Portland booster club heading east in — yes! — January . . . New junior league coming to U.S. west . . . Debut to remember for Cowan


Some members of the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club flew to Prince George Portlandto take in a Feb. 25-26 doubleheader between their favourite team and the Cougars.

They had such a grand time and so enjoyed the north’s fresh air that they have decided to make a 10-night East Division swing next season in January. IN JANUARY!

Stuart Kemp, the booster club’s long-time president, assures me that he has warned folks that “it’s going to be cold. I told them prepare for minus-30!”

I only hope that he also told them about the wind!

The booster club has made road trips in the past — yes, I can remember seeing members having a grand time at games in Kamloops — but, as Kemp said, an eastern swing “has never been done in its current configuration and never as one group traveling together.”

He continued: “The group will fly into Regina and use the same bus company as the Pats to tour Manitoba and Saskatchewan. It appears the dates will run from Thursday, Jan. 6 — when we fly in — with the first game on the 7th, to Sunday, Jan. 15, when the group flies out.”

There is room for 50 fans and, as of now, 23 have signed up — that means they have handed in their $800 deposits — and that includes Ardyce Moore, who will be 96 when the plane leaves Portland, and Neree Lowenstein, who will be 95. Yes, they both made the trip to Prince George.

Kemp says that if/when they reach the maximum of 50, well, they will find room for more. Of course, they will.


Spelling


My wife, Dorothy, who underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, is taking part in her ninth kidney walk, albeit virtually, on June 5. She has been involved in every walk since she had her transplant. If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do that right here.


It would appear that the WHL is soon to have more competition for players who are from the western part of the U.S. . . . West Coast Hockey Sports and Entertainment has announced that it is putting together a junior league with as many as 12 franchises to be included. If all goes according to plan, at least six teams will begin play in the fall of 2023. . . . The proposed league already has the support of four NHL teams — the Anaheim Ducks, Vegas Golden Knights, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks. . . . Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News actually had the story on Monday and his piece is right here.


Idiot


I loved this Twitter post from the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday because it shows Abbott starting at right wing for the Regina Capitals in an Allan Cup challenge game against the Winnipeg Victorias. . . . That would be Lyman (Hick) Abbott, who was one of Western Canada’s best all-around athletes before he was killed in action in the First World War. The Abbott Cup, which once was presented to the junior hockey champion of Western Canada, was named after him. . . . If you are interested in reading more about Abbott, you are able to do so right here.



JUNIOR JOTTINGS: F Justin Lies of the Vancouver Giants has been hit with a five-game suspension for something he did at the end of a Saturday game in Portland. . . . F Matthew Rempe of the Seattle Thunderbirds drew a three-game suspension for the boarding major and game misconduct he was hit with on Saturday night in Everett. He has been suspended four times for eight games this season. . . . Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week tweeted Tuesday that Shaun Clouston, the Blazers’ general manager and head coach, said that F Luke Toporowski “is out week-to-week, lower-body injury, and expected back before the end of the regular season.” Toporowski suffered an apparent left leg injury during the Blazers’ 4-2 victory over the visiting Kelowna Rockets on Friday night.


Frosty


TUESDAY NIGHT IN THE WHL:

G Dawson Cowan stopped 23 shots as the Winnipeg Ice dumped the visiting Calgary Hitmen, 4-0. . . . Cowan is an undrafted 16-year-old from Warren, Man., who was making his first WHL appearance. He was 6-5-0, 3.40, .890 in 14 games with the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues this season. . . . F Matthew Savoie scored his 27th goal. He’s got 74 points in 53 games. . . . F Mike Milne got No. 29. He has 62 points in 54 games after coming into this season with 52 points, including 22 goals, in 107 games. . . .

The WHL’s top two scorers combined for seven points as the host Red Deer Rebels dropped the Saskatoon Blades, 5-2. . . . F Ashdeep Bains, who leads the WHL with 91 points, had a goal and two assists, with linemate Ben King, who is second with 90, adding a goal and three helpers. . . . King leads the WHL in goals (46) and Bains leads in assists (58). . . .

In Brandon, the Moose Jaw Warriors scored the game’s last six goals and beat the Wheat Kings, 7-1. . . . F Ryder Korczak scored his 20th goal and added three assists for the Warriors, who got two goals from each of F Brayden Yager and Eric Alerie (18). . . . Yager’s first goal, his 30th, set a franchise record for single-season goals by player in his 16-year-old season. Yager, who turned 17 on Jan. 3, had shared the record with Theo Fleury (1984-85). . . . Fleury tweeted: “Way to go man. Records are made to be broken. Congrats!!!!” . . .

In Kent, Wash., F Reid Schaefer scored twice and added an assist as the Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Tri-City Americans, 5-1. . . . Schaefer went into this season with three assists in 25 games. This season, he has 29 goals and 19 assists in 54 games. . . . Longtime broadcaster Craig West called the play of a WHL game for the 2,500th time in this one. Now working with the Americans, he also has called WHL games for the Spokane Chiefs. . . .

In Spokane, G Braden Holt blocked 20 shots to help the Everett Silvertips to a 3-0 victory over the Chiefs. . . . Holt has four shutouts this season and five in his career. . . . F Austin Roest scored his 11th goal and added an assist, with F Hunter Campbella nd D Aidan Sutter each getting two assists. . . . Everett is 10-0-0 in games with Spokane this season. And they will meet three more times before the regular season ends. . . .

The Medicine Hat Tigers erased a 4-2 third-period deficit and went on to beat the visiting Regina Pats, 5-4, in a shootout. . . . F Brendan Lee’s second goal of the game — he’s got 10 — pulled the Tigers into a 4-4 tie at 19:56 of the third period. . . . F Andrew Basha and F Logan Barlage scored in the shootout for the home side. . . . Regina F Connor Bedard had a goal and two assists to run his point streak to 18 games. He’s got 18 goals and 20 assists through those 18 games. Bedard has 76 points, including 38 goals, in 48 games this season.



Cheese


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.


Trip

Scattershooting on a Sunday with thoughts of Lennon and Breslin . . . Maier, Blades stop Leason and Raiders . . . Wolf howls against Chiefs

Scattershooting

The Edmonton Oilers’ roster may include the player some observers consider to be the best in the world, Connor McDavid, but they still are offensively challenged. When the visiting Calgary Flames beat the Columbus Blue Jackets, 9-6, on Tuesday, they scored as many goals in one game as the Oilers had scored in their previous five outings. . . . Of course, the Oilers beat the visiting Flames, 1-0, on Sunday night. If you don’t give up any goals, chances are you’ll win every time.



While it’s great to see Seattle be awarded an NHL franchise — yes, for US $650 million — you really have to wonder why the NHL won’t go into Quebec City, don’t you?


John Lennon was murdered on Dec. 8, 1980. If you haven’t read the column written by the late Jimmy Breslin, you have cheated yourself. It’s a classic and it’s right here.


F Tyler Steenbergen scored the Teddy Bear goal for the Swift Current Broncos last season, then later scored the goal that won gold for Team Canada at the 2018 World Junior Championship. This season, he’s with the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners. He scored their Teddy Bear goal on Saturday night.


Headline at TheOnion.com: Should the NFL prohibit players from appearing in hotel security footage?



“The U.S. Postal Service, in honor of former President George H.W. Bush’s funeral, suspended regular mail deliveries Wednesday,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “The Pistons apparently forgot and mailed it in anyway, getting outscored in every quarter in a 115-92 loss to the Bucks.”


A note from RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Head coach Jay Gruden said exiled QB Colin Kaepernick wasn’t a good option for Washington. I’ll say! The poster boy for minority injustice in America playing for a team called the Redskins?”


Here’s a groaner from Currie: “Barbara Streisand’s two Coton de Tulear pooches are both clones of her previous pet, Samantha. If Elvis were alive, he’d say “You ain’t nothing but a cloned dog.”


ThisThat.

Maybe F Brett Leason and the Prince Albert Raiders are human after all.

G Nolan Maier stopped 32 shots on Sunday to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 1-0 victory PrinceAlbertover the visiting Raiders, handing Prince Albert, the CHL’s top-ranked team, its first regulation-time loss of this season.

The Raiders (28-2-1) went into the game with one other regulation loss; they were beaten 4-3 by the Rebels in Red Deer on Oct. 6. They also suffered a 3-2 shootout setback at the hands of the Broncos in Swift Current on Dec. 4.

When Sunday’s game ended, the Raiders still led the East Division by 16 points over the Blades. Still, the Saskatoon players had reason to like their performance.

 “This is huge,” Maier told blogger Darren Steinke. “We were talking about it before in the room saying that this was a statement game to be heard around the whole league.

The 17-year-old goaltender also helped bring an end to Leason’s 30-game point streak. Yes, Leason had recorded at least one point in each of his club’s first 30 games. He put up 28 goals — he leads the league in goals — and 36 assists during that stretch, and his 64 points have him atop the WHL scoring race, by two points over F Trey Fix-Wolansky of the Edmonton Oil Kings.

Leason’s lead isn’t likely to last, though, as he now is on his way to Victoria and the selection camp for Canada’s national junior team. Should he earn a spot on that team, he would miss at least nine of the Raiders’ games.


You can’t accuse the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club of not thinking big.

The club already is planning for the 2020-21 season when all signs point towards it Portlandmaking the East Division swing with its favourite team.

How avid are club members? Even with barely any planning done, the bus was already two-thirds full.

No, fans aren’t going to ride a bus all the way to the Prairies. Rather, they will fly to Regina, stay in the Saskatchewan capital and take a bus from there to games in other cities.

“The cost is estimated to be $2,400 to $3,500, including flight, bus, game ticket(s) and hotel,” Stuart Kemp, the club’s president, told Taking Note in an email. “There is no other WHL booster club that can do this . . .

“So far, enough have committed to go on the swing based on current costs, that the planning for the trip is in full-swing mode. Currently, we are close to having a waiting list as the trip is nearly sold out!”


“It was a sham all along,” writes Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun. “That’s the bitter conclusion supporters of the Western Hockey League’s Kootenay Ice have come to as the Kootenaynewjunior franchise is poised to move to Winnipeg.

“At first, John Hudak wanted to believe in Winnipeggers Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell, who purchased the Ice a year and a half ago.

“But Hudak, a retired RCMP officer who spearheaded a local drive to save the team, says it turns out he was banging his head against the wall.”

Friesen’s complete column — it carries the headline: WHL move to Winnipeg ‘a done deal’ — is right here.

——

Meanwhile, Ian Cobb, the owner/editor of e-KNOW.ca, has provided an overview of things from the perspective of a hockey fan in the Kootenays. He suggests that it’s time for the fans in the area to start attending games in large numbers. . . . Cobb’s piece is right here.


Let’s be honest. The WHL’s playoff format stinks to high heaven. So, too, does the NHL’s, which is identical.

Here’s Larry Brooks of the New York Post:

“Imagine Wimbledon every year matching up the top two seeds in each half of the draw in the second round. Imagine the World Cup placing the four most powerful squads in the same group. Imagine March Madness placing the top four seeds in the country in the same region.

While you’re at it, you may as well imagine there’s no heaven, because it’s easy if you try to imagine the NHL cutting off its own knees by matching up its best teams in the first or second round of the playoffs in a made-for-marketing scheme, because that is exactly what Sixth Avenue and its band of clueless co-conspirators on the Board do year after year after year.”

As you read this, just substitute NHL with WHL and go from there.

The complete column is right here.


G Kyle Dumba got his first taste of junior hockey in 2013-14 when he played one game with each of the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen and the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers.

Since then he has had stints with the AJHL’s Calgary Mustangs, the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, Everett Silvertips and Regina Pats, and the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks, Surrey Eagles and Victoria Grizzlies.

The 20-year-old Calgarian made his 106th junior appearance on Saturday night and recorded his first shutout. He’s with the Grizzlies now, sparked by his 43 saves, they beat one of his former teams, Salmon Arm, 2-0.


COUNTDOWN TO DEADLINE

(WHL trade deadline: Jan. 10, 3 p.m. MT)

Sunday’s action:

No. of trades: 0.

Players: 0.

Bantam draft picks: 0.

Conditional draft picks: 0.

——

Total deals (since Nov. 26):

No. of trades: 10.

Players: 31.

Bantam draft picks: 18.

Conditional draft picks: 4.

(Note: On Nov. 30, Kelowna traded F Jack Cowell, 19, to Kootenay for a third-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. Cowell chose not to report and the deal was voided, so isn’t included in these totals.)


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.


SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

G Nolan Maier stopped 32 shots and F Tristen Robins scored the game’s only goal as the Saskatoonhost Saskatoon Blades beat the Prince Albert Raiders, 1-0. . . . The Blades (19-10-3) have won two straight. . . . The Raiders (28-2-1) had been 21-0-1 in their previous 22 games. This was their first regulation loss this season. . . . This was the third game in fewer than 48 hours for both of these teams and each went 2-1-0. . . . The Raiders had won the first two meetings with the Blades — 4-1 in Prince Albert and 6-2 in Saskatoon on Sept. 30 and Oct. 14, respectively. . . . Maier posted his second shutout of the season and the fourth of his career. This season, he is 15-8-2, 2.70, .912. . . . Robins’ goal, his fifth of the season, came at 5:14 of the second period and also was the Teddy Bear goal. . . . Raiders F Brett Leason had his 30-game point streak come to an end, despite having five shots on goal. . . . Leason and G Ian Scott, who stopped 26 shots, will be on the ice in Victoria on Tuesday as the selection camp opens for Canada’s national junior team. . . . When the Raiders next play, on Wednesday against the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings, they will be missing Scott, Leason, F Aliaksei Protas and D Sergei Sapego. The latter two are with the Belarus national junior team at the IIHF World Junior Championship (Division I Group A) in Fussen, Germany. . . . Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was at home Sunday for his third game in fewer than 48 hours, too, and his post is right here.


The Calgary Hitmen broke a 2-2 second-period tie with four goals in a span of 4:02 en Calgaryroute to a 6-3 victory over the visiting Kamloops Blazers. . . . Calgary (14-14-3) has won four straight. . . . The Blazers (12-12-3) had points in each of their previous four games (3-0-1). . . . Kamloops now is 0-1-1 on a six-game Central Division trek. . . . Calgary went ahead 1-0 at 4:18 of the first period when F Kaden Elder (12) scored the Teddy Bear goal. . . . F Martin Lang (6), who also had two assists, pulled Kamloops even at 1:42 of the second period, but F Jake Kryski (14) got that one back, on a PP, at 4:11. . . . F Kyrell Sopotyk (4) got the Blazers back into a tie, on a PP, at 10:31. . . . It was all Calgary after that, with F James Malm (15) counting at 10:47, F Tye Carriere (3) at 11:13, and D Egor Zamula scoring twice, at 12:34 and 13:49. . . . Zamula, who has seven goals, enjoyed the first multi-goal game of his WHL career. . . . Kamloops F Zane Franklin (17) closed out the scoring at 13:55 of the third period. . . . Zamula, who also had an assist, enjoyed the first multi-goal game of his career. . . . Calgary F Riley Stotts had three assists. He’s got a goal and seven assists over his past three games. . . . The Blazers were without F Jermaine Loewen and F Kobe Mohr, both of whom were suspended by the WHL earlier in the day. Loewen drew a TBD suspension after taking a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct in a 3-2 OT loss to the Oil Kings in Edmonton on Saturday, while Mohr got one game under supplemental discipline from the same game.


G Dustin Wolf stopped 21 shots to help the host Everett Silvertips to a 2-0 victory over the EverettSpokane Chiefs. . . . Everett (25-7-1) now has points in 11 straight (10-0-1). . . . Spokane (16-11-4) had won its previous two games. . . . Everett leads the Western Conference by seven points over the idle Vancouver Giants (21-6-2), who have four games in hand. . . . Everett is atop the U.S. Division by 13 points over the Portland Winterhawks (18-10-2), who hold three games in hand. . . . This season, Wolf, a 17-year-old sophomore, is 23-7-1, 1.84, .928. He has three shutouts this season and seven in his career. . . . The shutout yesterday lowered his career GAA to 1.99 in 51 appearances, 31 of them this season. . . . F Bryce Kindopp scored both goals, at 14:34 and 19:48 of the third period. The second one was into an empty net. He’s got 13 goals. . . . Spokane got 38 saves from G Bailey Brkin. . . . The Chiefs were playing their third game in fewer than 48 hours. They went 2-1-0. They also were in their fourth game in five nights. They were 2-2-0 in those four games, with the other loss also at the hands of the Silvertips, 4-2 in Everett on Wednesday. . . . The Silvertips were without F Sean Richards, who drew a TBA suspension after he took a boarding major and game misconduct on Saturday night against the Seattle Thunderbirds. Richards hit D Loeden Schaufler at 10:10 of the second period; Schaufler left the game and didn’t return. . . . The Silvertips also were without F Martin Fasko-Rudas, who has missed two straight games.

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