THE BEDARD REPORT: F Connor Bedard scored his 60th goal of the season on Wednesday night but it didn’t mean a whole lot as his Regina Pats dropped a 3-2 decision to the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Bedard, who was playing in his 49th game of the season, is the first WHLer with 60 goals since 2017-18 when F Jayden Halbgewachs of the Moose Jaw Warriors finished with 70 in 72 games. . . . The last Regina skater to get to 60 goals was F Ronald Petrovicky, who finished the 1997-98 season with 64 in 71 games. . . . Bedard leads the WHL in goals (60), assists (64) and points (124). However, he has only one point in his past two games. . . . Next up? The Pats, with eight games remaining in the regular season, venture into Alberta for two games — Friday in Lethbridge and Saturday in Medicine Hat.
If the WHL playoffs started today:
Winnipeg (1) vs. Swift Current (8)
Red Deer (2) vs. Medicine Hat (7)
Saskatoon (3) vs. Regina (6)
Moose Jaw (4) vs. Lethbridge (5)
Seattle (1) vs. Kelowna (8)
Kamloops (2) vs. Vancouver (7)
Portland (3) vs. Tri-City (6)
Prince George (4) vs. Everett (5)
WEDNESDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:
In Red Deer, the Rebels clinched the Central Division title with a 2-1 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Red Deer last finished on top of the division in 2010-11. . . . F Kai Uchacz got his 47th goal for Red Deer in the first period, but it was F Jhett Larson’s 15th, shorthanded, at 14:04 of the second that was the winner. . . . D Chase Pauls (6) scored for Lethbridge with 17 seconds left in the third period. . . . G Chase Coward, in his first appearance this season, stopped 20 shots to earn the victory. The Rebels had announced prior to training camp that Coward, who turned 20 on Jan. 19, would be out for a while as he dealt with a medical situation. Last season, as a freshman, he was 22-10-2, 2.51, .906. . . . Red Deer (40-17-5) has points in three straight (2-0-1). It is 15 points ahead of the second-place Hurricanes (32-23-6), who have seven games remaining. . . .
Here’s more on Coward, this from Elliotte Friedman’s latest 32 Thoughts, which is right here:
“(I) wanted to recognize 20-year-old Chase Coward of WHL Red Deer. Coward is scheduled to start for the Rebels Wednesday night against Lethbridge. Last summer, Coward, not drafted by an NHL team, was invited to the Canadian World Junior Team’s summer camp, and also to Buffalo’s development camp. However, he failed his physical due to hip injuries, although the Sabres kindly allowed him to stay.
“In August, Rebels uberboss Brent Sutter announced Coward ‘underwent testing and discovered a congenital defect to his lower body. At this time Chase has decided he will not attend training camp or be a part of the Rebels roster to start the season, and we support him as he navigates through the process.’ There was concern Coward’s hockey career was over at waaaaaaaaaay too young an age. As I write this, I’m not 100 per cent sure of the procedures he went through, but it was a gruelling process and recovery against big odds. Wishing Chase good luck as he returns to action.” . . .
F Josh Pillar scored twice to help the Saskatoon Blades to a 5-3 victory over the visiting Swift Current Broncos. . . . Pillar, who turned 21 on Feb. 14, missed a good chunk of the season with an undisclosed injury. He has six goals in 21 games. He didn’t play between Nov. 26 and Feb. 17; these were his first two goals in nine games since returning to the lineup. . . . The Blades got out to a 3-0 lead — D Tanner Molendyk (8) made it 3-0 at 7:33 of the second period — and were never headed. . . . The Broncos twice got to within a goal but weren’t able to equalize. . . . F Brandon Lisowsky (32) iced it with the empty-netter. . . . F Josh Filmon (43) scored twice for the Broncos. . . . The Blades got 36 stops from G Ethan Chadwick (21-8-2, 2.53, .903). . . . Saskatoon (43-13-5) has points in 11 straight (10-0-1). . . . Swift Current (28-29-3) has lost two in a row and is clinging to the Eastern Conference’s last playoff spot, one point ahead of Calgary and Brandon. . . .
The Edmonton Oil Kings, owners of the poorest record in the WHL, snapped an 11-game losing skid with a 3-2 victory over the Pats in Regina. . . . F Marshall Finnie (7) snapped a 1-1 tie at 15:36 of the first period and F Gavin Hodnett (12) made it 3-1, on a PP, at 12:20 of the second. . . . G Kolby Hay earned his sixth victory of the season with 31 saves. . . . Edmonton (9-48-3) won’t be in the playoffs this season after winning the championship last season. . . . Regina (31-26-3) has lost two straight. It is sixth in the Eastern Conference, four points ahead of Medicine Hat. . . .
G Nick Jones earned his first WHL shutout with 26 saves as the host Brandon Wheat Kings beat the Medicine Hat Tigers, 2-0. . . . F Zakhar Polshakov (7) gave Brandon a 1-0 lead at 5:19 of the second period and that’s all the offence that Jones needed. . . . Jones, an 18-year-old from Calgary, was a fifth-round pick in the WHL’s 2019 draft. This season, he is 4-12-3, 4.17, .865. . . . Brandon (25-28-8) has won two in a row and is only one point from a playoff spot. . . . Medicine Hat (26-26-9) has lost two straight and is seventh in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of Swift Current. . . .
The Kamloops Blazers scored the game’s first four goals and went on to a 7-1 victory over the Silvertips in Everett. . . . D Owen Zellweger, who was acquired from Everett in January, had a goal (25) and two assists. He leads all WHL defencemen in goals. . . . F Jakub Demek also had a goal (2) and two assists. . . . The Blazers were without F Logan Stankoven, who left a 3-2 shootout victory over the host Seattle Thunderbirds in the second period on Tuesday with an undisclosed injury and didn’t return. The team is listing him as being out day-to-day. . . . Kamloops (42-11-6) has won four in a row and will finish atop the B.C. Division. . . . Everett (30-27-3) has lost three straight. It is tied with Tri-City for fifth in the Western Conference. . . .
The Prince George Cougars scored four times on the PP en route to a 6-2 victory over the Rockets in Kelowna. . . . The Cougars broke a 2-2 tie with four third-period goals, three of them on the PP. . . . F Riley Heidt recorded three assists, giving him 60 and Prince George’s single-season record for most assists. The previous record (59) was held by F Jansen Harkins 2014-15). . . . D Hudson Thornton also had three assists for the Cougars. . . . The visitors were 4-for-7 on the PP; the home side was 0-for-5. . . . Prince George had a 47-18 edge in shots. . . . The Rockets were without G Talyn Boyko (undisclosed injury) for a second straight game. . . . Prince George (31-24-5) has points in three straight (2-0-1). It is fourth in the Western Conference, four points ahead of Everett and Tri-City. . . . Kelowna (23-34-3) has lost three in a row. It is eighth in the conference and appears headed for a first-round meeting with Seattle. The Thunderbirds will open at home with games on March 31 and April 1. They announced last night that tickets for those two games will go on sale on March 15.
D Chloe Primerano, 16, led the Canada Winter Games women’s hockey tournament in scoring, with 14 points, including nine assists, in six games as her U-18 B.C. team won gold. You may recall that the Vancouver Giants selected her in the 13th round of the 2022 WHL draft and she attended their training camp. . . . This season, the North Vancouver native is playing for the U-18 female team at the Rink Hockey Academy in Kelowna, and the Giants are contemplating bringing her back to camp prior to next season. . . . In the meantime, she will be getting advice on her hockey-playing future from the Creative Artists Agency (CAA). The chances are far greater of her playing NCAA hockey than in the WHL and CAA will provide her with guidance. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia has more right here. . . .
The BCHL has announced that it will hold its annual Showcase featuring all 18 teams in Seattle next season. This will be the first time since the inaugural event was held in 2012 that it hasn’t been held in Chilliwack. . . . The 2023 Showcase will be held in the Kraken Community Iceplex, the practice facility for the NHL’s Seattle Kraken. The facility includes three rinks and 12 dressing rooms. . . . Each BCHL team will play two regular-season games during four days in October. The precise dates have yet to be announced. . . .
The Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) is in Penticton for the long haul. From a Wednesday news release: “The CSSHL and its partners Okanagan Hockey Group, OVG360, Travel Penticton and the City of Penticton has reached an agreement for a 10-year agreement (five years, with an additional five-year renewal clause) to host the Western Championships beginning in March 2024.” . . . Also from that news release: “This month’s tournament features 86 teams and roughly 1,900 players and staff who are competing in the CSSHL Western Championships over a period of two weeks. Roughly 4,000 spectators are expected to attend the event. The sponsorship agreement, worth $100,000 per year, will see the number of participants increase to 95 Western Division teams next season as Penticton becomes host of the CSSHL’s Western championships.” . . .
Nela Lopušanová, the Slovakian Sensation, will leave home next season to play for the U-19 Bishop Kearney Selects, a program that is based in Rochester, N.Y. Lopušanová, who turned 15 on Feb. 26, is from Zilina. She perhaps first came to prominence earlier this season when, as a 14-year-old, she put up 12 points, nine of them goals, at the World Women’s U-18 tournament. She has 43 points, 18 of them goals, in 14 games with Zilina’s U-16 team, and has 28 goals and 21 assists in eight games with a Zilina club in a Slovakian women’s league.
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