, announced that it would conclude its regular season on May 1, with its playoffs to begin on May 5 and end no later than June 15. . . . The WHL, which has had to postpone a number of games, is expected to announce schedule changes today.


Four tweets from Jess Rubenstein, who keeps both eyes on New York Rangers’ prospects for Blueshirt Bulletin and The Prospect Park . . .

JUNIOR JOTTINGS: F Drew Englot broke a 4-4 tie at 10:13 of the third period and added an insurance goal at 12:02 as the host Kamloops Blazers got past the Victoria Royals, 6-4. Englot has 11 goals. . . . F Logan Stankoven had one assist for Kamloops, running his point streak to 17 games. He’s got 36 points, including 20 assists, during that stretch. F Luke Toporowski got his 30th goal; he’s got 15 in 13 games with the Blazers, who acquired him from the Spokane Chiefs. . . . G Dylan Ernst stopped nine of 11 shots after coming on in the second period following Dylan Garand’s exit with an apparent left knee injury. . . . The Blazers (34-12-1) are second in the Western Conference, three points behind Everett (33-7-6) with the Silvertips scheduled to play in Kamloops on Friday night. . . . F Carter MacAdams scored three times to lead the Prince George Cougars to a 5-2 victory over the Rockets in Kelowna. MacAdams has 10 goals this season. . . . F Ryder Korczak set up two goals as the Moose Jaw Warriors edged the host Calgary Hitmen, 3-2. The game was played in the Seven Chiefs Sportsplex on the Tsuut’ina Nation. The Hitmen will entertain the Winnipeg Ice there on Friday night. The Hitmen usually play home games in the Saddledome, but pandemic-related rescheduling involving lacrosse’s Roughnecks and the NHL’s Flames necessitated the change of venue. . . . F Chad Nychuk scored twice, giving him 14, as the Brandon Wheat Kings beat the Tigers, 4-1, in Medicine Hat.


Tim


The KHL has confirmed that its regular season won’t be resuming following the completion of the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. Instead, the playoffs, featuring eight teams in each of the two conferences, will begin on March 1. . . . There is more, including a first-round playoff schedule, right here.


There’s another Habscheid on the hockey-coaching scene in Prince Albert. Bailey Habscheid has joined the coaching staff of the Prince Albert Northern Bears, who play in the Saskatchewan Female U18 AAA Hockey League. Bailey is a niece to Marc Habscheid, the veteran head coach of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders. . . . The Bears have had to juggle their coaching staff following a decision by Jeff Willoughby, the head coach since 2010-11, to step down. Steve Young, who spent five seasons (2008-13) in the Raiders’ front office, now is the Bears’ head coach. . . . The Bears also added Brad Rock as an assistant coach, joining Curtis Olsen.


TALKING OUT LOUD:

I spent far too much time talking — and sometimes loudly — to a TV set on Wednesday night. But it was quite a ride with the Canadian women’s hockey team. Thanks, ladies! . . .

A lot of people will remember Marie-Philip Poulin’s two goals in Canada’s 3-2 victory over the U.S. in Beijing last night. But the play she made on the game’s final face-off, lining up in the centre-ice circle with 13.5 seconds remaining and snapping the draw straight ahead and past the icing line was terrific. Her hockey IQ, as they say, is off the charts. . . .

From Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) of Hockey Sense: “Another crazy MPP stat. She won 74% of her 23 draws tonight, participating in 38% of all faceoffs in the game. Canada won 65% as a team. One such win directly led to the first goal + she had that faceoff after the USA goal where she nearly put it into the empty net from the dot.” . . .

The U.S. dressed 19 skaters for the game with Canada. Seven of them played fewer than eight minutes, while 10 played more than 21 minutes each.


Aliens


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.


Costco

Only the vaccinated will be allowed at Bills, Sabres games . . . Memorial Cup tournament cancelled . . . Rockets, Tigers cleared to return

On March 30, Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, said that he expects the stadiums in which his league’s teams play to be open to full capacity when the next season begins.

On Tuesday, it was announced at a news conference in Buffalo that fans will have to have been vaccinated in order to attend games involving the NFL’s Bills and the NHL’s Sabres next season.

Mark Poloncarz, an Erie County executive, said: “You want to go to a Bills game later this year? Get vaccinated with your first dose of the Moderna vaccine today. You get your second dose of the Moderna vaccine in four weeks. Two weeks later, you’ll be able to fill out the pass, and in the fall, you’ll be cheering on Josh Allen at the stadium.

Poloncarz also said that religious and medical exemptions won’t be taken into consideration.

“Some people are like, ‘Well that’s unfair,’ but there’s no God-given right to attend a football game,” he said. 

In this instance, Erie County is able to set the rules for games in the home facilities for the Bills and Sabres because it owns both of them. According to Poloncarz, the country doesn’t need state approval either.

Needless to say, there was a lot of reaction on social media to the announcement, but Erie County officials don’t seem likely to budge on this.

“You have no guaranteed rights in the Constitution to inflict illness on other people, just like you have no guaranteed right in the Constitution to attend a Buffalo Bills football game,” Poloncarz said. “You can be removed at anytime. Our goal is to ensure that everyone in there is safe.”

Sandra Tan of the Buffalo News has more right here.

——

Meanwhile, there are people doing the research to try and find out whether having fans attend sporting events in these pandemic times results in increased rates of infection in the areas in which the games were played. . . . One study, which hasn’t yet been peer reviewed, found definitive increases. . . . There’s more on that right here.


It was hardly a surprise when the CHL announced on Tuesday that it has cancelled the 2021 Memorial Cup because of the pandemic.

While a host city/team for 2021 hadn’t been announced, the tournament was to have been played in Oshawa or Sault Ste. Marie. The 2020 tournament that was to have been held in Kelowna also was cancelled.

The Memorial Cup first was presented in 1919. It had been awarded every year since then . . . until 2020.

“Regrettably, we do not see a path in which we will be able to produce champions in our three member leagues due to border restrictions and quarantining requirements,” the CHL said in a statement. “The Memorial Cup is steeped in tradition and is one of the most difficult trophies to win in all of sport. The CHL looks forward to presenting it next season to the championship club that has earned the right to hoist it.”

While the QMJHL continues to plan on starting its playoffs on April 23 — it has at least three Quebec-based teams with positive tests, one of them with 24 — one has to think that the OHL will get around to announcing one of these days that its season has been cancelled without getting started.

The WHL has all of its 22 teams playing games within their geographic areas, but hasn’t yet announced a plan for playoffs of any sort. Of course, there really is no need for any sort of playoffs without the Memorial Cup at the end of the rainbow.

The last team to win the Memorial Cup? That would be the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, who beat the host Halifax Mooseheads, 4-2, in the final of the 2019 tournament. The WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders and the OHL-champion Guelph Storm also took part.

The CHL said in its statement that “further decisions” regarding a 2022 host team/city and schedule would be announced at a later date.



DannyBoy


The Oil Kings don’t play until the weekend, but there were four games played in the WHL on Tuesday night . . .

The Brandon Wheat Kings scored four times in the first period, the first two by BrandonF Ty Thorpe, en route to an 8-3 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors in Regina. . . . The Warriors (7-9-1) got to within a pair, at 5-3, late in the second period but the Wheat Kings (12-3-2) scored the last three goals. . . . Thorpe has three goals this season. . . . The Wheat Kings got a goal, his seventh, and two assists from F Nolan Ritchie and three assists from D Braden Schneider. . . . F Lynden McCallum added his 11th goal for Brandon. . . . F Brayden Yager, the third overall selection in the 2020 bantam draft, scored his fifth and sixth goals and added an assist for the Warriors. He has 13 points in 17 games. . . . Yager came up short on a first-period penalty shot, with G Connor Ungar making the save. He finished with 37 stops. . . .

In the nightcap in Regina, the Prince Albert Raiders scored the game’s first four Raidersgoals and went on to beat the Pats, 4-2. . . . The Raiders (6-8-3) struck four times in a span of 6:36 in the second period. . . . F Tyson Laventure (2), F Justin Nachbaur (6), F Evan Herman (6) and F Logan Linklater (1) had the goals. Herman has goals in three straight games. . . . The Raiders have points in three straight (2-0-1). . . . The Pats (6-8-3) got back in it on late third-period goals from F Logan Nijhoff (8) and F Ryker Evans (3). . . . For what it’s worth, the Pats are 2-3-3 as the home team and 4-5-0 as the visitor. They were the home team for this one. . . . F Tanner Howe, 15, made his WHL debut with the Pats. Howe, who is from Prince Albert, won’t turn 16 until Nov. 28. He was a fourth-round pick by the Pats in the 2020 bantam draft. . . .

F Nico Myatovic scored his first two WHL goals in his first game to help the host SeattleSeattle Thunderbirds to a 4-2 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Myatovic, a 16-year-old from Prince George, was a sixth-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. He gave Seattle a 1-0 lead on his first shift, at 2:25 of the first period, then made it 2-1 at 4:56 of the second period. He actually scored his first two goals on his first two shots. . . . F Jake Sloan (3) got the Americans to within one, at 3-2, at 17:42 of the third period, but Seattle F Henry Rybinski (3) got the empty-netter at 18:48. . . . Seattle improved to 7-5-0, while Tri-City slid to 5-7-0. . . . There was concern for Seattle F Payton Mount at game’s end. The 18-year-old from Victoria, who is in his third season with Seattle, was wearing a neck brace when he was placed on a backboard and then taken away from the bench area on a stretcher following the final buzzer. . . . Andy Eide of 710 ESPN tweeted afterwards that Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette said “Mount was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure. He was talking and alert. Puck skidded off the wall of the bench and hit him in base of the skull.” . . .

The Spokane Chiefs scored the game’s last three goals and beat the Silvertips, Spokane4-3, in Everett. . . . F Eli Zummack had a goal, his third, and three assists for the Chiefs. His second shorthanded goal in as many games broke a 3-3 tie at 7:31 of the third period. . . . Spokane F Adam Beckman’s second goal of the game, and eighth of the season, had tied the game at 2:51. . . . F Brendan Lee (2) and F Cole Fonstad (8) put Everett out front 2-0 in the first period. . . . Beckman got Spokane’s first goal 31 seconds into the second. He has goals in five straight games. . . . F Austin Roest’s first WHL goal restored Everett’s two-goal lead just 34 seconds later. . . . F Copeland Ricker got Spokane’s comeback started with his first goal at 4:41 of the second. . . . Spokane now is 3-5-3, while Everett slipped to 9-3-0.



The WHL announced Tuesday night that the Kelowna Rockets will resume team activities today (Wednesday) after everyone in their cohort tested negative. The Rockets had been on hold for 14 days after experiencing seven positive tests. They are scheduled to face the Prince George Cougars in Kamloops on Saturday night. . . .

The Medicine Hat Tigers have been cleared to return to play after having been shut down after having been deemed close contacts of the Calgary Hitmen, who had one positive test. The Hitmen remain on hold, but the Tigers will return with three weekend games against the Red Deer Rebels. They’ll play Friday in Medicine Hat, Saturday in Red Deer and Monday in Medicine Hat. On the original schedule, Red Deer was to have played a tripleheader with the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

The WHL news release on schedule adjustments impacting the five Alberta teams is right here.


FlinFlonThe SJHL’s Flin Flon Bombers owe the City some money. But the City isn’t in a hurry to collect the $27,500. In fact, council has put the debt into abeyance, at least for now. . . . Should the Bombers show a profit of $100,000 in one season, they will pay the debt. Should someone purchase the team, the debut will have to be paid out of the proceeds. Councillor Tim Babcock explained things this way to Eric Westhaver of the Flin Flon Reminder: “The way it works is that they owe us money from two seasons ago now, because their playoffs were cut short and they didn’t get the money they were counting on from a deep playoff run. Then, they weren’t able to have a season this year, so they’re a little bit behind in their bills.” . . . Westhaver has more right here.


The 22-team Ontario Junior Hockey League has cancelled its 2020-21 season. “With the Province of Ontario currently under a 28-day Stay-at-Home order, and the official 2020-21 Hockey Canada season ending on May 31, the league has declared an end to its season.” . . . In the 2020-21 season, six OJHL teams were able to play a total of 56 exhibition games.


Wake


Please don’t forget that Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant more than seven years ago, is preparing to take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. Unfortunately, it will be a virtual walk for a second straight year, but that won’t keep her from fund-raising on behalf of the Kidney Foundation. If you would like to help her out, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . And a huge thank you to those who have already responded to this. Love seeing her smile every time she gets a notification of a new donor.

——

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.


Scholl

CHL cancels playoffs, Memorial Cup; next tournament set for OHL in 2021 . . . Winterhawks lay off employees; more to come

——

The University of Toronto Schools won the 1919 Memorial Cup, the first time the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association had put the trophy into competition. It was to go to the champion of junior hockey.

The Memorial Cup has been awarded every single year since then — not even the Second 2020MCWorld War could get in the way.

However, it won’t be awarded in 2020, the COVID-19 virus haven’t knocked the major junior hockey season for a loop.

The 60-team CHL announced Monday afternoon that the major junior hockey season is over. That means that there won’t be any playoffs in the OHL, QMJHL or WHL.

Nor will there be a Memorial Cup tournament. This year’s four-team affair was to have been played in Kelowna, March 22-31. Interestingly, it would seem that the 2021 Memorial Cup won’t be decided in Kelowna, but in an OHL city.

The last line of the CHL’s Monday statement:

“We look forward with hope that next season will provide new opportunity to celebrate, and that the MemorialCup will be presented at our prestigious national championship, hosted by the OHL in May 2021.”

The CHL follows a three-year rotation among the three leagues. The QMJHL is to be the host in 2022, with the WHL back for 2023.

According to the Kelowna Daily Courier, Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ owner, president KelownaRocketsand general manager, said that the city “may not have had the steam to muster a tournament in 2021.” The newspaper added that “it could tax volunteers, staff, players and sponsors too much.”

Hamilton also expressed doubts that he and his hockey staff would be able to ice a Memorial Cup-calibre team.

According to the newspaper, “Hamilton said he’d also been building a team that could compete for a national title this season, and he’s losing too many veterans to be ready for next spring.”

After cancelling the remainder of the regular seasons on March 12, the CHL said in a news release on Monday that it “continued to monitor the latest updates and advice from all public health agencies and medical experts, and worked tirelessly to determine a scenario by which the balance of our season could be played. Unfortunately, given the troubling state of our global climate and public welfare, there is still too much risk and uncertainty to move forward in good conscience.” . . .

——

Losing a handful of regular-season games and the playoffs is going to hurt a few WHL teams. When WHL teams are preparing their budgets, they usually look upon playoff Lethbridgerevenue as gravy. But how much gravy might that be?

Well, let’s take a look at the Lethbridge Hurricanes, one of the WHL’s community-owned teams, which means they hold an annual general meeting and announce profits and/or losses.

After the 2017-18 season, the Hurricanes announced a net profit of $422,443, with playoff revenue of $885,558. That came after a playoff run that included 16 games, nine of them at home.

One year earlier, the Hurricanes had played 10 home playoff games during a 20-game run. At the 2017 AGM, they announced a profit of $737,710, with playoff revenue at $685,000.

A year ago, the Hurricanes’ playoff run was short-circuited when they lost a first-round series in seven games. Four of the games were played in Lethbridge, some of them in the 1,200-seat Nicholas Sheran Arena because the world men’s curling championship was being played in the ENMAX Centre. At the 2019 AGM, the team announced a profit of $282,168, with $336,397 in playoff revenue, some of that was compensation from the City of Lethbridge for having been forced from their home arena.

Yes, there was a lot of money — A LOT OF MONEY — at play in the decision to pull the plug on the playoffs. The story will become more explicit when the Hurricanes hold their 2020 AGM.

The WHL’s other publicly owned teams are the Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos. The Raiders are the WHL’s defending champions and finished atop the East Division this season. The Warriors and Broncos wouldn’t have qualified for this season’s playoffs. . . .

——

The Portland Winterhawks have laid off employees from their front office and from their Portlandhockey staff, Taking Note was told on Monday morning. . . . The Winterhawks and Kamloops Blazers both have laid off staff and implemented pay cuts. . . . According to one WHL insider, the league, with the playoffs and Memorial Cup having been cancelled, also is expected to lay off some of its office staff. . . . The 22-team WHL suspended its regular season on March 12 and then cancelled it on March 18. The Winterhawks finished atop the U.S. Division and won the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as regular-season champions; the Blazers finished first in the B.C. Division. . . . On Monday, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week wrote that Blazers president Don Moores, in a text, had confirmed the “layoffs and pay cuts and opted to make no further comment.” . . . 



Dick Pound of Montreal, a longtime influential IOC Committee member, told Christine Brennan of USA TODAY on Monday: “On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided. The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.” . . . Her story is right here. . . .



Here’s how Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times began his Monday column:

We are surrounded by a cacophony of chaos, our lives filled with words of warning and dread and doom.

“I need a sound of spring. This being the formerly opening week of the postponed baseball season, I crave the melodious tones of the ballpark, the bunting, the hope.

“So, what the heck, I call Vin Scully.

“And, wouldn’t you know, he answers on the first ring.”

This is what we need in these trying times, and it’s all right here.



Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, has his thought for the day, courtesy of H.L. Mencken: “Laws are no longer made by a rational process of public discussion; they are made by a process of blackmail and intimidation, and they are executed in the same manner. The typical lawmaker of today is a man wholly devoid of principle — a mere counter in a grotesque and knavish game. If the right pressure could be applied to him, he would be cheerfully in favor of polygamy, astrology or cannibalism.” . . .


During a brief drive on Sunday afternoon, I spotted two curb-side signs advertising Garage Sale. . . . Seriously! . . . Yeah, like I want to buy and bring home garage sale items during a pandemic. Yikes! . . .


Spruce Meadows, one of the world’s best show-jumping facilities, announced Monday that it has cancelled its summer season, clearing its calendar through July 5. The cancellations include four tournaments that had been scheduled over a five-week span, starting on June 4. . . . The Masters, scheduled for Sept 9-13, remains on the calendar, at least for now. . . .


1985 Memorial Cup — Simpson: ‘We played the best at the most important times all season long. I guess that makes us the best.’

The four-team Memorial Cup tournament is to open in Halifax on Friday with the host Mooseheads meeting the WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders. The Raiders are in the tournament for the first time since 1985. . . . With that in mind, here’s a look back at that 1985 tournament when the Raiders proved that they were the best. . . . Enjoy!


1985 MEMORIAL CUP

Prince Albert Raiders, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Verdun Junior Canadiens and Shawinigan Cataractes

at Shawiningan (Municipal Auditorium) and Drummondville (Marcel Dionne Arena)

   The Prince Albert Raiders, under general manager and head coach Terry Simpson, were a Canadian junior A hockey dynasty.

   When the early 1980s arrived they really didn’t have any more junior A worlds left to conquer. And so it was that the Raiders applied and were granted entrance into the PrinceAlbertWestern Hockey League.

   Who could have guessed that three seasons into their major junior existence the Raiders would be the WHL champions and into their first Memorial Cup tournament?

   But that is exactly what happened.

   It cost the Raiders $175,000 to get into the WHL. They paid $100,000 for the franchise and $75,000 for what remained of a players’ list that had belonged to the defunct Spokane Flyers.

   When the Flyers folded in the middle of the 1981-82 seasons, the remaining teams held a dispersal draft on Dec. 3, 1981, but were only allowed to select players from Spokane’s active roster.

   The Raiders then bought the list and got more than their money’s worth because they picked up three future stars — centre Dan Hodgson, right-winger Dave Pasin and defenceman Emanuel Viveiros.

   And then, on Dec. 3, 1984, the Raiders moved into first place in the East Division for the first time. It was now apparent that this had all the makings of a special season in Prince Albert.

   The Raiders had gone 16-55-1 as they finished last in an eight-team East Division in their first WHL season, 1982-83. The following season, they were 41-29-2 and fifth.

   In 1984-85, they went 58-11-3 as they put together the WHL’s best regular-season record. Their 119 points was the third-highest in WHL history; the 58 victories was No. 2 on the all-time list.

   The Raiders then tore through the playoff season.

   “The Calgary series was our easiest series and that’s a bit surprising,” Simpson said after the Raiders lost just one of 13 playoff games. “We expected they would be tougher. But the other two series were tougher than the final outcome would indicate.”

   Prince Albert laid waste to the Calgary Wranglers in four games, lost one game to Medicine Hat before ousting the Tigers in five games, and then swept the defending-champion Kamloops Blazers.

   “Winning the world championship was a thrill, but winning the WHL title is more satisfying,” said Simpson, who had coached Canada to a world junior gold medal earlier in the year.

   And Simpson felt his club was ready for the Memorial Cup.

   “I know we didn’t get into a long series or overtime games or anything like that,” he said, “but there was always pressure. I suppose you can say that if we would have had tougher series or longer series, then we might be better prepared for the Memorial Cup. That could be an arguable point, but I think we’re going to be OK.”

   Hodgson was the team leader offensively. He led the league with 112 regular-season assists and was second in the points race, his 182 points trailing only the 197 put up by Cliff Ronning of the New Westminster Bruins.

   Hodgson’s linemates, Pasin and Tony Grenier, made the most of their centre’s playmaking abilities. Pasin sniped 64 times and totalled 116 points; Grenier had 120 points, including 62 goals.

  Right-winger Ken Morrison was the team’s other big-time sniper. He had 108 points, 51 of them goals.

   Forwards Dale McFee and Steve Gotaas could kill penalties with the best of them.

   Hodgson kept it going in the playoffs, too, as he led the league in assists (26) and points (36) in only 13 games.

   Pasin and Grenier had 21 points each, with defenceman Dave Goertz totalling 18, including 14 assists.

   Aside from Viveiros and Goertz, the defence also featured Dave Manson, Neil Davey, Doug Hobson and Curtis Hunt.

   And the amicable Ken Baumgartner, who was listed as a defenceman but would play anywhere, kept the opposition honest.

   Roydon Gunn (3.42 GAA in 36 games) and Ward Komonosky (3.52 in 38 games) shared the goaltending. But Komonosky got the bulk of the playing time in the postseason, playing in 12 of 13 playoff games and going the distance in all five Memorial Cup games. 

   “Our club has matured a lot,” offered Simpson. “Some of the younger guys have come along to the point where they are contributors on a regular basis. We’re getting solid leadership from the older guys and our goaltending has been good.

   “Hopefully, we’ve come far enough along to give us a legitimate shot at the Memorial Cup.”

   For the second year in a row, there was a high-scoring Lemieux in the tournament, too.

   It wasn’t Mario, though. This time it was Claude, a right-winger with the QMJHL-champion Verdun Junior Canadiens, who also featured 16-year-old Jimmy Carson.

   The Junior Canadiens were coached by Jean Begin, who had made it to the Memorial Cup tournament the previous season as head coach of the Laval Voisins and Mario Lemieux.

   Claude Lemieux, 19 and not related to Mario, didn’t quite crack the top 10 but he was Verdun’s leading regular-season scorer with 124 points, including 58 goals. He missed 16 games as a member of Canada’s gold medal-winning world junior team earlier in the season. Ironically, that team was coached by Simpson.

   In the postseason, Lemieux had 40 points, including 23 goals, in only 14 games. He also carried with him the reputation as a volatile performer.

   “I have to have the players’ respect but I know that in order to get it they have to respect me,” he said of being his team’s captain. “They won’t if I’m always yelling at them.

   “The thing is that I’m never satisfied. If I get a goal, I want two. If I get two, I want three.”

   After being named team captain, Lemieux began to back off a bit in an attempt to avoid confrontational situations.

   “Sometimes,” he said, “it was hard to back away, but what made it easier to take was that in every playoff game I scored at least a goal.”

   Lemieux got lots of help up front from Carson, who totalled 116 points as a 16-year-old rookie. And utility forward Carl Vermette had come to the fore in the playoffs with 11 goals.

   In goal, Verdun relied on Yves Lavoie, a 19-year-old product of the Quebec college ranks. In the playoffs, he put together a 12-2 record with a 2.32 GAA.

   The leaders on defence were Jerome Carrier, who had been named to the Memorial Cup all-star team with Verdun in 1983; Ron Annear, a Prince Edward Island native and a Montreal Canadiens draft pick who had spent the previous season playing at a university in San Diego; and, Gerry Peach, whom general manager Eric Taylor said was picked up from the Toronto Marlboros “because they didn’t want him.”

   Verdun had gone 36-30-2 in the regular season, winning the Robert Lebel Division but having a poorer record than the top three teams in the Frank Dilio Division.

   The Junior Canadiens took out the Hull Olympiques in five games in the first round, then eliminated the Shawinigan Cataractes, at 48-19-1 the regular season’s best team, in five games in one semifinal series, outscoring them 28-10 in the process.

   And, in the final, Verdun swept the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, who at 41-23-4 had been No. 2 in the regular season. The Junior Canadiens scored 29 goals and surrendered only 11 in the championship final.

   The Cataractes, however, were in the Memorial Cup tournament as the host team.

   Marc Damphousse was the big gun up front. His 160 points left him three points shy of scoring champion Guy Rouleau of the Longueuil Chevaliers.

   But observers felt the key to Shawinigan was left-winger Sergio Momesso. A 6-foot-3, 185-pounder, he finished fourth in the scoring race with 143 points, including 58 goals.

   “He’s a good man in the corners as well as being a good scorer,” offered head coach Ron Lapointe.

   The defence was anchored by Yves Beaudoin, who also was the quarterback on the power play.

   And in goal there was the starry Robert Desjardins, who was all of 5-foot-5 and 130 pounds.

   The Cataractes hadn’t played in 20 days when the tournament started.

   “We practised 13 of the 20 days and I find that our preparations have been very good,” Lapointe said. “Also it gave some players with minor ailments an opportunity to recover — and I have worked to make sure they are prepared mentally for the tournament.”

   With the time off, Lapointe had also been able to scout the fourth team in the tournament — the OHL-champion Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

   The Greyhounds had been on a mission since Aug. 31.

   “As I looked up to the rafters (in the Soo’s Memorial Gardens),” said Terry Crisp, the team’s head coach since 1979, “I saw a 1981 Leyden Division banner, a 1983 Emms Division banner and I’m thinking the only one missing is a 1985 OHL championship banner.”

   The Greyhounds, with Crisp and general manager Sam McMaster pulling the strings, filled the void with the first championship in their 13-year major junior history.

   They did it with a hard-fought 9-5 victory over the Peterborough Petes in the OHL’s nine-point final.

   “We put a lot of pressure on ourselves, and these kids have had to carry that pressure from Day 1,” explained Crisp.

   The Greyhounds, under Crisp, had been in five straight divisional finals and in the league championship series in three of the last five seasons.

   “We didn’t say that we might be there, or that we might be contenders,” Crisp said. “We said we were going after it. No other team was talking openly about a Memorial Cup. No other team put pressure on themselves like our team.”

   During the season, the Greyhounds set OHL records with 54 victories, 11 losses and 109 points in a 66-game schedule. They also put together a CHL record 33 straight home victories.

   In the playoffs, they lost only twice in 16 games; ironically, both losses occurred at home.

   Centre Wayne Groulx was second in the OHL’s scoring race with 144 points, including 59 goals. Right-winger Graeme Bonar led the team in goals, with 66.

The left-winger on their line was Bob Probert, who came over from the Hamilton Steelhawks in November and had 72 points in 44 games.

   Left-winger Derek King had 35 goals and was named the OHL’s rookie of the year.

   Just before the league’s trade deadline, McMaster picked up right-winger Wayne Presley from the Kitchener Rangers. The previous season, Presley had 63 goals in helping the Rangers to the Memorial Cup final.

   On defence, Jeff Beukeboom was a first-team all-star, while team captain Chris Felix led all OHL defencemen in points, with 101. 

   The goaltending was left in the hands of Scott Mosey and Marty Abrams. Together, they provided the Soo with the OHL’s best goaltending. Mosey had been acquired from the Guelph Platers, with Abrams coming over from the Toronto Marlboros.

   The Greyhounds opened the 67th chase for the Memorial Cup with a 4-3 victory over the Cataractes before 3,226 fans at Shawinigan on May 11.

   The Cataractes led this one 3-0 in the first period on goals by Mario Belanger, Damphousse and Dave Kasper.

   Steve Hollett, with his first of two goals, got the Greyhounds on the scoreboard at 1:52 of the first period. Bonar, at 16:03 of the second, and Chris Brant, 2:12 into the third, tied the game. Hollett then won it on a power play.

   The Cataractes bounced back the next day to beat Prince Albert 6-2 in front of 2,694 fans in Shawinigan.

   “I thought the difference tonight was that we played hockey for 60 minutes,” Lapointe said. “I thought our layoff after the playoffs would really affect us today, but we went with four lines and it seemed to give everybody a breather.”

   Left-winger Alain Bisson had a goal and two assists as the Cataractes posted the first victory for a QMJHL team in a Memorial Cup game since May 8, 1983, when Verdun beat the Lethbridge Broncos 4-3 in Portland. Quebec teams had gone 0-6 since then.

   Denis Paul, Kasper, Patrice Lefebvre, Damphousse and Belanger also scored for Shawinigan.

   Grenier scored both Prince Albert goals.

   The Cataractes also got a big effort from Desjardins, who stopped 22 shots. His teammates played through a scoreless first period, took a 3-1 lead after the second, and scored three more goals in the third.

   That same day in Drummondville, the Soo doubled Verdun 6-3 as King’s second goal, a power-play effort, broke a 3-3 tie at 5:47 of the third period.

Groulx upped it to 5-3 two minutes later and Tyler Larter iced it at 15:25 of the third.

   Brit Peer and Presley also scored for the Greyhounds.

   Francois Olivier, Carrier and Everett Sanipass replied for the Junior Canadiens.

   The Raiders got back on the winning track on May 13 as they got two goals from Goertz and skated to a 5-3 victory over Verdun before 2,613 fans in Drummondville. 

   “We were skating better tonight,” Simpson said, “and our intensity level was up.”

   Goertz added: “We had a team meeting and a good rest after the banquet this afternoon and everybody felt relaxed out there tonight.”

   Hodgson, who was named the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League’s player of the year at that banquet, picked up his third assist of the tournament on a power-play goal by Grenier that opened the scoring 4:34 into the game.

   Lavoie pulled a muscle in his right leg on that play and left the game at 8:18 of the first period, with Troy Crosby, who hadn’t played in the last 23 games, coming on to stop 34 shots.

   Viveiros and left-winger Dean Braham also scored for the Raiders.

   Verdun got two goals from Lemieux and one from Henri Marcoux.

   Komonosky, who had struggled in the opener, rebounded with a 22-save effort against Verdun.

   On May 14 in Drummondville, the Raiders handed the Greyhounds their first loss, winning 8-6 behind Dale McFee’s three goals and five assists from Hodgson. Attendance was 1,827.

   A victory would have given the Soo a spot in the final.

   Hodgson’s performance set an unofficial single-game record for assists and gave him eight helpers in three games.

   “Well, that’s great if I do (hold the record),” Hodgson said, “but I’ve got to start scoring some goals here.”

   Grenier scored twice, giving him a tournament-high five goals, as the Raiders broke open a 2-2 game with five second-period goals. Goertz, Pasin and Brad Bennett added one each for the westerners.

   The Soo scoring came from Presley, Felix, Beukeboom, Hollett, Groulx and Peer.

   “You forget that sometimes even in the smallest of oceans, a breeze can come up and tip your boat in a hurry,” Crisp said. “Tonight, a breeze came up and we only have ourselves to blame.”

   As for Hodgson, he loved the shootout.

   “We feel confident when we get into this type of game because we know we’ve got the guys who can score enough goals to pull us through,” he said.

   Komonosky was solid again, making 37 saves, while the Soo duo of Abrams and Mosey combined for 34 saves.

   The first berth in the final went to Shawinigan, thanks to a 5-1 victory over Verdun on May 15 in Drummondville.

   That eliminated Verdun and set up a semifinal game between the Soo and Prince Albert. Begin, the Junior Canadiens’ coach, now had an 0-6 record in back-to-back Memorial Cups. His Laval club had gone 0-3 a year earlier.

   Lapointe maintained his club’s victory wasn’t based on revenge. Verdun had beaten Shawinigan in five games in one QMJHL semifinal series.

   “There was no revenge factor,” Lapointe said. “The shortest road to the final was what we wanted and our minds were on that.”

   Desjardins, the game’s first star with a 23-save effort, said: “They got us in the semifinals, but we got them when it really counted.”

   Desjardins lost his bid for the first Memorial Cup shutout since 1982 when Frank DeSantis scored with 1:25 left to play.

   Momesso and Belanger had a goal and an assist each, with Lefebvre, Paul and Robert Page adding a goal each for the winners. Damphousse helped out with two assists.

   “We just didn’t seem to have the intensity in the playoffs that we had tonight,” Momesso said. “We had terrific goaltending and our penalty killing was great. And we got a lot of inspiration from the little men (Desjardins and Lefebvre).”

   The Raiders moved into the final by hammering the Greyhounds 8-3 on May 16 in Drummondville. Attendance was 2,758.

   “When you play a team twice in three nights and they not only beat you both times but score 16 goals in the process, you have to give them full credit,” Crisp said.

   The Prince Albert line of Hodgson, Grenier and Pasin totalled 13 points.

Hodgson had a goal and four assists, giving him a record-tying (Jeff Larmer, Kitchener, 1982) 12 assists in the tournament. Pasin had two goals and three assists, and Grenier had two goals for a tournament-leading seven.

   Gotaas, with two, and Braham also scored for the Raiders.

   Probert, Jean-Marc MacKenzie and Felix scored for the Soo.

   “I think our outstanding player tonight was Komonosky,” Simpson said. “I’m really happy for him because some of our critics wonder about our goaltending.”

   Komonosky stopped 37 shots as he enjoyed his best game of the tournament.

   The game was tied 1-1 late in the first period but the Raiders then scored the game’s next seven goals.

   “Our goaltending wasn’t up to snuff through the whole tournament,” said Crisp, who again used both goaltenders. “But what disappoints me most is that we couldn’t regroup and hold the fort — stem the tide — after they got ahead.

   “We just didn’t dig down and hold them until we could get a goal or two back.”

   This would be the first final since the round-robin format was adopted in 1974 in which Ontario wasn’t represented among the final two teams.

   “I would have loved to have gone on to the championship, but we can go home and say we got beat by a damn good hockey team,” Crisp said.

   As for the final, Crisp liked the Raiders.

   “It’s going to take one hell of a club to beat them, I’ll say that much,” he said.

   Hodgson, for one, was ready.

   “Right after that game (the 6-2 opening loss) we wanted to play Shawinigan again,” he said. “Now we’re going to show them on national television how the Prince Albert Raiders play hockey.”

   The Cataractes, the host team for this tournament, were in the final but playing 100 kilometres from home, their own rink having been deemed unfit for a TV game.

   The final was held in Drummondville on May 18, with the Raiders winning 6-1 in front of 3,865 noisy fans.

   Hodgson, who set a tournament record with 13 assists, pointed to a first-period fight as the turning point.

   “Sometimes you’ve just got to go in there and tune some of the boys in,” he said. “Baumgartner did that to their big tough guy and we just picked it up from there. I thought that was a big part of the game.”

   With the Raiders up 2-0, Baumgartner scored a unanimous decision over Steve Masse in a battle of 6-foot-1, 200-pound defencemen.

   It helped too that the Raiders scored just 15 seconds into the game — Braham got the goal — to quiet the crowd.

   Gotaas, with two, Pat Elynuik, Viveiros and Pasin also scored for the Raiders.

Belanger spoiled Komonosky’s bid for a shutout on a power play at 3:05 of the third period.

   “Everyone cuts (Komonosky) down all season and says the Raiders aren’t going to go anywhere because of their goaltending,” Hodgson said, “but the big guy slammed the door and kicked the lights out today.”

   Hodgson didn’t do too bad, either.

   He turned in one of the best performances in tournament history, setting a record for most assists (13) in a series and most assists in one game (5). His 15 points were one short of the record set by Kitchener’s Jeff Larmer in 1982.

   Hodgson was named the tournament’s most valuable player and was selected to the all-star team.

   “To end my junior career like this is such a big thrill,” Hodgson said. “This is probably the best hockey I’ve played all year and it was a good time to play it, I must admit.”

   Also named to the all-star team were Desjardins, Goertz and Beaudoin on defence, and wingers Grenier and Lefebvre.

   Komonosky, although he didn’t get selected to the all-star team, was named the top goaltender. Grenier was selected the most sportsmanlike player.

   “This is gratifying because this is a victory that an entire organization can celebrate,” Simpson said. “We played the best at the most important times all season long.

   “I guess that makes us the best.”

Myth of junior hockey and national champions . . . Rizzo commits to UND . . . Hitmen sign two picks

It is time for hockey fans and the media alike to come to the realization, if they haven’t already, that events like the Memorial Cup and Royal Bank Cup don’t decide national championships.

They are entertainment vehicles and social gatherings and nothing more, and should be enjoyed as such.

They also are showcases for the players who are fortunate enough to get to participate in MemCupRegthe tournaments. Fans also are guaranteed to see some of the best teams in major junior and junior A hockey, so the games mostly are competitive and, as such, entertaining.

But so long as the formats include host teams and round-robin play, these events don’t culminate with the crowning of national champions.

The 2018 Memorial Cup, the 100th anniversary of the trophy, was played in Regina over the past few days. It concluded Sunday with the QMJHL-champion Acadie-Bathurst Titan beat the host Pats, 3-0.

To reach the final, the Pats, who had lost out in the first round of the WHL playoffs, eliminated two league champions — the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos and the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs.

The Pats didn’t have it on Sunday and were beaten by a superior team in the Titan.

After losing to the Pats in the final game of the round-robin and falling to 0-3, the Broncos talked of injuries and fatigue, their 26-game run to the Ed Chynoweth Cup apparently having taking a toll.

But are the Pats the better team because they won one particular game in a round-robin tournament?

Regina and Swift Current met six times in the regular season — the Broncos were 5-0-1, the Pats were 1-4-1. The Broncos wound up at 48-17-7, while the Pats finished 40-25-7.

In the playoffs, the Broncos took out the Pats in a first-round series that went seven games.

In 14 meetings between the teams this season, then, the Broncos were 9-4-1.

But on one night in May, the Pats won, 6-5. Does that mean Regina was the better team? No. It means that on any given day . . .

Meanwhile, in the world of junior A hockey, the host Chilliwack Chiefs won the Royal Bank Cup, which is a five-team tournament. Does that mean the Chiefs won the national championship and are junior A’s best team?

Consider that they finished the BCHL’s regular season at 26-26-3, with three ties. That left them fourth in the Mainland Division, 16 points out of first place. They then lost a seven-game first-round series to the Prince George Spruce Kings.

Meanwhile, the Wenatchee Wild was 37-16-4, with one tie, and third in the Interior Division, seven points out of first place. The Wild then went 16-4 to win the BCHL playoff championship. Wenatchee followed that with a five game Doyle Cup victory over the AJHL-champion Spruce Grove Saints.

At the RBC, Wenatchee won its four round-robin games, two in OT, including a 2-1 victory over Chilliwack. The Chiefs won three times, once in OT, and had the one OT loss.

During the round-robin, the Wild beat the Wellington Dukes, 7-1. But in a semifinal game, the Dukes posted a 2-1 victory, despite having been outshot 51-14.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, beat the Ottawa Jr. Senators, 3-2, in the other semifinal, then doubled the Dukes, 4-2, in the final.

Does all of this mean that Chilliwack is a better team than Wenatchee. No. It means that during one week in May things went the Chiefs’ way, just like things didn’t go Swift Current’s way the following week.

So, as long as there are host teams and round-robin formats, let’s stop concerning ourselves with national championships and just enjoy the proceedings.

OK?


The Memorial Cup final was nearing the end of the second period on Sunday when I heard from a long-time reader of this blog.

The message: “If I hear Mastercard one more time I’m gonna lose my (crap).”

If you are a regular visitor here, you will be well aware that this is one of my all-time pet peeves.

There are some things in life that should never have price tags placed on them, and the Memorial Cup is one of them.

Would the NHL sell naming rights to the Stanley Cup to, say, Visa? The Visa Stanley Cup?

How about the NBA? Would it turn its major trophy into the American Express Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy?

The winner of the NFL’s Super Bowl is awarded the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The team that wins MLB’s World Series gets the Commissioner’s Trophy.

Win the WHL title and you get the Ed Chynoweth Cup, not the Nike Ed Chynoweth Cup.

The Memorial Cup has been in competition since 1919, and if you understand its origin I think you will agree that naming rights to it never should have been on the table.

Here’s William J. Walshe, writing in the Kingston Whig-Standard on Jan. 6, 1939:

“The (Memorial) cup, coveted prize of Canadian junior hockey, was the brainchild of Capt. Jim (Sutherland) when he was overseas in the Great War (1914–18) and at the time, President of the Ontario Hockey Association (1915–17). He wrote suggesting the trophy in memory of the boys who were killed in the war and no doubt a big part of the idea was instigated by his devotion to his beloved (Alan) Scotty Davidson, who fell (June 6, 1915) with many other hockey players in the world conflict . . .”

Peter Robinson has more on the origin of the Memorial Cup right here.

Robinson writes, in part: “As the generation that it was originally meant to honour has passed on with the last surviving First World War veteran John Babcock’s death in 2010, the trophy now serves as a commemoration for all the country’s war dead and others that served.”


The 2018 Memorial Cup, held at the Brandt Centre in Regina:

Game 1, Friday, May 18 – Regina 3, Hamilton 2 (5,678)

Game 2, Saturday, May 19 – Acadie-Bathurst 4, Swift Current 3 (OT) (6,237)

Game 3, Sunday, May 20 – Acadie-Bathurst 8, Regina 6 (5,832)

Game 4, Monday, May 21 – Hamilton 2, Swift Current 1 (5,820)

Game 5, Tuesday – Hamilton 3, Acadie-Bathurst 2 (6,072)

Game 6, Wednesday – Regina 6, Swift Current 5 (6,484)

Thursday — Day off.

Friday’s Semifinal – Regina 4, Hamilton 2 (6,484)

Saturday — No Game Scheduled.

Sunday’s Final — Acadie-Bathurst 3, Regina 0 (6,484)


MacBeth

F Cam Braes (Lethbridge, Moose Jaw, 2008-12) signed a one-year contract with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Thurgau (Switzerland, NL B), he had 25 goals and 22 assists in 45 games. He was second on the team in goals and points.


SThisThat

I have spent the past few weeks tinkering with three different blog sites.

Please take a few moments to check them out, then let me know which one you prefer.

Here are the three addresses . . .

greggdrinnan.com

greggdrinnan.blogspot.ca

gdrinnan.blogspot.ca

Let me know your preference by sending an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com.


F Massimo Rizzo, who was a first-round selection, 14th overall, in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft, told the Kamloops Blazers prior to the 2018 bantam draft that he wouldn’t be playing for them. On Saturday afternoon, Rizzo tweeted that he will attend the U of North Dakota and play for the Fighting Hawks, likely starting with the 2019-20 season.

Rizzo, from Burnaby, B.C., played last season with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees, putting up 38 points, including 13 goals, in his 16-year-old season. He was named the Vees’ captain earlier this month.

“It was a hard decision, especially being from Western Canada,” Rizzo told Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald. “Just seeing the success of players going through college and to the NHL, and feeling that I needed a bit more time to develop and grow and get stronger, and talking to people who went that route and the experience they had, that’s kind of why I decided to do it.”

According to Schlossman, Rizzo “chose UND over Denver, Wisconsin and Michigan.”

Rizzo will be the fourth recent Penticton captain to attend UND, following D Troy Stecher, F Tyson Jost and F Nick Jones.

Rizzo is the only one of the 21 first-round selections from the 2016 bantam draft not to sign with a WHL team.


The Calgary Hitmen have signed F Sean Tschigerl and D Tyson Galloway to WHL Calgarycontracts. . . . Tschigerl, from Whitecourt, Alta., was the fourth overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. He had 70 points, including 31 goals, in 30 games with the OHA Edmonton bantam prep team. . . . Galloway, from Kamloops, played for the bantam prep team at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C. He had three goals and 11 assists in 29 games. Galloway was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft.


Clayton Jardine, 27, is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers. He takes over from Geoff Grimwood, who left the club earlier this month. . . . Jardine, a native of Lacombe, Alta., was an assistant coach under Grimwood in 2015-16. Jardine spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach at New England College, an NCAA Division III school. . . . The Klippers also announced that Larry Wintoneak will be returning as an assistant coach. Wintoneak has been with the Klippers for four seasons in what is his second go-round in Kindersley.

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