WHL releases regular-season sked . . . No Bedard for U.S. Division fans . . . Portland fans going to Regina to see him

The WHL released its 2022-23 regular-season schedule on Tuesday afternoon with each of the 22 teams to play 68 games — 34 home and 34 on the road.

And, yes, there will be some interlocking play between conferences, something WHLthat was missing in 2021-22.

So . . . all you Western Conference fans who are planning on watching your home club play the Regina Pats and superstar F Connor Bedard in your building please take two steps forward. . . .

Uhh, sorry, not so fast U.S. Division fans. You are going to get visits from the six Central Division teams, but not from East Division clubs. B.C Division cities will get to see the East Division teams once each, but not the Central Division teams.

Bedard, who will turn 17 on July 17, is the favourite to be the first-overall selection in the NHL’s 2023 draft. Despite his age, he is preparing for his third WHL season, that is if you include the development season that was played early in 2021 when the pandemic wiped out what would have been the 2020-21 regular season.

Prior to that season, Hockey Canada granted Bedard exceptional status, the first WHL player to be given the right to play an WHL entire season at 15. Playing in a Reginasemi-bubble situation in Regina, Bedard, who is from North Vancouver, B.C., had 12 goals and 16 assists in 15 games before leaving to play for Team Canada at the 2021 IIHF U-18 World Championship in Frisco, Texas. He had seven goals and seven assists in seven games as Canada won gold.

Then, with each team playing a 68-game 2021-22 regular-season schedule, the WHL chose not to have its teams cross over and play in the other conference. Playing strictly within the Eastern Conference, then, Bedard put up 51 goals and 49 assists in 62 games. He also captained Canada’s U-18 team at the 2022 IIHF U-18 World Championship in Germany in April. He totalled six goals and an assist in four games, although Canada lost a quarterfinal game.

With a generational player like Bedard on one of its teams, and considering the pandemic-related circumstances that impacted the past two seasons, the WHL could have scored a public relations coup had it made sure that each of its teams played at least one game in every other arena in 2022-23. But it chose not to do that, so while the Pats are scheduled to visit each of the B.C. Division’s five teams, from Nov. 25 through Dec. 2, they won’t be venturing into the five-team U.S. Division.

That’s really too bad because assuming Bedard is the No. 1 selection in the 2023 NHL draft and depending on which team selects him, he may well be preparing for his final WHL season. That would mean the fans of U.S. Division teams could miss out entirely on seeing Bedard.

And that’s a cryin’ shame.

Unless you’re a member of the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club and have booked a seat on their 2023 East Division tour. The Winterhawks are scheduled to play in Regina on Jan. 14 and Stewart Kemp, the Booster Club’s president, tells me that they have 25 of 50 slots already filled.


References


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The WHL’s 2022-23 regular-season schedule is to open on Sept. 23 and wrap up on March 26. . . . According to the WHL, 585 of the 748 scheduled games “will be played on weekends or holidays.” . . . The 2023 playoffs are to begin on March 31. . . . The 2023 Memorial Cup is scheduled for May 26 through June 5 in Kamloops. . . . The defending-champion Edmonton Oil Kings will open at home to the Red Deer Rebels on Sept. 23. . . .

The Winnipeg Ice is to open the new season with 13 straight road games. The Ice is to open on Sept. 24 in Brandon against the Wheat Kings and finish the trip back in Brandon on Oct. 28. That trek will include five games in the B.C. Division. Neither the WHL nor the Ice explained why the season-opening road trip in news releases. However, the U of Manitoba Bisons men’s team, which also plays in the Wayne Fleming Arena, has scheduled four early-season home games at the Rink Training Centre in Oakbank before getting into their regular home rink on Nov. 11. So perhaps the Wayne Fleming Arena is undergoing more renovations. . . .

There will be one game on Dec. 18 (Edmonton at Calgary) after which the WHL will pause until a seven-game slate on Dec. 27. . . .

At this point, the schedule has the Seattle Thunderbirds playing all of their home games at the accesso Showare Centre in Kent, Wash., with the Everett Silvertips having all their home games in the Angel of the Winds Arena. In 2021-22, the teams met in one game at Climate Pledge Arena, the home of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken. Everett won the game, 4-0, before an announced crowd of 8,381. . . . The Calgary Hitmen, according to their schedule, will play all their home games at the Scotiabank Saddledome, which also is to be the home arena for the NHL’s Calgary Flames and their AHL affiliate, which has relocated from Stockton, Calif., as well as the NLL’s Calgary Roughnecks. Hmm, that is going to be one busy facility. . . .

As you read in this space on Sunday night, Norm Daley has joined the Kamloops Blazers as their president. Daley, who also will be the alternate governor, was introduced at a Monday morning news conference. He replaces Don Moores, who died of a heart attack on June 30, 2021, at the age of 65.


The WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors, who have a long relationship with the WarriorsNewMooseJawSnowbirds aeronautic team, have undergone a branding change that includes a complete overhaul of their logo. The logo that had been a red Indian chief sporting a headdress now is circular and includes one of the Snowbirds planes — a Canadair CT-114 Tudor. . . . Ben Lypka of the Abbotsford News tweeted on June 29 that the Warriors had “filed a trademark” for the new logo. . . . The Warriors had announced in October 2020 that they were reviewing their brand. “This is not a knee-jerk reaction to what other sports teams have done,” Alan Millar, then the Warriors’ general manager, told the Regina Leader-Post at the time.“This was something that we’ve been having internal discussions about for a couple of years. I think it got to a point where we felt this was the right time and the right thing to do.” . . . The Warriors officially made the move on Tuesday. From a news release: “After two years of consultation with local stakeholders, community leaders and the Indigenous community, the Warriors launched a new brand on Tuesday.” . . . The news release is right here.


Blood


Headline at TheOnion.com: Nation unable to enjoy baseball without dozens of pitchers hitting .124.


G Ivan Fedotov won the KHL championship with CSKA Moscow earlier this year and had planned to play for the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers next season on a recently signed entry-level contract. Instead, his plans were interrupted by officials over the weekend and now, according to J.P. Barry,  his agent, he is ensconced at a remote military base. . . . The Associated Press has more on the Fedotov story right here.


Phillip Sitter of the Ames Tribune reported:

“The men’s hockey club at Iowa State University engaged in years of alcohol abuse, hazing and coercing money out of club members in exchange for status during ‘Rookie Parties,’ ‘Kangaroo Court’ and ‘Rookie Run’ events, according to university investigations’ findings.

“On (June 23), those findings led the club’s suspension to be extended to include all competition for the coming school year. All activities of the Cyclone Hockey Club were suspended in May after allegations about hazing and other concerns were brought to university administration in April.”

Interestingly, Sitter also wrote that “team and club community members, however, denied the university’s findings in a statement provided through an attorney on (June 23). The statement said the university mischaracterized the events and it accused Iowa State of using the allegations as a means to restructure management of the club.”

That complete story is right here.


Lie


On the subject of those golfers who have filled their bank accounts with Saudi Arabian money, Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel asks: “Why do we expect American golfers to have more ethics and morals than American corporations, American sports leagues and the American government — all of which do business with nefarious nations?”


You may be aware that Phil Mickelson got US$200 million to join the LIV Tour, while Dustin Johnson got a cool $150 million. Charles Barkley piped up: “Hey, for $150 million I’d kill a relative, even one I liked.”


Bitcoin


THE COACHING GAME: The Coachella Valley Firebirds, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken, have hired Jessica Campbell as an assistant coach. She is the first female assistant coach in the AHL’s history. Most recently, Campbell has been working with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm. She also was an assistant coach with the German national men’s team at the IIHF World Championship. With the Firebirds, she will work alongside head coach Dan Bylsma. . . . The Firebirds will play their first season in 2022-23. . . .

The junior B Columbia Valley Rockies of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have signed Emery Olauson to a “long-term contract” as their general manager and head coach. The length of the contract wasn’t revealed. He joins the Rockies, who play out of Invermere, B.C., from the Edmundston Blizzard of the Maritime Junior Hockey League with whom he had been head coach and assistant GM. His resume also includes a stint as GM and head coach of the KIJHL’s Grand Forks Border Bruins. . . . With the Rockies, he replaces Briar McNaney, who has joined the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers as an assistant coach. . . .

Doug Houda, who played four WHL seasons (1982-86), has signed on with the NHL’s New York Islanders as an assistant coach. He has been an NHL assistant coach for the past 16 seasons — 10 with the Boston Bruins and the past six with the Detroit Red Wings. Houda, 56, played three-plus seasons with the Calgary Wrangers, then finished up his WHL career by playing 35 games with the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . .

The MJHL’s Portage Terriers have added Robbie Moar to their coaching staff as an assistant to Blake Spiller, their long-time general manager and head coach. Moar played in the MJHL, mostly with the Neepawa Natives and he spent two seasons (2019-21) there as an assistant coach. In 2021-22, Moar, a 29-year-old native of Portage la Prairie, played with the South East Manitoba Hockey League’s Portage Islanders.


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.


FindWater

Scattershooting on a Wednesday night while watching Shohei Ohtani weave his magic . . .

scattershooting

A lot of junior hockey teams have signed assistant coaches during my 50-plus years around the game. But I can’t recall an announcement like the one the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades made on Monday.

The Blades welcomed back Wacey Rabbit, this time as an assistant coach, but they also brought his wife, Ashley Callingbull, into their organization as an ambassador.

From a Blades’ news release: “Ashley is a Cree First Nations woman from the Enoch Cree Nation on Treaty Six territory in Alberta. Ashley has many passions that include dance, and she is professionally trained in jazz, ballet, pointe and tap. She also has developed a career in acting, starring in many commercials and television shows.”

These days, she also can be found in Edmonton where she is the in-game host at Commonwealth Stadium for games involving the CFL’s Elks.

But she is making her biggest mark working with First Nations people and in these days of reconciliation the Sask Entertainment Group, which owns the Blades and lacrosse’s Saskatchewan Rush, has done well be bringing her aboard.

“I work with a lot of women and children around the communities and within Saskatoon so I am here quite often and now it will be easier for me to be more accessible to these communities,” she said in that news release.

Her position with the Blades and Rush will allow her a large platform to continue her work in the Saskatoon area and in Saskatchewan.

“I’m hoping to create more programs for not only the youth but indigenous peoples,” she said. “I can’t wait so I will be at every game.”

Sorry, Wacey, but I think your wife’s inclusion in this deal has overshadowed your return.

——

With the Blades, Wacey Rabbit, 35, fills the vacancy created when associate Saskatooncoach Ryan Marsh left after four seasons to join the DEL’s Schwenninger Wild Wings in Germany as an assistant coach. . . . Rabbit, who is from the Kainai First Nation in Alberta, played four seasons (2002-06) with the Blades and 30 games with the Vancouver Giants in 2006-07. He ended his pro career by playing three seasons (2018-21) with the ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen, while also playing in Czechi and Romania. . . . In 2021-22, he was an assistant coach with the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs. . . . From a Blades’ news release: Rabbit “will join head coach Brennan Sonne, assistant coach Dan DaSilva, goaltending coach Jeff Harvey, video coach Karter Parisloff and assistant Jerome Engele on the staff.”


Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun: “Has the reputation of one organization taken a beating in recent days and weeks as much as Hockey Canada’s has? (It) should never get another cent of government money, which won’t begin to undo anything close to all that’s gone wrong here.”

He’s not wrong.


The good folks of Imperial, Sask., got it right. Well done, folks!


Giraffe


THINKING OUT LOUD: I learned a few days ago that Johnny Rivers isn’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That’s just wrong, wrong, wrong. . . . It’s also wrong, wrong, wrong that Leo Cahill isn’t in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. . . . And while we’re on the subject, it’s embarrassing that Paul Henderson isn’t in the Hockey Hall of Fame. . . . Is there a better race track in B.C. than the highway between Vernon and Kelowna? If you haven’t been on it, it’s one of those tracks where the speed limit seems to be whatever you want it to be. . . . Look, 3-on-3 overtime is fine for a hockey league’s regular-season games. But in the Memorial Cup? How embarrassing to see the CHL decide meaningful games in this fashion. . . . There was news the other day of thieves breaking into the Atlanta home of former NBA star Vince Carter and making off with about $100,000 in cash. So I asked my wife: “How much cash do we have in our home?” We stopped counting at $70. . . . Hope you feel at home here despite the absence of gambling ads.


Have to wonder if any junior hockey teams might try this in an attempt to attract fans and keep them coming back?



With all that is going on in our world these days, you may have missed this story, from The Associated Press:

“ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Happy the elephant may be intelligent and deserving of compassion, but she cannot be considered a person being illegally confined to the Bronx Zoo, New York’s top court ruled Tuesday.

“The 5-2 decision by the state Court of Appeals comes in a closely watched case that tested the boundaries of applying human rights to animals.”

The complete story is right here.

As Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, put it: “I guess I should be happy in these days of hyper-political correctness that the NY State Court of Appeals ruled that an elephant is not a person and that an elephant in the Bronx Zoo cannot be released under habeus corpus. . . . However, before I get too carried away in my euphoria, let me point out that the vote of the judges was only 5-2.  Two judges wanted the elephant released via habeus corpus.” 


Stupid


The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League held its annual general meeting recently, the details of which are included in the link in the above tweet. I’m disappointed that the news release didn’t include anything about the part of the gathering in which the commissioner was kind enough to give me some free publicity. . . . BTW, the Canadian government has extended pandemic-related border restrictions at least through Sept. 19. I’m told, Mr. Commissioner, that this means the Spokane Braves will be sitting out another KIJHL season. They last played in 2019-20.



THE COACHING GAME:

I’ve been coasting for the last couple of weeks, recharging the batteries, making certain that the mask supply is up to date, and watching to see if the quicksand completely envelops Hockey Canada before the Hlinka Gretzky Cup opens in Red Deer on July 31. So a lot of what follows is a bit dated . . .

The Spokane Chiefs have removed the ‘interim’ from Ryan Smith’s title and Spokanesigned him to “a multi-year contract” as head coach. The precise length of the deal wasn’t revealed. . . . Smith was in his second season as the WHL team’s associate coach when head coach Adam Maglio was fired on Feb. 10. Smith was named interim head coach and guided the Chiefs into the playoffs, where they lost in the first round to the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Before joining the Chiefs, Smith spent two seasons on the Medicine Hat Tigers’ coaching staff and was with the Swift Current Broncos for three seasons. . . . The Chiefs also signed Dustin Donaghy as an assistant coach for 2022-23. A part-time assistant when last season began, he assumed a full-time role when Maglio was fired. As a player, Donaghy, now 33, helped the Chiefs to the 2008 Memorial Cup title. . . . Of course, the Chiefs’ decision to stay with Smith throws a wet blanket on the speculation that the job would be going to Kyle Gustafson, who spent 18 years with the Portland Winterhawks but now is a free agent after being released by the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. . . .

The MJHL’s Portage Terriers have signed Blake Spiller, their general manager and head coach, to another contract. The Terriers, who do things right, revealed that it is a three-year deal. . . . Spiller has been with the Terriers since 2001 and has been head coach since 2006. . . . The Terriers will be the host team for the 2023 Centennial Cup tournament. . . . From a news release: “Spiller won the CJHL coach-of-the-year award in 2015, 2016 and 2019. He holds the MJHL record for league championships (8) and ANAVET Cups (2). He also won the RBC Cup in 2015. Spiller holds all Terriers coaching records, and has 604 career wins. He is 67 regular-season victories away from breaking Doug Stokes’ all-time MJHL record.” . . .

Scott Burt, a former WHL player and coach, now is the general manager and head coach of the ECHL’s Rapid City Rush. He signed on as the Rush’s head coach and director of hockey operations in July 2021, then got the club into the second round of the playoffs. Burt was an assistant coach with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs for six seasons (2013-19). As a player, he split four seasons (1994-98) between the Seattle Thunderbirds, Swift Current Broncos, Edmonton Ice and Red Deer Rebels. . . .

The BCHL has announced the sale of the Nanaimo Clippers to Northern Lights bchlHockey Canada, “an investment group headed by Brad Kwong, a Western Canadian-born investment professional with a long history in the sport of hockey as a player, executive and team owner,” according to a news release. . . . That news release is right here. Interestingly, it doesn’t mention from whom Kwong and Co. purchased the franchise. . . .

Darren Naylor is the new general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard. . . . You may recall that Naylor, then the general manager and head coach of the Nanaimo Clippers, was placed on administrative leave by the BCHL in February due to what the league said was “allegations of code of conduct breaches.” At the time, the BCHL said that Naylor would remain on administrative leave until at least May 31. At the time, Naylor was under contract to the Clippers through the 2022-23 season. . . . The BCHL said at the time that it had appointed an independent investigator to look into the allegations, but it has never updated Naylor’s status. . . . Colin Birkas, the Clippers’ associate coach at the time, also was placed on administrative leave when Naylor was, but shortly after was reinstated. On May 24, Birkas was named the Clippers’ general manager and head coach. . . . With the Blizzard, Naylor replaces Billy Keane, whose contract wasn’t renewed after the 2021-22 season. . . .

Barret Kropf has chosen to leave the Trinity Western Spartans of the BCIHL. He had been the head coach since 2013, but is moving on to the Moose Jaw-based Prairie Hockey Academy as general manager and U15 prep head coach. Kropf is from Estevan. A three-time coach of the year, he led the Spartans to BCIHL titles in 2018 and 2019, then led them into Canada West in 2020. . . .

Eric Thurston has signed on as head coach of the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm. He spent the past four seasons as general manager and head coach of the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder. There had been speculation a few weeks ago that Bill Peters, a former NHL, KHL and WHL coach, was going to sign with the Storm.


Wifi


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: F Petr Moravec, 19, has left the Tri-City Americans to sign a junior contract with his hometown team, Hradec Králove of the Czechia, Extraliga, as reported by the MacBeth Report (@MacBethReport). Moravec put up 16 goals and 19 assists 68 games in 2021-22, his only WHL season. Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager, told me that he wasn’t surprised that Moravec wouldn’t be back. “He’s a good kid,” Tory said. “This is a good opportunity for him.” Tory was pleased to have a decision before the CHL’s 2022 import draft that is scheduled for Friday. . . . The Americans expect to make one pick, what with Czech G Tomas Suchanek, 19, back for a second season. As a freshman, he was 12-24-4, 3.87, .901 in 42 games for a non-playoff team. . . . Don’t forget that the CHL won’t permit the selection of Russian or Belarusian players in this year’s import draft. . . .

The Everett Silvertips have promoted Mike Fraser to assistant general manager — he had been director of player personnel — and signed him to a multi-year contract extension. The exact length of the extension wasn’t revealed. Fraser has been with Everett through four seasons — three as head scout and one as director of player personnel. He is a veteran WHL scout, having also worked with the Swift Current Broncos and Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The Silvertips also have added veteran scout Brian Leavold to their staff as a senior scout. He has worked for the Broncos (1999-2018) and Saskatoon Blades (2018-22). . . .

Dan O’Connor announced via Twitter recently that he is moving on from the Vancouver Giants. O’Connor will be joining the U of British Columbia as a sports information co-ordinator. O’Connor spent the past 11 seasons doing WHL play-by-play — six with the Prince George Cougars and five with the Giants.


Elevator


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.


KidDraw

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while pondering the mystery of the Prospera Place deficiencies . . .

scattershooting

Perhaps you are wondering about the “significant deficiencies” in Prospera Place, the home of the Kelowna Rockets, that prevented the WHL team from Kelownabidding to be the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup.

That honour, of course, has gone to Kamloops, with the Canadian Hockey League having announced on Friday that the Blazers would be the host team for the four-team tournament in 2023.

The 2020 tournament had been scheduled for Kelowna before the pandemic got in the way. Because of that cancellation and because preparations were well underway at the time, a lot of observers had expected the 2023 event to go to Kelowna.

Not so fast.

As the announcement was being made in Kamloops prior to a playoff game on Friday night, the Rockets issued an open letter in which they pointed a finger at the GSL Group.

“When we submitted our intent to bid,” the letter stated, “there was an audit conducted of Prospera Place, commissioned by the Rockets, the City of Kelowna, and the GSL Group, who own, operate and manage the arena.

“This audit found that there were significant deficiencies that needed to be upgraded for the facility to meet the CHL standards for hosting the Memorial Cup.”

An agreement couldn’t be reached to “make the necessary capital improvements to the building,” thus the Rockets weren’t able to enter a bid.

At this point, no one in the know has explained what those deficiencies might be.

So let’s turn to Doyle Potenteau of Global News in Kelowna. He covered the Rockets for a number of years while with the Kelowna Daily Courier, including the 2004 Memorial Cup that was held there. Yes, he is more than a little familiar with the arena. Anyway, he filed a story for Global that may have shed some light on the subject.

“It’s not known what the issues are,” Potenteau reported, “but one concern is dressing rooms for the players. While the Rockets have a large room, visiting (WHL) teams to Prospera Place are usually squeezed into two smaller rooms.

“Further, when Kelowna hosted the 2004 Memorial Cup, which the Rockets won, two portable dressing rooms had to be built outside the rink for the third and fourth teams, which happened to be the OHL and QMJHL champions.”

Whatever the deficiencies are, they obviously weren’t an issue on Oct. 3, 2018, when the WHL’s board of governors awarded the 2020 Memorial Cup to Kelowna over bids from Kamloops and the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Since then, however, it would seem that issues have come to the fore involving the Rockets’ home arena.

Of course, it’s also worth mentioning that the WHL board of governors no longer selects the host team. That decision now is made at the CHL level.


Glass


The stage has yet to be set for the WHL’s best-of-seven championship final, the WHLplayoffs2022winner of which will be awarded the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . The Edmonton Oil Kings, the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed, now has to wait until Tuesday to find out whether the Kamloops Blazers or Seattle Thunderbirds will open the final in the Alberta capital on Friday night. . . . Game 2 is scheduled for Edmonton on June 5. . . . TSN is to begin televising the championship series with Game 3 from Kamloops or Kent, Wash., on June 7. . . .

On Sunday night in Kent, the Thunderbirds beat the Blazers, 2-1, in Game 6 of the Western Conference final. It’s even, 3-3, so they’ll decide it all in Kamloops on Tuesday. . . . The last time that Kamloops was the site of Game 7 in a WHL playoff series? That would be May 10, 1994. The Blazers beat the visiting Saskatoon Blades, 8-1, in Game 7 of the WHL final, behind three goals from F Ryan Huska and two from F Jarome Iginla, then went on to win the Memorial Cup in Laval, Que.

——

SUNDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference

In Kent, Wash., the Seattle Thunderbirds scored the last two goals to beat the SeattleKamloops Blazers, 2-1. . . . The best-of-seven conference final is tied, 3-3, with Game 7 scheduled for Kamloops on Tuesday. . . . The Blazers had taken a 3-2 lead by beating the Thunderbirds, 4-3 in OT, in Kamloops on Friday. . . . The Blazers won Game 1 of this series at home, 5-2, with Seattle taking Game 2 on the road, 4-1. . . . Seattle, which came back to oust the Portland Winterhawks after trailing 3-1, is 4-0 in elimination games this spring. . . . Last night, F Kobe Verbicky’s first WHL playoff goal gave Kamloops a 1-0 lead at 12:53 of the first period. . . . Seattle tied it at 4:42 of the second period when F Jared Davidson scored his ninth goal of these playoffs. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky (9), who drew the primary assist on Davidson’s goal, broke the tie at 3:28 of the third period. Davidson returned the favour, too, as he got the primary assist on the winner. . . . Seattle was 0-for-2 on the PP; Kamloops was 0-for-3. . . . G Thomas Milic stopped 34 shots to earn the victory over G Dylan Garand, who made 32 saves.


Masks

Just when you thought the pandemic was over you find out that Mike Breen tested positive so wasn’t able to call the play for Game 7 of the NBA conference final that had the Boston Celtics meeting the Heat in Miami on Sunday night. With Breen out of action, Mark Jones was given the assignment. . . . Jones recently signed a contract extension with ESPN; he’s been there for 32 years. Are you old enough to remember when he was at TSN. . . .

Pandemic over? Johns Hopkins University of Medicine’s Coronavirus Resource Center shows 2,576 deaths and 716,435 new cases in the U.S. in the past week. . . . Those figures for Canada are 305 and 18.292. . . . Over? No, not yet.



Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun: “The headline said that Rick Bowness had stepped down as coach of the Stars. The truth: He was pushed out. Owner Tom Gaglardi wanted the change. Good-guy Bowness is now contemplating between retirement, family time, grandchildren visits, and continuing to coach in the NHL.”


Headline at The Onion (@TheOnion): Congress Placed on Lockdown after Deranged Man Enters Senate with Gun Control Measures.

——

Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton): “Electricity” added to “policing” for services no longer provided by the City of Ottawa.


So . . . I’m watching the Toronto Blue Jays and the host Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night. . . . There is a small sign to the left of home plate that reads: $44 — 4 tickets, hot dogs, & sodas — $44. . . . In the eighth inning, Matt Devlin, who is calling the play, reads a Blue Jays’ promo about what the team calls its “value combo.” Devlin informs us that we can get four tickets to the 200 level, four food items and four drinks for $30 per person. . . . You do the math. . . . Hmmmmm!


A puzzler from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Most bitter rivalry on display this month — Edmonton-Calgary in hockey or Johnny Depp-Amber Heard in a courtroom?”


Asked by Detroit radio station WXYT-FM about today’s NBA players, former Los Angeles Lakers star James Worthy replied: “All they do is practise threes, lift weights, get tattoos, tweet and go on social media.”


America


So . . . it has come to this in the WHL where this t-shirt is available in adult and youth sizes on the Portland Winterhawks’ website. . . .

Portlandtee


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Somehow I missed it a few days ago when the junior A Aurora Tigers of the Ontario Junior Hockey League signed Sierra Costa as their general manager. She is the OJHL’s first female GM, and I’m thinking she just might be the first one in all of Canadian junior A hockey. . . . Costa graduated from Humber College’s sports management program. . . . The Tigers are owned by former NHL player Jim Thomson. . . . The fact that this story doesn’t seem to have been a big deal just might signal that a woman in a hockey team’s front office isn’t out of the ordinary any more. . . . And that’s a positive, for sure. . . .

The MJHL’s Portage Terriers will be the host team for the 2023 Centennial Cup tournament. The AJHL’s Brooks Bandits won the 2022 junior A tournament in Estevan on Sunday, beating OJHL’s Pickering Panthers, 4-1, in the final. The 2023 tournament will be held in May with the dates yet to be finalized. Portage la Prairie was to have been the host city for the 2020 tournament but it was cancelled because of the pandemic.


Farm


My wife, Dorothy, a kidney transplant recipient in 2013, will take part in the 2022 #kamloops Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year on Sunday. Yes, it’s virtual again. But she will be there, and you are able to sponsor her right here.


THINKING OUT LOUD — Yes, the annual Kamloops Kidney Walk is set for Sunday, and we’ll be taking part over here in our little corner of the world. If you want to be part of Dorothy’s team, please think about sponsoring her. . . . If you missed it, TSN is going to start showing the WHL’s championship final with Game 3 from Kamloops or Kent, Wash. Can’t imagine why it won’t show us Games 1 and 2 from Edmonton on Friday and June 5, but it does make one yearn for the days when Shaw-TV had a relationship with the WHL. . . . Actually, when Sportsnet handed off the CHL deal to TSN early this season, for some reason I thought we would see quite a few more major junior games, but that hasn’t happened. In fact, when’s the last time a WHL game was shown by TSN? . . . In the days ahead, TSN is going to show the OHL, QMJHL and WHL finals starting with the third game of each. They no doubt will use those telecasts to promote their coverage of the Memorial Cup that opens in Saint John, N.B., on June 20. . . . There isn’t much better than a good cup of coffee on a Sunday morning while listening to Jon Miller call a Major League Baseball game. . . . Coming to a bookstore near you on June 7 — Rickey: The Life and Legend of an American Original, by Howard Bryant. Can’t wait to dig into this one. . . . And speaking of books, Dan Russell, who spent 30 years as the host of the radio show Sportstalk, didn’t pull any punches in his memoir that is just out. Pleasant Good Evening — A Memoir: My 30 Wild and Turbulent Years of Sportstalk is available through Amazon (soft cover and Kindle) and Indigo (Kobo).


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.


Peanuts

Pandemic responsible for rash of WHL signings? . . . Co-owner: Cougars 1,500 fans a game from breaking even . . . Hanlon’s latest gig in German DEL

With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


After the Red Deer Rebels announced the signing of Arjun Bawa, a second-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft, on Thursday, Alan Caldwell, who keeps track of these things, tweeted:

“Bawa makes 15 of 22 second-rounds picks signed now. Add to 19 of the 22 first-rounders and that’s 34 of the first 44 picks from 2020.

“Five 3rd-rounders, one 4th and one 5th make 41 players signed from the 2020 draft already.”

And, as Caldwell also noted, the numbers “may actually be higher as some teams don’t announce signings.” (Note: There were more signings on Friday, too, with 21 of 22 first-round picks from 2020 now having signed.)

Whatever the numbers, I can’t ever recall a time when the WHL’s 22 teams signed so many players in such a short period of time. After all, the draft was held on April 22.

So . . . why the rush?

I had wondered if perhaps the WHL’s 22 teams were feeling more pressure than usual from leagues like the BCHL and USHL. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Two people with an understanding of the situation have told me that you likely can chalk it up to the pandemic. Unable to take vacations and with not a whole lot of other things on their plate at the moment, team executives simply have sped up the signing process.

And, no, neither Bill Gates nor 5G have had anything to do with it.



Wondering how much money the Prince George Cougars lost last season? Hartley Miller PrinceGeorgeof 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97 takes a look in his weekly Hart Attack column and it’s all right here. . . . On Tuesday, John Pateman, one of the team’s owners and the franchise’s president, took part in a virtual town hall with fans. At one point, he offered: “It’s been a struggle financially for the ownership group over the last several years. We’ve obviously lost a lot of money. I would suggest, last season, we were probably 1,500 fans short of paying all our bills per game, that’s without making the playoffs.” . . . Do the math, as Miller does in his column, and this looks a lot like about a $1-million loss. Yikes!


Married


Glen Hanlon is the new head coach of the Krefeld Pinguine of the German DEL. He finished last season as the head coach of DVTK Jegesmedvek in Slovakia. . . . Hanlon, 63, spent two seasons (2016-18) as the general manager of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants before going back to Europe where he gained considerable experience after spending the better part of four seasons on staff with the NHL’s Washington Capitals.


Paul McFarland has left his position as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs to take over as head coach of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. . . . McFarland spent three previous seasons (2014-17) as the Frontenacs’ head coach before joining the Florida Panthers for two seasons as an assistant coach. He then spent one season with the Maple Leafs. . . . In Kingston, he replaces Kurtis Foster, who was fired on April 29 after two seasons in the position.


Mike Rooney is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. Rooney, from Yellow Grass, Sask., spent last season working as a skating/skills coach with the Notre Dames Hound program in Wilcox, Sask. . . . Rooney replaces Kyle Adams, who was dismissed on Feb. 26. . . . Rooney is a familiar face in Saskatchewan hockey circles, but hasn’t done a whole lot of coaching. He was the GM/head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers for two seasons (1995-97) and the GM/director of player personnel for the SJHL’s Hounds (1997-2000). . . . He also has considerable experience as an NHL and WHL scout.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “If x is the population of the United States and y is the degree of imbecility of the average American, then democracy is the theory that x × y is less than y.”


Banjo


Oliver David of the Dubuque Fighting Saints has been named the USHL’s coach of the year for 2019-20. The Fighting Saints had the USHL’s best defensive record en route to finishing second in the overall standings. . . . Oliver spent one season (2016-17) as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks, where he worked alongside general manager and head coach Mike Johnston. . . . You have to admit that Johnston’s managerial coaching tree is looking rather impressive. It includes Garry Davidson, the general manager of the Everett Silvertips; Matt Bardsley, the GM of the Kamloops Blazers and the Western Conference’s executive of the year; Grant Armstrong and Josh Dye, who both have gone on to scout with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning; Karl Taylor, the head coach of the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals; and Travis Green, the head coach of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. . . . It is somewhat interesting that Johnston, despite Portland being one of the WHL’s premier franchises, has never been saluted as executive or coach of the year. The Winterhawks are the reigning Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy holders as regular-season champions.



The B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame has cancelled its 2020 induction dinner that was to have been held in Penticton on July 24. It is expected that the 2020 inductees will be installed in the Hall of Fame at a celebration in the summer of 2021. The class features players Eric Brewer and Mattias Ohlund, official Jay Sharrers, builder Ray Stonehouse, and two teams — the 2002 Kootenay Ice and 2012 Penticton Vees.


The West Coast League says it still hopes to play baseball this season, despite the fact that five of its 12 teams have said they aren’t able to play because of restrictions having been placed on facilities by health officials and the fact that the U.S.-Canada border remains closed. That includes the Kelowna Falcons and Victoria HarbourCats, the league’s two Canadian franchises. Also out are the Bellingham Bells, Bend Elks and Corvallis Knights. . . . The WCL’s regular season was to have started on June 5. In a news release, the league said it now is “targeting early July for the return of baseball to our member cities.” . . . The WCL’s other franchises are located in Portland the Washington communities of Longview (Cowlitz Black Bears), Port Angeles, Ridgefield, Walla Walla and Yakima. . . .

Baseball Alberta announced on Friday that it has cancelled all sanctioned events and activities through Aug. 31. . . . The senior Red Deer Riggers immediately tweeted that their season was over, but they are looking forward to 2021 when they are to be the host team for nationals.


Grandma

Oilers waiting for McCrimmon? . . . Terriers win another MJHL crown. . . . WHL conference finals resume tonight

ThisThat

The way Robin Brownlee of oilersnation.com sees it, “Edmonton Oilers’ CEO Bob OilersNicholson will certainly have a rooting interest in the San Jose Sharks when they host the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 7 of their opening-round series Tuesday.” . . . Nicholson is heading up the Oilers’ search for a general manager to replaced the fired Peter Chiarelli. With this in mind, Brownlee and a host of other observers feel that Kelly McCrimmon, the Golden Knights’ assistant general manager, is at or near the top of Nicholson’s list of potential general managers. Should the Golden Knights lost Game 7, one could assume that GM George McPhee would give permission to other organizations, like Edmonton and the expansion Seattle club (Totems?), to chat with McCrimmon. . . . Brownlee’s piece is right here.

From a WHL perspective, one wonders what would happen if McCrimmon were to end up signing on with the Oilers as their general manager. That would, in theory, make him responsible for two WHL teams. He owns the Brandon Wheat Kings; the Oilers own the Edmonton Oil Kings.

Remember the hue and cry a couple of seasons ago when the Prince Albert Raiders traded F Leon Draisaitl, whose NHL rights belonged to the Oilers, to the Kelowna Rockets, whose majority owner, Bruce Hamilton, is the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors and widely seen as the most powerful person in the league? Can you imagine the hullabaloo were McCrimmon to be in Edmonton and a prominent player moved from there to Brandon or vice versa?

That, of course, is a long way from happening, but . . .


Latvia beat Slovakia 2-0 on Monday in a Group B game at the IIHF U-18 World Championship in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden. That improved Latvia’s record to 1-2 and lifted it into the quarter-final round. Prior to this year, Latvia had never placed higher than ninth at this tournament. . . . Slovakia, meanwhile, slipped to 0-4 and will face the loser of today’s game between Finland and Switzerland in the best-of-three relegation round. . . . . In Group A on Monday in Umea, Switzerland gave up a 3-0 lead then came from behind to beat Belarus, 5-4 in OT. Switzerland (1-2) will finish the round-robin today against Finland, while Belarus (2-1-1) is on to the quarter-final round. . . . In other games today, Canada (3-0) will meet Czech Republic (2-1), Russia (2-1) is to play Sweden (2-1), and Team USA (3-0) is to meet Latvia. . . . The tournament concludes on Sunday.


F Reece Henry scored at 5:26 of OT to give the Portage Terriers a 3-2 victory over the Terriersvisiting Swan Valley Stampeders in Game 7 of the MJHL’s championship series. . . . The Terriers, under GM/head coach Blake Spiller, won the title, and the Turnbull Cup, for the fourth time in five seasons. They have won MJHL championships in 15 seasons. . . . This was the first MJHL final to go seven games since 1996 when the St. James Canadians beat out the Neepawa Natives. . . . Last night, the Stampeders forced extra time when F Matthew Osadick scored his second goal of the game with 7.3 seconds left in the third period. . . . D Sam Huston and F Chase Brakel also scored for the Terriers. . . . They will meet the SJHL-champion Battlefords North Stars for the ANAVET Cup with Games 1 and 2 in Portage la Prairie on Friday and Saturday nights.


Kelvin Cech is the new head coach of the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers. Cech, 36, spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the U of British Columbia Thunderbirds. . . . Cech replaces Steve Mullin, whose contract wasn’t renewed when the Flyers’ season ended. . . . In Winkler, Cech, who is from Edmonton, will work alongside general manager Jeff Jeanson.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The WHL’s conference finals both resume tonight. . . . In the Eastern Conference final, the Oil Kings will entertain the Prince Albert Raiders. The teams split in Prince Albert, the Raiders opening with a 1-0 victory on Friday, and the Oil Kings coming back with a 4-3 OT victory on Saturday. . . . In the Western Conference, the Vancouver Giants hold a 2-0 lead over the Chiefs as they gather for two games in Spokane. The Giants won 4-1 on Friday and 4-2 on Saturday in Langley, B.C. There has been one key injury in the series as Spokane F Luc Smith, 20, left Game 1 in the opening minutes of the first period with an apparent ankle injury. He didn’t return to that game and wasn’t dressed for Game 2. Will he play tonight?


Tweetoftheday

Matt Savoie headed to Crusaders? . . . Tracey, Gauthier lead Canada past Finland. . . . WHL playoffs set to resume


MacBeth

F Chris Langkow (Spokane, Saskatoon, Everett, 2005-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with MAC Újbuda Budapest (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, he had 17 goals and 22 assists in 55 games. . . .

F Brayden Low (Portland, Everett, 2010-15) has signed a one-season contract with CBR Brave Canberra (Australia, AIHL). This season, with the Reading Royals (ECHL), he had 15 goals and 18 assists in 63 games. . . .

F Dylan Yeo (Prince George, Calgary, 2003-07) has signed a two-year contract with the Schwenninger Wild Wings (Germany, DEL). This season, with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL), he had 10 goals and 27 assists in 52 games. . . .

F Jordan Draper (Red Deer, 2007-08) has signed a one-season contract with CBR Brave Canberra (Australia, AIHL). This season, with Mulhouse (France, Ligue Magnus), he had 12 goals and nine assists in 42 games. . . .

F Jaedon Descheneau (Kootenay, 2011-16) has signed a two-year contract with Brynäs Gävle (Sweden, SHL). This season, with Düsseldorf (Germany, DEL), he had 19 goals and 32 assists in 52 games. He led the team in assists and was second in points.


ThisThat

It appears that the Savoie brothers, Carter and Matt, don’t have any plans of playing in the WHL. . . . Carter, 17, just finished his first season with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park SherwoodParkCrusaders and plans on returning for 2019-20. He has committed to attending the U of Denver and playing for the Pioneers in 2020-21.

On Thursday, Tyler Yaremchuk (@tyleryaremchuk) tweeted: “Despite having his rights traded to Winnipeg, Carter Savoie WILL NOT be going to the WHL. He will stay with the Crusaders next season.” . . . A ninth-round selection by the Regina Pats in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft, his major junior were traded to the Winnipeg Ice on April 3 for a fifth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft and two conditional selections. . . . At this point, the Ice holds the first and ninth picks in the 2019 draft.

Yaremchuk posted that tweet after having Kyle Chase, the Crusaders’ president of hockey operations and general manager, on his podcast — Inside The Cru.

Matt Savoie, who turned 15 on Jan. 1, is ranked by most, if not all, observers as the No. 1 prospect among players eligible for the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft that is scheduled for Red Deer on May 2. . . . He has committed to the U of Denver for 2021-22. . . . He played this season with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team, and is expected to return there for 2019-20.

Savoie attended the Crusaders’ recent spring camp, which prompted Yaremchuk to ask Chase: “Is he that good?”

Chase’s response: “Yeah. Yeah, he is.”

Chase’s son, Greg, who played in the WHL and has played professionally for the past four seasons, watched Savoie for a bit before saying: “He’ll be in the NHL in four years.”

According to Kyle Chase, his son then asked “what a lot of us ask: How did he get that good so fast?”

Chase went on to describe Savoie: “He shoots bullets. He’s physical. He’s an elite skater. He’s tenacious. He’s on the puck. When you talk about those elite players . . . those guys are high-end and high-octane and high-energy. Matt’s got a little bit of Wendel Clark in him; when you take the puck from him he’s going to blow you up and take it back. He’s not just interested in lifting your stick. . . . He’s got a ton of courage and he’s got a ton of skill. . . . He’s head’s up . . . he’s unselfish.”

As for Sherwood Park’s plans, Chase said that “our intention is to affiliate him. We spoke to the family and to Matt. We want him affiliated . . . and play a minimum of 10 games as an affiliate with us next (season). The family has been very receptive . . . and Matt’s on board. We’re excited to have him around the organization.”

The complete podcast, which runs about 20 minutes, is right here.


F Brayden Tracey of the Moose Jaw Warriors scored twice as Team Canada erased a 3-0 Canadasecond-period deficit and went on a 5-3 victory over Finland in its opening game at the IIHF U-18 World Championship in Umea, Sweden. . . . Tracey tied the score at 3:57 of the third period, on a PP, as he finished off a 2-on-1 with F Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg Ice). . . . Tracey scored what stood as the winner at 14:31, with F Connor Zary (Kamloops Blazers) getting the lone assist. . . . Krebs iced it with an empty-netter. . . . G Taylor Gauthier (Prince George Cougars) stopped 39 shots. He was terrific in the first period in holding the Finns to two goals on 20 shots. . . . Canada is scheduled to play Switzerland today. . . . The tournament runs through April 28. . . . Team Canada added G Nolan Maier (Saskatoon Blades) to its roster earlier in the week. However, F Kirby Dach of the Blades had to turn down an invitation due to an undisclosed injury suffered in Game 5 of a second-round series with the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . In other opening-day games, Russia beat Slovakia, 6-3; Team USA dropped Sweden, 6-1; and Belarus beat Czech Republic, 4-3.


The WHL’s two games in the 2019 CIBC Canada-Russia Series will be played in Saskatoon and Prince Albert. . . . The six-game series that also features two games against the OHL and QMJHL, is to be played Nov. 4-14. . . . For the first time since 2013, the series will begin in the QMJHL (Saint John, Nov. 4; Moncton, Nov. 5), then move to the OHL (Kitchener, Nov. 7; London, Nov. 11). . . . The series-ending games will be played in Saskatoon on Nov. 13 and Prince Albert on Nov. 14. . . . There is a news release on the series right here.


The Prince George Spruce Kings won the franchise’s first BCHL championship — the Fred SpruceKingsPage Cup — on Wednesday night, beating the Vipers 3-1 in Vernon to sweep the championship series in four games. . . . That ended a remarkable playoff run for the Spruce Kings, who went 16-1, the best post-season record in BCHL history. . . . F Ben Poisson, the Spruce Kings’ captain, gave the visitors a 2-0 lead, on a PP, at 5:14 of the second period. That goal, his 13th of the playoffs, stood up as his second game-winner in as many nights. Poisson had scored the OT winner in a 4-3 victory in Vernon on Tuesday night. . . . With the victory, the Spruce Kings, who entered the BCHL for the 1996-97 season, also clinched a berth in the National Junior A Championship, which is to be played in Brooks, Alta. Before that, the Spruce Kings will meet the AJHL-champion Brooks Bandits for the Doyle Cup. . . . That series is to open in Brooks on April 26.

——

In the MJHL, the Portage Terriers beat the host Swan Valley Stampeders, 5-2, on Thursday night, tying the championship final, 3-3. . . . They’ll play Game 7 in Portage la Prairie on Monday. . . . Last night, the Terriers held a 50-26 edge in shots. . . . F Jay Buchholz, an 18-year-old from Fargo, N.D., had two goals for the winners, who trailed 2-1 with fewer than eight minutes to play in the third period. . . .

In the SJHL, the championship final between the Battlefords North Stars and Melfort Mustangs is to resume tonight. The North Stars, with a 3-1 lead, will play host to Game 5. . . . A sixth game, if needed would be played Sunday in Melfort.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The WHL playoffs resume tonight as the conference finals get rolling with games in Prince Albert and Langley, B.C. . . . Each of the four teams still alive is 8-2 in these playoffs. . . . WHL fans have to be thinking it would be nice to see a couple of long series. The first round, with a maximum of 56 games, played out in 43, with three of the eight series going six games and one going the distance. . . . The second round, however, was finished in 19 games as the winners went 16-3. . . . F Dante Hannoun of the Prince Albert Raiders and F Davis Koch of the Vancouver Giants lead the scoring race, each with 14 points, one more than Vancouver D Bowen Byram. . . . Hannoun is tops in goals (9) and Koch leads in assists (12). . . . G Ian Scott of the Raiders and G Bailey Brkin of the Spokane Chiefs each has eight victories. Scott has the best GAA, at 1.81, while Brkin is tops in save percentage (.931). . . .

In Prince Albert, the Raiders, who finished atop the overall standings (54-10-4), will entertain the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Edmonton topped the Central Division (42-18-8). . . . In the regular season, the Raiders won the season series, 3-1-0; the Oil Kings were 1-2-1. . . . They have met twice since the trade deadline, with the Oil Kings winning, 6-3, in Prince Albert on Feb. 1, and the Raiders winning, 5-1, in Edmonton three days later. . . . In the four games, Edmonton F Trey Fix-Wolansky had five goals and two assists, while D Conner McDonald had three goals and three assists. . . . G Todd Scott of Edmonton went the distance in three of the games, going 1-1-1, 4.62, .883. G Dylan Myskiw, who has had the hot hand in the playoffs, was 0-1-0, 5.04, .853. . . . F Noah Gregor led the Raiders, with two goals and six assists in the four games. F Cole Fonstad, who missed the last two games of the Raiders’ second-round series, had four goals and three assists, while F Brett Leason had a goal and six assists in three games. . . . G Ian Scott of the Raiders was 2-1-0, 3.27, .897. . . . The Raiders will be without F Justin Nachbaur tonight as he completes a two-game suspension.

——

In Langley, B.C., the Vancouver Giants will be trying to prove that they are the WHL’s “top team” as they play host to the Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Giants finished atop the Western Conference, at 48-15-5. . . . The Chiefs were second in the U.S. Division, at 40-21-7. . . . According to Steve Ewen of Postmedia, the Giants have seized on a couple of quotes from a Kevin Dudley story in the Spokane Spokesman-Review and are using them as a rallying point. . . . After the Chiefs had eliminated the Everett Silvertips, who had finished on top of the U.S. Division, at 47-16-5, head coach Dan Lambert made reference to having ousted “the top team in the league.” . . . At the same time, Spokane G Bailey Brkin told Dudley: “We just took down the top team in the league, without even a Game 6 or 7.” . . . Yes, the Giants took note. “It bothers you to a certain extent,” D Dylan Plouffe told Ewen. “We’re just going to use it for motivation. That’s really all.” . . .

The Giants went 3-1-0 in the season series; the Chiefs were 1-2-1. . . . They have played each other three times since the trade deadline. The Giants won 6-4 in Spokane on Jan. 18 and 5-4 at home on Feb. 15. The Chiefs won 4-1 in Spokane on March 8. . . . Chiefs F Riley Woods had a goal and five assists in six games, while F Luc Smith, in three games, had four goals. . . . Vancouver F Jared Dmytriw led his side with three goals and two assists in four games. F Davis Koch and F Milos Roman each had a goal and three assists. D Bowen Byram had a goal and two assists in the four games. . . . Brkin, who might be the playoff MVP to this point, was 1-1-0, 3.03, .915 against the Giants. . . . The Giants used both goaltenders — David Tendeck was 2-0-0, 3.88, .843; Trent Miner was 1-1-0, 4.13, .833.


Tweetoftheday

‘Canes, Pats make monster deal . . . Savoies to ask for exceptional status . . . Warriors’ veteran goes home


MacBeth

F Marek Viedenský (Prince George, Saskatoon, 2008-11) has been released by mutual agreement by Třinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He was pointless in four games. In an interview with http://Sport.sk , Viedenský disclosed that he has a lower-body injury, the extent of which has not yet been determined. Viedenský felt it was best to terminate the contract while he and doctors try to determine the proper cause of action for his injury.


ThisThat

Well, it didn’t take long to get an answer to a question that was posed here earlier in the week.

After the Kamloops Blazers made two trades that involved four players and four bantam Lethbridgedraft picks, I speculated as to what impact the WHL’s new trade regulations might have on the marketplace.

“Who knows?” I wrote. “Maybe we’ll see trades like the one in the OHL last week in which one team gave up two players and got back two players and 11 — count ’em, 11 — draft picks.”

We didn’t quite get to 11 on Thursday, but the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Regina Pats did swap four players and a possible seven bantam draft picks.

Here are the details. . . .

Lethbridge acquired Regina’s top two forwards — Nick Henry and Jake Leschyshyn, both of whom are 19.

In return, Regina gets F Jadon Joseph, 19, F Ty Kolle, 18, five bantam draft picks and two conditional picks:

  • Lethbridge’s first-round selection in 2019;
  • Lethbridge’s third-round selection in 2019;
  • Swift Current’s eighth-round selection in 2019;
  • Swift Current’s first-round selection in 2020; and,
  • Lethbridge’s fourth-round selection in 2022
  • Should either Henry or Leschyshyn return for a 20-year-old season, the Pats will receive a conditional bantam draft pick. One of the conditional picks is a third-rounder in the 2021 draft, with the other a third-rounder in 2022.

The Pats, of course, sold the acreage over the previous two seasons in order to load up Patsfor the 2018 Memorial Cup tournament for which they were the host team.

Now they have the WHL’s second-poorest record (8-17-0) and are looking well down the road, thus the hunger for draft picks.

The Hurricanes, meanwhile, are all-in. At the moment, they are 11-8-5 and third in the Central Division, five points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings (14-10-4) and six in arrears of the Red Deer Rebels (16-8-1).

A year ago, the Hurricanes were sellers, a move that allowed general manager Peter Anholt to use some of the acquired assets in the deal with the Pats.

One of the interesting things about Anholt’s decision to shove all of his chips into the middle of the table is that the Hurricanes — let’s assume they make the playoffs — are going to have to vacate the 5,479-seat ENMAX Centre for a time early in the playoffs to make room for the 2019 World men’s curling championship. It is scheduled for March 30 through April 7.

Anholt has said that while displaced the Hurricanes will play in the Nicholas Sheran Ice Centre, which, according to the City of Lethbridge website, has a seating capacity of 978. He has yet to lay out plans as to how the Hurricanes will accommodate fans. The City is in the process of opening negotiations with the Hurricanes regarding compensation for their having to vacate their home arena.

It could be, then, that Anholt sees a deep playoff run as vitally important to the community-owned franchise and its financial outlook.

Anholt was one of a number of general managers to at least chat with John Paddock, the Pats’ general manager, about the availability of Henry and Leschyshyn.

Anholt took things one step further and headed west on a scouting trip. He watched the Pats beat the Blazers, 3-2, in Kamloops on Nov. 20. In fact, Anholt and Paddock were seen conversing in a Kamloops restaurant early that afternoon.

Henry, Leschyshyn and D Aaron Hyman, who was traded by Paddock to the Tri-City Americans earlier in the week, were the Pats’ best players in Kamloops.

Anholt also was in Kelowna on Nov. 21 when the Pats lost, 3-2, to the Rockets.

Joseph, from Sherwood Park, Alta., was a fifth-round pick by the Hurricanes in the 2014 bantam draft. This season, he has 10 goals and nine assists in 23 games. In 144 career games, he has 22 goals and 44 assists.

Kolle, from Kamloops, was acquired by Lethbridge from the Portland Winterhawks on Oct. 4 for a fifth-rounder pick in the 2019 bantam draft. Portland had selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 bantam draft. In 94 career games, he has 14 goals and 15 assists. This season, he put up seven goals and four assists in 17 games with Lethbridge, after recording one assist in four games with Portland.

The two big fish, of course, are Henry and Leschyshyn.

Leschyshyn, the son of former NHLer Curtis Leschyshyn, was the Pats’ captain. Jake was a second-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL’s 2017 draft. He has signed an NHL contract. The Red Deer Rebels selected him sixth overall in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. On Jan. 5, 2015, he was traded to Regina as part of a deal in which F Connor Gay moved to the Rebels, who were to be the host team for the 2015 Memorial Cup.

This season, Leschyshyn has 16 goals and 16 assists in 32 games. In 213 career regular-season games, all with Regina, he has 61 goals and 70 assists.

Henry, from Portage la Prairie, Man., was selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the fourth round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. He has yet to sign an NHL deal.

The Everett Silvertips had taken him in the third round of the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft, but hadn’t signed him; in fact, he had committed to the Western Michigan U Broncos. Henry was the 2015-16 MJHL rookie of the year with the Portage Terriers when he was traded to the Pats, who signed him on Sept. 1, 2016. This season, he has 15 goals and 25 assists in 40 games. In 150 games over three seasons, he has 150 points, including 64 goals.

The Hurricanes will play three games in fewer than 48 hours this weekend, as they entertain Swift Current tonight, then visit Medicine Hat on Saturday, before playing host to Red Deer on Sunday.

The Pats also will play three games in fewer than 48 hours. They are to visit Brandon tonight, then play host to Prince Albert on Saturday and Medicine Hat on Sunday.


I spent 17 years attending Regina Pats’ games and had numerous conversations with Bill White, who died Saturday. He was 90. Condolences to his family and friends.


Hockey Canada  hasn’t had to deal with a player applying for exceptional status in order to play regularly in the WHL as a 15-year-old.

It seems that is about to change.

Scott Savoie, the father of Matt Savoie, who is to turn 15 on Jan. 1, told Dhiren Mahiban of sportingnews.com that “we’ll put in for it and then we’ll go through the draft . . . if it’s a perfect fit for him, then we’ll probably let him go. If it’s not, we might defer for a year and kind of wait and see, and see where that takes us.”

The Savoies are from St. Albert, Alta. Matt, 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds, plays for the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team. In 20 games, he’s put up 22 goals and 26 assists. Last season, with the bantam prep team, he finished with 97 points, including 28 goals, in 30 games.

In normal circumstances, a draft-eligible player would go through the WHL bantam draft. If he is selected, he is eligible to play up to five games in the upcoming season so long as his club team still is playing. Once his club team has concluded its season that player would be eligible to join the WHL team.

Exceptional status would allow a player, in this case Savoie, to play regularly as a 15-year-old.

It’s worth noting that exceptional status doesn’t make any allocation for playing junior A; in other words, it’s major junior or back to minor hockey. The Savoies have already applied to Hockey Canada in the hopes that Matt would be cleared to play in the AJHL, but that was denied.

The WHL holds a draft lottery in advance of its annual bantam draft; it includes the six non-playoff teams. At the moment, the six teams outside playoff position are the Swift Current Broncos, Regina Pats, Kootenay Ice, Calgary Hitmen, Kamloops Blazers and Seattle Thunderbirds.

Interestingly, the Prince George Cougars have Swift Current’s first-round 2019 selection, while the Saskatoon Blades have Regina’s.

The deadline to apply to Hockey Canada for exceptional status arrives on Saturday.

In the past, Hockey Canada has granted exceptional status to five players — Joe Veleno in the QMJHL, and Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad, John Tavares and Sean Day in the OHL.

Mahiban’s story is right here.


The Calgary Hitmen lost G Carl Stankowski to an ankle injury early in the week, so had Calgaryplanned to recall G Matt Armitage from the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks at least for the weekend. . . . It turns out that Armitage was injured on Wednesday night in a 4-3 OT loss to the visiting Langley Rivermen. Armitage went the distance, stopping 45 shots in 63:34, but apparently was injured at some point. . . . The Hitmen now are bringing in Brayden Peters, 16, from the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes. Calgary selected him in the fifth round of the 2017 WHL bantam draft. He is 8-2-0, 1.76, .929 with the Hurricanes. . . . With Stankowski out, the bulk of the goaltending load will fall to Jack McNaughton, a 17-year-old freshman from Calgary. To date, he has made 12 appearances, going 4-6-1, 3.35, .890. . . . The Hitmen will play three games in fewer than 48 hours this weekend. They are in Red Deer tonight before returning home to face Edmonton on Saturday and Moose Jaw on Sunday.


When Moose Jaw beat the Kootenay Ice, 3-1, in Cranbrook on Wednesday night, the Warriors were without one of their leading scorers.

It turns out that F Ryan Peckford, 19, had left the team on Monday.

Peckford, from Stony Plain, Alta., was a second-round selection by the Victoria Royals in MooseJawWarriorsthe WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. On Dec. 11, the Warriors dealt F Noah Gregor and an eighth-round 2018 bantam draft pick to the Royals for Peckford and a fourth-rounder in 2018.

This season, Peckford had eight goals and eight assists in 20 games, his 16 points the fifth-highest on the Moose Jaw roster.

Alan Millar, the Warriors’ general manager, told Marc Smith of discovermoosejaw.com:

“Ryan came in to meet with me first thing Monday morning and expressed at that time that he wasn’t having fun playing the game any longer, it wasn’t fun to come to the rink and he’d lost some passion for the game.

“He’s a good kid, he’s a talented player, we’re certainly disappointed, but at the end of the day, if your heart’s not in it, these young guys have to make difficult decisions and Ryan has certainly made one, and we’ll see if anything changes with his time at home and away from the game.”

Millar added that while Peckford’s decision caught the Warriors off-guard, “there’s a bit of a of trend . . . our league is dealing with a number of young guys (who), for whatever reason, have decided to move on and leave their teams and I don’t think you can pinpoint any specific reason other than each person is different.”

F Peyton McKenzie, a 16-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., has joined the Warriors from the Edmonton-OHA prep team. He is expected to stay with the Warriors through the weekend.

Moose Jaw is to visit the Edmonton Oil Kings tonight for the first of three games in fewer than 48 hours. The Warriors will be in Red Deer on Saturday and in Calgary on Sunday.

Smith’s complete story is right here.




D Sam Huston, who left the Kootenay Ice earlier in the season, has joined the MJHL’s Portage Terriers.

Huston, 19, is from Brandon. He had one assist in two games with the Terriers in 2015-16, while he was playing with the midget AAA Brandon Wheat Kings. This season, he has a goal and two assists in three games with Portage.

The Ice selected him in the ninth round of the 2014 bantam draft. In 119 regular-season games, he put up four goals and 13 assists.


The story that started when former NHLer Daniel Carrillo detailed life as a first-year ohlplayer with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting continues to grow legs. On Thursday, David Branch, the OHL commissioner, told CBC Sports that his league “failed” Carcillo and “the other players involved.” Branch called Carcillo’s revelations “shocking.” . . . “You know,” Branch said, “I don’t know how else to put it.” . . . This story isn’t likely to go away anytime soon as more and more former junior hockey players are revealing incidents from the past. . . . James Strashin of CBC Sports has the latest story right here.

Meanwhile, John Chidley-Hill of The Canadian Press, who conducted the original interview with Carcillo, has spoken with more former Sarnia players about what went on with the Sting. . . .  That piece is right here.


F Harrison Blaisdell, who committed to North Dakota on April 28, 2016, has signed his letter of intent. Blaisdell, 17, is a native of Regina. His father, Mike, played six games with the Regina Pats in 1977-78, then spent 1978-79 at the U of Wisconsin. He played one game with the Badgers in 1979-80 before returning to the Pats, where he put up 109 points, 71 of them goals, in 63 games. . . . Harrison is in his second season with the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs. This season, he has 19 goals and 18 assists in 30 games. . . . He was a second-round pick by the Vancouver Giants in the who’s 2016 bantam draft.


D Cam York has committed to the U of Michigan Wolverines in time for next season. York, 17, is from Anaheim Hills, Calif., and plays with the U.S. national U-18 team in USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. . . . The Red Deer Rebels selected him in the ninth round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft.


F Grant Silianoff has committed to the U of Notre Dame Fighting Irish for next season. Silianoff, 17, is from Edina, Minn. In 19 games with the USHL’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, he has six goals and five assists. . . . The Saskatoon Blades picked him in the ninth round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft.


If you stop off here and enjoy what you see — or even if you don’t — feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and make a contribution. Thanks in advance.


The SJHL’s Melville Millionaires have fired general manager and head coach Devin Windle. . . . Assistant coach Kyle Adams was named interim GM/head coach. . . . Windle was in his third season with Melville. . . . The Millionaires are 8-16-4, good for a third-place tie with the Weyburn Red Wings in the four-team Viterra Division.


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Popowich, Esposito leave WHL for school . . . Blades sign an import . . . Healing continues in Humboldt

MacBeth

D Alexei Platonov (Medicine Hat, 2015-16) signed a one-year contract with Lada Togliatti (Russia, Vysshaya Liga) after a successful tryout. Last season, he had one goal and three assists in 24 games with Toros Neftekamsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga).


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Two more players with WHL eligibility remaining have chosen to leave the WHL and head to school.

F Tyler Popowich, 18, has decided to walk away from the Vancouver Giants, after scoring whleight goals and adding six assists in 64 games last season.
From Surrey, B.C., he was a first-round pick, third overall, by the Giants in the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft.

He was pointless in six games with Vancouver in 2015-16, then had seven goals and two assists in 53 games in 2016-17.

Popowich is the second first-round bantam draft pick to leave the WHL in two days. On Thursday, it was revealed that D Jantzen Leslie, 19, had left the Edmonton Oil Kings for Red Deer College. Leslie, from Lloydminster, Alta., was a first-round pick, 15th overall, by the Everett Silvertips in the 2014 bantam draft.

As well, D Drea Esposito, an 18-year-old from Winnipeg, has chosen to leave the Calgary Hitmen in order to attend the U of Manitoba. He was a fifth-round selection by the Hitmen in the 2015 bantam draft. Esposito played two seasons with the Hitmen, recording two assists in 35 games as a freshman, then adding a goal and seven assists in 47 games last season.

Earlier, the Giants lost D Marcus Kichton, 19, when he chose to leave to go to school.

The Saskatoon Blades had two players leave their organization prior to what would have been their 20-year-old seasons.

F Gage Ramsay will attend Saskatchewan Polytechnic next month and then move on to the U of Saskatchewan rather than try for a 20-year-old spot with the Blades.

F Caleb Fantillo chose to leave, according to the Blades, in order “to get a jump start on a future career in the health and fitness industry.”


F Matthew Hodson of Saskatoon has signed a WHL contract with the Victoria Royals, who selected him in the third round of the 2018 bantam draft. He played last season with the bantam AA Saskatoon Outlaws, putting up 44 goals and 31 assists in 31 games. He was second in the Saskatchewan Bantam AA Hockey League in goals and points. He added four goals and seven assist in seven playoff games.


The Saskatoon Blades have signed F Kristian Roykas Marthinsen, whose rights were Saskatoonselected in the CHL’s 2018 import draft. From Norway, Roykas Marthinsen will turn 19 on Tuesday. He was selected by the Washington Capitals in the seventh round of the 2017 NHL draft. He has yet to sign with them, but has twice skated at their development camp. . . . Last season, he had 23 goals and eight assists in 23 games with Almtuna IS J20 in Norway’s elite junior league. . . . Saskatoon has yet to sign D Emil Malysjev, its other selection in the CHL import draft. Malysjev, 17, has dual Sweden-Russian citizenship. He spent the past two seasons in HV71’s organization, and may play with its elite 18 team this season.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed F Lucas Ciona to a WHL contract. From Edmonton, he was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. Last season, Ciona had 13 goals and 35 assists in 30 games with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team. He is presently in camp with the Thunderbirds.


The healing continued in Humboldt on Friday as Washington Capitals F Chandler Stephenson, who is from Saskatoon, and his close personal friend Stanley Cup dropped in for a vist. . . . It also was Day 1 of training camp for the SJHL’s Broncos, although the prospective players weren’t made available to the visiting media. . . . Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post was on hand and filed this column right here.

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When Kevin Garinger stepped up as president of the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, there wasn’t any way that he could have known what was ahead. Now, after one year in the position and having shepherded the organization through the tragedy of a bus accident that took 16 lives, he has stepped aside. . . . Ken Campbell of The Hockey News has more right here.

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Jamie Brockman is the new president of the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. Well, actually, he is the new ‘old’ president. Brockman was president from 2012-17, before he stepped aside and Kevin Garinger took over for a year. . . . Alex MacPherson of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has more on Brockman right here.


The Canadian junior A rights to G Dylan Myskiw, 19, of the Brandon Wheat Kings have been dealt to the Portage Terriers, along with F Ben Coppinger, 18, and future considerations. In return, the Selkirk Steelers received F Ryan Sokoloski, 20, D Ryden Fedyck, 17, and future considerations.

From Winnipeg, Myskiw was a sixth-round pick by the Victoria Royals in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. He played with the midget AAA Winnipeg Thrashers in 2015-16, then got into 17 games with the Royals in 2016-17. Last season, he played in 22 games with the Wheat Kings.

Coppinger had four assists in 18 games with the Prince George Cougars last season, while also playing with the Steelers and the Manitoba Major Junior League’s St. Vital Victorias. He was a 10th-round selection by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 2015 WHL bantam draft.

Sokoloski, from Winnipeg, was pointless in nine games with the Swift Current Broncos in 2015-16. They had selected him in the 11th round of the 2013 bantam draft. He played three seasons with the Terriers.

Fedyck, from Winnipeg, was selected by the Medicine Hat Tigers in the third round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. He played last season with the midget AAA Winnipeg Thrashers.


Thank you to those who have donated to Dorothy’s cause as she prepares to take part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk on Sept. 23. That will be the fifth anniversary of her transplant and, yes, she is excited. She also is one of the walk’s organizers. Of course, she is. . . . If you would like to donate, you are able to do so right here. . . . If you are interested, money raised in the Kamloops Kidney Walk, which is our only fundraiser, will be used to help those who get called to Vancouver (VGH or St. Paul’s) for transplants. Those people have to stay in Vancouver for two months or longer.


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