Blazers, Oil Kings swing deal . . . WHL issues lengthy suspension . . . Ex-NHL coach helping Cougars

Fans of the Kamloops Blazers have been waiting for the 2023 Memorial Cup tournament’s host team to make an impact on the trade front. Well, the Blazers Kamloopsdid that on Monday, but those fans are going to have to wait until mid- to late-January to see F Jakub Demek in action. . . . Demek, 19, was acquired from the Edmonton Oil Kings for a possible four WHL draft picks. However, he underwent shoulder surgery after the 2022 World Junior Championshp, has only just returned to skating, and isn’t expect to play in a game for at least two more months. . . .

The Blazers handed over a 2023 first-round pick that originated with the Regina Pats, and a fourth-rounder in 2026. Also going to Edmonton were two conditional selections — a second in 2024 and a third in 2026. . . . The second is conditional on Demek playing an undisclosed number of games with the Blazers. . . . The third is conditional on his returning to the WHL as a 20-year-old. . . .

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Demek, a Slovak, had 20 goals and 34 assists in 55 regular-season games with Edmonton last season. In 19 playoff games, he added five goals and 12 assists. . . . The Vegas Golden Knights hold his NHL rights, having taken him in the fourth-round of the 2021 draft. . . . Demek played for Slovakia in the 2022 WJC in Edmonton in August, earning one assist in four games. . . .

The Blazers now hold the CHL rights to three imports — Demek, Czech G Michael Schnattinger and Finnish D Aapo Sarell, the latter two in their first WHL seasons. Each CHL team is allowed to have two imports on its roster. With the WHL trade deadline set for Jan. 10, the Blazers — if they are to activate Demek — would have to get down to two on Jan. 8. . . .

——

Andrew Peard, the radio voice of the Edmonton Oil Kings, points out that the EdmontonWHL’s defending champions, clearly in rebuilding mode, have added a possible eight draft picks in the past week (the asterisks denote conditional picks) . . .

2 — 1st round picks (2023, 2025)

1 — 2nd round pick (2024*)

3 — 3rd round picks (2023, 2025, 2026*)

1 — 4th round pick (2026)

1 — 7th round pick (2024*)

The other big deal, of course, had the Seattle Thunderbirds coughing up three draft picks for D Luke Prokop. Seattle gave up a first-rounder in 2025, a third in 2023 and a third in 2025.

Edmonton also sent F Shea Van Olm to Kamloops for a conditional seventh-rounder in 2024.

It’s worth remembering, too, that Edmonton’s selling off of players from the championship roster actually began on Aug. 9 when F Jalen Luypen, 20, was traded to the Tri-City Americans. The Americans also got two conditional draft picks in the exchange — a fifth in 2024 and a second in 2026. In return, the Oil Kings picked up F Rhett Melnyk, 18, D Bryson Andregg, 19, and a conditional second-rounder in the 2023 draft. (More on Luypen further down.)

Don’t forget, too, that Edmonton doesn’t have its own first- or second-round picks in the 2023 draft, having dealt those away while loading up for its 2021-22 championship run.

And don’t forget, too, that two other players who part of Edmonton’s championship run last season still could end up back in the WHL. Should G Sebastian Cossa, 20, and/or F Dylan Guenther, 19, end up back in Edmonton, the Oil Kings would be able to add even more draft picks to their collection. . . . Cossa, a first-round selection by the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL’s 2021 draft, has seen playing time with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins and the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye to this point in the season. . . . Guenther, a first-round pick by the Arizona Coyotes in 2021, has three goals and four assists in 14 NHL games this season.


Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton) — ‘See No Covid, Hear No Covid’ strategy working about as well as expected.


Fingers


TUESDAY IN THE WHL:

The Prince Albert Raiders scored the game’s first two goals and went on to beat PrinceAlbertthe host Moose Jaw Warriors, 2-1. . . . Prince Albert (7-12-2) has won two in a row. . . . Moose Jaw (11-8-0) has lost two straight. . . . F Carson Latimer (7) gave the Raiders a 2-0 lead at 5:14 of the second period. . . . D Denton Mateychuk (4) got the Warriors to within a goal, on a PP, at 17:33. . . . G Max Hildebrand earned the victory with 17 saves. . . . F Ryder Korczak, who was returned to the Warriors by the NHL’s New York Rangers on Monday, didn’t play. . . .

The host Swift Current Broncos erased a 1-0 deficit with three second-period SwiftCurrentgoals as they beat the Brandon Wheat Kings, 4-2. . . . The Broncos improved to 9-9-0, while Brandon (7-11-2) lost its second straight game. . . . F Josh Davies (5) pulled the Broncos into a 1-1 tie at 1:07 of the second period as he scored while shorthanded. . . . Brandon has allowed a WHL-leading eight shorties this season. . . . D Connor Hvidston (6), who also had two assists, and F Mathew Ward (8), with his 100th career point, also scored for the Broncos in the second period. . . . Ward has 36 goals and 64 assists in 106 regular-season games. . . . The Broncos got 37 stops from G Gage Alexander. . . .

The Red Deer Rebels got back on the winning track with a 4-1 victory over the RedDeerOil Kings in Edmonton. . . . The Rebels (16-3-1) had lost four in a row (0-3-1) after opening the season with a 15-game winning streak. . . . The Oil Kings (2-17-1) have lost five in a row. . . . The Rebels scored three PP goals, two of them from F Kalan Lind (4). . . . F Jayden Grubbe added a goal (5) and two assist, with D Christoffer Sedoff, who reached 100 career points, drawing three assists. . . . Red Deer was 3-7 on the PP; Edmonton was 1-11. . . . The Oil Kings were without F Jaxsen Wiebe, who started serving a seven-game suspension. He was given a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct in a game at Saskatoon on Saturday. He also is a repeat offender, having been given a four-game suspension under supplemental discipline following a game in Saskatoon on Oct. 23. . . . That is the longest suspension handed out by the WHL since Feb. 15, 2020, when F Ryley Appelt of the Kamloops Blazers got eight games after taking a checking-from-behind major against the Victoria Royals.

In Portland, the Winterhawks scored the game’s last four goals as they beat the PortlandCalgary Hitmen, 4-1. . . . Portland (14-1-2) has points in eight straight (7-0-1). . . . Calgary (10-5-2) had won its previous seven games. . . . The Hitmen now are 2-1-0 on their U.S. Division trip. . . . F Kyle Chyzowski (7) scored twice for Portland. . . . G Dante Giannuzzi stopped 33 shots in earning the victory over Brayden Peters, who had 36 saves.



Earhart


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

Jim Playfair, a former NHL player and coach, has been spending time on the ice with the Prince George Cougars of late. He also has helped out as an eye in the sky at some games. “He comes in for practice and helps out with our team play,” Mark Lamb, the Cougars’ general manager and head coach, tells Hartley Miller on his podcast — Hartley’s Cat Scan — that will be released today. “It’s been a real joy having him around, all that experience with our younger coaches, with Carter Rigby and Josh Dixon, and picking his brain. I think he’s really helped our organization.” . . . Playfair, 58, is from Fort St. James, B.C. . . .

The NHL’s New York Rangers have returned F Ryder Korczak, 20, to the Moose Jaw Warriors. Korczak, who was selected by the Rangers in the third round of the NHL’s 2021 draft, was pointless in in five games with the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack. . . . Last season, he had 79 points, including 25 goals, in 68 games with the Warriors. . . . The Warriors now are carrying four 20-year-olds and have two weeks to get down to three. The other 20s are F Riley Ginnell, D Cole Jordan and G Connor Ungar. . . . Korczak wasn’t in uniform Tuesday night as the Warriors dropped a 2-1 decision to the visiting Prince Albert Raiders. . . .

The Tri-City Americans lost a defenceman on Tuesday when Ian Ferguson, a 20-year-old from Missouri City, Texas, announced his retirement from hockey. . . . He was in his fourth season with the Americans. . . . Ferguson had two goals and three assists in 16 games this season. In 127 regular season games, he had four goals and 11 assists. . . . The move leaves the Americans with F Reese Belton and F Ethan Ernst as their 20s. . . . The move also creates room for the Americans to add F Jalen Luypen, 20, to their roster from the long-term injury list. . . . The Americans acquired Luypen from Edmonton on Aug. 9, after he had spent four seasons with the Oil Kings. However, he underwent shoulder surgery in the off-season and has yet to return to game action. . . . Luypen, a seventh-round pick by the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL’s 2021 draft, had 64 points, including 29 goals, last season. In 200 regular-season games with the Oil Kings, he put up 61 goals and 63 assists. . . . At present, Luypen is in Chicago where the Blackhawks’ medical staff is looking things over. . . .

The Victoria Royals have received a commitment from Czech F Robin Sapousek, although they don’t know when he will make his debut. The Royals grabbed his rights in the CHL’s 2022 import draft. Sapousek, 18, has been playing with HC Karlovy Vary’s U20 side, putting up nine goals and nine assists in 11 games. He also is pointless in seven games with HC Energy Karlovy Vary in the Czech Extraliga. . . . From a news release: “The precise date of Sapousek’s arrival in Victoria and his first game in a Royals uniform this season will be announced in the near future.” . . .

The OHL’s Niagara IceDogs fired head coach Daniel Fitzgerald on Monday. They brought in Jeff Angelidis as interim head coach. He has been coaching with the OJHL’s Brantford 99ers. . . . The IceDogs came out of the weekend with a 4-10-3 record, leaving them 19th in the 20-team league. . . . Fitzgerald was named the IceDogs’ head coach on July 8. He had spent the previous four seasons as the head coach of the 99ers, who are owned by Darren DeDobbelaer, who purchased the IceDogs in July. . . .

The Kam River Fighting Walleye of the Superior International Junior Hockey League have signed Geoff Walker as their new head coach. Walker signed a contract that runs through the 2023-24 season. . . . Kam River had fired head coach Matt Valley late last month, despite the team being in first place. At the time, management said it was in need of a full-time coach. . . . Walker spent the previous four seasons as the head coach of the SIJHL’s Red Lake Miners, then left to coach in Sweden after 2021-22. That apparently didn’t work out.


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.


Thieves

MacDougall ready to chase more titles . . . Blades, Giants swing a trade . . . Thunderbirds add assistant coach

The big man is back on campus at the U of New Brunswick. Yes, he is!

Hey, Gardiner MacDougall, how did you spend your summer vacation?

Well, let’s see, I went on over to Saint John for a couple of weeks and helped the Sea Dogs win the Memorial Cup.

OK. Now what’s next?

Time to chase an eighth Canadian university men’s championship and a 10th conference title. But, hey, who’s counting?


After the interim chair of Hockey Canada’s board of directors gave the stamp of approval to the embattled organization’s leadership, Ken Campbell of Hockey HockeyCanadaUnfiltered tried to answer the question: “Why?” . . . Here’s what he wrote: “Because it’s a hockey thing and it involves hockey people, a group that, generally speaking, loves to wear its status as an outlier like a badge of honour. It’s such an insular, tribal group and it believes the problems that plague the game can only be solved by people who are deeply involved in it, people who are well-versed in the supposed complex and unique nuances involved in a game where players chase a black disc around the ice. Even if those are the same people who cause the problems in the first place.”

Bingo!

And, ICYMI, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday said that it’s “fairly clear that both the government and Canadians in general have lost confidence in the leadership at Hockey Canada.”

Sheldon Kennedy, who knows a thing or two about what’s going on here, told The Canadian Press: “For the betterment of the game and kids, the leadership group at Hockey Canada must resign as they have lost the trust of Canadians in their ability to lead. That is crystal clear.

“If we care about the game like we say we care about the game, I think that’s the best thing to do right now. Canadians are asking for the leadership group to step down. I don’t know how they’re not hearing that.”

They likely have some championship rings stuck in their ears.


Unfriend


The Saskatoon Blades have acquired F Justin Lies, who will turn 19 on Nov. 24, from the Vancouver Giants for F Kyren Gronick, 18, and a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2025 draft. . . . Lies, from Flin Flon, had eight goals and eight assists in 50 games last season. In 120 games with the Giants over three season, he scored 12 goals and added 18 assists. . . . The Giants picked Lies in the third round of the WHL’s 2018 draft. . . .

The Blades, who dealt their leading scorer from last season, Kyle Crnkovic, 20, to the Seattle Thunderbirds for F Conner Roulette on Tuesday, are looking for some physical play from the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Lies. “Justin is the exact type of player we’ve been coveting over the last year to help add size, ability and tenacity to our forward group,” Colin Priestner, the Blades’ president and GM, said in a news release. . . .

Gronick, from Regina, was picked by the Prince George Cougars in the second round of the 2019 bantam draft. He was dealt to the Blades on Dec. 29 in a three-team deal that also involved the Medicine Hat Tigers. Saskatoon gave up a third-round pick in the 2023 WHL draft and a 2015 seventh-rounder in that exchange. . . . In 38 games over two seasons with the Cougars, Gronick had eight goals and 12 assists. In 37 games with the Blades last season, he had four goals and 10 assists.


Blinker


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, has a question: “When we are all driving electric cars will be still call that thing on the car floor the ‘gas pedal?’ ”

——

Here’s the curmudgeonly on at his curmudgeonly best: “Am I the only one who is fed up to my earbrows with irrelevant ‘advanced stats’ from baseball broadcasts and telecasts? This has really gotten a bit out of hand. I do not care even a little bit about the velocity of the ball as it comes off the bat, nor do I care about the launch angle of a batted ball. I have a passing interest in the length of a home run that made it to the seats, but the exit velocity of a single to right field is stats for the sake of stats. Here is what I want to know from broadcasters/telecasters about batted balls: Was it fair or foul? Was it a hit or an out? That’s it; that’s the list!” . . .

I can only disagree with one part of that rant. It hasn’t “gotten a bit out of hand.” It is completely out of hand. I am so tired of hearing broadcasters refer to “exit velo” that I want to scream.



“A B.C. judge has frozen the assets of a former Vancouver Canucks draft pick who is being sued over allegations he defrauded a realtor of more than $2.8 million,” Keith Fraser of Postmedia wrote earlier this week. “Harpreet Singh Khela, the realtor, claims that Prab Rai, a fifth-round pick in the 2008 NHL draft, held himself out to be a successful and wealthy business person, purporting to have important connections with prominent local and international business people and retired hockey players.” . . . In freezing Rai’s assets, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick “noted that the only substantive assets of Rai are two Lamborghini luxury vehicles with a combined value of about $1.2 million.” . . . Rai, now 32, played five seasons (2005-10) in the WHL, getting into 62 games over one-plus seasons with the Prince George Cougars and then playing 238 with the Seattle Thunderbirds, who acquired him during 2006-07. The Cougars selected him in the seventh round of the 2004 bantam draft. In 300 regular-season games, he totalled 98 goals and 130 assists. . . . Fraser’s story is right here.


Printer


THE COACHING GAME:

The Seattle Thunderbirds have added Carter Cochrane to their organization as an assistant coach. . . . Cochrane, 25, is from Kamloops. He spent the past three seasons with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks, the last two as an assistant coach, the first one as skills coach. . . . As a defenceman, he played 43 games in the WHL — 33 with the Everett Silvertips (2013-15), nine with the Tri-City Americans (2014-15) and one with the Vancouver Giants (2015-16). . . . With the Thunderbirds, Cochrane fills the vacancy created when Kyle Hagel left in July after being in Seattle for five years. He now is an assistant coach with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda.


Lost


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

The Kamloops Blazers have added Morris Boyer to their organization as athletic therapist. He was the head athletic therapist with the Calgary Flames from 1998-2015, and also has extensive experience with Hockey Canada teams. In Kamloops, he will be working with Colin Robinson, who is into his 27th WHL season, 18 of those with the Blazers. . . .

The OHL’s Niagara IceDogs have traded D Sam Dickinson to the London Knights for seven — yes, SEVEN — draft picks. The IceDogs picked up second-rounders in 2024, 2025 and 2026, third-rounders in 2023, 2025 and 2026, and a fifth-round pick in 2023 in the exchange. . . . Dickinson, from Toronto, was selected by the IceDogs with the fourth overall pick in the OHL’s 2022 draft. He was the first defenceman taken in the draft. . . . From Ryan Pyette of Postmedia: “The 16-year-old was listed on the IceDogs’ training-camp roster this week, but, as has been rumoured for months, does not want to play for the club and did not report. That made him a defected player and eligible to be moved to the highest bidder.” . . .

Annie Fowler, who spent 16 seasons covering the Tri-City Americans for the Tri-City Herald, has joined the WHL team’s staff. She will supply feature stories to the team’s website — amshockey.com. . . . From a news release: “Fowler’s articles will be a part of the Americans News Center . . . They will be published on amshockey.com and distributed in print form at Americans home games.” . . . The Americans’ announcement on Wednesday came on the fourth anniversary of her final day at the Herald. She was laid off, caught up in cutbacks, after having worked at the newspaper for 18.5 years.


Stairs


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.


Law

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if the Calgary Wranglers are coming back . . .

scattershooting

Camper2

Hello, friend. Yes, you . . . from the white one-ton truck that was pulled in off Wittner Road east of Kamloops on Saturday morning. You know, on the south side of the South Thompson River, just across from the Lafarge plant.

I was wondering if you lost your camper?

When I walked past your truck with the white camper on the back I didn’t see anyone, so I assumed you were fishing off the shore. I even wondered if you might be camping there for the weekend.

Then when I went for my Sunday morning stroll, I noticed your truck was gone but the camper was still there, albeit on its roof.

I can only assume that it slid off the back of your truck as you drove away and that you didn’t notice it. I mean, you wouldn’t be ignorant enough just to dump the old camper right there now, would you? Perhaps you were too busy trying to figure out how to use your turn signals to notice that the camper was gone. Hey, it happens to all of us.

Anyway . . . by now you likely have noticed that it’s missing and now you know where it is, so I’m sure you’ll drop by one day this week and pick it up.

Right?

Camper3



Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “Jon Berti of the Miami Marlins leads all of baseball in steals, with 25,  at the season’s halfway point. Unless you count the former treasurer of the Oakville, Ont., Minor Baseball Association, who is accused of  embezzling $468,000 from the league.”

——

Perry, again: “Green Bay Packers QB  Aaron Rodgers has a new tattoo on his left arm — intricate astrological designs by Hungarian artist Balazs Bercsenyi. What were you expecting, a bull’s-eye with the words ‘insert vaccination here?’ ”


THINKING OUT LOUD: If you were on Twitter the afternoon of July 4, I think you’ll admit it was kind of surreal with tweets about the mass shooting in Highland Park, Ill., and a hot dog-eating contest in Coney Island, N.Y., seemingly alternating in that particular social media universe. . . . During the NHL’s 2022-23 regular season, the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames will meet three times — none once in the season’s second half. Seriously! In the CFL this season, the Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimos meet on four occasions. . . . Battle of Alberta? Not in the NHL, I guess. . . . In the WHL, the Edmonton Oil Kings and Calgary Hitmen will clash on eight occasions. . . . Still with the NHL’s 2022-23 schedule, the New York Rangers and New York Islanders will see each other only three times, all before Christmas. . . .

Hey, Blue Jays fans, how did you survive Friday night with your favourites and the host Seattle Mariners available only on Apple TV+? In its attempts to find new fans, MLB does that every once in a while just to remind some of us that at the end of the day it really does take those of us who are regular viewers for granted. . . . Don’t look now but here come the Baltimore Orioles. . . .

Yes, the Saskatchewan Roughriders should release DT Garrett Marino after that embarrassing performance on Friday night. Will they? Marino, in his second season with the Roughriders, has proven he can be a productive player, so I would be shocked if he is cut loose. . . . Until Sunday night, I haven’t been eagerly awaiting the arrival of robo umps in Major League Baseball. But after watching Giancarlo Stanton of the New York Yankees take six pitches, all of which were balls, and be called out on strikes, well, I guess it’s time.



“Kevin Durant is turning into the Taylor Swift of baseball,” writes Janice Hough, aka the Left Coast Sports Babe. “But at least her breakups result in good songs.”



Lazuli
I had company for a brief time on my Sunday morning walk. Lazuli buntings are frequent visitors to our neighbourhood in Campbell Creek.

After I posted a story here the other day about the Kelowna Rockets switching radio stations — they left AM 1150 after more than 20 years and now are with 104.7 The Lizard — one reply to the tweet about the piece had me chuckling. . . .

BTW, some WHL fans really are waiting anxiously to find out if Regan Bartel, the long-time radio voice of the Rockets, will ever pitter-patter and get at ‘er again. . . . Hey, TSN, do you still need a play-by-play voice for your Winnipeg Jets telecasts?


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Brandon Wheat Kings have promoted Chris Moulton to director of hockey operations. He had been the director of player personnel since joining the organization on July 2, 2021. Before signing on with Brandon, Moulton spent 13 seasons with the Spokane Chiefs as director of scouting and director of player personnel. . . . Moulton’s promotion follows the May 6 announcement that general manager Doug Gasper had resigned for personal reasons. He had been with the Wheat Kings for three seasons, the first two as assistant general manager and the last one as GM. . . .

The OHL’s board of governors has approved the sale of the Niagara IceDogs to a group headed by majority owner Darren DeDobbelaer and including minority owner Wayne Gretzky. . . . DeDobbelaer and Gretzky both are from Brantford, Ont. . . . They purchased the IceDogs from Denise and Bill Burke, who had bought the franchise from the late Eugene Melnyk. . . . Ken Campbell of Hockey Unfiltered has reported that the price the DeDobbelaer group paid is “believed to be $18 million, which is actually 10 percent less than the $20 million owners Bill and Denise Burke were seeking for the franchise.” . . . The IceDogs play out of St. Catharines, Ont. . . . This isn’t Gretzky’s first time being involved in the ownership of a major junior franchise. He was involved in the ownership of the OHL’s Belleville Bulls (1982-84) and  owned a piece of the QMJHL’s Hull Olympiques (1985-92).



DeerApple
We had a visitor to our Jon Gold apple tree at noon on Sunday. She helped herself — without asking, I might add — and then laid down under the tree and digested her meal.

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.


Posters

WHL’s Final Four all set . . . Thunderbirds complete comeback, oust Winterhawks . . . Kamloops next up for Seattle

Dan Russell, the longtime host of the Vancouver-based radio show Sportstalk, has written a book. Oh, has he! . . . While it’s the story of his life and career to this point, Russell doesn’t pull any punches. There are lots of anecdotes and a ton(ne) of behind-the-scenes stories. . . . You are able to purchase Kindle and soft-cover editions at Amazon and a hard-cover edition is on the way. . . . Full disclosure — I may have provided Russell with a helping editing hand, an ear and, at times, a shoulder. Despite all that, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed in Russell’s story.


Router


And then there were four . . .

WHLplayoffs2022The WHL’s 2022-23 playoffs are down to the Final Four — the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice and No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings in the Eastern Conference, and the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers and the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds in the Western Conference. . . . The Thunderbirds beat the Winterhawks, 6-3, in Portland on Tuesday night to win that series, 4-3. Seattle trailed, 3-1, only a few days ago. . . .

So . . . the playoffs now take time off while the WHL holds a couple of its drafts. Game action is to resume on Friday with the opening games in both conference finals — the Oil Kings will be in Winnipeg and the Thunderbirds will spend some time in Kamloops.

——

TUESDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference

In Portland, the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds scored three second-period goals in a span of 2:11 and went on to beat the No. 3 Winterhawks, 6-3, in Game 7 of Seattletheir conference semifinal. . . . Seattle became the 16th team in WHL history to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a series. . . . The Thunderbirds last appeared in a Western Conference final in 2017 when they went on to win the franchise’s first league championship. . . . They will open the conference final with games against the No. 2 Blazers in Kamloops on Friday and Saturday. . . . Games 3 and 4 are scheduled for Kent, Wash., on May 24 and 25. If necessary, they’ll play in Kamloops on May 27, in Kent on May 29 and in Kamloops, again, on May 31. . . . Last night, F Nico Myatovic (2) got Seattle started with a shorthanded goal at 19:05 of the first period. . . . The Thunderbirds really took control early in the second period with those quick goals. D Jeremy Hanzel scored his first two playoff goals at 5:48 and 7:20, and F Lucas Ciona (6) made it 4-0 at 7:59. . . . The Winterhawks halved the deficit with a pair of PP goals — F Jaydon Dureau (1) struck at 10:03 and F Robbie Fromm-Delorme (3) at 19:09. . . . Seattle F Lukas Svejkovsky (7) pretty much iced it when he upped the lead to 5-1 at 11:51 of the third period. . . . Portland brought G Taylor Gauthier to the bench as it went on the PP with 5:22 left in the third period and it paid off as Fromm-Delorme (4) scored at 15:50. . . . Seattle F Reid Schaefer (5) iced it for good with an empty-netter at 17:22. . . . G Thomas Milic, who was especially solid over the final three games, stopped 33 shots in this one, nine more than Gauthier. . . . Portland was 3-for-6 on the PP; Seattle was 0-for-4. . . .

The last time a WHL team erased a 3-1 deficit to win a series? It happened twice in the spring of 2017 — and remember that there weren’t any playoffs in 2020 or 2021. Anyway, in 2017, the Lethbridge Hurricanes beat the Red Deer Rebels, who had led 3-1, in a first-round series, and, in an Eastern Conference semifinal, the Regina Pats got past the Swift Current Broncos after trailing 3-1. . . . That same Pats squad went on to lose to the Thunderbirds in the championship final. . . .

Kamloops and Seattle met three times earlier this season, with the Blazers winning twice. . . . They faced off twice in November in Seattle, with Kamloops winning, 5-1, on the 20th and, 4-1, on the 24th. . . . They played in Kamloops on Dec. 10, with the Thunderbirds winning, 6-1.



Chris Branch, writing The Athletic Pulse for Tuesday, sums up the biggest story going into the weekend’s PGA Championship:

Terror reigns in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this week. Fans at the PGA Championship, which starts Thursday, will have to pay the following prices for beer:

Michelob Ultra: $18

Stella Artois: $19

People are understandably flabbergasted. We are used to paying more on gameday as sports fans, but this feels like too much. . . . Who’s paying $19 for a Stella anywhere?

Sadly — and as a cheap-beer lover, I don’t say this lightly — the beers are simply suffering from a branding problem. Nowhere on the menu does it say how many ounces are in that beer — they’re 25-ounce brews. Still expensive at about $9 for a 12-ounce beer, but not the rip-off you think it is. Just a little more expensive than the average beer price at NFL stadiums.

The $16 chicken caesar salad, though? That’s a bridge too far.


Bill and Denise Burke, the owners of the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, announced on OHLTuesday that they have sold the franchise to Darren DeDobbelaer, a businessman from Brantford, Ont. . . . The transaction awaits the stamp of approval from the OHL’s board of governors. . . . DeDobbelaer owns the junior A Brantford 99ers and the junior B Brantford Bandits. . . . The Burkes had owned the franchise for 15 years. . . . The Burkes purchased the Mississauga IceDogs and moved the franchise to St. Catharines where it has operated as the Niagara IceDogs. . . . From Luke Edwards of the St. Catharines Standard: “While the team had made an impact and was visible throughout Niagara, the franchise also experienced some turbulent waters earlier this year. Billy and Joey Burke, the team’s head coach and general manager, respectively, were given two-year suspensions after the league learned about a group chat where the pair made comments that violated the league’s harassment and abuse/diversity policy. The pair are also part-owners of the team. . . .”


Needs


COVIDFrom the New York Daily News: Eric Clapton, who has railed against lockdowns and vaccines, has tested positive for COVID-19. The 77-year-old English singer has canceled two upcoming concerts, Tuesday in Zurich and Wednesday in Milan, after being diagnosed, his team announced Monday.

From The New York Times: Apple, in a blow to its efforts to restore normalcy to its operations, has suspended its requirement that employees return to the office this month for at least three days a week because of a resurgence of Covid-19 cases.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Ryan Ward is the new head coach of the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms. He had been the director of player development with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm. Ward replaces Brad Patterson, who had been with the Phantoms since 2009-10, the franchise’s inaugural season, and had been head coach since 2016-17. . . .

If you have interest in being a junior hockey play-by-play voice, you should know that two BCHL teams — the Merritt Centennials and Salmon Arm Silverbacks — are looking for new radio voices. . . .

In the BCHL last night, the visiting Penticton Vees got a goal from F Stefano Bottini (3) at 2:55 of OT to beat the Nanaimo Clippers, 3-2. . . . The announced attendance was 2,332. . . . The Vees lead the series, 3-0. Game 4 is scheduled for tonight in Nanaimo.


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.

——

If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Waste

Remembering when Ginnell left the Bombers . . . Blades’ Maier king of WHL goaltenders . . . Bedard sets two Pats’ records

These days I am spending time going through more than 40 years worth of files. As pages and pages of clippings, news releases and more, most of them related to the WHL and various teams, go into the recycling bin there are memories, lots of memories involving personalities.

Like Patty Ginnell, or Paddy Ginnell, who was Pat Ginnell when he took over as head coach of the Flin Flon Bombers on June 1, 1966. Quick now . . . who did he succeed? That would be Tom Baird, who stayed on as the general manager.

The Bombers were in the SJHL at the time, but that changed when they moved FFBombersto what was then the Western Canada Junior Hockey League for its second season (1967-68). It had been the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League for its inaugural season (1966-67).

Anyway, Ginnell was 29 when he took over the Bombers. He had spent the previous three seasons playing for the IHL’s Des Moines Oak Leafs. You know that putting Ginnell behind the bench was a popular choice in Flin Flon because he had played for the Bombers when they won the 1958 Memorial Cup.

Ginnell coached the Bombers through Dec. 9, 1973, his final game a 6-3 victory over the visiting Regina Pats.

Why was that his final game?

He had purchased 40 per cent of the Victoria Cougars and was about to step in as general manager and head coach.

PatGinnell
PAT GINNELL

Ginnell told Mal Isaac of the Regina Leader-Post that he had been trying to purchase a piece of the Bombers but hadn’t met with any success.

“I’ve been manager-coach in Flin Flon for nine years,” he told Isaac, “and I don’t have a thing to show for it. I don’t even own a stick.” (If you did the math, you know that he actually was in his eighth season with the Bombers, but, hey, facts didn’t get in the way of a lot of stories back in the day.)

“It’s always been my desire to own and operate my own club and that was something I was unable to do in Flin Flon,” Ginnell continued. “Now I’ll have my own team.”

Interestingly, Ginnell’s impending move leaked with the Bombers on the road and before he was able to inform the team’s board of directors.

With the Cougars, Ginnell bought out Eric Bishop, who said he was quitting as the team’s general manager. The Cougars, who started that season with Ollie Dorohoy as their head coach, were in their third WCHL season, hadn’t made the playoffs in their first two and were struggling again.

Victoria finished that season at 22-40-6, which left it fifth in the six-team Western Division.

At some point before Ginnell bought a piece of the Cougars, he had been asked how long it would take him to turn the team into a contender. “One year minimum,” he replied.

Well, the Cougars, led by Mel Bridgman, finished the 1974-75 season atop the West Division with a 47-18-5 record but dropped a best-of-seven semifinal series to the New Westminster Bruins, 4-2.

The Bombers’ board of directors, meanwhile, accepted Ginnell’s recommendation that Mel Pearson, a teammate on the 1958 Memorial Cup-winning team, be the next GM/head coach. Pearson had spent the 1972-73 season with the WHA’s Minnesota Fighting Saints.

Pearson didn’t get to Flin Flon in time for the Bombers next game, on Dec. 13 against, yes, the Cougars. So trainer Nick Oklobdzija — he was known as Nick Alphabet — served as the interim head coach and posted one of his dozen or so career coaching victories, this one by a 10-2 score. Ginnell watched from the Whitney Forum stands as Dorohoy continued for the moment as the Cougars’ coach.

(Bruce Penton, writing in the Brandon Sun of March 7, 1974, noted that Oklobdzija “is undefeated in 12 tests as coach of the WCHL Bombers.”

“That goes back about eight or nine years,” Oklobdzija told Penton. “I’ve filled in here and there when (Ginnell) was away or suspended, or something. And we’ve never lost while I’ve coached.” The WHL’s coaching records show Oklobdzija with a 2-0-0 coaching mark.)

Pearson made his Flin Flon coaching debut on Dec. 18 with a 7-3 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. (One of Brandon’s goals came from John Paddock, now the Pats’ vice-president of hockey operations, general manager and head coach.)

Pearson, who had signed a contract taking him through 1974-75, was gone early in the 1975-76 season, fired on Oct. 29. At the time, the Bombers had two victories in 12 games.

The Bombers then hired Mickey Keating to replace Pearson, thus ending Ginnell’s connection to the Flin Flon franchise.

As an aside, my favourite Keating quote emerged late in the 1976-77 season. At one point, I wrote a few stories detailing the history of the WHL and it included this:

A nine-hour meeting in Calgary resulted in a new playoff format. Under the original format, the Flin Flon Bombers, third in the East, were 20 points ahead of Regina and all but had a playoff spot locked up. Suddenly, there was a new format and the Bombers were fighting for a spot. Oh yes, they were also on a 15-game West Coast road trip.

“In this league, you need two pieces of equipment,” said Flin Flon boss Mickey Keating. “You need a face-guard when you play some of the teams on the ice and a back protector for the committee room. I had inklings that there may be changes in the playoffs but I had confidence there were intelligent hockey men in this league. I was shown different.”

Ahh, yes, those were the days.


Cats


If you have time on your hands, you could track down the Twitter account belonging to the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs (@OHLIceDogs) and check out the ‘apology’ from the Burke brothers — Billy and Joey. And then see if you can find the screen shot of the WhatsApp chat that got them into trouble with David Branch, the OHL commissioner. . . . And after you have done all that, you are free to wonder why the Burke boys weren’t suspended for life.

Meanwhile, there is ample speculation that the IceDogs are soon to be sold to, as Ken Campbell of Hockey Unfiltered reported, “a group headed by Darren DeDobberlaer, an insurance magnate from nearby Brantford, who owns both the Brantford 99ers Jr. A team and the Brantford Bandits Jr. B team.”

Campbell also wrote: “Oh, yes, and the selling price is rumoured to be in the range of $20 million, which should disavow anyone of the notion that major junior hockey operators in Canada are mom and pop operations that require millions of dollars in tax money to meet their scholarship commitments and provincial government laws to help them skirt minimum wage requirements. Teams make money when they are strong and struggle financially when they aren’t. If the operators know what they’re doing, they can make it work. And as we’re seeing with the IceDogs, they can cash out when they sell the team.”

Campbell’s piece is right here and it’s because of reports like this that I subscribe to his site.



“The Greater Toronto Hockey League has hired a private investigator to scrutinize allegations that Jewish players with the U-13 Avenue Road Ducks and their family members were targeted with anti-Semitic slurs during games this season,” reports Rick Westhead of TSN. . . . That story is right here.

——

Meanwhile, CBC Ottawa reports that “after some Black minor hockey players in western Quebec alleged they were racially abused, a Gatineau, Que., team has suspended six of its players and the provincial governing body cancelled weekend games.” . . . That story is right here.

——

And, from Oakland, Mich., comes this from clickondetroit.com: “A 15-year-old boy is suing three players on an under 16 youth hockey team, their parents and the coach after he said he endured antisemitic bullying until he quit the team.” . . . That story is right here.


Dorothy is preparing to take part in the annual Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year. She has participated in every one since she underwent a kidney transplant at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver on Sept. 23, 2013. . . . The 2022 Kidney Walk will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . You are able to support her by making a donation right here.


Spider


FRIDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference:

G Nolan Maier became the winningest regular-season goaltender in WHL Saskatoonhistory as the host Saskatoon Blades beat the Prince Albert Raiders, 2-0. . . . Maier stopped 20 shots in posting his 121st career regular-season victory, breaking a record he had shared with Tyson Sexsmith (Vancouver Giants, 2004-09) and Corey Hirsch (Kamloops Blazers, 1988-92). . . . Hirsch tweeted: “Congrats Nolan! Your perseverance, resilience and dedication is nothing short of inspirational. Enjoy the moment; you’ve earned it!” . . . The Blades won it with two third-period goals, from F Egor Sidorov (23), at 12:17, and F Trevor Wong (16), at 18:01. . . . Maier has three shutouts his season; he holds the franchise career record, with 11. . . . Saskatoon (37-26-4) moved into fourth place, one point ahead of the idle Moose Jaw Warriors, who hold three games in hand. . . . The Raiders (26-34-5) are 10th, two points out of a playoff spot. . . .

F Jake Chiasson had two goals and two assists as the Brandon Wheat Kings Brandondoubled the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers, 6-3. . . . Chiasson, who has six goals, struck twice in the second period as Brandon took a 5-1 lead. Chiasson missed a huge chunk of the season with an injury and only began play on March 4. He now has 15 points in 16 games. . . . D Mason Ward added two goals, giving him six, and an assist for Brandon, with D Chad Nychuk getting a goal, his 21st, and two assists. Nychuk has 68 points in 60 games. . . . Brandon (34-25-5), which has won four in a row, is sixth, four points behind Moose Jaw. Each team has four games remaining. . . . Medicine Hat (11-50-4) has lost nine straight games. . . .

In Red Deer, F Ben King, who leads the WHL in goals, scored in OT to give the RedDeerRebels a 5-4 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . King, who also had two assists, scored his 49th goal of the season at 2:56 of OT. . . . King has a WHL-leading 15 game-winning goals this season. F Brian Propp of the 1978-19 Brandon Wheat Kings holds the WHL record of 16. . . . F Logan Wormald scored twice for Lethbridge, giving him 14. His second goal, at 8:33 of the third period, gave his side a 4-3 lead. . . . D Christoffer Sedoff (7) forced OT with a goal at 12:04. . . . Red Deer (44-17-4) is third, four points behind the idle Edmonton Oil Kings, who have a game in hand. . . . Lethbridge (30-30-5) is headed for a seventh-place finish. . . .

F Connor Bedard set two franchise records as his Regina Pats beat the Broncos, Regina4-2, in Swift Current. . . . Bedard scored twice to give him 47 this season. His 46th goal, a shorthanded effort, set the Pats’ record for most goals by a player in his 16-year-old season. F Jeff Friesen scored 45 times in 1992-93. . . . Bedard now has 89 point in 58 games, and that also is a Pats’ franchise record for a player in his 16-year-old WHL season. F Doug Wickenheiser finished the 1977-78 season with 88 points. . . . Regina got 37 saves from G Kelton Pyne. . . . Regina (25-34-5) is 11th and, with four games remaining, trails the eighth-place Broncos (26-34-7) by four points.

——

Western Conference:

F Matthew Seminoff scored with four seconds remaining in the third period to Kamloopsgive the Blazers a 4-3 victory over the Victoria Royals in Kamloops. . . . The goal came one second after the end of a Victoria PP opportunity. . . . F Logan Stankoven had three assists for the Blazers, including the only one on the winner. . . . Seminoff has 25 goals. . . . F Bailey Peach (36) scored twice and added an assist for Victoria, which came back to tie the score three times but wasn’t able to grab the lead. . . . Stankoven now has 99 points, leaving him three behind F Arshdeep Bains of the Red Deer Rebels, who leads the points race. . . . Stankoven, who has played 56 games, leads the WHL in points-per-game (1.77). . . .  Kamloops (47-16-2) is second, four points behind the Everett Silvertips. Each team has three games remaining. . . . Victoria (22-37-6) is tied for seventh with the Vancouver Giants, one point behind the idle Spokane Chiefs. . . .

F Alex Swetlikoff scored three times and added an assist as the host Everett EverettSilvertips dumped the Tri-City Americans, 5-2. . . . The Silvertips, who clinched the U.S. Division regular-season pennant, scored the game’s last four goals, the first two from Swetlikoff, who has 33 goals. . . . Everett was 3-for-9 on the PP; Tri-City was 0-for-2. . . . Everett had a 50-13 edge in shots. According to the online game sheet, shots were 10-0 in the third period. . . . F Jackson Berezowski had an empty-net goal and two assists for Everett. He’s got 46 goals. . . . Everett (45-10-10) leads the conference by four points over Kamloops. . . . Tri-City (18-42-7) has been eliminated from playoff contention. . . .

F Jack O’Brien had two goals to help the Portland Winterhawks to a 7-2 victory Portlandover the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . O’Brien has 13 goals. . . . F Cross Hanas scored his 25th goal and added two assists for the winners. . . . There was something of a brouhaha at 19:17 of the third period that resulted in 97 penalty minutes being handed out. . . . Portland (44-16-5) is third, three points behind Kamloops. . . . Vancouver (23-36-4) is tied for seventh with Victoria, one point behind Spokane and one ahead of the idle Prince George Cougars.


JUST NOTES: F Logan Nijhoff, the Regina Pats’ captain, has signed a two-year contract with the San Diego Gulls, the AHL affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks. Nijhoff, 20, had 20 goals and 23 assists in 52 games when the signing was announced on Thursday. He is completing his fifth season with Regina. Nijhoff attended the Ducks’ rookie camp in September. . . . The EIHL’s Cardiff Devils have fired head coach Jarrod Skalde, who was in his first season there. Assistant coaches Brodie Dupont and Neil Francis will run things through the end of the season. With four games left in the regular season, the Devils are third at 27-15-3.


War


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.


Dog

It’s Green Shirt Day as we promote organ donation and remember the Humboldt Broncos . . .


The boys played a hockey game last night. Yes, they shook off the rust and away they went.

They did pretty well, too, getting 37 saves from goaltender Parker Tobin in posting an 8-0 victory before a world-wide audience.

Tobin was making his first appearance with his new team, having been acquired from the junior A Humboldt Broncos in exchange for defenceman Xavier Labelle earlier in the day.

“We were fortunate we got a great performance from Tobin and our top scorers scored,” said general manager/head coach Darcy Haugan.

The boys were led by the line of Jaxon Joseph, Logan Schatz and Evan Thomas, who combined for 12 points, including six goals.

There was a scary moment early in the second period when Schatz appeared to catch an edge as he cut behind Tobin’s net. Schatz crumpled to the ice and for a moment it looked as though he had suffered a knee injury. Athletic therapist Dayna Brons, the only girl on the boys team, was quick to the scene. She helped Schatz to the dressing room and was able to get him back to the bench before too much time had elapsed.

“She’s got magic fingers and she’s great with tape,” said Schatz, who also is the team captain. “If there’s an MVP on this team, she’s it. I don’t know where we’d be without her.”

Haugan was thrilled when Schatz returned to the bench and Brons signalled that the captain was OK to go.

“That allowed us to keep our lines intact and to execute our game plan to a T,” Haugan said. “We wanted our power play to obviously be big. We didn’t expect it to be that big so we’re very fortunate. You need your top guys to be your best guys and they were.”

The boys counted five times on eight power-play opportunities and that really was huge.

Joseph finished with three goals and an assist, with Schatz chipping in two of each, and Thomas putting up a goal and three helpers.

Defenceman Adam Herold, the youngest player on the team, and forward Conner Lukan also scored. Lukan was skating alongside Jacob Leicht and Logan Hunter, and that threesome easily could have had four or five more goals. Hunter recorded two assists, with Leicht getting one. Defenceman Stephen Wack also had one assist.

As for the opposition, Haugan said, they “stepped up all night, they were relentless. Obviously our guys did a good job of keeping everything to the outside and didn’t allow them to penetrate to the middle of the ice. We did get a couple of breaks so we did get lucky but all-in-all to escape with a 1-0 lead after one, we’ll gladly take it.”

Defenceman Logan Boulet showed a lot of heart and leadership in earning six assists for the boys.

“I felt great out there,” Boulet said. “I was using a Brad McCrimmon model stick and, man, I really was able to throw some great saucer passes out there. And I don’t know that the stick had anything to do with it, but I never wanted to leave the ice.”

Haugan added: “(Boulet) was a beast out there.”

Ahh, yes, the sticks.

Haugan said one of the toughest tasks he and assistant coach Mark Cross faced was getting the players to pick out the sticks they wanted to use.

“I have never seen or heard of a team having such a wide selection to choose from,” Haugan said. “There were sticks everywhere. We may have to build some kind of stick warehouse to house them all.”

After the game, the boys admitted to being quite excited about having been able to replace one of their travelling staples.

“One of the boys picked up a copy of Slap Shot,” Haugan said. “He got it from somewhere in Portland, I think. You can’t be on the road without Reggie Dunlop and Slap Shot, but our original DVD got broken somehow and, let me tell you, there were some broken hearts when that happened.

“But all’s well that ends well.”

It’s worth pointing out that the boys led 1-0 after the first period, which was played in Chicago Stadium. They were up 4-0 after the second, which was played in Maple Leaf Gardens. The teams played the final period in the Montreal Forum. The travel arrangements were all under the control of Glen Doerksen, the team’s travelling secretary.

So . . . what’s next for the boys?

Well, Haugan said, the coaches are well aware that focusing on one sport isn’t the way to go.

“The guys are talking about wanting to play some baseball,” Haugan said. “Apparently, some guy in Iowa built a ball diamond in a cornfield. So I think we’re wanting to give that a try.

“But we’ll have to scrounge some bats, balls and gloves first.”

JUST NOTES: There was a third man behind the bench with Haugan and Cross, and Haugan later revealed that he has added Brock Hirsche to his coaching staff. Hirsche played in the WHL with the Prince George Cougars, then returned to his hometown to play with the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns. . . .

Also joining the boys is Jonathan Pitre, who is incredibly popular with the media and will handle public and media relations. . . .

Tyler Bieber, an up-and-coming play-by-play voice, called last night’s game on 107.5 FM (aka The Prayer), with sports fanatic Brody Hinz handling the analysis and statistics, including zone entries and Corsi. . . .

(Christopher Lee of the Humboldt Journal may recognize some of the quotes here. Thanks for loaning them to me.)


The OHL dropped the hammer on the Niagara IceDogs on Wednesday, a month after some members of the organization were alleged to have used improper OHLlanguage in a group chat on WhatsApp, a transcript of which was given to the league. Joey Burke, one of the team’s minority owner and the governor, and Billy Burke, the head coach and a minority owner, have been suspended indefinitely. The IceDogs also have been fined $150,000. . . . From an OHL news release: “Based on the results of the league investigation, it is the position of the league that their conduct is prejudicial to the welfare of the OHL as it violates the league’s Harassment & Abuse/Diversity Policy and also runs counter to the OHL’s Onside program, which emphasizes the importance of demonstrating respect for women through actions and words.” . . . According to terms of the disciplinary action, both are able to apply for reinstatement on June 1, 2024. “At that time,” reads the news release, “the Commissioner will assess whether they have successfully completed counselling and education to ensure that there will be no additional violations of League rules, policies, or expected conduct.” . . . Rick Westhead of TSN later tweeted: “IceDogs co-owner Bill Burke, Joey and Billy’s father, told The Welland Tribune that ‘today a very sad day for the Burke family. We will have more to say in the coming days. We would . . . like to thank everyone that has reached out today with their overwhelming love and support.”


Meanwhile, the AHL has suspended F Ben Holmstrom of the Rochester Americans for eight games for using “homophobic language” during a game against the visiting Utica Comets on March 30. He was ejected at the end of the first period. . . . “As part of the suspension,” the AHL said in a statement, “Holmstrom will be participating in diversity and inclusion education.”


Now let’s hop on over to Quebec for this from Guy Quenneville of CBC News . . .

“More Black minor hockey players in western Quebec are coming forward with allegations of racial slurs less than a week after another Black player spoke out.

“On Monday, Hockey Outaouais and the team L’Intrépide de Gatineau confirmed in a statement they have launched an investigation after two of the team’s players said they were subjected to racist remarks. 

“One of those players, Anthony Allain-Samaké, told Radio-Canada the bullying led him to quit the team.”

His mother, Julie Allain, speaking French, told Quenneville: “Being called the N-word was still quite common for several players. I told him it is totally unacceptable.”

Quenneville’s story is right here.


WEDNESDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference:

In Spokane, F Nick McCarry struck 10 seconds into OT was the Chiefs beat the SpokaneEverett Silvertips, 3-2. . . . McCarry, who has 22 goals, has seven points, five of them goals, over his past four games. . . . Olen Zellweger, the  WHL’s highest-scoring defenceman, scored his 14th goal and added an assist. He has 76 points in 53 games. . . . G Mason Beaupit stopped 32 shots, 18 of them in the second period, for Spokane. . . . Announced attendance was 7,252, an awfully impressive number for a midweek game. . . . The Chiefs’ victory eliminated the idle Tri-City Americans from the chase for a playoff spot. . . . Spokane (23-37-5), with three games remaining, is sixth, one point ahead of the Vancouver Giants and Victoria Royals, and two up on the Prince George Cougars. . . . Everett (44-10-10) leads the conference by four points over the Kamloops Blazers. Each team has four games remaining. . . .

The Kelowna Rockets scored the game’s last three goals as they beat the KelownaCougars, 4-1, in Prince George. . . . The Rockets, who won 1-0 in OT there on Tuesday, have won six straight in Prince George. . . . F Colton Dach scored once, his 26th, and added two assists. . . . F Pavel Novak (28) broke a 1-1 tie at 18:52 of the first period and the visitors put it away with two third-period goals. . . . Kelowna (39-19-6) now is two points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds with each team having four games to play. . . . The Cougars are ninth, one point from a playoff spot.

Eastern Conference:

The host Lethbridge Hurricanes struck for six goals in the third period as they Lethbridgedropped the Saskatoon Blades, 6-1. . . . The game’s seven goals all came in the third period. . . . D Joe Arntsen scored twice, giving him seven, and added an assist, with F Justin Hall and F Alex Thacker each adding three assists. . . . F Jordan Keller scored his first WHL goal in his eighth game for the Blades. Keller, who turned 17 on March 8, is the son of Aaron Keller, who played four seasons (1992-96) with the Kamloops Blazers before going on to play 17 seasons in Japan. Aaron now helps out the Blazers as a development coach. . . . Saskatoon G Nolan Maier stopped 31 shots in his first opportunity to break the WHL career record for victories. . . . Lethbridge (30-30-4) is seventh, seven points behind the Brandon Wheat Kings and five ahead of the Swift Current Broncos. . . . Saskatoon (36-26-4) remains fifth, one point behind the Moose Jaw Warriors and five ahead of Brandon.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The AJHL’s Bonnyville Pontiacs and Rick Swan, their general manager and head coach, “have mutually agreed to part ways effective immediately,” the team announced Wednesday. Swan had been with the organization for 10 years, the last nine as GM and head coach. This season, the Pontiacs went 36-16-8, good for third in the North Division, then lost a six-game first-round series to the Whitecourt Wolverines.



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.


Three WHL coaches get Hockey Canada posts. . . . Rockets sign d-man from U of Denver. . . . McEwen now Blues’ GM, too

MacBeth

D Mark Louis (Brandon, Red Deer, 2003-08) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Cardiff Devils (Wales, UK Elite). This season, he had three goals and 10 assists in 60 games.


ThisThat

Three WHL head coaches are among coaches named to Hockey Canada’s national junior Canadateam and its U-18 side. . . . Dale Hunter of the OHL’s London Knights has been named head coach of the national junior team. His assistants will be Mitch Love, who just completed his first season as head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, and Andre Tourigny, the head coach of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s. . . . The 2020 World Junior Championship is scheduled for Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic, from Dec. 26, 2019, through Jan. 5, 2020. . . .

Dan Lambert, the head coach of the Spokane Chiefs, will be head coach of the U-18 team that will play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Czech Republic and Slovakia in August. . . . Lambert’s assistants will be Dennis Williams, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips, and Mario Duhamel, who is an assistant coach with the 67’s.

Hockey Canada’s news release is right here.


Taras McEwen, the Winnipeg Ice’s manager of scouting and hockey operations, now also is the general manager of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. . . . According to 50 Below Sports and Entertainment, which purchased the Blues at about the same time it was moving the Ice to Winnipeg from Cranbrook, B.C., McEwen will continue in both roles. . . . As the Blues’ GM, McEwen takes over from Billy Keane, who has been the Blues’ head coach since 2016 and had been the GM since 2017. . . . The Blues haven’t yet announced if Keane will return as head coach. . . . McEwen, 28, is from Whitewood, Sask. He joined the Ice as the manager of scouting in 2016, and took over as manager of hockey operations a year later. His father, Brad, is a familiar face on the scouting circuit and presently is Hockey Canada’s head scout.


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The Kelowna Rockets have signed D Sean Comrie, 19, who played this season for the U of KelownaRocketsDenver Pioneers. . . . Comrie, from Edmonton, was a second-round pick by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. He chose to go the NCAA route, and had one assist in 18 games with the Pioneers as a freshman this season. . . . On May 2, prior to the 2019 bantam draft, the Rockets acquired Comrie and the 10th-overall selection from Brandon for the fifth-overall selection. . . . Last season, he had seven goals and 27 assists in 54 games with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints. . . . Comrie is eligible for the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . The Rockets, the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup, are attempting to rebuild their roster in a hurry after not qualifying for the playoffs this season.


When last we left the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, an Ontario judge had unsealed documents that were connected to the team’s having committed recruiting violations. . . . Today comes word that city council in St. Catharines, Ont., the home of the IceDogs, has voted to change the name of a street — IceDogs Way — near the team’s home arena, the Meridian Centre. . . . According to Karena Walter of The St. Catharines Standard: “The move was in response to the 2017 decision by the Niagara IceDogs’ owners not to go forward with a $1 million donation for naming rights after problems hammering out a deal with the city.” . . . Walter’s story is right here.


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IceDogs’ situation looks awfully messy. . . . Pats, Hurricanes make a trade. . . . WHL final resumes tonight in Langley

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An Ontario Superior Court judge in Hamilton ruled last month that documents related to ohlthe OHL’s Niagara IceDogs and unauthorized contracts with players would be unsealed on Friday. They were, and TSN’s Rick Westhead has gone over those documents.

According to Westhead:

“The Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs agreed to unauthorized side contracts with the families of two players — one of whom is still in the OHL — and likely had similarly secret and unsanctioned deals with a number of European players, according to an investigation into the team’s recruiting practices.”

Westhead provides a lot of details in this piece, which is particularly damning because the OHL, as he puts it, “is embroiled in a class-action lawsuit filed by a group of current and former players demanding they be paid minimum wage.”

The IceDogs are owned by Denise and Bill Burke.

Westhead continues:

“In connection with that case, Denise Burke testified in a Nov. 14, 2015, affidavit that while her OHL team brought in an average of $2.7 million, it still lost money.

“Seven months before the IceDogs purportedly signed a secret deal with the (Liam) Ham family, Denise Burke said that it would be ‘catastrophic’ if the IceDogs had to pay players.”

At that time, Denise Burke testified: “We knew that we wouldn’t become rich owning a team, but seeing as this is our only business, we have always hoped that we would at least be able to break even and at least make more money than we spend, otherwise sooner or later the ‘Bank of Burke’ will run dry.”

Westhead’s complete story is right here.


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The Regina Pats have acquired F Drew Englot, 16, from the Lethbridge Hurricanes for a Patsfourth-round selection in the 2022 WHL bantam draft. Englot, who is from Candiac, Sask., was picked by the Hurricanes in the fourth round of the 2017 bantam draft. . . . He has played the past two seasons with  the midget AAA Notre Dame Hounds, who have won back-to-back league titles. This season he had 21 goals and 20 assists in 43 regular-season games.


Two former WHL coaches were fired by the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers on Monday as they juggled their staff after the hiring of Alain Vigneault as head coach. . . . Kris Knoblauch and Rick Wilson both were dismissed. . . . Knoblauch, 40, had been with the Flyers for two seasons. He began his coaching career as an assistant with the Prince Albert Raiders in 2006-07. He then spent five seasons with the Kootenay Ice, the last two as head coach. He also spent four-plus seasons as head coach of the OHL’s Erie Otters. . . . Wilson, 68, joined the Flyers this season, on Dec. 4. He has been an NHL coach, mostly as an assistant since 1988-89. He spent eight seasons (1980-88) on Prince Albert’s staff, the last two as head coach.


Dave Andrews will retire after spending one more season as the president and CEO of the American Hockey League. Andrews, a former head coach of the WHL’s Victoria Cougars, told the AHL’s board of governors on Monday that he is going to retire as of June 30, 2020. He is completing his 25th season as AHL president. . . . Andrews was the Cougars’ head coach for all of 1982-83 and part of 1983-84, when he was replaced by Les Calder. He later spent seven seasons as the director of hockey operations with the Nova Scotia/Cape Breton Oilers, then the Edmonton Oilers’ AHL affiliate.


The OHL’s Ottawa 67’s had their 14-game playoff winning streak come to an end on Monday as they were beaten 7-2 by the Storm in Guelph. The 67’s, who were outshot 36-20, lead the OHL championship series, 2-1. . . . They’ll play Game 4 in Guelph on Wednesday. . . . The 67’s had swept their first three series and then opened the final with two victories. . . . Ottawa G Mikey DiPietro, who suffered what is believed to have been a high ankle sprain in Game 2, wasn’t in uniform for this one. . . .

In the QMJHL, the visiting Rouyn-Noranda Huskies dumped the Halifax Mooseheads, 5-2, to take a 2-1 lead in the championship final. . . . They’ll play again tonight in Halifax. . . . Both teams will play in the Memorial Cup because the Mooseheads are the host team. The tournament is to run from May 17 through May 26.


Mike Reagan has signed a new contract as general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Flin Flon Bombers. This deal will take him through the 2020-21 season. . . . Reagan has been with the Bombers for 12 seasons, winning at least 30 games in six of them. The Bombers have been in the playoffs in each of those 12 seasons. . . . There is a news release right here.


Cam Basarab is the new head coach of the Trail-based Kootenay Ice of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. He started this season as an assistant coach with the junior B Campbell River Storm of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. He was moved up to head coach in November and then replaced on Jan. 23. . . . Basarab also was a video coach with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes for the previous two seasons. . . . Basarab takes over from Kris Boyce, the head coach for the past three seasons.


F Liam Stewart, who played four seasons (2011-15) with the Spokane Chiefs, has signed on with the SkyCity Stampede of the New Zealand Hockey League. Stewart, born in Great Britain, has a New Zealand passport through his mother, ex-model Rachel Hunter, so won’t be classified as an import. . . . The Stampede, which plays out of Queenstown, is to open the season on May 31 against the Dunedin Thunder. . . . He was to have played this season with the Sheffield Steelers of the Elite Ice Hockey League in Great Britain, but was sidelined by a concussion. . . . Stewart’s father is rock musician Rod Stewart.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup resumes tonight (Tuesday) with the  Prince Albert Raiders and Vancouver Gains meeting at the Langley, B.C., Events Centre. . . . The series is tied, 1-1. . . . They’ll play again Wednesday and Friday in Langley. . . . The $64,000 question going into Game 3 is whether Prince Albert D Max Martin will play. He left Game 2 in the second period after falling awkwardly into the end boards and appearing to injure a shoulder. . . . Martin is key part of the Raiders’ back end. He had 41 points, including 35 assists, in 59 regular-season games, and has seven assists in 18 playoff games. . . . Here’s Darren Steinke of Stanks’ Sermon explaining the Raiders’ options: “If (Martin) doesn’t play that will likely shake up the Raiders normally locked-in defensive pairings of Martin with Sergei Sapego, captain Brayden Pachal with Zack Hayes, and Jeremy Masella with Kaiden Guhle.” . . . If Martin doesn’t dress, the Raiders likely will insert D Loeden Schaufler into what will be his fifth game of these playoffs.

Steve Ewen of Postmedia takes a look right here at Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, who has learned to change with the times.


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Ex-WHLer charged after incident at Kelowna beach. . . . Pilon takes over as Red Wings’ coach. . . . Storm is writing quite a story in OHL


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F Jozef Balej (Portland, 1999-2002) has signed a one-year extension with Freiburg (Germany, DEL2). He had five goals and two assists in eight regular-season games, then had seven goals and eight assists in 14 games in playdowns (relegation playoffs). He started the season with Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga). The team captain, he had three goals and eight assists in 31 games. . . .

F Cody Sylvester (Calgary 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with Bad Nauheim (Germany, DEL2). This season, he had 24 goals and 34 assists in 46 games. An alternate captain, he was second on the team goals, assists and points. . . .

F Dustin Sylvester (Kootenay, 2004-10) announced his retirement through the Bad Nauheim (Germany, DEL2) press release that announced his brother Cody’s contract extension. In 52 games this season, Dustin, an alternate captain, had 26 goals and 45 assists. He led the team in goals, assists and points; he was third in the league’s scoring race. . . .

F Jannik Hansen (Portland, 2005-06) announced his retirement in an interview with Danish TV2. This season, with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL), he had seven goals and 11 assists in 45 games. . . .

G Marek Langhamer (Medicine Hat, 2012-15) has signed a two-year contract extension with Amur Khabarovsk (Russia, KHL). This season, in 19 games, he was 9-8-2, 1.98, .929, with three shutouts and an assist. . . . He started the season with Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga), going 5-3-0, 2.38, .916 in eight games. . . .

F Liam Jeffries (Kootenay, 2006-07) has signed a one-season extension with the Perth Thunder (Australia, AIHL). Last season, he was pointless in two games. This is Jeffries’ eighth season with Perth.


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Giffen Nyren, a defenceman who played four seasons in the WHL, faces charges of assault and willfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer after a man grabbed a baby from a mother in a Kelowna park on Sunday afternoon. . . . The child was wrestled from the man, who ultimately ran, removed his clothes and jumped into Okanagan Lake. . . . Nyren, 30, is from Calgary. He played from 2006-10 with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Kamloops Blazers and Calgary Hitmen. He was part of a Calgary team that won the WHL’s 2010 championship and appeared in the Memorial Cup in Brandon. . . . He began this season playing professionally in France, and finished it with the Lacombe Generals of Allan Cup Hockey West. He is one of nine defencemen listed on the Generals’ roster on their website, but he didn’t play in any of their games as they won the Allan Cup in Lacombe last month. . . . There is more on this story right here.


At some point, the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs signed a player and promised to pay him ohl$10,000 for each season he play with them. The unidentified player spent four seasons there, but, in the end, the IceDogs didn’t pay him. The player sent an email to David Branch, the OHL commissioner, and the stuff has hit the fan since then. . . . Rick Westhead of TSN reported Monday that “an Ontario Superior Court judge has agreed to unseal documents related to an investigation into player recruiting violations by the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs.” . . . Unless the OHL chooses to appeal, those documents will be unsealed on Friday. . . . Westhead’s story is right here.


Rich Pilon, a former WHL and NHL defenceman, is the new head coach of the SJHL’s WeyburnWeyburn Red Wings. The team made it official on Monday. . . . Pilon, 51, played two seasons (1986-88) with the Prince Albert Raiders, then went on to a 14-year pro career that included 631 regular-season NHL games, most of those with the New York Islanders. . . . He has coached minor hockey teams in Saskatoon, and has worked with the city’s two midget AAA teams. . . . Pilon takes over from Kyle Haines, an assistant coach who stepped in as interim head coach after the Red Wings fired Wes Rudy in December. . . . Austin Arvay of discoverweyburn.com has more right here.


F Bowden Singleton, who will turn 15 on May 15, has committed to the U of North Dakota and the Fighting Hawks for 2022-23. From Calgary, he played this season with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team, putting up 42 goals and 24 assists in 29 games. . . . He is rated as a first-round pick for Thursday’s WHL bantam draft. . . . Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald has more right here as NCAA teams rush to add commitments before the recruiting rules change. . . .

F Dylan Godbout, who is to turn 15 on Sunday, has committed to the U of Wisconsin and says he will join the Badgers for the 2022-23 season. . . . From Woodbury, Minn., Godbout had four goals and eight assists in 12 games with a bantam team, and added two goals and an assist in seven high school games. . . .

D Carson Brisson, 15, has committed to the U of Denver and the Pioneers for the 2022-23 season. . . . Brisson, from Leduc, Alta., had 18 goals and 19 assists with the bantam AAA Leduc Oil Kings this season. . . . 

D Max Burkholder, 15, has committed to Colorado College and the Tigers for 2022-23. From Chaska, Minn., he had three goals and seven assists in 14 games with a bantam team this season. . . . The Portland Winterhawks selected him in the 10th round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.


In the OHL, the Guelph Storm completed their comeback on Monday night as they beat the Spirit, 3-2, in Saginaw in Game 7 of their semifinal series. The Storm had trailed the series, 3-1, before winning three straight games. . . . In the second round, Guelph lost the first three games to London, then came back to beat the Knights in Game 7. . . . The Storm will meet the Ottawa 67’s in the final, starting Thursday in Ottawa. The 67’s are 12-0 in these playoffs.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The WHL’s championship final is to open on Friday night with the Prince Albert Raiders playing host to the Vancouver Giants. The series winner will take home the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . This is the Raiders’ first appearance in the final since 1985 when they won the title and went on to win the Memorial Cup. . . . Saskatchewan hasn’t been home to a Memorial Cup champion since the Swift Current Broncos won in Saskatoon in 1989. . . . The Giants are in the final for the first time since 2007 when they lost Game 7 to the Medicine Hat Tigers, then won the Memorial Cup as the host team. . . .

Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, has been in the WHL final on two other occasions, with the Kamloops Blazers (1999, lost to the Calgary Hitmen) and Kelowna Rockets (2003, won championship). In 2004, the Rockets, with Habscheid their head coach, won the Memorial Cup as host team. . . .

Michael Dyck, in his first season as the Giants’ head coach, was in the WHL’s 2008 final as the head coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. They were swept by the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Last season, Dyck was the head coach of the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes, who played at the Telus Cup. Two years ago, Dyck guided the minor midget Hurricanes to a league championship. In 2016, he was the head coach of the bantam AAA Lethbridge Golden Hawks, who won their league title.


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Kamloops dumps visiting Kelowna in tiebreaker. . . . Two shorthanded goals in 28 seconds seal deal. . . . Blazers go to playoffs; Rockets go home

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The Kamloops Blazers scored two goals in 28 seconds on the same third-period penalty kill en route to a 5-1 victory over the visiting Kelowna Rockets in the seventh tiebreaker game in WHL history on Tuesday night. . . . With the victory, the Blazers move into the playoffs. They will open against the Royals in Victoria on Friday. . . . Last night was only the second time in the seven tiebreakers that the home team has won. . . .

Kamloops had taken a 2-1 lead in the third period when Blazers F Ryley Appelt was Kamloops1penalized for tripping at 8:16. . . . F Connor Zary got an early jump off the Kamloops bench during a change, allowing him to get to the back of the Kelowna net in a hurry. He stripped the puck from G Roman Basran, came out the back side and stuffed it home for a 3-1 lead at 8:44. . . . A short time later, Kamloops F Brodi Stuart avoided an attempt by Basran to get a hip into him behind the net, skated out and scored for a 4-1 lead at 10:12. . . . The Rockets, whose offence pretty much dried up late in the season, weren’t able to get back in this one. . . . F Jermaine Loewen got the Blazers’ last goal, into an empty net. . . .

The Blazers dominated the first period, especially the first 12 or 13 minutes, and held a 17-7 edge in shots. Only Kelowna G Roman Basran, a post and a crossbar kept the Blazers off the scoreboard. . . . Kamloops D Jackson Caller drilled a post from the point at 9:00; F Connory Zary glanced a bad-angle flip off the crossbar two minutes later. . . . Kamloops G Dylan Garand had his moments later, especially stoning F Alex Swetlikoff from the doorstep. . . .

Kelowna pushed back in the second, but Kamloops got the game’s first goal at 4:11, just six seconds after Rockets F Dallon Wilton was penalized for interference for a hit on D KelownaRocketsJeff Faith. Zary pulled the face-off win back to F Kyrell Sopotyk on the point. He ripped a wrist shot past Basran’s blocker, off a post and in. . . . The officials went to video review at 7:38 after the Blazers crashed the Kelowna net, but whatever had happened was ruled no goal. . . . The Rockets tied it at 7:56 when D Kaedan Korczak got to a shoot-in along the right boards, and slipped a pass to F Mark Liwiski. His quick backhand seemed to surprise Garand and got past him for the equalizer. . . . The Blazers thought they might have scored at 13:14 when the puck bounced off the back boards, over top of the net and into the Kelowna crease area. However, it was ruled that Kamloops F Logan Stankoven had come in contact with the puck with a high stick. . . . Kelowna got its first PP at 15:26 after Faith was hit with an interference penalty for a hit on F Nolan Foote. Other than Foote hitting a post early, the Rockets really didn’t threaten. . . . Kelowna outshot Kamloops, 13-7, in that period. . . .

The Blazers broke the 1-1 tie at 6:10 of the third period when Kelowna D Dalton Gally went down early in an attempt to cut off a pass, only to have Blazers F Kobe Mohr toedrag around him and snap a shot past Basran from the high slot. . . . Then came Zary’s shorthanded goal, followed by a Mohr penalty shot on which Basran was able to get his five-hole closed in time to prevent a goal. . . . It was left for Stuart to get his shorthanded goal and for Loewen to add the empty-netter. . . .

Garand, a 16-year-old freshman from Victoria, made his seventh straight start in the absence of the injured Dylan Ferguson. The Blazers are 6-0-1 over that stretch. . . . Garand finished with 27 saves in this one. . . . Ferguson skated with the Blazers on Monday, but wasn’t dressed last night. The burning question in Kamloops until Friday night will be this: Does Garand get to start his first playoff game in his hometown if Ferguson is healthy? . . . G Danton Belluk, whose WHL rights belong to the Everett Silvertips, remains with the Blazers on an emergency basis. He backed up Garand last night. . . .

Basran, who kept the Rockets from getting blown out in the first period, self-destructed in the third when he gave up the two shorthanded goals. He was beaten four times on 34 shots in 50:12. James Porter came on to finish up after the Blazers’ fourth goal. He stopped all five shots he faced. . . .

As expected, each team added a first-round 2018 bantam draft pick to its lineup. Stankoven, who won the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League scoring title with the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers, was in the Kamloops lineup. F Trevor Wong, from the major midget Greater Vancouver Canadians, played for the Rockets. . . . Stankoven was the fifth-overall pick in that draft; Wong was taken with the 18th selection. . . .

Attendance was announced at 5,876, and there weren’t many empty seats. It was the Blazers’ second announced sellout of the season. On Feb. 18, the Blazers beat the visiting Tri-City Americans, 3-1, on Family Day. The announced crowed that day also was 5,876, but there were about 1,000 empty seats. . . .

While the Blazers head for Victoria, the Rockets’ season has ended. This means that the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup won’t appear in this spring’s playoffs. . . . The Rockets fired head coach Jason Smith after a 4-10-0 start. They hired Adam Foote to replace him and went 24-22-8, plus last night’s loss, with him in control. . . .

The WHL’s draft lottery is scheduled to be held today (Wednesday). As one of six non-playoff teams, the Rockets will be participants. The six lottery teams, with regular-season points in parenthesis, are the Swift Current Broncos (28), Winnipeg Ice (36), Regina Pats (42), Prince George Cougars (46), Kelowna Rockets (64) and Brandon Wheat Kings (70). . . . A team is able to move up only two spots in the lottery, so one of those first three teams will own the first pick. However, the Cougars hold Swift Current’s selection, and the Saskatoon Blades own Regina’s pick. . . . When the draft is held on May 2 in Red Deer, the Blazers will hold the seventh selection.

——

There have been seven tiebreakers in WHL history . . .

2018-19: Kelowna 1 at Kamloops 5.

2015-16: Edmonton Oil Kings 6 at Medicine Hat Tigers 4.

2013-14: Prince Albert Raiders 5 at Red Deer Rebels 3.

2008-09: Edmonton Oil Kings 2 at Prince Albert Raiders 1 (OT).

1989-90: Brandon Wheat Kings 4 at Swift Current Broncos 5.

1983-84: Calgary Wranglers 8 at Saskatoon Blades 7 (OT).

1980-81: Spokane Flyers 10 at New Westminster Bruins 9 (OT).

——


You may recall that on Feb. 15 the OHL announced that the Niagara IceDogs had been ohlfined $250,000 and also had two first-round draft picks taken away for recruiting violations. . . . Rick Westhead of TSN reported Tuesday that all of this had to do with a player emailing David Branch, the OHL commissioner, to say that the IceDogs had promised to pay him $10,000 for each season he played with them, and then reneged on the deal. . . . As Westhead reported: “A law firm hired by the Ontario Hockey League concluded that the Niagara IceDogs breached the league’s player recruitment rules by entering into a secret ‘side deal’ with a former player, according to a court decision obtained by TSN.” . . . Westhead’s story is right here.


The Prince George Cougars have signed D Ethan Samson to a WHL contract. He was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. From North Delta, B.C., he played this season with the Delta Hockey Academy’s Elite 15 team. In 33 games, he had seven goals and 17 assists.



The Brandon Wheat Kings have signed D Logen Hammett to a WHL contract. From Regina, Hammett will turn 16 on April 3. This season, with the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians, he had four goals and 19 assists in 40 games. The Wheat Kings selected him in the fifth round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.


F Rieger Lorenz, a likely first-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft, announced via Twitter on Tuesday that he has committed to the U of Denver Pioneers. Lorenz, who will turn 15 on March 30, is from Calgary. He had 11 goals and 25 assists in 30 games with the Edge School’s bantam prep team this season. . . . Lorenz is the fourth high-end bantam draft prospect to announce a commitment to the NCAA route in the last while, following F Matt Savoie (Denver), D Mats Lindgren (Michigan) and F Connor Levis (Michigan).


F Tanner Nagel, who finished up his WHL career with the Swift Current Broncos on Saturday, made his pro debut on Tuesday night with the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies. . . . Nagel was pointless in a 4-3 loss to the visiting Rapid City Rush. . . . With the Broncos, Nagel had 13 goals and 10 assists in 65 games.


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