Two OHL teams file lawsuits over COVID-19 losses . . . Berard and Canada into semifinal at U18 tourney . . . Ominous words from B.C.’s top doctor?

That was a public service announcement from the premier of Nova Scotia. Please pay attention to what he has to say.


A pair of OHL teams — the Kingston Frontenacs and Sudbury Wolves — had pandemic-related insurance claims rejected by insurers and now have filed lawsuits claiming breach of contract, according to Rick Westhead of TSN. . . . Westhead reported that the Frontenacs filed a $1.1-million lawsuit against Lloyd’s Insurance Co., on Jan. 22, and the Wolves filed a $1-million lawsuit against Intact Insurance Co., on March 12. . . . Both teams are claiming that insurers breached contracts by “refusing to cover financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Westhead wrote. . . . His complete story is right here. . . . You are free to wonder if this is the start of something.


An update to something I mentioned here late last week. . . . F Peyton Krebs isn’t Vegasgoing to the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights; rather, he bypassed the AHL and went straight to the NHL where he made his debut with the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday night against the host Minnesota Wild. . . . Krebs recorded his first NHL point — an assist — in 9 minutes 5 seconds of ice time in a 6-5 loss to the Wild. He got the primary assist on a first-period goal by F Alex Tuch that gave Vegas a 3-2 lead. . . . Vegas selected him with the 17th pick of the NHL’s 2019 draft. Krebs just finished his 19-year-old season with the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice by leading the Regina hub with 43 points in 24 games. . . . He has AHL experience, having put up a goal and four assists in five games with the Silver Knights before the WHL season began. . . .

Meanwhile, the NHL’s San Jose Sharks have said they have assigned F Ozzy Wiesblatt of the Prince Albert Raiders to the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda. The Sharks selected him 31st overall in the NHL’s 2020 draft. Wiesblatt, who turned 19 on March 9, made his AHL debut before the WHL season started, scoring one goal in three games. . . . This season with the Raiders, he had seven goals and 21 assists in 23 games in the Regina hub.



F Connor Bedard had two goals and three assists on Monday as Canada dumped U18Czech Republic, 10-3, in one of four quarterfinal games at the IIHF U18 World Championship in Frisco and Plano, Texas. . . . Also on Monday, Sweden dumped Team USA, 5-2; Finland blanked Switzerland, 2-0; and Russia beat Belarus, 5-2. . . . The semifinals are scheduled for Wednesday with Canada playing Sweden at 2 p.m. PT, and Finland meeting Russia at 6 p.m. PT. . . . Bedard, 15, has three goals and six assists in five games. . . . Russian F Matvei Michkov, who turned 16 on Dec. 9, leads the tournament in goals (10) and points (12).


It appears that the WHL’s Everett Silvertips have lost D Kasper Puutio to KalPa EverettKuopio of Finland’s top professional league. It was announced Monday that Puutio has signed a two-year contract with the Liiga team. . . . Puutio, who will turn 19 on June 3, played with the Swift Current Broncos, who had selected him first overall in the 2019 CHL import draft, and the Silvertips in 2019-20, but pandemic-related travel restrictions meant he stayed in Finland this season. . . . Playing in Liiga with Kärpät, Puutio had a goal and two assists in 29 games. He also had two assists with Finland’s national junior team as it finished third at the World Junior Championship in Edmonton. . . . The Silvertips acquired him from the Broncos on Jan. 10, 2020. He had one goal and 15 assists in 35 games with the Broncos, then added four goals and eight assists in 21 games with the Silvertips. . . . The Florida Panthers selected him in the fifth round of the NHL’s 2020 draft.


The AHL announced that is has postponed a game between the Utica Comets and host Rochester Americans that was to have been played on Monday night. The move was made “out of an abundance of caution in accordance with league protocols.” . . . The AHL didn’t release any other information. . . . Earlier this season, the Comets lost 10 straight games due to an outbreak within their roster.

Meanwhile, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche placed G Devan Dubnyk on the COVID-19 protocol list on Monday. Later that night, it was confirmed that he has tested positive and will be sidelined for at least two weeks while he is in quarantine.


Whistleblower


If you are in B.C., and if you’re looking forward to big crowds at sporting events in three or four months, well, there were some ominous words from Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, on Monday.

During a news conference, she said:

“We have seen that things can happen and change very quickly . . . there is not likely to be big events of any sort, even outdoors, through this summer, and into the fall and winter of next year.”

I don’t know exactly what this means, but I have a feeling there will be a whole lot more on this in the days ahead.

Meanwhile, there was one WHL game on Monday night . . .

In Kamloops, F Matthew Seminoff opened and closed the scoring and D Fraser KamloopsMinten picked up four assists as the Blazers beat the Victoria Royals, 5-2. . . . Kamloops (14-4-0) has won two in a row. . . . Victoria (2-14-2) had points in each of its previous two games (1-0-1). . . . The Blazers points percentage now is .778, putting them back atop the B.C. Division, just ahead of the idle Kelowna Rockets (8-2-1, .773). . . . Seminoff, who has eight goals, gave the Blazers a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 4:19 of the first period. . . . The Royals tied it at 10:46 when F Brandon Cutler (8) scored on a PP. . . . Kamloops went back in front at 1:23 of the second period on a goal by F Daylan Kuefler (4). But the Royals got it right back when F Tarun Fizer (5) scored 25 seconds later. . . . However, Kamloops scored the game’s next three goals. . . . F Tye Spencer (2) broke the tie 16 seconds after Fizer’s goal. . . . F Connor Levis (6) struck on a PP at 18:24, and Seminoff wrapped up the scoring at 14:40 of the third period. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 24 shots for Kamloops, four fewer than the Royals’ Adam Evanoff. . . . Minten, 16, was a fourth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. He went into this game with a goal and seven assists in 15 games. . . . D Austin Zemlak made his WHL debut with the Royals. From Fort McMurray, he was the ninth overall selection in the 2020 bantam draft. . . . The Blazers were without F Connor Zary for a third straight game after he was injured on a high hit in a 5-1 loss to the Prince George Cougars on Wednesday night. The Blazers have four games remaining before wrapping up their season on May 12 and you have to wonder if Zary will return at all. . . . F Jonny Hooker of the Cougars had his suspension set at four games on Monday. He has sat out two, so won’t play tonight or Wednesday — the Cougars are scheduled to play Kelowna and Vancouver — before being eligible to return Saturday against Victoria.


CBC News reported Monday afternoon that Bernie Lynch, a longtime hockey coach who was on the staff of the WHL’s Regina Pats in 1988-89, “has been charged with sexual assault and assault . . . following a complaint from a former player.” . . . The Regina Police Service issued a warrant for his arrest on Friday and, according to CBC News, Lynch turned himself in to police in Devon, Alta. . . . “He faces one count each of sexual assault and assault,” CBC reported, “dating back to August 1988. The complainant was 17 at the time.” . . . The complete story is right here.


——

Don’t forget that my wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation 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.


Gator

Oil Barons cite safety concerns in ending season . . . Blades to retire No. 44 . . . WHL’s Regina hub season ends


The Fort McMurray Oil Barons announced on Wednesday that they are opting ajhlout of the remainder of the AJHL season. . . . Here’s David Fitzgerald, the team president, from a news release: “The Oil Barons organization has decided to conclude the 2020-21 season early out of concern for the safety of our players, billet families, staff and all involved with our league amid the local state of emergency in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. This was a difficult choice, but one we felt was necessary to maintain the health and safety of our organization and community. With case numbers in our community among the highest per capita in Alberta, we feel strongly that this is the best decision — even though it goes against our competitive nature.” . . . Fort McMurray Today reported Wednesday: “At the time of the announcement, the RMWB had 1499.8 cases per 100,000 people, the highest in Alberta and Canada. The region has 1,235 cases in Fort McMurray and 17 in rural areas, more than the rest of rural Alberta. These numbers do not include the commuter workforce. The region also had outbreaks at 19 workplaces and 14 schools.” . . . The Oil Barons went 12-1-3 in this shortened season.


Canada’s Olympic swim trials were to have been held from May 24-28, but now have been moved to June 19-23. They are scheduled for the Pan Am Sports Centre in Toronto. However, the COVID-19 situation in Toronto and area is not good at the moment. . . . Ahmed El-Awadi, Swim Canada’s CEO, said in a statement: “Swimming Canada is also pursuing options for holding the trials elsewhere in North America should running the event in Toronto not be viable based on factors at the time. “The dates would remain the same in an alternate location.” . . . At the same time, the Paralympic part of the trials has been cancelled because the new dates conflict with a meet in Berlin. “We will create alternative competitive opportunities,” El-Awadi said.


The Canadian Grand Prix has been nixed for 2021, with the Turkish Grand Prix replacing it on the Formula 1 calendar, June 11-13. . . . From a Formula 1 news release: “Due to the ongoing international travel restrictions in place in Canada it became impossible for Formula 1 to enter the country without a mandatory 14-day quarantine, leading to the change.” . . . The tour returned to Istanbul last year, in November, for the first time in nine years.


Ham


By now, you’re wondering who will be the head coach of the Seattle Kraken when the expansion team begins play next season. . . . Well, Bodog, an online sportsbook, has posted some odds:

Gerard Gallant +175

Bruce Boudreau +250

Claude Julien +450

Todd Nelson +900

Rikard Gronborg +1100

Rod Brind’Amour +1200

John Stevens +1200

Mike Babcock +1200

Mike Vellucci +1400

Dan Bylsma +2000

Mike Yeo +2000

I might be inclined to go with Gallant, who will be the head coach of the Canadian team at the IIHF World Hockey Championship in Latvia next month, but I also noticed one omission. Travis Green, whose contract as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks is expiring, isn’t on the list. I’m thinking he should be, maybe even at +200.


The seven teams in the Regina hub — five from Saskatchewan, two from WHL2Manitoba — are all finished with the WHL’s 2020-21 development season, and each team got in 24 games. That was the plan when it started and it worked because there wasn’t even one positive test in the more than two months that teams were holed up in dorms at the U of Regina and Luther College. . . . Some numbers about the Regina hub from the WHL: 48 days, 84 games, 1,930 tests for COVID-19, 0 positive tests.

There also were three other games last night. . . .

F Chase Wouters, playing his 280th regular-season game with Saskatoon, Bladesscored the game-winner as the Blades beat the Brandon Wheat Kings, 5-2, to close out their season in the Regina hub. . . . After the game, Colin Priestner, the Blades’ president and general manager, revealed that the team will be retiring No. 44 in honour of the team’s first three-season captain. . . . Brandon (18-4-2), which had a seven-game winning streak snapped, finished atop the Regina hub standings. . . . Saskatoon (16-5-3) won its last two and finished third. . . . D Wyatt McLeod (3) gave Saskatoon a 1-0 lead at 13:59 of the first period, and F Brandon Lisowsky (8) made it 2-0 just 51 seconds into the second. . . . The Wheat Kings tied it on a pair of PP goals from F Lynden McCallum, at 11:59 and 17:56. . . . McCallum finished with 21 goals in 22 games, including nine in his last four games. He scored seven PP goals over his last three games. In those last four games, he twice was first star and twice was third star. . . . Wouters snapped the 2-2 tie with his 10th goal, at 18:38 of the second period. . . . F Colton Dach (10) added insurance at 15:55 of the third, and F Kyle Crnkovic (11) got the empty-netter. . . . F Ridly Greig had two assists for Brandon. You may recall that he tested positive prior the Canadian junior team’s selection camp in December so missed the World Junior Championship. In Regina, he finished with 10 goals and 22 assists in 21 games. . . . The Blades got 35 saves from G Nolan Maier, who went 12-3-2, 2.34 .915. . . . Six players in this one concluded their WHL careers. For an indication of how much experience these teams lose from their lineups with these departures, here’s a note from Les Lazaruk, the long-time radio voice of the Blades: “Brandon’s trio of 20-year-old forwards Lynden McCallum, Reid Perepeluk and Marcus Sekundiak have 482 total games in the WHL. Saskatoon’s 20s — F Chase Wouters, F Caiden Daley and D Wyatt McLeod — have a combined 788 games.” . . . The Blades have retired five other sweater numbers — 7 (Brent Ashton, Gerry Pinder); 10 (Brian Skrudland); 12 (Bob Bourne); 15 (Bernie Federko); and 22 (Wendel Clark). . . .

F Ozzy Wiesblatt scored in OT to give the Prince Albert Raiders a 6-5 victory Raidersover the Swift Current Broncos in the final game in the Regina hub. . . . The Raiders finished 9-11-4, while the Broncos went 6-16-2. . . . The Broncos had forced OT with two goals in the second half of the third period. D Mathew Ward (6) scored, on a PP, at 10:53 and F Cole Nagy (7) tied it at 18:57. . . . To go back to the beginning, the Broncos opened the scoring — F Raphael Pelletier (4) — at 6:42 of the first period. . . . The Raiders took a 2-1 lead on a PP goal from F Reece Vitelli, at 13:21, and D Terrell Goldsmith (2), at 18:46. . . . F Bode Hogan (3) pulled Swift Current even at 6:48 of the second, but Prince Albert went ahead 4-2 on goals from F Tyson Laventure (5), at 17:48 of the second, and F Justin Nachbaur (9), at 0:16 of the third. . . . F Carter Stebbings (4) cut the Broncos’ deficit to one at 1:39, but Vitelli (7) got it back at 7:03. . . . Vitelli also had an assist for a three-point night. . . . The Broncos got three assists from F Michael Farren, in his final WHL game. . . . Raiders G Max Paddock had his WHL career end at 8:01 of the third period when he was hit with a match penalty for attempt to injury after using his blocker to punch F Josh Davies, who had fallen into him. Davies was given an unsportsmanlike minor. . . . G Carter Serhyenko came on in relief, stopped six of eight shots in 12:53, and got the victory. . . . Attendance on the online scoresheet was listed at 190. Obviously the official scorer was a jokester as the WHL games in Canada are being played without fans in attendance. . . .

F Adam Beckman broke a 3-3 tie with a PP goal at 17:05 of the third period to give the host Spokane Chiefs a 4-3 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . This was Tri-City’s first game since April 13 as it was forced to suspend team activities because of a couple of positive tests. . . . Spokane (5-7-3) had lost its previous two games. . . . The Americans (5-8-0) have lost three in a row. . . . Beckman, who led the WHL in goals last season, scored three times, giving him 11, and had an assist. . . . The Chiefs also got two goals and two assists from F Eli Zummack, who has seven goals. . . . F Sasha Mutala (5) gave the Americans a 1-0 lead at 4:39 of the first period, with Zummack equalizing at 16:15. . . . F Booker Daniel (3) put the Americans back in front at 1:09 of the first, but Beckman, at 3:51, and Zummack, at 10:25, gave the Chiefs a 3-2 lead. . . . F Nick Bowman (1) got the Americans back into a tie at 17:58. . . . Beckman broke the tie and then added the empty-netter. . . . G Manny Panghli, 16, made his first WHL start for the Chiefs and stopped 33 shots. He is an undrafted signee of the Chiefs. Panghli didn’t start playing goal until he was 10 years of age. He grew up in Merritt, B.C., and moved to Kamloops in 2018. He signed with the Chiefs on Feb. 16, after playing on the U17 Prep Black team at OHA in Penticton for head coach Robert Dirk, a former Regina Pats defenceman. . . . Veteran F Luke Toporowski is back with the Chiefs after playing 32 games with the Sioux Falls Stampede — he had 14 goals and 19 assists in 32 games. He didn’t play last night, but could play Saturday against the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. . . .

F Ronan Seeley scored twice and added an assist to help the host Everett EverettSilvertips to a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Everett (15-3-0) has won six in a row and holds an 11-point lead over the idle Portland Winterhawks atop the U.S. Division. . . . Seattle (7-10-0) has lost five straight. . . . F Jacob Wright (8) gave Seattle a 1-0 lead at 1:16 of the first period, only to have D Luke Bateman (1) scored for Everett just 32 seconds later. . . . Everett got the next two goals — from F Cole Fonstad (13), shorthanded, at 13:31 of the first, and Seeley, at 15:18 of the second. . . . F Jordan Gustafson (5) got Seattle to within a goal, on a PP, at 5:28 of the third period. . . . Seeley (4), on a PP at 14:49, and D Ty Gibson (1), into an empty net, put this one away. . . . Seeley, the 20th overall pick in the 2017 bantam draft, has four goals in 18 games. He went into this season with four goals in 115 games. . . . Everett G Dustin Wolf stopped 29 shots. He is 14-2-0, 1.69, .944. . . .

F Keaton Dowhaniuk scored once and added three assists to lead the Prince PGGeorge Cougars to a 5-1 victory over the Kamloops Blazers. . . . The game was played in Kamloops with the Cougars as the home team. . . . Prince George (6-7-2) has won two in a row. . . . Kamloops (12-3-0) had won its previous five games. . . . The Cougars took a 3-0 lead into the third period on goals from F Tyson Upper (2), D Ethan Samson (1) and Dowhaniuk (3), the latter coming shorthanded. . . . F Josh Pillar (8) scored Kamloops’ goal, on a PP, at 6:35 of the third period. . . . Cougars F Connor Bowie (6) made it 4-1 at 6:52 and F Koehn Ziemmer (4) added another PP goal, at 13:34. . . . Kamloops F Connor Zary left in the second period after what Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week described as “a dangerous hit to the head.” Zary was helped from the ice by Kamloops trainer Colin Robinson. “Clear head injury,” Hastings tweeted. . . . F Jonny Hooker was given a minor penalty on the play and Dowhaniuk scored shorthanded while he was in stir. . . . The Cougars got 37 saves from G Taylor Gauthier.

The Blazers and Cougars are scheduled to meet one more time this season — on May 12, in what is to be the final game for each team.


Desserted


F Dylan Guenther’s goal at 10:38 of the third period stood up as the winner as U18Canada beat Latvia, 4-2, in a Group A game at the IIHF U18 World Championship in Texas on Wednesday. . . . Canada is 2-0; Lativia is 0-2. . . . Guenther, from the Edmonton Oil Kings, also had an assist. F Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers also had a goal and an assist, while F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats drew two assists. . . . In Wednesday’s other game, Finland won its second straight game, beating Czech Republic, 6-5, in Group B. Samu Tuomaala’s PP goal with 19 seconds left in the third period won it. . . . On Thursday, it’s Sweden (1-1) against Switzerland (1-1) and Belarus (1-1) against Latvia in Group A, and Germany (0-2) versus Russia (0-1-1) and Czech Republic (1-1) versus Team USA (1-0-1) in Group B. . . . Canada’s next game is scheduled for Friday against Switzerland.


Avangard Omsk won its first KHL championship on Wednesday, beating CSKA Moscow, 1-0, in Game 6 of the best-of-seven final. The game’s lone goal came from F Sergey Tolchinsky in the final minute of the first period. . . . Omsk head coach Bob Hartley now has won championships in the CJHL (Hawkesbury Hawks, 1989-90, 1990-91), QMJHL (Laval Titan, 1992-93), AHL (Hershey Bears, 1996-97), NHL (Colorado Avalanche, 2000-01), Swiss NLA (ZSC Lions, 2011-12) and now the KHL.


Don’t forget that my wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation 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.


JUST NOTES: Rick Hannibal is the new general manager of the junior B Oceanside Generals of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. He has been on the club’s board of directors since 2016-17. He takes over from Andrew Riddell, who left the position after getting promotion within his full-time employer. . . . Carson Grant has joined the VIJHL’s Comox Valley Glacier Kings as an assistant coach and scout. Included in his resume is a stint as a scout with the WHL’s Victoria Royals.


Gascars

Canucks’ situation goes from bad to worse . . . P.1 variant on the move . . . ESPN reports some players “in rough shape”

A tweet from the mother of a player from the Vancouver Canucks who has tested positive . . .

——

If you are in management with a junior hockey team that is playing games these days, you have to be holding your breath. . . .

The NHL’s Vancouver Canucks are in dire straits. . . . When we went to bed on Friday, the Canucks had Canucksseven roster players on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. As well, one player off their taxi squad had tested positive, as had one coach.

About 24 hours later, the count was 14 roster players on the COVID-19 list, meaning they had tested positive or were deemed a high-risk close contact, along with the taxi squad player, and now three coaches who have been reported as being positive.

A number of the positive tests have been reported to involve the P.1 variant that is more easily transmissible and more vicious than the original virus.

Roster players added to the list on Saturday were F Travis Boyd, G Thatcher Demko, F Jayce Hawyrluk, F Bo Horvat, F Tyler Motte, D Tyler Myers and F Brandon Sutter.

They joined F Adam Gaudette, D Travis Hamonic, D Alex Edler, F Zack MacEwen, G Braden Holtby, D Quinn Hughes and F Antoine Roussel on the list.

Postmedia confirmed that Hawryluk has tested positive for the second time. He had tested positive while with the Ottawa Senators in March.

Emily Kaplan of ESPN reported Saturday that “one source told ESPN that ‘there are some players in rough shape tonight.’ ”

Pierre LeBrun of TSN reported that the number of Canucks on the protocol list “is likely to grow.” He also reported that the NHL “is now proceeding on the assumption that essentially the whole Canucks team will likely test positive.”

Meanwhile, the QMJHL now has five teams in mandatory isolation, having shut down the Gatineau qmjhlnewOlympiques, Quebec Remparts, Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, Baie-Comeau Drakkar and Rimouski Oceanic on Saturday. The Olympiques and Remparts each recorded a positive test. Both teams played against the other three teams in recent days, so they were put into isolation, too. The Sherbrooke Phoenix were shut down earlier in the week, but were given the OK to return to team activities on Friday after all players and staff tested negative. . . . Having put five teams into isolation, the QMJHL announced that it has delayed the start of its playoffs. Its Quebec-based teams completed their regular seasons on Friday and were to begin playoffs on Thursday. The teams in the Maritimes are scheduled to continue with regular-season games through May 1 and begin playoffs on May 4. . . .

The AJHL shut down the Okotoks Oilers on Friday, as they became the fourth team in the league to be put into that position. The Drayton Valley Thunder, Grande Prairie Storm and Whitecourt Wolverines, who had been playing in one cohort, went into isolation earlier in the week. . . .

And, of course, the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets have experienced seven positive tests — four players and three staff members — and are in the early days of their 14-day isolation period.

What we haven’t heard from any of the 10 junior teams that now are on hold is whether any of the positive tests involved variants.

As Thomas Drance of The Athletic pointed out: “P.1 variant is a whole new beast . . . It’s here, spreading and even tough on pro athletes . . . P.1 ripped through a workplace with strict protocols, a huge PPE budget and daily testing in days.”

If there’s one thing we should have learned over the past year it’s that this virus — and now the variants — travel really well. And It would appear that P.1 is on its way east.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer, tweeted Saturday afternoon that “we are currently investigating a significant outbreak in Alberta involving P.1 variants of concern (the variant that originated in Brazil) . . . Health officials are working hard to limit the future spread and reaching out directly to those at risk of exposure.”

Unfortunately, Alberta officials didn’t offer up any other details, it being the weekend and all that.
But if you’re in management with a junior hockey team surely you are wondering if your team should even be playing.

——

Micaela Gaudette, the wife of Vancouver Canucks’ forward Adam Gaudette, tried to enlighten the Twitterverse on the state of affairs in her household on Thursday with this:

“I’ve been feeling fine other than being tired and I just woke up with a bad headache. My hubby isn’t in great shape but I’m taking good care of him! Thank you to all that have said kind things to us during this time.”

Of course, the mouth-breathers on social media chimed in, too, resulting in Micaela later tweeting this:

“People on Twitter are ruthless. A human being gets sick with a virus we don’t know much about and (ya’ll) are angry at him because you can’t watch a game on TV?”

If you hadn’t already figured it out, it’s true that social media really knows no shame.



The MLB season began on Thursday. Thankfully. No more watching the Boston Bruins on Sportsnet, which means no more having to listen to the inanity that is Jack Edwards and his sidekick, the Brick. . . . No, we couldn’t watch the Edmonton Oilers play the Canadiens in Montreal on Thursday, but the Whiner and the Brick were on four Sportsnet channels.

——

On the subject of MLB, it might be that the best thing I discovered this spring was the Philadelphia Phillies because of Ruben Amaro Jr. The team’s former general manager now is part of its TV crew. He was the analyst on a Grapefruit League game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Phillies and he was terrific. Unlike some team broadcasters, it was evident that he had done his research on the other guys, too, something that turned it into an enjoyable watching/listening experience. Unfortunately, he doesn’t supply analysis on every telecast.


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: “New idea nominated for instant oblivion: Farhan Zaidi’s support for the concept of making all MLB games seven innings. The Giants’ president of baseball operations pitched the idea in an interview on KNBR. That’s the worst solution to a problem since the bleach ‘cure’ for coronavirus.”


Two headlines that stood out to Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times . . .

At TheOnion.com: Nelson Agholor signs 2-year, 23-drop contract with Patriots.

At Fark.com: NFL owners approve increased profits for NFL owners.


Owls


There were seven games in the WHL’s developmental season on Saturday. Some highlights . . .

The Edmonton Oil Kings scored the last five goals in beating the visiting Red Deer Rebels, 5-1. . . . The Oil Kings (10-1-0) had won 9-2 in Red Deer on Friday night. . . . The Rebels (2-7-2) have lost four in a row. . . . Edmonton D Logan Dowhaniuk, who had a six-point outing on Friday, had one assist. His six points tied a club record for most points in a game — F Jordan Hickmott had three goals and three assists in a 9-3 victory over the visiting Regina Pats on Dec. 13, 2010. . . . On Saturday, F Liam Keeler had a goal, his third, and two assists. . . .

The Winnipeg Ice scored the game’s first three goals en route to a 5-2 victory over the Pats in Regina. . . . F Jakin Smallwood’s ninth goal of the season gave the Ice (8-4-0) a 3-0 lead at 18:49 of the second period. . . . F Carson Denomie got No. 11 for the Pats (4-6-2), who got two more assists from F Connor Bedard, both via the PP. . . .

F Brett Kemp scored at 4:43 of OT to give the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers a 6-5 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Kemp, who has seven goals, scored twice for the Tigers (9-3-0) as they won their fifth straight. . . . The Hitmen now are 5-6-2. . . . F Adam Kidd (4) scored twice for Calgary. . . . Each team scored three times in the first period and twice in the third. . . .

D Luke Zazula’s first goal of the season, just 18 seconds into OT, gave the host Tri-City Americans a 3-2 victory over the Spokane Chiefs. . . . F Samuel Huo, who drew the primary assist on the winner, also had goal, his fifth, for the Americans (3-4-0). He scored while shorthanded. . . . The Chiefs are 0-4-2. . . .

In Everett, the Silvertips opened up a 3-0 lead en route to a 4-1 victory over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . D Olen Zellweger scored his second goal, added an assist and was plus-4 for the Silvertips (7-1-0). . . . D Jackson Berezowski (2) had a goal and two assists for the winners, who got 33 stops from G Dustin Wolf, who is 6-1-0, 0.71, .975. . . . Portland (4-2-2) had won its previous two games. . . .

F Ozzy Wiesblatt had three assists to help the Prince Albert Raiders end a three-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the Swift Current Broncos in Regina. . . . The Raiders improved to 4-6-2 with what was the 549th regular-season victory of head coach Marc Habscheid’s WHL career. That moved him into sole possession of sixth place on the league’s all-time list, one ahead of Ernie (Punch) McLean. Mike Williamson is fifth on that list, at 572. . . . F Justin Nachbaur added a goal, his third, and two assists for the Raiders. . . . The Broncos slipped to 3-8-1. . . .

The Kamloops Blazers outshot the Victoria Royals 52-19 but had to go to OT to post a 4-3 victory in Kelowna. . . . The Blazers (4-0-0) are the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams not to have lost in regulation time. . . . The Royals (0-3-1) are one of two teams — Spokane is the other — with a regulation-time victory. . . . G Adam Evanoff stopped 48 shots for the Royals, who were outshot 23-3 in the third period. . . . F Logan Stankoven, back in the Blazers’ lineup after a one-game absence with an undisclosed injury, had two goals and two assists. He notched the winner at 1:39 on the only shot of OT. . . . Stankoven has five goals and three assists in three games. . . . F Orin Centazzo (1) had a goal and two assists for Kamloops. . . . F Brayden Schuurman scored his first two career goals for Victoria.


Ex


——

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.


KFC

Hey, WHL, fans are waiting on 18 rosters. . . . Nine WHLers on Team Canada. . . . Hitmen sign two import forwards

MacBeth

F Tyler Redenbach (Prince George, Swift Current, Lethbridge, 2001-05) signed a one-year contract with the Oji Eagles Tomakomai (Japan, Asia HL). Last season, with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had nine goals and nine assists in 50 games. . . .

F Chase Clayton (Calgary, Saskatoon, 2010-15) signed a one-year contract with Blue Devils Weiden (Germany, Oberliga Süd). Last season, in 27 games with U of British Columbia (USports, Canada West), he had eight goals and four assists.


ThisThat

Guy Flaming, the host of The Pipeline Show, chatted with Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, on July 4. Part of that conversation — a partial transcript of which is right here — included this:

Flaming: One of the questions that came in from a listener was about the updated roster pages on the WHL website. It’s something I’ve mentioned over the last couple of years as well. Right now, if I go to the QMJHL website, I can pull up a roster for a respective team, Halifax, whatever, and see every player that that team holds the rights to. If I go to the WHL website and I look at the Calgary Hitmen, Jett Woo isn’t even listed on their roster and, in fact, the roster page is blank for the 2019 pre-season. Why is that and how can we fix that moving forward because, I think you’d agree, that it would be advantageous for the fans at least to generate interest by seeing all the players that a team holds the rights to?

Robison: Well, I think that that is a very good question and I’m glad you brought it to my attention. I’ll certainly look into that. I think it’s important that we keep current rosters. Not quite sure why that would be the case but I will certainly look into it and would suggest to you that as long as there’s the ability to do that, that we would certainly have that information posted.

——

Well . . . July is about to end, meaning it has been almost four weeks since Flaming and Robison had that conversation.

I checked for pre-season rosters on the WHL website on Monday evening and here is what I found — the Everett Silvertips, Kamloops Blazers, Regina Pats and Victoria Royals have rosters available.

As for the other 18 teams . . . crickets!

So the next time you hear the commissioner of all things WHL talking about how important fans are, well . . .

I mean, sheesh, we’re talking about pre-season rosters here. Not the contract terms of all 22 head coaches, or how much players are being paid, or how much the WHL is paying in legal fees these days.

——

BTW, Robison’s response to Flaming’s first question — he asked for two or three highlights from the past 12 months — had me spitting out my coffee. I’m thinking the good folks of Prince Albert would have done the same. . . . One of Robison’s highlights was the Raiders having won the 2018-19 WHL championship:

“What a good news story that is,” Robison said, “and it really helped solidify that franchise moving forward, because as you’re well aware, in the smaller markets, there’s challenges and certainly in Prince Albert we need a new facility and the timing couldn’t have been better for their run in the WHL playoffs and winning the championship.”

Hey, Prince Albert, you have been forewarned. Time to start saving your pennies for a new arena.

Quit snickering, Swift Current, because you’ll be up next.


There are nine WHLers on the 22-man roster for the Canadian team that will play in the CanadaHlinka Gretzky Cup that runs from Aug. 5-10 in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia. . . . The roster was revealed Tuesday after a five-day selection camp in Calgary. . . . Here are the WHL players named to the team: F Ozzy Wiesblatt, Prince Albert Raiders; F Justin Sourdif, Vancouver Giants; F Ridly Greig, Brandon Wheat Kings; F Connor McClennon, Winnipeg Ice; F Jake Neighbours, Edmonton Oil Kings; F Seth Jarvis, Portland Winterhawks; D Daemon Hunt, Moose Jaw Warriors; D Kaiden Guhle, Prince Albert; and G Dylan Garand, Kamloops Blazers. . . . WHLers who were in camp but weren’t selected: F Jakob Brook, Prince Albert; F Kyle Crnkovic, Saskatoon Blades; F Jack Finley, Spokane Chiefs; F Ryder Korczak, Moose Jaw; D Tyrel Bauer, Seattle Thunderbirds; D Luke Prokop, Calgary Hitmen; and D Ronan Seeley, Everett Silvertips. . . . Canada will open against Finland on Monday in Breclav. . . . Michael Dyck, Vancouver’s head coach, is the head coach of Canada’s team, with Dennis Williams, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips, one of the assistant coaches.


The Calgary Hitmen have signed Czech F Jonas Peterek, 18, and Slovakian F Samuel Krajc, Calgary17, both of whom were picked in the CHL’s 2019 import draft. . . . Peterek had two goals and seven assists in nine games with HC Ocelari Trinec’s U-19 team last season, then added two goals and nine assists in 41 games on loan to HC Frydek-Mistek (Czech2). He also had five goals and eight assists in 29 games with his country’s U-18 side. . . . Krajc had eight goals and six assists in 14 games with HK Dukla Trencin’s U-18 team, and also had 11 goals and eight assists in 27 games with the U-20 side. In seven games with Slovakia’s U-18 team, he had two goals and an assist.


Leland Mack has joined the Prince George Cougars has their head scout in the Pacific PrinceGeorgeRegion. He is the head coach of the Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam prep team. Mack had been scouting for the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . The Cougars also have added Tim Mills, David Reekie, Rob Rogers and Trevor Sprague to their scouting staff. . . . Mills moves over from the Swift Current Broncos and will be the Cougars’ Okanagan scout. . . . Reekie, a goaltender in his playing days who suited up with the Regina Pats and Everett Silvertips (2004-07), will work Regina and southern Saskatchewan for the Cougars. . . . Rogers, who had been working with the Spokane Chiefs, will focus on B.C. . . . Sprague, the general manager of the major midget Cariboo Cougars, will keep an eye on the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League and northern B.C.


Taking Note has been told that F Patrick D’Amico, who played three seasons (2012-15) with the Regina Pats, won’t be playing in 2019-20 because of concussion issues. A Winnipegger, he has played four seasons in the ECHL, with the Colorado Eagles, Atlanta Gladiators, Indy Fuel and Norfolk Admirals. Last season, he had seven goals and 10 assists in 28 games. . . . In 2017-18, he had 10 goals and 23 assists in 55 games with Norfolk.


Greg Wyshynski of ESPN has taken an in-depth look at the NHL and its fighting numbers. NHL. . . “In 1,271 regular-season games in 2018-19,” he writes, “there were 224 fights in which at least one player received a fighting major. That’s down from 280 fights in 2017-18.” . . . Also: ”The rate for 2018-19 was 0.18 fights per game, which marks the first time that the average fights per game has dropped below 0.20.” . . . And: “In 2018-19, 15.3% of regular-season games had a fight. In 2008-09, that number was 41.4%.” . . . Let’s compare a couple of those numbers to the WHL’s 2018-19 season, using numbers available at hockeyfights.com. In 748 regular-season WHL games, there were 272 fights in which at least one player received a fighting major. (That number was 345 in 2017-18, when each team played 72 games; last season, each team played 68 games.) The rate for 2018-19 was 0.36 fights per game, down from 0.44 in 2017-18. . . . Yes, there are more fights in the WHL than in the NHL these days. . . . Wyshynski’s complete story is right here.


JUST NOTES:

Dan MacKenzie has signed on as the first full-time president of the Canadian Hockey League, the umbrella under which the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League operate. . . . MacKenzie, who spent the past eight years as the managing director of NBA Canada, will report to the CHL executive council which comprises the three commissioners of the aforementioned leagues — David Branch (OHL), Gilles Courteau (QMJHL) and Ron Robison (WHL). As well as being the OHL commissioner, Branch had been the CHL president since 1996. . . . There is a complete news release right here. . . .

F Sebastian Streu, who will turn 20 on Nov. 22, has signed a tryout agreement with Eisbären  Berlin (Germany, DEL), meaning that he won’t be returning to the Regina Pats. Streu, who has German/Canadian citizenship, had seven goals and 15 assists in 36 games with Regina last season. . . . Streu’s father, Craig, is preparing for his first season as an assistant coach with Eisbären  Berlin. . . . The Pats are left with three 20s on their roster — F Robbie Holmes, F Dawson Holt and F Austin Pratt.


Tweetoftheday

Tracey nets two more for Canada. . . . Scott, Wiesblatt help Raiders to victory. . . . Hardy sparks Giants; Chiefs lose Smith

MacBeth

F Roman Horák (Chilliwack, 2009-11) has signed a one-year contract extension with Växjö (Sweden, SHL). This season, he had 15 goals and 18 assists in 50 games.


ThisThat

F Brayden Tracey of the Moose Jaw Warriors scored twice and added an assist on Friday Canadato help Canada to a 7-4 victory over Switzerland at the IIHF U-18 World Championship in Umea, Sweden. . . . The tournament, which runs through April 28, also is being played in Ornskoldsvik. . . . Tracey had scored twice on Thursday as Canada skated to a 5-3 victory over Finland as the tournament began. . . . On Friday, Canada got a goal and an assist from each of F Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg Ice) and F Connor Zary (Kamloops Blazers). F Dylan Cozens (Lethbridge Hurricanes) also scored for Canada. . . . G Taylor Gauthier (Prince George Cougars) stopped 17 shots in his second straight start. . . . Canada led 3-0 and 4-3 by period. . . . Canada will next play on Sunday when it is to meet Belarus.

In other Friday games, Team USA dumped Slovakia, 12-5, behind four goals from each of F Cole Caufield, who has seven in two games, and F Jack Hughes; Sweden beat Latvia, 5-2; and Belarus surprised Finland, 4-3, despite being outshot 29-3 in the third period. F Yegor Buyalski of the Warriors had a goal and an assist for Belarus.


The NCAA has announced a series of rule changes regarding the does and don’ts of recruiting that will impact Division I men’s hockey. . . . Here’s Mike G. Morale of nhl.com: “The new legislation, which will go into effect May 1, calls for no recruiting conversations until Jan. 1 of a player’s sophomore (grade 10) school year, as well as no verbal offers (commitments) made to a player until Aug. 1 before the player’s junior (grade 11) school year. Under the old guidelines, players could initiate communication at any time, and verbal offers could be made anytime.” . . . Morreale’s story is right here.

——

With the rule changes not kicking in until May 1, there may well be a few young players making verbal commitments between now and then. . . . On Friday, F Tanner Ludtke, a 14-year-old from Elko, Minn., announced via Twitter that he has committed to the U of Nebraska-Omaha and will join the Mavericks for the 2023-24 season. . . . This season, he had 30 goals and 33 assists in 46 games with the Lakeville South bantam AA club. . . .

Meanwhile, F Brett Moravec, 16, has committed to the U of Wisconsin Badgers. Moravec, from Airdrie, Alta., was a fifth-round pick by the Prince Albert Raiders in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. This season, he had 13 goals and 23 assists in 32 games with the prep team at the Edge School in Calgary.


The Battlefords North Stars wrapped up the SJHL championship on Friday night, beating the visiting Melfort Mustangs, 7-2. . . . The North Stars won the series and the Canalta Cup, 4-1, and now will meet the MJHL-champion, either the Portage Terriers or the Swan Valley Stampeders, for the ANAVET Cup. The MJHL champion will be decided on Monday when the teams meet in Game 7 in Portage la Prairie. . . . Last night, Battlefords got two goals from each of F Macgregor Sinclair, Quintin Loon-Stewardson and F Braydon Buziak. . . . They also got 32 saves from G Joel Grzybowski.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The WHL playoffs resumed on Friday night as each of the conference finals got started. . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders opened the Eastern Conference final at home with a 1-0 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings, who hadn’t played since eliminating the Calgary Hitmen on April 10. The Raiders won their series with the Saskatoon Blades on April 14. . . .

In the Western Conference, the Vancouver Giants got started with a 4-1 victory over the Spokane Chiefs in Langley, B.C. . . . They’ll play again tonight in Langley. . . . The Giants had been idle since finishing off the Victoria Royals on April 11. The Chiefs eliminated the Everett Silvertips on April 13.

——

FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

G Ian Scott recorded the shutout and F Ozzy Wiesblatt scored the game’s only goal as the PrinceAlbertPrince Albert Raiders opened the Eastern Conference final with a 1-0 victory over the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . They’ll play Game 2 in Prince Albert tonight. . . . Wiesblatt (4) scored at 1:48 of the second period, his backhand shot bouncing past G Dylan Myskiw after hitting the stick belonging to Edmonton D Wyatt McLeod. . . . Wiesblatt had scored three goals in the Raiders’ first four games of these playoffs; this goal ended a six-game drought. . . . Scott blocked 26 shots, and was superb in a third period in which his guys were outshot 11-3. . . . In these playoffs, Scott is 9-2, 1.64, .934 with two shutouts. . . . Myskiw finished with 23 saves. . . . Edmonton was 0-2 on the PP; Prince Albert was 0-4. . . . The Raiders are 6-0 at home in the playoffs. . . . The Oil Kings went into the game having won their previous four road games. . . . F Cole Fonstad was back in the Raiders’ lineup after missing the last two games of their six-game series victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . F Justin Nachbaur of the Raiders sat out as he completed a two-game suspension.


F Owen Hardy scored once and added two assists to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 4-1 Vancouvervictory over the Spokane Chiefs in Langley, B.C. . . . It was Game 1 of the Western Conference final. Game 2 will be played tonight in Langley. . . . The Giants took control with two goals 2:12 apart early in the first period. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky (4) opened the scoring, on a PP, at 6:25, and F Dawson Holt (3) made it 2-0 at 8:37. . . . Hardy (4) upped the lead to 3-0 just 57 seconds into the second period. . . . The Chiefs got their goal at 5:30 as F Adam Beckman (6) scored. . . . D Bowen Byram (5) put it away for the Giants with an empty-netter at 18:06 of the third period. . . . Vancouver was 1-2 on the PP; Spokane was 0-2. . . . G David Tendeck earned the victory with 30 saves, four more than Spokane’s Bailey Brkin. . . . The Giants continued to play without F Aidan Barfoot, who is out with an undisclosed injury. . . . Spokane F Luc Smith left the game early in the first period after falling into the boards. He didn’t return. If he has to miss any time it will be a big loss for the Chiefs. At 6-foot-4, he’s a big body and as a 20-year-old he brings a lot of experience to their lineup. After being acquired from the Kamloops Blazers this season, he had 20 goals and 14 assists in 42 games. He went into this series with four goals and an assist in 10 games.


Tweetoftheday