Blazers and Ice one victory from conference finals . . . Stankoven powers Kamloops past Giants . . . Memorial Cup host team ousted


The WHL’s best regular-season team in 2021-22 looks to move on to the WHLplayoffs2022Eastern Conference final when it plays host to a Friday night playoff game. Yes, the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice take a 3-1 series lead into Game 5 against the visiting No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Warriors will be without F Robert Baco, whose suspension for a charging major in Game 3 had been set at two games. . . . A Winnipeg victory would send the Ice into a series against the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings, who are 8-0 in these playoffs, having swept the No. 7 Lethbridge Hurricanes and No. 3 Red Deer Rebels. . . .

Meanwhile, in the Western Conference, the Kamloops Blazers hold a 3-1 lead over the Vancouver Giants and they’ll play Game 5 in Kamloops tonight. . . . At the same time, the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks have a 2-1 edge on the Seattle Thunderbirds as they meet in Kent, Wash. The Thunderbirds are coming off a 5-0 victory in Game 3 in Portland on Wednesday night.

——

THURSDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference

In Langley, B.C., F Logan Stankoven broke a 2-2 tie on a late third-period PP as Kamloopsthe No. 2 Kamloops Blazers skated to a 4-2 victory over the No. 8 Vancouver Giants. . . . The Blazers hold a 3-1 lead in the series, and they’re right back at it tonight as they meet in Game 5, this time in Kamloops. . . . The teams exchanged goals in this one, with F Luke Toporowski (6) giving Kamloops a 1-0 lead at 13:54 of the third period. . . . F Zack Ostapchuk (4) got the Giants even at 17:42. . . . The Blazers went back in front at 12:59 of the second period on a goal by F Caedan Bankier (4). . . . Ostapchuk (5) tied it again, this time at 6:21 of the third. . . . Stankoven’s eighth goal, at 17:23, was the game-winner. . . . The Giants were hit with a minor for too many men just 46 seconds after Stankoven’s goal. . . . Stankoven followed that with his ninth goal in eight games into an empty net with 7.9 seconds remaining. . . . Ostapchuk and linemate Fabian Lysell, who had two assists, lead the WHL playoff scoring race, each with 19 points, one more than Stankoven. . . . Kamloops was 2-for-3 on the PP; Vancouver was 0-for-1. . . . The Blazers got 18 stops from G Dylan Garand, while G Jesper Vikman blocked 34 for the Giants. . . . F Cole Shephard, who last played on March 16, was back in Vancouver’s lineup.


In all my years of covering junior hockey, I don’t know that I encountered a player with a bigger personality than Brandon Underwood. . . . He played five seasons (Kamloops Blazers, Regina Pats, Red Deer Rebels, 2008-13) in the WHL before going on to spend four seasons with the UBC Thunderbirds. . . . He now is a Vancouver firefighter. . . . On Thursday night, after former Moose Jaw Warriors F Brayden Point scored in OT to give the host Tampa Bay Lightning a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Underwood won Twitter . . . 


Music


We had a goalie goal on Thursday night. . . . Former WHLer Joel Hofer, now with the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds, lit the lamp in a 6-2 victory over the visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. . . . In his Calder Cup playoffs debut, he made 34 stops as the Thunderbirds took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five Atlantic Division semifinal. . . . Hofer, 21, is from Winnipeg. He played three seasons (2017-20) in the WHL, making stops with the Swift Current Broncos and Portland Winterhawks.


Julie Stewart-Binks had to cancel out of being part of ESPN’s coverage of Game COVID6 of the NHL playoffs series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the host Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night because she tested positive for COVID-19. “Thankfully through contract tracing everyone else is negative,” she wrote on Twitter. “I have been extremely diligent with safety protocols the entire pandemic. I am devastated not to work this game.” . . .

The Cleveland Guardians have at least seven members of their coaching staff in COVID-19 protocol after they tested positive — manager Terry Francona, bench coach DeMarlo Hale, hitting coach Chris Valaika, assistant pitching coach Joe Torres, first-base coach Sandy Alomar, third-base coach Mike Sarbaugh and hitting analyst Justin Toole.


Eye


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Saint John Sea Dogs, the host team for the 2022 Memorial Cup tournament, were eliminated from the QMJHL playoffs on Thursday night when they lost, 4-3 in OT, to the visiting Rimouski Oceanic. F Alexander Gaudio scored 30 seconds into extra time to give the Oceanic the series victory. The QMJHL is playing best-of-fives this time around and this was Game 5. . . . The Sea Dogs are next scheduled to play on June 20 when they get the Memorial Cup started with a game against the OHL champions. . . .

Three of the last four Memorial Cup host teams have lost out in the first round of playoffs — in 2017, the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires lost in seven games to the London Knights; in 2018, the Regina Pats were ousted by the Swift Current Broncos in seven games; and now the Sea Dogs are gone. . . . Windsor went on to win the Memorial Cup at home, while Regina lost out in the tournament final. . . . The Halifax Mooseheads were the host team in 2019; they reached the QMJHL final where they were swept by the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. . . .

The QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan and Halifax Mooseheads were to have played the fifth game in their best-of-five series on Thursday night. But, with Wednesday’s fourth game having gone into the third OT period, the league chose to move Game 5 to Friday night. Because of the length of Game 4 in Halifax and the fact the teams would have had to travel about five hours to Bathurst, N.B., for Game 5 “the league judged it prudent for the well-being and security of the players to postpone the game to Friday.” A tip of the fedora to the QMJHL for making such a decision. . . .

The AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks have signed Nick Prkusic as the organization’s first full-time assistant coach. He will be working alongside head coach Clayton Jardine. . . . Prkusic, who played in the AJHL with the Brooks Bandits, has been working as the head coach of the Caronport, Sask.-based Prairie Academy’s U-17 team.


Wallet


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, after the Golden State Warriors were whipped, 134-95, by the host Memphis Grizzlies in an NBA playoff game: “If Wednesday’s Game 5 box score was a report card, the Warriors would be grounded for a year. If the Warriors don’t respond in Game 6 Friday, that box score will become an autopsy report.”


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so 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.


Shoe

Ex-WHL goaltender making saves in Ukraine . . . Raiders’ reign gets chilled in Winnipeg . . . Wild and crazy night in Langley

Michael Garnett played two seasons in the WHL, starting with the Red Deer Rebels in 2000-01. He was traded to his hometown Saskatoon Blades during that season, then got into 67 games with the Blades in 2001-02. . . . His pro career included 24 games with the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers before he went to the KHL and and ultimately finished up with two seasons with the Nottingham Panthers of the Elite Ice Hockey League. . . . So where is Garnett today? Well, the 39-year-old Saskatoon native and his wife, Rebecca, have spent the past month at the border between Poland and Ukraine working with refugees. . . . Check out their story in the tweet posted below.


Sleep


Allow me to take time to commend Dennis Williams and Michael Dyck, the head coaches of the Everett Silvertips and Vancouver Giants, respectively, for going WHLold school in a playoff game on Wednesday night. . . . It almost was like back in the day when coaches provided some entertainment value and gave folks something to talk about, and often resulted in this question: “Were they just trying to sell tickets?” Ahh, those were the days, when coaches would climb on partitions and try to get at each other, or they would meet under the stands and engage in, yes, fisticuffs. . . .

Williams and Dyck are embroiled in a best-of-seven first-round WHL playoff series that has, at times, gotten a bit heated, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. . . . As Steve Ewen of Postmedia wrote on Thursday, “The benches at the Langley Events Centre are side-by-side and Everett coach Dennis Williams came toward the partition that separates them and began yelling at the Vancouver group, and presumably counterpart Michael Dyck, during a stoppage in play with one minute left and the Silvertips leading 6-2 in Game 3 on Wednesday . . .” . . . Two Vancouver players — D Tom Cadieux and F Matthew Edwards — had been ejected and would miss Friday’s Game 4 with one-game suspensions. . . . When things quieted down and the teams lined up for a face-off with 60 seconds left, Williams chose to call a timeout. . . . Ewen reported that “prompted Dyck to start yelling at the Everett bench.” . . .

Ewen wrote: “Neither Dyck nor Williams was willing to get into particulars after Wednesday’s game about what was said. Dyck admitted he was upset by the timeout, saying it was something that he wouldn’t do at that stage of the game with the score 6-2. Williams admitted he ‘didn’t like’ the Edwards hit on (D Ty) Gibson.” . . . Williams also said that it all was “heat-of-the-moment” stuff. . . . The interesting thing here is that Dyck and Williams have coached together with the Canadian team that played in the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and again with Canada’s national junior team. They didn’t let that stand between them adding some colour to the proceedings. . . . And things didn’t cool off  a whole lot last night as the Giants skated to an 11-6 victory in a wild and crazy Game 4.


Waffles


FRIDAY IN THE WHL:

Only two teams in WHL history have been the defending champions for three PrinceAlbertseasons or more in a row. The New Westminster Bruins actually ruled for four straight seasons (1974-78), something that involved four consecutive championships. The Raiders’ reign was a bit quirkier; they won the Ed Chynoweth Cup on May 13, 2019, then COVID got in the way so there weren’t any playoffs in 2020 or 2021. That, of course, meant that the WHL hasn’t had another champion since 2019, so the Raiders were the defending champions when this playoff run began. . . . Unfortunately for them, their three-year reign ended on Friday night in Winnipeg as they lost, 8-2, to the Ice, which won the series, 4-1. . . . Here’s a brief look at last night’s goings-on . . .

Western Conference

In Langley, B.C., the No. 8 Vancouver Giants got two goals and four assists from VancouverF Zack Ostapchuk, their captain, as they skated to a wild 11-6 victory over the Everett Silvertips. . . . The series is tied 2-2 with Game 5 scheduled for tonight in Everett. They’ll be back in Langley for Game 6 on Monday. . . . Vancouver took a 6-4 lead into the third period, only to have Everett tie it on goals from F Jacob Wright (5), his third of the game, at 0:12, and D Olen Zellweger (2), at 2:49. . . . The Giants responded with the game’s last five goals — Ostapchuk (2), at 5:55, F Colton Langkow (2), at 5:40, F Fabian Lysell (3), at 9:27, D Evan Toth (1), at 14:14, and F Kyle Bochek (1), at 19:46. . . . Everett held a 3-1 lead at 11:16 of the first period, but the Giants scored the next three goals, taking a 4-3 lead when D Alex Cotton scored at 5:00 of the second. . . . F Hunter Campbell (3) tied it at 9:48, with the Giants taking a 6-4 lead on Cotton’s second goal of the game, at 13:32, and Lysell, at 15:47. . . . Cotton also had two assists, for a four-point outing. . . . D Connor Horning had three assists for the winners. . . . Wright also had an assist, giving him four points. . . . Each team had 30 shots. . . . Vancouver was 4-for-7 on the PP; Everett was 2-for-6. . . . Everett F Jackson Berezowski, a 46-goal man, was scratched again. An undisclosed injury has kept him out of the first five games of this series. . . .

In Spokane, F Logan Stankoven scored three times to lead the No. 2 Kamloops KamloopsBlazers to a 3-0 victory over the No. 7 Chiefs. . . . The Blazers swept the series, outscoring the Chiefs, 23-3, in the process. . . . G Dylan Garand blocked 20 shots as he put up his second clean sheet of the series. . . . Kamloops outshot Spokane, 45-20. . . . Stankoven scored at 3:12 of the first period, 18:17 of the second and 5:59 of the third. . . . He finished the four games with 13 points, including seven goals. . . . F Luke Toporowski, acquired by the Blazers from the Chiefs during the season, had two assists.  He put up five goals and five assists in the series. . . . The series opened with three games in Kamloops because the Chiefs’ facility wasn’t available thanks to a concert by Sir Paul McCartney on Thursday night. Had the series continued, Games 5 and 6 also would have been played in Spokane . . . The Chiefs scratched G Mason Beaupit with an undisclosed injury. They got 42 stops from G Cooper Michaluk. . . .

In Kent, Wash., F Matt Rempe, who was scratched from Game 4, scored twice, Seattleincluding the OT winner, as the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds beat the No. 5 Kelowna Rockets, 4-3. . . . The Thunderbirds won the series, 4-1. . . . The WHL’s online scoresheet has Kelowna F Nolan Flamand scoring the game’s first goal, at 5:09 of the second period. But Regan Bartel, the Rockets’ longtime play-by-play voice, says it was F Max Graham. So who are you going to believe — the scoresheet or the voice? I’m going with Bartel. . . . Seattle took a 3-1 lead on goals from F Jared Davidson (3), at 9:47 of the second period, Rempe, at 7:24 of the third, and F Jordan Gustafson (2), at 10:19. . . . The Rockets tied it on goals 10 seconds apart from D Jake Lee (1), at 12:24, and F Gabriel Szturc (2), at 12:34. . . . Rempe won it with his third goal of the series at 1:20 of OT. . . . The Thunderbirds held a 44-21 edge in shots.

——

Eastern Conference

In Winnipeg, the No. 1 Ice scored four times in the first period en route to an 8-2 WinnipegIcevictory over the No. 8 Prince Albert Raiders. . . . The Ice, which outscored the Raiders, 27-9, won the series, 4-1, and will open the second round at home on Friday against either the No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors or No. 6 Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Winnipeg held a 13-1 edge in shots in the first period, and 35-13 through 60 minutes. . . . F Zach Benson (5), who also had an assist, and F Connor McClennon (4) each scored twice for the Ice, with F Mikey Milne (5) also scoring once. . . . F Jack Finley (1) had a goal and two assists. . . . The Ice had F Matt Savoie back in the lineup, and he scored once and added an assist. He missed three games with an apparent leg injury after being hurt in Game 1. . . .

In Red Deer, F Kai Uchacz scored twice as the No. 3 Rebels beat the No. 6 RedDeerBrandon Wheat Kings, 3-1. . . . The Rebels hold a 3-2 lead in the series, with Game 6 scheduled for Sunday in Brandon. . . . Uchacz gave his guys a 1-0 lead, on a PP, just 47 seconds into the game. . . . F Jhett Larson (1) made it 2-0 at 12:32 of the first period. . . . Brandon got to within a goal at 6:28 of the third when D Vincent Iorio (1) scored. . . . Uchacz provided insurance with his second goal of the game and series at 13:03. . . . G Chase Coward earned the victory with 27 saves. . . . This now is the lone Eastern Conference series remaining alive, as the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice, No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings and No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors all have advanced to the second round. . . . Should Red Deer win this series, the second round will have Winnipeg meet Moose Jaw and Edmonton play Red Deer. A Brandon victory in seven games would mean Winnipeg gets the Wheat Kings with Edmonton drawing Moose Jaw. . . .

In Moose Jaw, the No. 4 Warriors got out to an early 2-0 lead and were never MooseJaw2headed as they doubled the No. 5 Saskatoon Blades, 6-3. . . . The Warriors swept the series. . . . F Jagger Firkus (3) scored twice and added an assist for the Warriors, giving them a 1-0 lead at 5:55 of the first period and making it 3-1 at 8:52 of the second. . . . F Josh Pillar (3) kept the Blades close with two goals, getting his side to within one twice, at 2-1 and 3-2. . . . F Thomas Tien (1) restored Moose Jaw’s two-goal lead at 5:26 of the third period, only to have F Trevor Wong (1) pull Saskatoon close again, at 12:47. . . . The Warriors iced it when F Atley Calvert (2) scored at 16:22, then F Robert Baco (1) got the empty-netter at 18:09. . . . D Denton Mateychuk (1) had a goal and two assists for the Warriors.


Apple


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: G Garin Bjorklund of the Medicine Hat Tigers has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Washington Capitals. Bjorklund, 19, was selected him in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2020 draft. He has been with the Hershey Bears, the Capitals’ AHL affiliate, since signing an amateur tryout agreement with them on April 20. . . .

The QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders and the host Moncton Wildcats were tied 2-2 when the Friday night game went to a shootout. It took 19 rounds before the Islanders won, 3-2. The 38 shooters combined to score five goals. F Xavier Simoneau, the second shooter in the 19th round, won it.


You may think it’s over but it isn’t. Far from it. . . . Valour FC was to have played its Canadiap Premier League home-opener in Winnipeg on Sunday, but that won’t happen. The match has been postponed, according to a news release, “due to league COVID protocols, based on advice from medical experts.” . . . Valour has had at least three players and two coaches test positive. . . . The scheduled opponent, the Hamilton-based Forge FC, was to have flown into Winnipeg today.


Dog


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so 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.


Monopoly

Let’s get Chipperfield on the 40 at 16 list . . . WJC in Edmonton has its dates . . . Mateychuk sets up six for Warriors

Hey, WHL, gotta add another name to the list of 16-year-olds in your 40-Goal Club.

That’s right. And, no, I didn’t figure it out by myself. I received an email on WHLSaturday pointing out that F Ron Chipperfield of the Brandon Wheat Kings struck 40 times in 64 games in 1970-71.

He was born in Brandon — his home actually was in Minnedosa, just up No. 10 highway — on March 28, 1954, so, yes, he was 16 for the 1970-71 season.

Could Chipper score? Hey, does a bear, well, you know . . .

He went on to play three more seasons with the Wheat Kings, scoring 59, 72 and 90 goals.

Chipperfield finished with 470 points, including 261 goals, in 252 games. Yes, he averaged more than one goal per game over a four-season career. In his final season, 1973-74, he counted for 90 of Brandon’s 305 goals. Add his 72 assists and he was in on 162 goals, or 53 per cent of them.

Amazing!

When you consider that the Wheat Kings were anything but a powerhouse in those days — they won 20, 35, 29 and 27 games during Chipperfield’s four seasons with them — his accomplishments are all the more amazing.

So let’s add Chipperfield to the list that also features Glen Goodall, Jeff Friesen, Mark Pederson, Dave Pasin and Bedard.

The WHL had Kimbi Daniels on the list when it was posted, but it turns out that he was 17 years of age when he hit the 40-goal mark. As a 16-year-old, he scored 30 goals for the 1988-89 Swift Current Broncos.


Diner


So . . . the Minnesota State Mavericks thought they had won the CCHA championship on Saturday night in Mankato, Minn. In fact, they were in their locker room celebrating what they thought was a 2-1 OT victory over the Bemidji State Beavers. However, well after the game, officials reviewed the winning goal and decided that it shouldn’t have counted. The CCHA said in a statement that “additional TV production camera angles made available to the officials provided conclusive evidence that the goal net was elevated and the puck entered underneath the frame.” . . . After the game, Don Lucia, the CCHA commissioner, told reporters: “I don’t want to end someone’s career on a goal that is not a goal.” . . . The game was restarted from 3:02 of OT, more than an hour after it had ended. The ice was resurfaced, teams had a five-minute warmup and then away they went. . . . After all that, the Mavericks got a goal from Jack McNeely at 5:11 to end it for a second time.


G Ève Gascon became the third woman to play in a QMJHL game on Saturday when her Gatineau Olympiques dropped a 5-4 OT decision to the visiting Rimouski Oceanic. . . . Gascon, 18, stopped 18 shots. . . . F Xavier Cormier scored the winner, his 20th goal of the season, at 1:10 of OT. . . . Gascon’s presence helped the Olympiques set a single-game attendance record (4,700) in their new facility — the Slush Puppie Centre. . . . Two other female goaltenders — Manon Rheaume and Charline Labonté — have played in the QMJHL, while Shannon Szabados, also a goaltender, had a taste of WHL action with the Tri-City Americans in September 2002. . . . Wayne Scanlan has more on Gascon’s day right here.


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.


We have dates! The 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship now is scheduled for Aug. 9-20 with it all to be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton. You will recall WJC2022that the tournament actually got started in Red Deer/Edmonton on Dec. 26 but was cancelled four days later because of positive tests among players and on-ice officials. . . . All players who were eligible to play in December will be eligible for August. . . . Latvia has been added to the 10-team field, replacing the Russians, who were turfed after their dictator attacked Ukraine. . . . Group A will comprise Austria, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.S. Canada is in Group B, with Czechia, Finland, Latvia and Slovakia. . . . The tournament will start from scratch on Aug. 9, meaning results from December won’t count for anything. . . .

The IIHF also revealed on Saturday that the U18 Women’s World Championship is to be played in June in the U.S. It was to have been played in January in Sweden — Linkoping and Mjolby — but was scrubbed because of the pandemic. Dates and locations for June have yet to be announced. . . .

The men’s U18 Worlds will be held in Germany — Landshut and Kaufbeuren — from April 23 through May 1. Canada, Czechia, Germany and the U.S. will be Group A, with Group B comprising Finland, Latvia, Sweden and Switzerland. . . .

Martin Merk has more on the IIHF and various tournaments and schedule changes right here.


SATURDAY IN THE WHL:

The Moose Jaw Warriors got six assists from D Denton Mateychuk as they dropped the visiting Regina Pats, 10-4. . . . Regina had a 45-33 edge in shots. . . . The Warriors got singletons from 10 players. . . . Mateychuk has 56 points, including 47 assists, in 57 games. . . . Regina F Connor Bedard scored his 41st goal as he ran his point streak to 20 games, the longest in the WHL this season. . . .

F Briley Wood scored in the 11th round of a shootout to give the Lethbridge Hurricanes a 3-2 victory over the Rebels in Red Deer. . . . The Rebels forced OT when F Arshdeep Bains scored his 34th goal at 16:09 of the third period, via the PP. . . .

F Reece Vitelli scored twice and added an assist to lead the host Prince Albert Raiders to a 4-1 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Vitelli has 22 goals this season. . . .

G Daniel Hauser stopped 19 shots to help the Winnipeg Ice to a 5-0 victory over the Wheat Kings in Brandon. . . . Hauser has a WHL-leading seven shutouts. His other numbers this season: 24-2-1, 2.07, .913. . . . F Skyler Bruce had two goals, giving him 16, and an assist. . . . Winnipeg, which has clinched the East Division pennant, won the season series, 8-1-1. Brandon was 2-7-1.

G Isaac Poulter turned aside 19 shots as the Swift Current Broncos beat the Tigers, 2-0, in Medicine Hat. . . . F Josh Filmon’s 22nd goal, at 3:50 of the first period, stood up as the winner. . . . Poulter has four shutouts this season and five in his career. . . .

F Bailey Peach scored all three goals as the host Victoria Royals beat the Prince George Cougars, 3-0. . . . Peach, who has 33 goals, counted once in each period, the final one into an empty net. . . . The Royals got 35 saves from freshman G Tyler Palmer, who earned his third shutout of this season. . . .

F Sasha Mutala and F Parker Bell each scored twice and added an assist as the Tri-City Americans got past the Chiefs, 6-3, in Spokane. . . . Mutula  and Bell each has 16 goals. . . . Tri-City scored four of the game’s final five goals. . . . F Yannick scored two goals — he’s got 11 — and added an assist for Spokane. . . .

F Niko Huuhtanen had two goals and two assists to lead the Everett Silvertips to a 5-2 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . Huuhtanen, who has 32 goals, gave the Silvertips a 2-0 lead by scoring at 2:22 and 16:39 of the first period. . . . Everett also got three assists from D Olen Zellweger. . . . The Giants were without F Adam Hall, who was hit with a three-game suspension for a hit on Everett D Ronan Seeley at 2:17 of the second period of Friday’s game. Hall was given a minor for boarding on the play in which Seeley suffered an apparent shoulder injury. He left the game and didn’t return. Hall later scored the Giants’ second and fourth goals in the Giants’ 5-3 victory. . . . Seeley didn’t play in this one. . . .

F Logan Stankoven scored twice and Dylan Garand recorded the shutout as the Kamloops Blazers beat the visiting Kelowna Rockets, 4-0. . . . Kamloops has won eight in a row, with five of those victories over Kelowna. . . . Stankoven, who has 35 goals, opened the scoring at 2:41 of the first period and that was all the offence Garand would need. . . . He finished with 33 saves as he posted his third shutout this season and the 11th of his career. This season, Garand is 29-7-0, 2.04, .926. . . . F Fraser Minten added his 18th goal and two assists. . . . After the game, Regan Bartel, the Rockets’ radio voice, tweeted: “When you play each other four straight games, tempers flare. Coaches doing some shouting at one another late in the third.” . . . They’ll go home-and-home again next weekend, too. . . .

F Jaydon Dureau scored Portland’s first three goals as the Winterhawks skated to a 4-1 victory over the Seattle Blades in Kent, Wash. . . . Dureau, who has 17 goals, scored three times on the PP — 22 seconds into the first period for a 1-0 lead, 59 seconds into the third for a 2-0 lead and at 3:27 for a 3-1 edge. . . . Portland was 3-for-5 on the PP; Seattle was 0-for-4. . . . Seattle was able to dress only 16 skaters, two under the maximum allowed.


Scraps


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.


Couples

With pandemic ongoing, the WHL’s attendance not pretty picture . . . Oil Kings win 12th straight game . . . BCHL reinstates one Nanaimo coach


Just about the time the Portland Winterhawks and the Royals were facing off in Victoria on Tuesday night, a photo showing part of the crowd was posted on Twitter.

Shortly after it surfaced, a friend sent me a message: “Is Victoria only allowed 15 per cent capacity?”

After the game, with the Royals having announced attendance as 2,070, the WHLfriend sent another note: “Oh my goodness! Is the league as we know it dying in front of us?”

That likely is a bit of an overstatement, but there has to be more than a little concern in WHL circles, especially when the Winnipeg Ice, which plays in a city of more than 800,000 people, announces a crowd of 1,030 as it did on Tuesday night.

No, there aren’t any attendance restrictions in Manitoba sporting facilities these days. The Ice plays in the Wayne Fleming Arena on the campus of the U of Manitoba. The arena’s capacity once was said to be 1,400, but the Ice said in a Feb. 2 news release that the U of M “has confirmed the capacity . . . is 2,000 persons.”

The Ice, of course, played out of Cranbrook through the 2018-19 season, after which owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell packed up and moved to the Manitoba capital.

You may recall Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, visiting Cranbrook in January 2019 and telling people: “The WHL appreciates the support we have received from the City of Cranbrook, the corporate community, and, in particular, hockey fans in the East Kootenay region. However, after many years of monitoring the operations of the Kootenay Ice, it is evident this franchise is not viable in the market moving forward. It is a difficult decision, but given low attendance trends and the support required to operate a WHL Club, it is necessary to move the franchise to a market where it can be sustainable on a long-term basis.”

In 2018-19, its last season in Cranbrook, the Ice’s average announced attendance was 2,214. (BTW, the BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks, in their first season after moving into the Ice’s former home, are drawing 2,199 fans per game, according to hockeydb.)

Announced attendances at Wednesday night’s five WHL games: 2,426 . . . 1,837 . . . 2,035 . . . 2,824 . . . 2,056.

Granted, this has been a tough season thanks to the pandemic and various mandates and restrictions, but according to figures compiled by the WHL the Ice is averaging 1,500 fans through 23 home games. Only the Swift Current Broncos, playing in a city of about 17,000 people, are playing in front of fewer fans — 1,392 through 27 games.

Those same WHL figures show that the 22 teams have an average announced attendance of 3,047 through 586 games. In 2019-20, the season that the pandemic brought to a premature end in March, the average was 4,154 for 694 games. In 2018-19, the last complete season, teams average 4,361 fans for 748 games.

This season, the WHL has three teams averaging more than 4,000 fans per game. There are 13 teams under 3,000.

With attendance numbers where they are and with so many costs on the rise — both for the teams and for the ticket-buying public — one has to think there will be some head-scratching and soul-searching going on in the WHL’s Calgary office and a whole lot of team offices once this season is over . . . if there isn’t already.


Plastic


WEDNESDAY NIGHT IN THE WHL: F Josh Williams, who reached the 100-goal career mark, and F Justin Sourdif each scored twice as the Edmonton Oil Kings ran their winning streak to 12 games by beating the Tigers, 7-3, in Medicine Hat. Williams has 32 goals; Sourdif has 18. F Hayden Wheddon, playing his first WHL game, scored for Edmonton in the second period. Wheddon, from Stonewall, Man., was a ninth-round pick in the WHL’s 2020 draft. . . . Williams has scored 79 goals with the Oil Kings, after starting his career with 21 for the Tigers. . . .

In Saskatoon, F Brandon Lisowsky scored twice, including his 30th goal of the season at 4:30 of OT, as the Blades beat the Lethbridge Hurricanes, 4-3. F Trae Wilke, who is from Saskatoon, scored his first WHL goal in his first game with the Hurricanes. He was a second-round pick in the WHL’s 2021 draft. Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was there and his report is right here. . . . Saskatoon has points in seven straight (5-0-2). . . . The Hurricanes are 2-3-0 while on a seven-game road swing with the Canadian men’s curling championship in their home building. . . .

F Nolan Ritchie scored at 1:11 of OT to give the host Brandon Wheat Kings a 2-1 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. Ritchie, who is from Brandon, has 26 goals. . . . The Wheat Kings are sixth in the Eastern Conference, 11 points ahead of Lethbridge and 13 up on Calgary. . . . The Hitmen hold down the last playoff spot, one point ahead of the Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos. . . .

F Blake Swetlikoff scored his ninth goal and added two assists to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 5-2 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . Matthew Hutchison became the fourth 15-year-old goaltender in Giants’ franchise history to start a game — after Ryan Kubic (2013), Payton Lee (2012) and Tyson Sexsmith (2005). Hutchison, from Nanaimo, stopped 28 shots. He was a third-round pick in the WHL’s 2021 draft. . . . G Jesper Vikman, the Giants’ starter, is on the sidelines with an undisclosed injury. . . . Spokane moved into a tie with the idle Prince George Cougars for seventh in the Western Conference, two points behind the Giants. . . .

In Victoria, F Cross Hanas had two goals, giving him 22, and two assists to help the Portland Winterhawks to a 5-2 victory over the Royals. Victoria had beaten the Winterhawks, 5-3, on Tuesday night. Last night, the Royals’ second goal came from Danish F Marcus Almquist, who got his first WHL goal in his 29th game. . . . The Winterhawks are third in the Western Conference, one point behind the Kamloops Blazers and Everett Silvertips. . . . The Royals are ninth, three points out of a playoff spot.



The BCHL has reinstated Colin Birkas, the Nanaimo Clippers’ associate  general Nanaimomanager/associate coach, who was suspended early in February while the league had an unidentified independent investigator review what it said were “allegations of Code of Conduct breaches.” . . . On Wednesday, the league said that while it is reinstating Birkas, “the investigation has been partly completed but is still ongoing.” . . . At the same time, the BCHL said that Darren Naylor, the Clippers’ vice-president, general manager, head coach and director of hockey operations, “will continue on administrative leave until May 31, 2022.” . . . While Naylor and Birkas were sidelined, the Clippers brought in long-time junior coach Bob Beatty to work with assistant coach Ken McPhalen. . . . At the time of the suspensions, Clippers Hockey Limited Partnership, Naylor and Birkas filed a civil claim, arguing, according to CHEK News, “that the league acted ‘erroneously and in a high-handed manner’ in issuing the suspensions when no allegations have been proven, irreparably damaging the coaches’ reputations and putting the team’s season in jeopardy because there are no alternate coaches to take over.” . . . A B.C. Supreme Court judge issued a temporary injunction that would have allowed Naylor and Birkas to continue coaching; however, the team ended up putting the two on administrative leave just prior to what would have been their first game after the league had taken action. . . . With seven games remaining in their regular-season schedule, the Clippers are 29-16-2 and in third place in the nine-team Coastal Conference.



JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The QMJHL has unveiled its playoff format, with games to begin on May 5 with the final running from June 4 through June 15, depending how many games are needed. The first three rounds will feature best-of-five series with the championship final a best-of-seven series. There is a news release right here.


Today is World Kidney Day. . . . My wife, Dorothy, who underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, is preparing to take 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.


Bedtime


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.


Driving

Winnipeg ices playoff spot . . . Raiders, Chaika blank Hurricanes . . . Royals put hurt on Winterhawks


You have to wonder if we will be seeing any new Russian or Belarusian players headed this way for the next season — or longer — because of the decision by Vladimir Putin, the Russian dictator, to invade Ukraine.

On Monday, the NHL revealed that it has suspended a Memorandum of KHLUnderstanding that it had with the KHL, the Russia-based professional league that involves a number of Putin friends and Russian oligarchs.

As Aaron Vickers of the Daily Hive reported, the move effectively ends communication between the KHL and NHL.

Frank Seravalli of Daily Face-off obtained a memo that went from the NHL to its teams, in which teams were told to “immediately cease all dealings (direct or indirect) with the KHL and KHL clubs (and all representatives of both), as well as with player agents who are based in and continue to do business in Russia.”

Meanwhile, the CHL, which oversees the 60 major junior teams in the OHL, QMJHL and WHL, met last week and one of the items on the agenda was the 2022 import draft. There was speculation that the CHL would ban Russian and Belarusian players from the draft. However, after the meeting, the CHL announced that “the date and format for the 2022 CHL import draft have yet to be determined and will be announced at a later date.”

The CHL and its leagues often operate in lockstep in a lot of ways, so it will be interesting to see the end result of the major junior deliberations, especially in light of the NHL’s decision to at least temporarily sever relationships with the KHL.

It also will be interesting to see how NHL teams deal with Russian and Belarusian players who are eligible for the 2022 draft. Considering the uncertainty surrounding those two countries at the moment, how many NHL teams will even consider drafting Russians or Belarusians? And should the CHL choose to include those players in the annual import draft, will major junior teams shy away from selecting them?

If you are wondering, there presently are six Belarussians and three Russians listed on WHL team rosters.



TUESDAY NIGHT IN THE WHL: G Daniel Hauser stopped 14 shots to earn the shutout as the host Winnipeg Ice beat the Calgary Hitmen, 2-0. Hauser has four career shutouts, all of them this season. In 32 appearances over two seasons, he is 26-2-2, 2.48, .904. . . . The Ice became the seventh WHL team to clinch a playoff spot. . . . F Evan Herman scored twice, giving him 21 goals, and G Tikhon Chaika stopped 23 shots as the Prince Albert Raiders beat the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes, 4-0, for their third straight victory. Chaika, an 18-year-old freshman from Belarus, has two shutouts this season. He is 16-15-2, 2.92, .902. . . . The Raiders (22-28-3), Calgary (20-26-7) and Swift Current Broncos (20-28-78) are tied for the Eastern Conference’s eight and final playoff spot. . . . F Bailey Peach scored his 30th goal of the season on a penalty shot and added two assists as the host Victoria Royals dumped the Portland Winterhawks, 5-3. Victoria closed to within one point of the Spokane Chiefs, who hold down the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot. The Winterhawks had won five in a row. They remain three points behind the conference-leading Kamloops Blazers and Everett Silvertips, each with 80 points.


The Swift Current Broncos have made Devan Praught the ninth head coach in the franchise’s history. Praught, a native of Summerside, P.E.I., had been the interim head coach since Oct. 14 when Dean Brockman resigned as general manager and head coach. The Broncos are 18-25-7 under Praught. . . . There is a news release right here. . . . The Broncos named Chad Leslie as their general manager on Jan. 31 when they removed the interim from his title.



The QMJHL has suspended F Lou-Félix Denis of the Shawinigan Cataractes for qmjhlnewfive games for remarks he made in the direction of Russian D Evgenii Kashnikov of the Gatineau Olympiques during a game on Sunday. The incident occurred late in the first period, referee Pascal Saint-Jacques heard the comments, and Denis was handed a game misconduct for, according to the online game sheet, “discriminatory taunts, gestures and slurs.” Denis also will have to take part in a workshop about the QMJHL’s anti-discrimination policy. . . . Denis is the third QMJHL player to have been suspended under that policy this season.

Meanwhile, the OHL investigated allegations of inappropriate comments OHLhaving been made by a member of the Sudbury Wolves towards a player with the North Bay Battalion on March 3. On Tuesday, the OHL issued a statement that read, in part: “The league has done a thorough investigation of the allegation, including speaking to players and team officials of both teams in addition to the on-ice officials, and the allegation cannot be substantiated.”

The OHL also said it “will treat any discrimination against Russian and Belarusian players as we would with all allegations in accordance with our Harassment & Abuse/Diversity Policy. Further, last week we advised all of our on-ice officials to be aware of any inappropriate conduct among players including any anti-Russian/Belarusian discrimination and are working with the Canadian Mental Health Association through our Talk Today program to ensure supports are in place for our Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian players.”


Steve Hogle isn’t going to settle the dispute between MLB and the MLBPA, but he is getting into baseball. The West Coast League’s Edmonton Riverhawks have announced that they have hired Hogle, a former president of the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades, as their first general manager. Prior to working with the Blades, he was vice-president communications and broadcast with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. Since returning to Edmonton from Saskatoon, Hogle had been working with Hockey Edmonton.


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.



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

Dorothy gearing up for virtual Kidney Walk . . . CHL dumps series versus Russia . . . School drops South Island Royals program

First things first . . . Dorothy is preparing to take part in the annual Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year. She has participated in every one since she underwent a kidney transplant at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver on Sept. 23, 2013. . . . The 2022 Kidney Walk will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . The Kidney Walk is a huge fund-raising venture for the Canadian Kidney Foundation and its provincial branches. By participating, Dorothy is able to give something back to an organization that has been such a big part of our lives. . . . If you would like to be on her team by making a donation — you should know that Mel Recchi was first on the bus — you are able to do so right here.


You may not have noticed but I was away for a few days. No writing. Not a whole lot of Twitter surfing. Just kicking back, reading . . . oh, and driving.

We made a return trip over the Coquihalla — the first one since October —  and I have to tell you that there are some engineering and reconstruction miracles taking place on the stretch of highway between Merritt and Hope. Yes, there still is a lot of work to do before the highway is back to its pre-flood state, but what we got to drive on is a whole lot better than what I had expected.

It’s also good to see that the Coquihalla continues to attract so many NASCAR drivers-in-training. Speed limit? What speed limit? It’s 120 km-h between Kamloops and Merritt. From Merritt to Hope, the signs tell you that it’s 110, 100, 90, 80 or 60, depending on what kind of construction area you find yourself driving through. In reality, though, the areas without traffic cones have only imaginary speed limits. And don’t get me started on the driver of the Toyota SUV with Alberta plates who was in the left lane all the way from Hope to Merritt . . . speeding up and slowing down as the mood struck him.

No matter. The overall condition of the Coq was the star of this trip.


Ukraine

While I was away, national teams from Belarus and Russia were banned from almost the entire surface of our planet because Dr. Evil has chosen to attempt a violent takeover of Ukraine.

On Wednesday, the CHL, which governs the three major junior hockey leagues, CHLannounced it has cancelled what used to be an annual series of six games featuring OHL, QMJHL and WHL teams against a touring Russian side. The series, which has lost its lustre in recent years, should have been permanently discarded.

At the same time, the CHL announced that “the date and format for the 2022 CHL import draft has yet to be determined and will be announced at a later date.”

That buys some time for the three leagues to see how things develop in Ukraine. If war continues to rage, those leagues will have to decide whether to keep the 2022 import draft open for eligible Russian and Belarusian players.

The CHL’s statement also pointed out that it “is committed to the safety and well-being of all of its current players and is supportive of their continued development regardless of their country of origin.”

Hopefully that means the CHL and its teams will continue to care for current Belarusian and Russian players even after this season ends, rather than casting them to the winds. Michael Traikos of Postmedia reports that “there are about 36 Russians and Belarusians currently playing in the CHL.”

You have to think there are some awfully confused young men among that group. Here they are in a foreign country while the leaders of their countries have drawn the wrath of the vast majority of the world by blasting away at Ukraine.

While these teenagers haven’t had anything to do with any of that, you have to wonder what they think when they venture into arenas and see fans waving yellow-and-blue flags to show their support for Ukraine.


Monster


Rob Manfred, the MLB commissioner, and the owners have cancelled the first two series of what was to have been the 2022 regular season. These are the first MLB games cancelled by a labour dispute since 1994 and 1995, and this time there isn’t any doubt about who’s at fault. The owners locked out the players in December and then didn’t even make a proposal for more than 40 days.

Here’s Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle:

“There are a lot of questions. But ‘who is to blame?’ is not one of them. There are no ‘both sides’ in this fight. This is on the owners, who instituted a self-described ‘defensive lockout’ Dec. 2, then waited six weeks to present an offer. And still failed to address the real issue:

“They’re making more and more money while players are getting less.

“Listening to Commissioner Rob Manfred speak on the owners’ personal broadcast mouthpiece, MLB Network, would have been comical if it wasn’t sad. (Incidentally, please don’t think you’re going to get both sides of the argument by watching an outlet run by the owners, which let go well-respected reporter Ken Rosenthal because he wasn’t sucking up enough to Manfred.)”


The MJHL has suspended D Klim Georgiev, 20, of the Dauphin Kings for 18 mjhlgames for a racist gesture during at game against the host Waywayseecappo Wolverines on Feb. 18. . . . Georgiev, who is from Toronto, was given a gross misconduct as the third period ended. . . . Nathan Liewicki of CBC News reported that Georgiev “raised his stick and made what seemed to be a bow-and-arrow gesture toward some of the Wawayseecappo players who were skating away from Dauphin’s end of the rink.” . . . Georgiev will miss the Kings’ final 11 regular-season games and seven playoff games. . . . Georgiev began the season with the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals before being traded to Dauphin. . . . Liewicki’s story, written after the gesture but before the suspension was handed down, is right here.

Meanwhile, in B.C., Zaya Morro, a player with the U17 AAA North Island Silvertips, has alleged via an Instagram post that an opposing player uttered a racist slur in his direction in a game on Nov. 7.

“As a Black player in B.C. hockey I am continually made aware that I am different,” Morro wrote. “I have to play harder, play smarter, just because of the colour of my skin. I have to be more resilient because unfortunately there is still soooo much racism in hockey and in Canada. February (was) Black History Month and as I look back at how far we have come I am also reminded how much further we need to go.”

According to Morro, an opposing player “racially assaulted” him after Morro had won a puck battle. That player, Morro wrote, “felt the need to yell ‘nice hit you F**king N****r.’ I’ve experienced other racial slurs and have been able to shake them off but being called a N****r . . . I can’t explain the anger, sadness and complete disgust it made me feel. I have never been an angry kid but this brought out something in me I never knew was there. Thankfully, my team captain also heard what was said and we were able to tell the referee who immediately threw (the offending player) out of the game.”

According to Morro, the offending player eventually was suspended for six games.


With racism so often rearing its ugly head in the arenas and on the ice surfaces of our country, I really wonder what kind of conversations take place around the dinner tables in so many homes. I really do.


A letter dated March 1 and signed by Bruce Bidney, the principal of Spectrum Community School in Victoria, has informed parents that the school “will no longer be hosting the South Island Royals program following the completion of the 2021-22 school year.” . . . The letter continues: “This means that the hockey programming your child experienced this school year will no longer be embedded in the school day. Spectrum will remain an option for your child’s academic programming as will our hockey Skills Academy. . . . In recent conversations with BC Hockey, we have mutually agreed to no longer offer the in-school programming exclusive to our South Island Royal student-athletes. We will continue offering dryland training the school day to students registered in our Spectrum Skills Academy.”: . . . According to their website (southislandroyals.ca), the program features three male teams — U18AAA, U17AAA and U15AAA. . . . In his letter, Bidney doesn’t offer up any reasons for ending the South Island program.


Phone


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings have signed Craig Carter, their assistant general manager and director of player personnel, to a two-year extension. He has been with the Spruce Kings since April 2020. . . . The WHL’s injury/roster report dated March 1 doesn’t show any players in COVID-19 protocol, the first time that has happened since teams returned from the Christmas break. . . . Just don’t think for a minute that means the pandemic is over. In the OHL, the Peterborough Petes had seven players test positive, resulting in the postponement of a game that had been scheduled for last Saturday. As Mike Davies of the Peterborough Examiner noted: “The postponement comes less than 24 hours after the OHL announced the lifting of proof of vaccination and capacity limits for spectators beginning on Tuesday.” The Petes are scheduled to play host to the Niagara IceDogs tonight (Thursday).


Work


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.


Liquor

Remembering Ronning’s 14-point weekend . . . Memorial Cup in June? It could happen . . . Chiefs’ GM stepping down

A Twitter post on Thursday from John Winton, who runs the account tagged @NewWestBruins, reminded us that Jan. 27 was the 37th anniversary of F Cliff Ronning’s nine-point game, one off the WHL’s single-game record.

So I went back in the time machine one more time.

Ronning
Cliff Ronning was a major star with the New Westminster Bruins. (Photo: @NewWestBruins)

Yes, on Jan. 27, 1985, Ronning finished with six goals — two in each period — and three assists as the New Westminster Bruins pounded the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors, 16-4.

After that game, Ronning had 60 goals and 63 assists in 46 games. He would finish the season with a WHL-leading 197 points, including 89 goals. Ronning’s 197 points was a single-season record, but it was broken two seasons later when F Rob Brown put up 212 for the Kamloops Blazers. Brown’s record stands to this day.

The Bruins held period leads of 4-1 and 10-2.

Ronning got the Bruins started 65 seconds into the game; F Roger Mulvenna ended the scoring with goals at 19:22 and 19:56 of the third period.

Larry Rusconi, with three, Jim Camazzola, with two, Gary Moscaluk, Ward Carlson and Craig Berube also scored for the Bruins. The Warriors goals came from Bryan Walker, Kurt Lackten, Kelly Buchberger and Kent Hayes.

This was the fifth game in a six-games-in-nine-days trek through the Western Conference for the Warriors. They had been beaten 10-5 by the visiting Regina Pats on Jan. 20, their third straight loss. Two nights later, Kamloops dumped Moose Jaw, 11-4. The next night it was over to Kelowna and a 3-2 loss to the Wings. Then it was into the U.S., and an 11-5 loss to the Seattle Breakers on Jan. 25, and the Portland Winterhawks beat them 4-3 on Jan, 26. Next up was the game in New Westminster, followed by an 8-6 loss to the Cougars in Victoria on Jan. 29.

But back to the game in New Westminster . . .

Ronning was centring a line that had Camazzola on the left side and Brian Noonan on the right wing. Noonan finished with seven assists, tying a WHL single-game record that he then shared with F John Neeld of the Seattle Breakers (Nov. 24, 1979) and F Doug Trapp of the Regina Pats (Oct. 10, 1984.) F Brian Sakic of the Tri-City Americans upped that mark to eight on Oct. 3, 1990 in a 19-3 victory over the host Seattle Thunderbirds.

As usually happens when I go looking for information from a game like the Bruins’ victory, I stumbled upon a few nuggets.

For example, one night earlier, the Bruins had beaten the visiting Blazers, 11-2, with Ronning scoring twice and setting up three others. Yes, he put up 14 points in two games over 24 hours.

As well, Camazzola was playing in his first two games since he had starred for the Kamloops Junior Oilers at the 1984 Memorial Cup in Kitchener that was won by the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s. (The Kamloops franchise went through ownership and name changes after the Memorial Cup.)

Camazzola had been selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 10th round of NWBruinsthe NHL’s 1982 draft. He attended their 1984-85 training camp but refused to report to the IHL-Milwaukee Admirals, so was placed on Chicago’s suspended list. He was still there in November 1984 when Al Patterson, the Bruins’ general manager and head coach, acquired him from Kamloops. At the time, Camazzola, then 20, was a clerk in a Lower Mainland department store. By January, he knew he wanted back on the ice.

“I decided I wanted to make a career out of hockey,” he told the Vancouver Sun’s Elliott Pap. “I came here to get my confidence back instead of playing in Milwaukee.”

Camazzola had two goals and an assist in the victory over Kamloops, then added two of each the next night against Moose Jaw. He finished the season with 48 points, 19 of them goals, in 25 games. After three seasons split between the IHL and AHL, Camazzola went on to play in Europe for 12 seasons.

Oh, yes . . . one other thing of note happened that weekend.

Pap reported it this way: “Kamloops coach Ken Hitchcock was so incensed with his team’s performance Saturday he had his players walk over the Pattullo Bridge carrying their equipment bags.”

That bridge, which links New Westminster with Surrey, is 1,227 metres — 4,025 feet — in length.

There also was a coaching change that weekend as former NHL player Bill Hogoboam took over as head coach in Kelowna on an interim basis. Marc Pezzin, who had been the head coach, stayed on as general manager. The Wings were 18-26-2 and in third place in the Western Division. They were in their third season in Kelowna and Pezzin had been the head coach from the start. However, the Wings would be gone before another season arrived — relocated to Spokane as the Chiefs.

The Bruins would play three more seasons out of New Westminster’s Queen’s Park Arena before moving to Kennewick, Wash., and becoming the Tri-City Americans.


The QMJHL announced on Friday that it plans on resuming play on Feb. 3. It qmjhlnewsaid it hopes to complete its 68-game regular season on May 1. The league added that it will begin its playoffs on May 5 “and conclude no later than June 15.” . . . That means that the Memorial Cup schedule will have to be redone because it was scheduled to run from June 4 through June 13 in Saint John, N.B. . . . The OHL and WHL haven’t announced any changes to their closing dates for their regular seasons. Both leagues want to finish on April 3, with the playoffs to follow. . . . Interestingly, the QMJHL’s Quebec teams will play in empty facilities until Feb. 7, when they will be allowed 500 fans. Teams in New Brunswick now are at 50 per cent. Patrick McNeil (@cbepbp) adds that the Nova Scotia teams will start with games on the road. . . . And let’s not forget that the IIHF’s World U-18 championship is scheduled to run from April 21 through May 1 in Landshut and Kaufbeurn, Germany. The player pool might be a bit reduced if the three major junior leagues haven’t eliminated many teams.


Scott Carter, the general manager of the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, will be stepping aside after this season “for health and family reasons,” the team announced on Thursday. . . . He will help the Chiefs through the search for a replacement and the hiring process. . . . Through Thursday, the Chiefs were 165-129-39 with Carter as the GM. . . . Carter, who joined with the Chiefs on Sept. 8, 2016, signed a two-year contract extension on Nov. 22, 2020. . . . The news release is right here.



The Prince Albert Raiders were to have visited the Regina Pats Friday night, but WHLthe game was postponed on Thursday. According to the WHL, the Raiders were “unable to field a complete team due to injuries and an addition six players being added to the COVID-19 protocol list.” . . . With Raiders at Pats on TSN’s schedule as a national telecast, the WHL quickly slipped another game into that slot. A Brandon at Regina game that was postponed from Jan. 21 ended up being played on Friday night and got the national exposure treatment from TSN. The Wheat Kings erased a 2-0 first-period deficit and beat the Pats, 6-4. . . . The WHL also postponed a Saturday game that was to have had Brandon visit Prince Albert. . . . From a news release: “WHL regulations require each WHL club ice a roster with a minimum of 14 healthy skaters in order to compete. At this time, the Raiders are unable to meet that minimum requirement.”


Two WHL play-by-play voices have been MIA this weekend. . . . Dan O’Connor, the voice of the Vancouver Giants, tested positive for COVID-19 so is sitting out a few games. . . . At the same time, Fraser Rodgers, the voice of the Prince George Cougars, was hit by what he tweeted is a non-COVID bug. But while he isn’t with the team, he’s handling broadcasts off a monitor from his living room in Prince George.


I became a big fan of F Jason Spezza of the Toronto Maple Leafs the other day. Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun tweeted that Spezza “says that while he likes the pressure that comes with trying to score in a shootout, he is not a huge fan of them in general. ‘It has got a little bit stale,’ Spezza said.” . . . Hey, he’s right.


Manny Viveiros, a former WHL player and coach, returned to the AHL-Henderson Silver Knights’ bench on Friday night after getting medical clearance on Thursday. . . . Viveiros revealed on Oct. 28 that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He left the team early in December for treatments. . . . In his absence, assistant coach Jamie Heward, also a former WHL player and coach, was in charge. . . . The Silver Knights were at home to the Colorado Eagles for a Friday-Saturday doubleheader. Henderson won 3-2 in a shootout on Friday, then dropped a 4-0 decision on Saturday. . . . Viveiros, as general manager and head coach, and Heward, as assistant coach, guided the Swift Current Broncos to the WHL championship in 2017-18.


Phone


Mike McIntyre of the Winnipeg Free Press travels a lot in order to cover the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. He also produces a weekly newsletter that often is full of interesting content. Here’s a few paragraphs from Thursday’s post, following a light from Pittsburgh to Minneapolis . . .

“We nearly had to turn back on Monday afternoon as we made our way to Minneapolis, thanks to a woman seated in the row behind me who repeatedly refused to wear her mask.

“She was travelling with a number of family members, including young children, and apparently felt she was above federal guidelines and didn’t have to play by the same set of rules.

“The extremely patient crew on Delta had three separate conversations that turned into warnings, the final one being that the plane was going to be turned around for an emergency landing if she didn’t smarten up.

“She eventually did, sort of, although she played fast and loose by nursing a package of almonds and a soft drink for the final 90 minutes of the flight, allowing her to keep her mask pulled down for long stretches of time on a technicality because she claimed to be eating and drinking.

“I figured this would happen sooner or later, and I’m surprised it took until the fourth month of travelling for this current Jets season to run into one of these ‘maskholes’ we often hear about.

“It was a vivid reminder of how selfish some folks can be, unfortunately.”



Ants


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.


Date

Scattershooting on Wednesday night while waiting for spring and Year 3 of pandemic . . .

Scattershooting2

Sheesh, a guy steps away from the keyboard for a day or two and, well, let’s review . . .

Theo Fleury surfaced on Fox-TV on Tuesday night, telling an audience of a gazillion Trumpsters that the convoy of Canadian truck drivers — with time on their hands and apparently having somehow lost their freedoms — that started last weekend will bring 1.4 million people to Ottawa in about 50,000 trucks. . . . Uhh, that’s 28 people per truck. . . . He also told the Trumpsters that those same truckers are “going to stay there until (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau resigns or they give us back all of our freedoms and rights.” . . . . Prior to hearing about this, I wasn’t aware that Fleury, with C.W. McCall apparently unavailable, had become Fox’s Trucking Convoy Insider, kind of like Darren Dreger is a TSN Hockey Insider. . . . BTW, a respected citizen of our land who has followed Fleury’s behaviour for a lot of years, recently told Taking Note: “It started a few years ago and it’s all been downhill since then.” . . .

Also this week came news that there were a lot of grocery stores out there with empty shelves. Except that search parties sent out in search of same weren’t able to find them. Not in big box stores. Not in the chain grocery stores. Not in the neighbourhood grocery marts. . . . That didn’t stop members of the official opposition at the federal level, the CPC, from hitting up social media to tell us about these food shortages. One of them tweeted a photo showing a woman looking at empty shelves as though it was a regular occurrence in Canada. Except that Internet sleuths found out the photo actually was from London, England, and was a ‘stock’ photo, meaning you and I are able to purchase and use it. If you looked closely, the price tags that were visible were in Euros. . . . Geez, they don’t even try to fib a little bit now; it’s just blatantly lie to us without even thinking twice about it. . . .

Here in Kamloops, my wife and I were in a grocery store on Monday and the only thing we couldn’t find was canned mushrooms. Of course, we live in B.C., so it could be that people are smoking them, or whatever they do with those things out here, so there has been a run on them. . . .

And then there’s Creston, B.C., where the goofballs were out in force on Saturday night. As Kelsey Yates of the Creston Valley Advance reported: “Five people have been charged with mischief after barging into a Creston Valley Thunder Cats game without masks and encouraging others to come inside. . . . the five men ignored security at the Creston and District Community Complex (CDCC) without showing vaccine passports or tickets to the hockey game. Once inside the Johnny Bucyk Arena, the men started opening locked doors of the building to let in other trespassers from outside.” Yates’s complete story is right here.

The past couple of days have shown that (a) social media, and Twitter in particular, just gets loonier and loonier, and (b) this pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon. . . . So get triple-vaxxed, mask up, wash your hands and try to stay safe.


Let’s drop in to Saskatoon and see how Colin Priestner, the general manager of the WHL’s Blades is doing.

Here he is on Monday . . .

There was something of a reprieve on Tuesday, when he tweeted: “This Just In: the PCR lab I got the COVID test at called and said due to a lab error . . . the result was misidentified as positive! I just have a regular boring chest cold! The tech (who felt terrible) said he basically screwed up and entered the result wrong. All is forgiven!”

But then came Wednesday morning . . .


On Monday, the WHL shut down the Blades and postponed two of their games because of their inability to ice a team due to having nine players in COVID-19 protocols. The Blades were to have gone into Alberta and played the Medicine Hat Tigers on Tuesday and the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Wednesday. . . . On Wednesday, the WHL postponed Friday’s game that was to have had the Blades playing host to the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . As of Wednesday night, Brandon’s game in Saskatoon on Sunday was still on the schedule. . . .

Also on Monday, the Wheat Kings and Kelowna Rockets were cleared to return to team activities. . . . And the WHL also has announced new dates for some reschedule games. So, again, check your favourite team’s schedule for updates.

——

While the WHL hasn’t given any indication that it is looking at extending its schedule past what now is the final day (April 3), the OHL may end up doing just that. Josh Brown of the Kitchener Record reported on Wednesday that David Branch, the OHL commissioner, said “all options are on the table,” including running its 68-game regular season past what now is an April 3 closing date and lobbying to have the Memorial Cup schedule changed. The Memorial Cup is to held in Saint John, N.B., opening on June 4 and closing on June 13. . . . Gilles Courteau, the QMJHL’s commissioner, told Global News last week that his league also is prepared to extend its season and “we’re even prepared to modify our playoff format. We’re even looking at the possibility of pushing back the start of the Memorial Cup a week or two later.”


Lavatory


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: There was a real WHL touch to an NHL game in Seattle on Tuesday night as the Kraken entertained the Nashville Predators. The linesmen were Ryan Gibbons and Travis Toomey, both of whom are former WHL players. Gibbons, 37, played five season (2001-06) with the Seattle Thunderbirds; Toomey, 31, was with the Saskatoon Blades for three seasons (2007-10) and the Thunderbirds for 2010-11. . . . Patrick McNeil, the play-by-play voice and communication co-ordinator for the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles, points out via Twitter: “When Quebec moves to next phase on Feb. 7, maximum attendance would be 500 people. Previous indication was that league wouldn’t resume with less than 50 per cent capacity.” In the meantime, the three QMJHL teams from New Brunswick are planning to set up mini-training camps in Quebec centres to prepare for a return to play. The Acadie-Bathurst Titan will be in Carleton-su-mer, the Saint John Sea Dogs are going to set up shop in Rivière-du-Loup, and the Moncton Wildcats will go to Quebec City. The QMJHL has been paused since Dec. 18 and hopes to resume play on Feb. 1. . . . The junior A BCHL has chosen to extend its regular season by one week, allowing it to get in games that were postponed from earlier in the season. So rather than wrapping up on March 20, the regular season now will finish on March 27, with playoffs to begin on April 1. Barring further change, of course.



Pat Siedlecki, a former play-by-play voice of the Lethbridge Hurricanes has left radio station CJOC. His last day there was on Wednesday. In a Jan. 21 tweet, Siedlecki wrote: “After 15 years at CJOC and now 25 years in radio, I’m leaving for a new career in the funeral industry.” Most recently, he was the station’s news director.


One of my weekly reads comes from Jeff Pearlman (pearlman.Substack.com), the author of a number of books, including the terrific The Bad Guys Won, which was subtitled A Season of Brawling, Boozing, Bimbo-chasing and Championship Baseball with Straw, Doc, Mookie, Nails, The Kid, and the Rest of the 1986 Mets, the Rowdiest Team Ever to Put on a New York Uniform — and Maybe the Best. . . . Anyway, here’s Pearlman’s take on the Baseball Hall of Fame voting that was announced on Tuesday and, yes, I happen to agree with him:

“For the first time, I’m supporting Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire’s Hall of Fame candidacies (although they’re all DOA). This comes after my fellow writers voted to elect David Ortiz, a clear-cut juicer whose smile and warmth won over the crowd. There’s simply no longer a justification to keep other cheaters out. I know Bonds was a jerk, but if we’ve decided to overlook PED usage, he has to be in well before Ortiz. So, for that matter, do Clemens, Sosa and McGwire. Oy. What a mess — and what a disgraceful showing.”

BTW, Pearlman also wrote Three-Ring Circus: Kobe, Shaq, Phil, and the Crazy Years of the Lakers Dynasty. . . . I haven’t yet read it, but it is on the list. . . . And if you haven’t read Pearlman’s Football for a Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL, well, you’re cheating yourself. Yeah, a guy named Trump took down that version of the USFL.


Wings


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.


Walken

Jets won’t be landing in Saskatoon . . . WHL has 15 teams on pause; two others cleared to return; weekend sked down to two games


As of Friday afternoon, the WHL had 15 teams on pause “as a result of multiple players and staff” having been placed on the COVID-19 protocol list “due to Covidexhibiting symptoms or having tested positive.”

The Calgary Hitmen, Edmonton Oil Kings, Everett Silvertips, Kamloops Blazers, Medicine Hat Tigers, Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders, Prince George Cougars, Red Deer Rebels, Regina Pats, Saskatoon Blades, Spokane Chiefs, Tri-City Americans, Victoria Royals and Winnipeg Ice all went into the weekend having paused all team-related activities.

At the same time, the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Swift Current Broncos were cleared to return. In fact, they are scheduled to play on Wednesday in Lethbridge.

As a result of all this, the WHL also postponed eight more games — Spokane at Seattle (Teddy Bear Game), tonight (Saturday); Calgary at Regina, Prince Albert at Edmonton, Spokane at Victoria, and Kelowna at Prince George, on Tuesday; and, Calgary at Moose Jaw, Spokane at Victoria, and Kelowna at Prince George, on Wednesday.

You may recall that Spokane was to have visited Victoria on Nov. 12 and 13, but that doubleheader was postponed after two of the Chiefs tested positive. Going into the Christmas break, those were the only two positive tests in the 22-team WHL to that point. The total number of positive tests now likely is somewhere north of 100.

With the postponement of tonight’s game in Spokane, it means that only two of the 23 games originally scheduled for this weekend are still alive — the Portland Winterhawks are to visit Kelowna tonight and then play the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C., on Sunday.

The Winterhawks, who left four players in Portland because of protocol, have added three 16-year-olds to their roster for the two weekend games — F Josh Zakreski of the U-18 Saskatoon Blazers, F Nick Johnson of the Calgary-based Edge School’s U-18 prep team, and D Rhett Ravndahl of the U-18 Prince Albert Mintos.

The Winterhawks were to have played in Kamloops last night. That game was postponed, of course, after the Blazers came up with a number of positives. The Winterhawks practised in Kamloops on Friday morning, then climbed on the bus and headed for Kelowna.

Despite all that has gone on, including 34 postponements since Christmas, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, said in a statement that the league and its teams “remain fully committed to playing through” a 68-game regular season and playoffs.

Remember that not all of the postponements have been due to COVID-19. A handful of games in Brandon and Winnipeg have been postponed because of the provincial government restricting attendance, while a few games this weekend were scrubbed because of inclement weather in the Pacific Northwest.

——

If you are wondering about the WHL’s procedure in dealing with COVID-19, this is from a news release issued on Friday:

“WHL clubs are responsible for monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19 among players and hockey operations staff on a daily basis. Upon a player or hockey operations staff member exhibiting symptoms, the individual completes a rapid antigen test and isolates. If the rapid antigen test result is positive, the individual is sent for a PCR test to confirm the positive result and determine next steps.

“If there are multiple rapid antigen positive test results for COVID-19, WHLall team activities are paused immediately. The entire team completes one round of PCR testing and isolates until the results are received and the WHL Chief Medical Officer is made aware of the situation. The WHL, in consultation with its Chief Medical Officer, treats each situation as unique. As such, the WHL Chief Medical Officer reviews all positive test results and scenarios on a case-by-case basis, factoring in a number of variables, including travel, recent schedule, and potential exposures that may have occurred.”


Idol


Because of COVID-19, there are all kinds of moving parts in the WHL these days. BrandonLet’s take a look at the Brandon Wheat Kings’ upcoming schedule. . . . The Wheat Kings are one of seven teams not have had to pause team activities. But that doesn’t mean that won’t be impacted. . . . First, they were to have entertained the Calgary Hitmen last night (Friday), but that game was postponed because of the attendance restrictions imposed by the Manitoba government. . . . In the coming week, the Wheat Kings are scheduled to venture into Alberta for four games in five nights. But all four opponents — Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Edmonton and Calgary — have been shut down by the WHL as part of their protocols. . . . After that road trip, the Wheat Kings next games are scheduled for home ice, against the Regina Pats on Jan. 21 and Jan. 22. But what if the provincial government hasn’t lifted its restrictions by that time? . . . And so it goes. . . . One would assume that the Wheat Kings have a few uncertain days ahead of them as they and so many others wait to see if/how this all sorts itself out. . . . The Wheat Kings also were planning a reunion of the 1978-79 WHL championship team and had hoped to hold it on the Feb. 4 weekend. The reunion was postponed on Friday, and the organization now is looking to hold it at some point during the 2022-23 season.


The BCHL put the Merritt Centennials and Vernon Vipers on pause for at least five days on Friday, citing COVID-19 protocol and provincial health regulations. The Vipers had three games postponed, while the Centennials lost a pair.


So . . . there are reports of a racial slur having been made during a junior B hockey game in Prince Edward Island on Dec. 17. It seems that a player on the Kensington Vipers directed the slur at a player on the Sherwood Metros. The guilty party drew a two-game suspension for his transgression. . . . Keegan Mitchell, 20, of the Metros was suspended for two games for slashing the offender across the legs in retribution. . . . Then, on Jan. 5, Mitchell took to social media and criticized officials for their response to the incident. . . . The Canadian Press reported that Mitchell posted: “For those of you who know me personally or through hockey, I am almost absolutely certain you recognize me as someone who always stands up for themselves, but more importantly for my friends and teammates. If Hockey P.E.I. took these scenarios as seriously as they say they do, this player would have been suspended appropriately. . . . A two-game suspension for a racist slur is absolutely disgraceful.” . . . Mitchell added that the “pitiful suspension is making our whole community look racist.” . . . This week, Mitchell was suspended indefinitely by Hockey P.E.I. for violating the league’s social media policy. Mitchell was told that has been found to be “a member not in good standing.” . . . Seriously! . . . There’s more right here.


Ricky


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

As expected, Matt O’Dette, the head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds, has heard from the WHL’s Dept. of Discilpine and was dinged for $500 “for public comments” following a 2-0 loss to the host Portland Winterhawks on New Year’s Eve. . . . Among other things, O’Dette told Joshua Critzer of pnwhockeytalk.com: “I saw the worst officiated game in my nine years in the WHL, plain and simple.” . . .

The QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles signed Chadd Cassidy as their head coach on Friday. Cassidy, who is from Lake Placid, N.Y., replaces Jake Grimes, who stepped down on Nov. 30, citing personal and family reasons. Assistant coach Matt Anthony stepped in as interim head coach. . . . Cassidy began this season as the head coach of the USHL’s Omaha Lancers. . . .

In the OHL, the Kingston Frontenacs had only 14 skaters — nine forwards and five defencemen — available for a game against the visiting Peterborough Petes on Friday night. The Petes won, 6-5, snapping Kingston’s eight-game winning streak. . . . The OHL had eight games scheduled last night, but had to postpone four of them. . . . It also has postponed four of 11 games scheduled for Saturday.


The 2022 Saskatchewan Winter Games organizing committee announced Friday that the Games have been cancelled “due to COVID-19 to ensure the health and safety of all participants.” . . . The Games were to have been held in Regina, Feb. 20-26.


FixinTo


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.


Hearing

WHL has hit pause button on five teams . . . NHL to Saskatoon? . . . VIJHL, Panthers in mourning

Omicron

——

According to statistics kept by Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Centre, the U.S. reported a single-day record 1,082,549 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, along with 1,688 deaths. . . . According to the Canadian government’s site that updates daily at 9 a.m., Canada had 35,618 new cases and 30 deaths on Monday.


The WHL doesn’t have any action scheduled until Friday, but with five teams WHLhaving paused activities because of COVID-19, three of the 10 games scheduled for that night have been postponed. So far . . .

Three of Saturday’s scheduled 10 games also have been postponed, as has one of three games scheduled for Sunday. One of the Friday postponements and one on Saturday is due to restrictions imposed on indoor gatherings by the Manitoba government.

On Tuesday, the league announced that the Edmonton Oil Kings, Moose Jaw Warriors and Red Deer Rebels had paused all activities “as a result of multiple players and staff” having been added the COVID-19 protocol list “due to exhibiting symptoms or having tested positive.”

The league didn’t provide any further information, although the Rebels said they had eight players and/or staffers test positive as of Monday.

The WHL’s Tuesday news release stated that the three teams “have paused all team activities, including on-ice practices and off-ice training, pending further test results. Additional test results are pending and the WHL provide further information when it is available.”

Shutting down those three teams resulted in the postponement of five weekend games.

Earlier, the WHL had put the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Swift Current Broncos on hold.

On Tuesday, Peter Anholt, the Hurricanes’ general manager, said in a statement that “our players and staff are okay. They are resting and recovering. We saw a wide range of symptoms, from a combination of headaches, runny noses sore throats, coughs and congestion, to no symptoms at all. Those who showed any symptoms were mild.”

Here’s a chronology of the WHL’s relationship with COVID-19 since Christmas:

Jan. 1 — The WHL announced that it had shut down the Lethbridge Hurricanes “as a result of 14 players being” on the protocol list “due to exhibiting symptoms or having tested positive.”

Dec. 30 — The WHL announced that it had shut down the Swift Current Broncos “as a result of four players” being on the protocol list “due to exhibiting symptoms or having tested positive. . . . It is believed the exposure . . . occurred outside the team environment.”

Dec. 29 — The WHL announced the postponement of a game scheduled for that night that was to have had the Portland Winterhawks meet the host Tri-City Americans. The move was made “due to goaltenders on both clubs entering COVID-19 protocols and/or sustaining injuries.”

Dec. 27 — The WHL announced that “a total of 36 players or hockey operations staff” were added to the protocol list “as a result of displaying symptoms for COVID-19 or returning a positive test result.” The league reported that Spokane and Victoria each had four people in protocol, with Portland, Saskatoon, Vancouver and Winnipeg each at three; Brandon, Everett, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Regina each at two; and Kelowna, Moose Jaw, Red Deer, Seattle, Swift Current and Tri-City each at one. Calgary, Edmonton and Prince Albert didn’t have anyone in protocols, while Kamloops and Prince George had yet to report.

The league has yet to update the Kamloops and Prince George results.

——

——

If you’re wondering about the QMJHL, it last played games on Dec. 18 and won’t be back on the ice for at least another two weeks. The plan right now is to bring back the players around Jan. 14 with the next games scheduled for Jan. 19.

——

In the BCHL, the Trail Smoke Eaters went into a holding pattern on Tuesday, pausing all team activities, according to the league, “for the next five days per BCHL COVID-19 protocol and provincial health regulations.” Trail’s games that were to have been played tonight (Wednesday), Friday and Saturday have been postponed.

On Monday, the BCHL shut down the Cowichan Valley Capitals, Langley Rivermen and Penticton Vees. The league said all team activities have been paused for five days, and six games involving those teams through Jan. 9 have been postponed.

——

The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League hasn’t escaped the wrath of COVID-19, either. A game that was to have been played Tuesday night between the North Okanagan Knights and host Kelowna Chiefs was postponed. According to the league, the postponement is “as the result of a number of positive test results by members of the Chiefs organization over the past 48 hours.” . . . The league added that those involved are “experiencing mild symptoms and self-isolating.”

——

And if you search the Internet you will find that COVID-19 is impacting NCAA hockey and basketball play. In hockey, for example, Dartmouth has postponed weekend games with Union and RPI, while Wisconsin, with protocols within its program, has done the same with Friday and Saturday games against Ohio State. Omaha, with issues in its program, has moved a weekend series with Denver to Feb. 4-5.


Love


It was almost 40 years ago when (Wild) Bill Hunter nearly had the NHL’s St. Louis Blues moving to Saskatoon. Yes, he did! Now with some Canadian provincial governments restricting attendances in some facilities, might the NHL look at having a Canadian team or two play some games in Saskatoon? Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet had this in his latest 32 Thoughts, which is right here:

“Interesting question posed by one executive: would any Canadian teams consider temporarily playing home games at the 15,000-seat SaskTel Centre, home of the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades? Saskatchewan is still allowing full capacity at this time. Obviously, the NHL, the NHLPA and the province would have to approve.”


The Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds will play their Feb. 26 game at SeattleClimate Pledge Arena, home of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken. The game originally was scheduled as a Thunderbirds’ home game to be played in the accesso ShoWare Centre in Kent, Wash. . . . Before being gutted and rebuilt as the home of the Kraken, what now is Climate Pledge Arena was KeyArena and was home to the Thunderbirds. They played their final game there on Dec. 30, 2008, beating the Chilliwack Bruins (hey, remember them?), 2-0. . . . The Feb. 26 game will be the ninth meeting of the season between the teams; the Silvertips hold a 5-1-0 edge at the moment.

——

Still with the Thunderbirds, the WHL’s Dept. of Discipline apparently has yet to drop the hammer — ch-ch-ching! — on head coach Matt O’Dette for his comments after a 2-0 New Year’s Eve loss to host Portland. According to Joshua Critzer of @pnwhockeytalk.com, O’Dette offered up: “I saw the worst officiated game in my nine years in the WHL, plain and simple. It is not an even standard out there. I feel for our guys. Our guys had a tough week with many different things happening . . . and we don’t get a fair shake (Friday). I feel for our guys. They put their hearts into this and work hard and we didn’t get a fair deal. Portland started to take over the game, but I thought we deserved a better fate as far as the officiating. Our goalie gets obliterated and we get the penalty. That is about as outrageous as it can get.” . . . The Thunderbirds next are up on Friday when they visit the Tri-City Americans. Gotta wonder if O’Dette is asked to cut a cheque before then. Also gotta wonder if the WHL sends referees Mark Heier and Ian Jendro, who did the game in Portland, into Kennewick on Friday.


Knife


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “Another reason it’s a shame actor John Candy died so young:  His outsized persona  would have been perfect for  ‘Boom! The John Madden Story.’ ”

——

Here’s Perry, with some notes “from the John Madden quotebook” . . . “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.” . . . “If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch.” . . . “Winning is a great deodorant.” . . . “Don’t worry about the horse being blind, just load the wagon.”


Terry Frei (@TFrei) pointed this out on Twitter on Tuesday night: “Both of acting (Denver) Nuggets head coach Popeye Jones’ sons, Seth and Caleb, play for the (Chicago) Blackhawks, the Avalanche’s opponent tonight. Popeye consulted Joe Sakic years ago when Seth expressed interest in playing hockey.” . . . The Jones boys both ended up playing with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. . . . Sakic, the former Swift Current Broncos star, is the Avalanche’s general manager. His guys posted a 4-3 OT victory over the host Blackhawks last night. You may want to check out the video of D Cale Makar’s game-winner.


Grant Gilbertson, an 18-year-old forward with the Peninsula Panthers of the junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, died in a two-vehicle collision on Monday. Pete Zubersky, the Panthers’ owner and general manager, told Wolf Depner of the Peninsula News Review that Gilbertson was on his way to practice when the accident occurred at about 6 p.m. . . . This season, Gilbertson had put up 16 goals and 25 assists in 38 games.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

Just a reminder that the WHL trade deadline, which under normal circumstances would fall on Jan. 10, will arrive on Jan. 17 this time around. You have to wonder how much of an influence the presence of COVID-19 will have on what will or won’t happen. . . .

The MJHL’s newest entry, a team that will call Niverville home starting next season, has signed Kelvin Cech as its first general manager and head coach. He is coaching this season at the West Vancouver Hockey Academy and will finish up there before starting in Niverville on April 1. . . . Cech was an assistant coach for three seasons with the UBC Thunderbirds, then spent 2019-20 as the head coach of the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers, and was honoured as the league’s coach of the year. . . . The Niverville franchise is excepted to announce its nickname at some point this month. . . .

The junior A Ontario Junior Hockey League said Tuesday that it is pausing its schedule from Jan. 5 through Jan. 26 due to the Ontario government’s decision to implement “a time-limited modified Phase 2 Reopening.” A number of Ontario arenas have had to close due to restrictions put in place by the provincial government. . . . Tom Annelin of the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal tweeted that “including the SIJHL, which is also based in the province, that’s 50 Jr. A teams, plus 3 U.S. clubs, not being allowed play. This despite an excellent record of negative tests, since the start of the season under very strict guidelines.”


Fir


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.


Divorce

%d bloggers like this: