Seattle goalie stars in Game 1 win . . . Kelowna paper reports Rockets’ home needs more than $7 million in work . . . Ex-WHL assistant now head coach in AJHL

All three major junior hockey leagues are into their best-of-seven championship series. . . . The WHL final got started on Friday night with the WindsorSeattle Thunderbirds in Edmonton against the Oil Kings. . . . In the OHL, the Windsor Spitfires opened in Hamilton against the Bulldogs on Friday night. Windsor won, 4-3 in OT, getting the winner from former Bulldogs D Michael Renwick at 9:30 after Hamilton had been assessed a checking-from-behind major at 6:56. Hamilton went into the game with a 12-0 record in these playoffs and, including the regular season, had won 24 in a row at home. They’ll play Game 2 on Sunday afternoon in Hamilton. . . . In the QMJHL, the Shawinigan Cataractes will face the host Charlottetown Islanders in Game 1 tonight (Saturday). . . . The QMJHL’s opening playoff rounds all were best-of-five because the league got off to a later start than its two counterparts. But it now is caught up, so the final is best-of-seven. . . .

TSN will televise all three series, starting with the third game in each — Hamilton at Windsor on Monday, 4 p.m. PT; Edmonton vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., Tuesday, 7 p.m. PT; and Charlottetown at Shawinigan, Wednesday, 4 p.m. PT. . . . There is a complete telecast schedule right here. . . . TSN also will show all games in the Memorial Cup, which is to run in Saint John, N.B., from June 20 through June 29.

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FRIDAY IN THE WHL:

Championship Final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup

In Edmonton, the Seattle Thunderbirds, fresh off a Game 7 victory in Kamloops, opened the best-of-seven WHL final with a 2-1 triumph over the Oil Kings. . . . SeattleEdmonton went into the game with a 7-0 record at Rogers Place in these playoffs. . . . They are scheduled to play Game 2 in Edmonton on Sunday, before shifting to Kent, Wash., for games on Tuesday and Wednesday. . . . Remember that because of issues with building availability in Kent, Games 5, 6 and 7, as needed, would be played in Edmonton. . . . Last night, F Matt Rempe (6) got the scoring started for Seattle, backhanding home the rebound off a shot by F Reid Schaefer at 1:59 of the second period. . . . F Conner Roulette (4), who had an assist on Rempe’s goal, upped Seattle’s lead to 2-0 at 8:55 of the third period, tipping in a shot by D Tyrel Bauer. . . . Edmonton got on the board at 11:40, on a PP, as F Carter Souch (10) found the range with a redirect of a shot by D Luke Prokop. . . . The Oil Kings were 1-for-2 on the PP; Seattle was 0-for-1. Referees Chris Crich and Fraser Lawrence handed out only three minor penalties. . . . Seattle G Thomas Milic, who was named the game’s first star, continued his strong playoff run with 43 saves. . . . Edmonton got 20 stops from G Sebastian Cossa.


Music


According to a report prepared by consultants hired by the City of Kelowna, Prospera Place, the home of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, is in need of about Kelowna$7.7 million worth of upgrades. The report, acquired by the Kelowna Daily Courier through a Freedom of Information request, was prepared by Toronto-based Stadium Consultants International. . . . The arena, which opened on March 28, 1999, is owned by GSL Group, which also owns, among other things, the WHL’s Victoria Royals and that city’s Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre. In Kelowna, an agreement between GSL Group and the city calls for ownership to be turned over to the city in 2029. . . . According to the SCI report, 6,500-seat Prospera Place should have its roof and outer walls replaced within seven years. There also should be improvements made to ventilation, vinyl and carpeted floors, among other things. . . . Ron Seymour of The Daily Courier wrote: “Issues are said to include some water leakage on the roof, outdated and undersized food and beverage facilities, small dressing rooms, and a cramped concourse. But other aspects of the building are said to be in surprisingly good condition given their age.” . . . The consultants suggest replacing the roof would have an estimated cost of $2.4 million, while upgraded lighting would come in at $1.5 million. . . .

The Rockets were to have been the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup; however, that event was cancelled because of the pandemic. Many observers expected Kelowna to be awarded the 2023 tournament, but the Kamloops Blazers were named the host team on May 27. As that announcement was being made in Kamloops, the Rockets issued an open letter stating that they weren’t able to bid on the 2023 Memorial Cup because of “significant deficiencies” in Prospera Place. . . . Seymour wrote that GSL Group issued a statement this week saying it “had complied with all the terms and conditions for building maintenance set out in the agreement with the city.” . . . From that statement: “Prospera Place and GSL Group have been and continue to be in compliance with our obligations and contractual agreements. That will not change, nor will our commitment to Kelowna.”

Seymour has stories right here and right here.


The Minnesota Twins opened a three-game series in Toronto against the Blue Jays on Friday, and the visitors were missing four players. The U.S. and Canada both have pandemic-related restrictions that don’t allow unvaccinated people to cross their borders. Thus, the Twins placed four players on the restricted list before flying into Toronto after losing four of five games to the Tigers in Detroit. . . . OF Max Kepler and pitchers Trevor Megill, Emilio Pagán and Caleb Thielbar were left behind presumably because all four are unvaccinated. . . . The Twins also are without SS Carlos Correa, who tested positive for COVID-19 while in Detroit. . . . The Twins beat the Blue Jays, 9-3, on Friday night. . . .

Bob Weeks of TSN tweeted on Friday afternoon: “According to Golf Canada, Webb Simpson and Matt Kuchar are not able to play the RBC Canadian Open ‘due to current Government of Canada travel restrictions . . .’ Both are RBC ambassadors.” . . . Neither the American nor Canadian governments allow unvaccinated travellers into their countries.


Banjo


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Brad Flynn has signed a three-year contract as the head coach of the AJHL’s Bonnyville Pontiacs. Flynn, 37, spent the 2021-22 season as an associate coach with the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach with the Red Deer Rebels for three seasons (2018-21). . . . In Bonnyville, Flynn takes over from Rick Swan, the winningest coach in franchise history. Swan left the organization early in April in one of those mutually-agreed-upon parting of the ways. . . . There is a news release right here. . . .

The junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League’s board of governors has cut the regular-season schedule from 52 games to 48. According to a news release from the 11-team league: “The decision to drop to 48 games will provide VIJHL players with a little more rest in-season and allow clubs to have more prime night home games.” . . . The league also is going to hire a “head of player and safety discipline.” Again, from a news release: “The paid position will be in charge of reviewing all major penalties and determining what supplemental discipline, if any is required.” . . . That news release, which covers the board’s annual meeting, is right here.


My wife, Dorothy, is taking part in her ninth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk, which will be held (virtually) on Sunday. As usual, she is fund-raising on behalf of the Kidney Foundation. . . . If you would like to support her, you are able to do so right here.


Marley


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.


Bishop

Blazers or T-Birds? Who’s going to Edmonton? . . . Seattle d-man gets off-day treat . . . Shedding light on arena deficiencies in Kelowna

The combatants for the WHL’s championship final will be known tonight (Tuesday) after the Seattle Thunderbirds and host Kamloops Blazers meet in WHLplayoffs2022Game 7 of the Western Conference final.

The winner of tonight’s game will open the championship series for the Ed Chynoweth Cup against the Oil Kings in Edmonton on Friday night.

Kamloops, the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed, opened this series by winning, 5-2, at home on May 20, and since then the teams have alternated victories. The No. 4 Thunderbirds tied the series, 3-3, with a 2-1 victory in Kent, Wash., on Sunday.

Seattle has won two of the last three games while holding Kamloops F Logan Stankoven to two assists and shutting out F Luke Toporowski. Stankoven leads all playoff scorers in goals (17) and points (30), while Toporowski is tied for second in points (23).

The Thunderbirds also have been in this position before in this playoff season. In their conference semifinal, they went seven games with the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks. In fact, the Thunderbirds won Game 6 at home, 2-1, and then went into Portland and won Game 7, 6-3, on May 17.

Will history repeat? We’ll find out tonight.

Lucas Punkari of the Brandon Sun informs us via Twitter that this will be the first Game 7 in a conference final since 2013 when the Oil Kings, behind 26 saves from G Laurent Brossoit, beat the Calgary Hitmen, 2-0, at Rexall Place in Edmonton on April 30. . . . The last Western Conference final to go the distance featured the Tri-City Americans and Spokane Chiefs in 2008. The Chiefs won Game 7, 4-1, in Kennewick, Wash., on April 29 to end a series that featured five games that went to OT, with three of those going to double OT.


Treat


One day before playing in Game 7 of the Western Conference final, D Tyrel nhl2Bauer of the Seattle Thunderbirds signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. He was selected by Winnipeg in the sixth round of the 2020 draft. . . . Bauer turned 20 on March 23. If he doesn’t earn a spot with the Jets, he is eligible to return for one more WHL season, or he could end up with the Manitoba Moose, Winnipeg’s AHL affiliate.

Three other NHL draft picks who played in the WHL this season have to sign NHL deals by Wednesday or they will go back into the draft or become unrestricted free agents.

F Connor McClennon of the Winnipeg Ice was a sixth-round pick by the Philadelphia Flyers but hasn’t signed. He is eligible to return to the WHL for his 20-year-old season.

D Alex Cotton of the Vancouver Giants and F Bear Hughes of the Spokane Chiefs completed their 20-year-old seasons so have used up their junior eligibility. Cotton was a fifth-round selection by the Detroit Red Wings, while Hughes went to the Washington Capitals in the fifth round. Neither has signed an NHL deal, although Hughes has signed with the AHL’s Hershey Bears for 2022-23. Still, if he doesn’t sign with Washington, he will become an NHL free agent.


Franklin


More light has been shed on the mystery of the deficiencies at Prospera Place in KelownaKelowna. According to the Kelowna Rockets, those deficiencies prevented them from putting in a bid to host the 2023 Memorial Cup.

The Rockets were to have been the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup only to have it cancelled by the pandemic. On Friday, the CHL announced that the 2023 event will be played in Kamloops with the Blazers as the host team.

Anyway . . . Regan Bartel, the longtime radio voice of the Rockets, posted four tweets on Monday that added some clarification to things:

  1. GSL, the owner and operator of Prospera Place, have some explaining to do on Kelowna’s inability to bid for the 2023 Memorial Cup. Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, “City of Kelowna taxpayers shouldn’t be (footing) a bill that could potentially reach the millions of dollars . . .”
  2. “. . . to host this event (for upgrades to building) when the partner (GSL), who stands to gain the most revenue because of this event, was not coming to the party as a full partner.” Substandard lighting was a concern heading into 2020 tournament. City/Rockets paid for it.
  3. “GSL, which is in care and control of the arena until 2029, was not willing to pay the cost to change the lighting. This has been a long standing issue. One just needs to walk through the building. Tell me what has changed since that facility opened in 1999?”
  4. “This is not a facility that is in the care/control of the City of Kelowna”, Basran added. “I truly believe the CHL wants to bring the event back, but it’s clear we have a partner that’s not quite as accepting to make that happen.”

I have a feeling there’s more to come on this story. Stay tuned!


——

The Chicago White Sox are scheduled to open a series in Toronto against the Blue Jays today, and they’ll be without two of their key pitchers. Starter Dylan Cease and reliever Kendall Graveman, both right-handers, have been placed on MLB’s restricted list, which would indicate that they aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19 so are able to cross the U.S.-Canada border. . . . Players don’t get paid while on MLB’s restricted list.


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. You are able to sponsor her right here.

——

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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Senators

Kamloops gets 2023 Memorial Cup . . . Building “deficiencies” prevent Kelowna bid . . . Oil Kings take out Ice; Blazers beat T-Birds in OT

The Canadian Hockey League and the Kamloops Blazers announced Friday CHLevening that they will be the host team for the four-team 2023 Memorial Cup tournament.

The big reveal was done prior to Game 5 of the Blazers’ WHL Western Conference final series with the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds.

Dates for the 2023 event weren’t announced.

This will be the second time that a Memorial Cup champion will be decided in Kamloops. Playing at home in 1995, the Blazers, who were the host team but also had won the WHL championship, beat the OHL-champion Detroit Jr. Red Wings, 8-2, in the championship game on May 21.

That tournament also featured the QMJHL-champion Hull Olympiques and the Brandon Wheat Kings, who were in as the other WHL finalist.

That was the Blazers’ second straight Memorial Cup title and third in four seasons.

You may recall that the Blazers fired general manager Bob Brown just 15 days after having won that Memorial Cup on home ice, with then-president Colin Day saying it was time for the franchise to go in a different direction.

The 2023 tournament will be the first time the Memorial Cup will be presented in a WHL city since the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, the QMJHL champions, beat the host Regina Pats, 3-0, on May 27, 2018.

The 2020 tournament was to have been held in Kelowna with the WHL’s Rockets as the host team. Preparations were well underway before everything was scrubbed because of the pandemic.

The 2021 tournament also was cancelled. The 2022 Memorial Cup is to be played in Saint John, N.B., June 20-29.

In recent years, teams interested in playing host to the tournament would make bid presentations in front of a league’s board of governors. A vote would be held and a winner declared. Such was the case prior to Kelowna being awarded the 2020 event over bids from Kamloops and the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Now, however, the CHL has taken control of the process and it’s all done behind closed doors, so we don’t know what other WHL teams made bid presentations.

In July 2020, Doug Nicholas, the City of Kelowna’s sport and events services manager, told councillors that “decisions are already underway regarding the possibility of Kelowna getting their opportunity to host the Memorial Cup (in 2023),” Castanet reported. “Preliminary discussions have been positive to date with the WHL and the CHL.”

According to Castanet, Nicholas told councillors that the Rockets, who had made a handful of trades to add to the team they had thought would play in the 2020 event, would have time to “rebuild a strong cup-winning team” for 2023. He also pointed out, Wayne Moore of Castanet wrote, that “club owner and president Bruce Hamilton has committed to a 10th two-year term as chairman of the board of directors of the WHL.”

——

Rockets

While the Kamloops Blazers were informing their fans of their good news, the Kelowna Rockets were issuing an open letter addressed to “Season Ticket Holders, Sponsors and Rocket Fans” in which they attempted to explain why the 2023 Memorial Cup won’t be held in their city.

In the letter, the Rockets pointed the finger squarely at the GSL Group, which “owns, operates and manages” their home arena, Prospera Place. The GSL Group also owns, among other things, the WHL’s Victoria Royals and their home arena, Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.

According to the Rockets, they submitted their intent to bid after which an audit of Prospera Place “found that there were significant deficiencies that needed to be upgraded for the facility to meet the CHL standards for hosting the Memorial Cup.”

The open letter continues: “Ultimately, an agreement with the Rockets, City of Kelowna and the GSL Group could not be reached to make the necessary capital improvements to the building. As a result, the building did not meet the minimum standards required to host the event by the CHL and, consequently, the Rockets could not proceed with our bid to host the 2023 Memorial Cup.”

The Rockets didn’t explain exactly what those “significant deficiencies” are, nor did they explain how the building became so deficient in only three years. After all, it must have met the CHL standards to have been declared the home arena for the 2020 Memorial Cup.

“Our hope,” the letter concludes, “as we look toward the future is that the GSL Group will work to complete the necessary improvements the audit identified so that we can once again bring a Memorial Cup back to Kelowna.”

The letter was signed “Your Kelowna Rockets.”


Peanuts


FRIDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference

In Edmonton, the No. 2 Oil Kings dismantled the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice, 7-1, to Edmontonadvance to the WHL final for the first time since 2014. . . . The Oil Kings won the best-of-seven conference final, 4-1, and now are 12-1 in the playoffs. . . . The series, which opened in Winnipeg, followed a 2-3-2 format because of the travel distance between the cities. The Oil Kings got a split in Winnipeg and then swept their home games. Edmonton outscored Winnipeg, 15-6, in those three games and 21-15 in the series. . . . Last night, the Oil Kings struck for four first-period goals and added three more in the second as they built a 7-0 lead. . . . They got two goals and two assists from F Carter Souch (9), with F Dylan Guenther drawing four assists. D Kaiden Guhle (6) had two goals and an assist, F Jakub Demek (3) added a goal and two assists, and F Jake Neighbours (3) scored twice. . . . Neighbours counted at 4:52 and 5:00 of the first period to give his guys a 3-0 lead. . . . Those two goals eight seconds apart were one second off the WHL playoff record that is shared by Bill Derlago (Brandon Wheat Kings, April 9, 1978, 1:02 and 1:09 of third period in 9-6 victory over the visiting Flin Flon Bombers); F Ron Sutter (Lethbridge Broncos, 19:21 and 19:28 of second period in 7-4 victory over the host Portland Winterhawks); and F Joachim Blichfeld (Portland, March 29, 2018, 13:38 and 13:45 of third period in 4-3 victory over the host Spokane Chiefs). . . . Edmonton G Sebastian Cossa stopped 19 shots, losing his shutout bid at 17:20 of the third period when F Connor McClennon (8) scored. . . . Ice G Gage Alexander gave up four goals on nine shots. Daniel Hauser came on in relief at 910:18 of the first period and was beaten three times on 28 shots. . . . Edmonton F Jaxsen Wiebe, returning from a two-game suspension, finished with zero points but did earn 29 penalty minutes — two misconducts, one major and two minors. . . . The Ice was again without F Matt Savoie, who was injured in Game 2. . . . The Oil Kings won the WHL title in 2014, the last time they were in the final. They went on to win the Memorial Cup, the last WHL team to do so.

——

Western Conference

In Kamloops, F Daylan Kuefler scored in OT to give the No. 2 Blazers a 4-3 Kamloopsvictory over the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds in Game 5 of the conference final. . . . The Blazers hold a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven series with Game 6 scheduled for Kent, Wash., on Sunday. . . . A seventh game, if necessary, would be played in Kamloops on Tuesday. . . . Last night, the teams went to OT for the second straight game, the Thunderbirds having won, 2-1, at home on Wednesday. . . . F Conner Roulette (3) put Seattle out front at 1:51 of the first period, only to have F Matthew Seminoff (6) tie it at 6:44. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky (8), back after missing a game with an undisclosed injury, gave Seattle a 2-1 lead at 2:32 of the second period. . . . The Blazers tied it at 8:24 when F Daylan Kuefler (8) scored. . . . Kamloops went ahead 3-2 at 4:58 of the third period after F Connor Levis (3) knocked in a puck out of mid-air. The call on the ice was “no goal,” but that was overturned after about a six-minute video review. . . . Seattle got that one back less than six minutes later when D Kevin Korchinski (6) corned at 10:27. . . . Kuefler, a 38-goal man in the regular season, won it with his ninth goal at 5:39 of extra time. . . . Kuefler also had an assist, for a three-point outing. He’s got 15 points in 15 playoff games. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 34 shots for Kamloops, six more than Seattle’s Thomas Milic. . . . Each team was 0-for-2 on the PP. . . . F Henrik Rybinski also returned to Seattle’s lineup. He hadn’t played since Game 1 because of an undisclosed injury. . . . Earlier in the day, the Thunderbirds were fined $750 for “warmup violations” prior to Game 4 in Kent on Wednesday.


Cars


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Sylvain Couturier has resigned as the general manager of the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan after 20 seasons with the organization. He chose not to expound on the reasons for his resignation, but did suggest that there may be litigation down the road. . . . 

The OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs won the Eastern Conference playoff title on Friday night, beating the host North Bay Battalion, 6-0, to sweep the best-of-seven final. The Bulldogs, who will meet either the Flint Firebirds or Windsor Spitfires in the final, are 12-0 in the playoffs. The Firebirds and Windsor are 2-2 after the Spitfires won, 4-2, in Flint on Friday. . . .

Ryan Tobler has signed on with the AJHL’s Blackfalds Bulldogs as their associate coach. Tobler, 46, played three seasons in the WHL (Saskatoon Blades, Calgary Hitmen, Swift Current Broncos, Moose Jaw Warriors, 1994-97). He was the head coach of the Chinook Hockey League’s Bentley Generals for four seasons (2012-16), then spent four-plus seasons on the coaching staff of the Colorado Eagles, the first two in the ECHL and the rest in the AHL. . . . In Blackfalds, he’ll work alongside Doug Quinn, the owner, president and head coach.


Woods


My wife, Dorothy, a kidney transplant recipient in 2013, will take part in the 2022 #kamloops Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year on June 5. Yes, it’s virtual again. But she will be there, and you are able to sponsor her right here.



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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Phones

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