Maurice says juice missing without fans . . . NHL game scratched by power outages . . . Yes, Texas was colder than Kamloops

Prior to Monday night’s 6-5 victory over the host Edmonton Oilers, head coach Paul Maurice of the Winnipeg Jets spent some time during a media availability nhl2talking about playing NHL games in empty arenas.

For starters, he feels the experience is good for the players’ long-term relationship with the fans.

“I think,” Maurice said, “that this is actually great for the players of the NHL to go through because they truly have an appreciation for how much the fans bring to the building. . . . We will be really, really happy when we get people back in the building, for sure.”

(Thanks to Carter Brooks of fullpresshockey.com for the quotes.)

And it’s something that is felt just as much on the road as it is on home. In fact, Maurice said, when you’re playing on the road, well . . .

“There is not that energy, that juice, that excitement (right now), and that’s true on the road, too,” he said. “Sometimes winning the game on the road is even more fun because you depress 20,000 people. That sounds terrible, but it’s true. You come in and you’re out-playing them, the fans are booing their own team. There is an energy that comes out of that.”

D Nathan Beaulieu, who is in his ninth season as a pro, admitted that it isn’t easy adjusting to playing before empty seats.

“I think having no fans is definitely wearing on guys . . . especially with games that are emotional and tight,” Beaulieu said. “If you need that extra boost, if you’re playing a back-to-back, I think we miss the fans more than we (let on). They’re such a big part of our game. That’s the biggest thing I’ve noticed . . .

“But playing the same teams over and over . . . you kind of know what to expect when you’re showing up at the rink, so there’s not a lot of surprises. But personally, the fans . . . you don’t really realize how much you miss them until they’re not there.”

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As if the NHL doesn’t enough on its hands with the pandemic, it was forced to postpone a game on Monday night due to a lack of power. Yes, power as in electricity. . . . The Dallas Stars were to have played host to the Nashville Predators but was scrubbed because of, as the NHL put it, “extreme weather conditions that have caused significant power outages in the Dallas area.” . . .

At 10 p.m., The Weather Network reported that the temperature in Dallas was minus-14 C; it was minus-5 C in Kamloops. . . .

The St. Louis Blues and Arizona Coyotes wrapped up their seven-game set on Monday afternoon, the host Coyotes winning, 1-0. Arizona won four of the games. . . . While those teams were meeting seven times in 13 days, the Buffalo Sabres didn’t play even once thanks to COVID-19 protocols. The Sabres returned to action last night for the first time since Jan. 31, losing 3-1 to the visiting New York Islanders.



The San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons were to have played an NBA game in the Michigan city tonight. But the NBA announced Monday that the game had been postponed. The Spurs had a player test positive and contact tracing has left them without the required eight players necessary to play a game.


There was an accident on the Trans-Canada Highway on the eastern side of Kamloops on Monday morning. The east-bound lanes were shut down and traffic was rerouted onto Shuswap Road, which runs along the north shore of the South Thompson River for 17 km before providing a link to the highway. Dorothy and I often take Shuswap Road into the city and on a lot of trips might pass eight or 10 vehicles. On Monday, we had to go in to pick up groceries at 2 p.m. On our way in we must have passed between 200 and 300 vehicles. Somehow I don’t think the week-long pleas by B.C. politicians and health officials asking people not to travel on the long weekend had the desired effect.


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THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

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CBC News — Saskatchewan is reporting 143 new COVID-19 cases, which nudges the province’s 7-day average up to 160.

CBC News — Alberta is reporting 251 new COVID-19 cases, 2 more deaths.

CBC News — Red Deer slaughterhouse to close temporarily amid growing COVID-19 outbreak that has claimed one life. . . . As of Monday, 326 employees had tested positive, nearly double the count of 168 on Feb. 6. Of those, 192 remain active.

CBC News — Widespread testing of all residents at a condo building in Mississauga, Ont., starts today after 5 cases of the coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa were identified there, Peel Public Health says.

CTV Montreal — Eleven Ontario students fined at least $17,000 for cottage weekend in Quebec Laurentians.

CBC News — Quebec is reporting 728 new cases of COVID-19. The province is also reporting 16 additional deaths, 5 of which occurred in the last 24 hours. The province removed 1 previously reported death from its total. 804 people are in hospital, including 136 in ICU.

CBC News — 1 new COVID-19 case in New Brunswick, the lowest daily total since December 30. Health authorities also say there has been another death due to the virus.

CBC News — 7 new cases of COVID-19 are being reported in N.L., along with 21 presumptive positive cases identified through rapid testing. There are 298 known active cases in the province. 1 person is in hospital.

CBC News — Surge in cases in hamlet of Arviat, Nunavut continues to grow with 7 new COVID-19 cases reported Monday, marking Nunavut’s biggest daily increase of 2021. New cases bring the territorial count of active cases to 18, all of them in Arviat.

CBC News — Global cases of COVID-19 top 109M cases and over 2.40M deaths: Johns Hopkins University.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Monday, 10:44 p.m. PT — 21,298 people in Canada have died from coronavirus . . . 832,375 people have tested positive in Canada.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Monday, 10:44 p.m. PT — 486,321 people in the United States have died from coronavirus . . . 27,692,967 people have tested positive in the U.S.


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Pigeons

Lambert leaves Chiefs for Music City. . . . WHL teams sign more prospects. . . . Growlers win ECHL in first season


MacBeth

D Justin Hamonic (Tri-City, 2012-15) has signed a one-year contract with the Coventry Blaze (England, UK Elite). This season, with Angers (France, Ligue Magnus), he had one goal and nine assists in 42 games.


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On May 21, the Spokane Chiefs signed head coach Dan Lambert to an extension, believed SpokaneChiefsto be two years in length.

On June 4, the Chiefs began their search for a new head coach.

Such are the vagaries of major junior hockey.

Lambert, the Chiefs’ head coach for the past two seasons, has joined the NHL’s Nashville Predators as an assistant coach.

It turns out that the Predators came calling one day after the Chiefs and Lambert agreed on that extension.

“I was not looking,” Lambert told Dan Thompson for a story he wrote for the Spokane Spokesman-Review. “This was not my intention at all.”

The Chiefs are one of three WHL teams without a head coach, joining the Kamloops Blazers and Prince George Cougars. The Blazers are looking for a replacement for Serge Lajoie, who departed after one season, while the Cougars need a head coach after firing Richard Matvichuk in February.

In Brandon, David Anning, the head coach of the Wheat Kings for three seasons, is without a contract after his expired on May 31. He also spent four seasons as an assistant coach with Brandon.

In Spokane, it could be that assistant coach Scott Burt is atop the list of potential replacements. Burt has been on the Chiefs’ staff for six seasons now.

Lambert, 49, is a native of St. Boniface, Man. He played four seasons (1986-90) with the Swift Current Broncos, helping them to the 1989 Memorial Cup championship; he was named the tournament’s MVP. He went on to a pro career that ended after five seasons (2004-09) with the Hannover Scorpions of Germany’s DEL.

He got into coaching with the Kelowna Rockets, working as an assistant coach for five seasons (2009-14) and head coach for 2014-15. The Rockets won the Ed Chynoweth Cup in 2015 and reached the Memorial Cup final, where they lost to the OHL’s Oshawa Generals.

He spent 2015-16 as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres and was the head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans, the next season.

He signed with the Chiefs after being dismissed by the Sabres.

Spokane was 81-46-13 with Lambert as its head coach. This season, the Chiefs finished 40-21-7, then reached the Western Conference final, where they lost to the Vancouver Giants.

This season, the Chiefs had the WHL’s best power play in the regular season (29.1 per cent) and again in the playoffs (36.1). Yes, he is likely to be responsible for Nashville’s PP.

Thompson’s complete story is right here.


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The Red Deer Rebels have signed three of their picks from the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft Red Deer— D Hunter Mayo, D Jace Weir and F Carter Anderson. . . . Mayo, from Martensville, Sask., was selected in the second round. He had 15 goals and 27 assists in 28 games with a bantam AA team in Martensville this season. . . . Weir, from Coldstream, B.C., also was taken in the second round. This season, he had eight goals and 24 assists in 18 games with the North Zone bantams in Coldstream. . . . Anderson, from Thompson, Man., was a third-round pick. This season, with the bantam prep team at the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy, he had 17 goals and 11 assists in 29 games.

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The Swift Current Broncos have signed G Reid Dyck to a WHL contract. From Winkler, Man., Dyck was a third-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. He was the second goaltender taken in the draft. . . . This season, he was 3.44 and .912 in 23 games with the bantam AAA Pembina Valley Hawks.

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The Saskatoon Blades have signed F Jayden Wiens to a WHL contract. From Carrot River, Sask., he was an eighth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, with the midget AAA Tisdale Trojans, he had seven goals and 27 assists in 44 regular-season games. He added four goals and five assists in seven playoff games, then had six goals and two assists in seven Telus Cup games.


Serge Lajoie, who worked this season as the head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, has been added to the U of Alberta’s Sports Wall of Fame. . . . Lajoie won four national hockey titles with the Golden Bears — one as a player, two as an assistant coach and one as a head coach. He also was once named the U of A’s top male athlete and Canadian university’s male hockey player of the year. . . . Matt Gutach has more right here.


Bill Chow, the president of the SJHL, has had his contract extended through May 31, 2021. Chow has been running the SJHL for eight seasons since taking over on May 31, 2011. . . . The SJHL news release is right here.


Jake Grimes, who had been an associate coach with the OHL-champion Guelph Storm, is qmjhlthe new head coach of the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. . . . Grimes and George Burnett, the Storm’s general manager and head coach, had been together for 13 years in Belleville and Guelph. . . . Grimes, who is from Dartmouth, N.S., had been the Storm’s associate coach for two seasons. . . . The Screaming Eagles fired Marc-Andre Dumont, their GM and head coach, on April 16. . . . Last month, they named Jacques Carrier as general manager, hockey operations, and John Hanna as assistant GM, hockey operations.


The Newfoundland Growlers, in their first ECHL season, won the Kelly Cup on Tuesday night, beating the Toledo Walleye, 4-3, in St. John’s. . . . The Growlers won the best-of-seven final, 4-2. . . . Two ex-WHLers combined for the goal that gave the Growlers a 4-1 lead at 13:32 of the second period. F Giorgio Estephan scored the goal, with Hudson Elynuik getting the lone assist. Estephan, who won a WHL title last season with the Swift Current Broncos, finished with two goals and an assist, while Elynuik, who completed his junior eligibility with the Spokane Chiefs last season, had two assists. . . . Also in the Growlers’ lineup last night were F Matt Bradley, who finished his WHL career last season with the Regina Pats, and Latvian D Kristians Rubins, who spent the previous two seasons with the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . The last ECHL team to win the championship in its first season of existence? The Greensboro Monarchs, in 1990.


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