Kelowna positives no surprise to IHA top doc: We knew this was most likely going to happen . . . AJHL has positives on three teams


If you’re keeping track, you will be aware that the virus had a pretty good day on Thursday.

One MLB Opening Day game was postponed due to positive tests, while the NHL, WHL and AJHL were forced into shutting down teams and/or shuffling schedules, or both.

You could even make a case for the virus having caused some national consternation in Canada where the QMJHL has chosen not to free up any of its players to play for the U18 team at the IIHF world tournament in Texas later this month.

But no to worry because, according to a tweet from Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate, Jason Kenney, Alberta’s premier, at a news conference Thursday was “continually saying we will be out of this in ‘a few weeks.’ ”

So there’s that ray of sunshine amid all the gloom. Right?

Oh, did I mention that the numbers in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan are indicative of huge victories for the virus? Yes, the three western provinces could best be described as disaster zones at the moment.


Hockey Canada named its 25-player roster and the coaching staff for the U18 team that will play in the 2021 IIHF World Championship in Frisco and Plano, Texas, from April 26 through May 6.

The Canadian roster includes nine players from WHL teams — G Thomas Milic (Seattle Thunderbirds), G CanadaTyler Brennan (Prince George Cougars), D Nolan Allan of the Prince Albert Raiders, D Olen Zellwegger (Everett Silvertips), F Logan Stankoven (Kamloops Blazers), F Conner Roulette (Seattle Thunderbirds), F Connor Bedard (Regina Pats), F Dylan Guenther (Edmonton Oil Kings) and D Carson Lambos (Winnipeg Ice). Lambos is out with a leg issue and there were reports that he won’t play again this season. So chances are that he won’t be available.

F Cole Sillinger, who played last season with the Medicine Hat Tigers and now is on loan to the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede, also is on the Canadian roster.

With those players having to self-isolate beginning on April 12, they aren’t long for the WHL teams that will have to continue without them in this developmental season. Bedard, for example, will play his final game with Regina on April 9, meaning he will miss the Pats’ last nine games.

While in self-isolation, players and staff will be subjected to three COVID-19 tests before the team heads for Texas on April 17. The team then will go into a four-day quarantine before starting a pre-tournament camp on April 21.

Canada will play Finland in an exhibition game on April 26, before opening the 10-team tournament against Sweden on April 26. Canada will be in Group A with Belarus, Latvia, Sweden and Switzerland. Group B comprises Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Russia and the U.S.

Dave Barr is Canada’s head coach, with Gordie Dwyer and Mike Stothers, a former Moose Jaw Warriors head coach, as the assistants. Barr has extensive coaching experience, most recently as an assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks (2017-19). Dwyer was head coach of the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes last season. Stothers spent five seasons (2015-20) as head coach of the AHL’s Ontario Reign.

The Hockey Canada news release is right here.


The WHL and its teams are playing games without any fans in the arenas and without any playoffs on the horizon, so obviously don’t have an issue with having players leave for the IIHF U18 tournament in Texas. The OHL hasn’t been able to get started, so it wasn’t an issue there either, and it has 13 players on the roster. There are two from the USHL, including Sillinger, and one from the AJHL.

No, there aren’t any players on the Canadian roster from the QMJHL. It is trying to finish a regular season that is nearing its completion and has a plan to hold playoffs, so apparently didn’t want to give up any of its players for an international competition just now.


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The Kamloops Blazers were to have travelled to Kelowna to play the Victoria Royals on Thursday night. However, with the Kelowna Rockets having experienced seven positive tests, four of them to players, the WHL2WHL chose to postpone the game “out of an abundance of caution.”

Instead, the Blazers stayed home and met the Prince George Cougars in a game that originally was scheduled to be played on Sunday.

Despite the positives in Kelowna, Dr. Albert de Villiers, the Interior Health Authority’s chief medical officer, said there aren’t any plans to shut down the WHL’s B.C. Division, which is playing games in Kamloops and Kelowna.

Regan Bartel, the Rockets’ long-time play-by-play voice, tweeted Thursday that de Villiers said: “We were anticipating there might be a few cases because it’s young people and they live in the community and they isolated as best they can.

“We knew this was most likely going to happen and (the WHL) do have things in place to make it safe.”

The Rockets are staying with billets, while the Royals are in a Kelowna hotel. In Kamloops, the Blazers are staying with billets, with the Cougars and Vancouver Giants in a hotel.


Walmart


The Swift Current Broncos scored the game’s last four goals and beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 8-5, in ScurrentRegina on Thursday. . . . F Brad Ginnell (1) gave the Warriors a 5-4 lead on a PP at 18:40 of the second period. . . . The Broncos tied it on D Owen Pickering’s first WHL goal at 19:40, then took the lead at 3:14 of the third on D Mathew Ward’s second goal of the season. . . . F Aiden Bulych (4) and F Michael Farren (7) added insurance. . . . Farren and Bulych also had two assists each. . . . Broncos D Kaleb Bulych, Aiden’s older brother, scored his first goal — Aiden drew the lone assist — and was plus-5. . . . The Broncos (3-7-1) had lost their previous two games. . . . The Warriors (4-6-1) have lost six in a row (0-5-1). . . .

The Brandon Wheat Kings scored four times in the first period, two of them by F Lynden McCallum (9), en Brandonroute to a 7-2 victory over the Pats in Regina. . . . The Wheat Kings (8-2-1) have won five in a row. . . . The Pats (4-5-2) had won their previous two games. . . . Brandon D Braden Schneider (3) gave his guys a 2-0 lead with a shorthanded goal in the first period. Brandon, in 11 games, and the Portland Winterhawks, in six games, lead the WHL with four SH goals apiece. . . . Regina F Connor Bedard ran his point streak to 11 games — his WHL career is 11 games old — with an assist on F Carson Denomie’s 10th goal. . . .

In Kamloops, the Blazers struck four times in the second period and went on to dump the Prince George KamloopsCougars, 6-1. . . . The game had been scheduled for Sunday, but was moved up because of the virus-related difficulties in Kelowna. The Blazers had been scheduled to play the Victoria Royals in Kelowna last night. . . . Kamloops now is 3-0-0; the Cougars are 1-2-0. . . . D Mats Lindgren (1) gave Kamloops a 1-0 lead at 7:38 of the first period, with D Jack Sander (1) equalizing at 17:14. . . . F Matthew Seminoff broke the tie 45 seconds into the second period and it was all Kamloops after that. . . . Seminoff added a second goal, his fourth, and F Caedan Bankier added a goal and two helpers for the winners. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 25 shots for Kamloops. . . . The Blazers were without F Logan Stankoven with an undisclosed injury, while F Dylan Sydor, 17, made his WHL debut and picked up an assist. He is the son of Darryl Sydor, a former Blazers and NHL defenceman who owns a piece of the Blazers.


F Adam Gaudette of the Vancouver Canucks tested positive on Tuesday and a Wednesday night game against the visiting Calgary Flames was postponed 90 minutes before the puck was to be dropped because of another positive and a coach going into COVID-19 protocol. . . . On Thursday, Vancouver D Travis Hamonic, who opted out of the last NHL season for family reasons, was added to the protocol list and the NHL postponed the team’s next three games — on Saturday in Edmonton against the Oilers and in Winnipeg against the Jets on Sunday and Tuesday. . . . The Canucks next are scheduled to play on April 8 in Calgary. . . . Patrick Johnston of Postmedia spoke with Gaudette’s wife, Micaela, and has a rather interesting story right here.


The AJHL has three teams from the same cohort each with at least one positive test. . . . The Drayton Valley ajhlThunder, Grande Prairie Storm and Whitecourt Wolverines were playing on one cohort. Earlier Thursday, the league announced that the Thunder had a positive test. Later in the day, the league revealed that “positive COVID19 results” also have been identified with the Storm and Wolverines. . . . All three organizations have been shut down for at least 14 days. That includes the cancellation of games involving those teams through Sunday, which is when the schedule involving the three-team cohort is to end. . . .

At the same time, the AJHL has cancelled two weekend games involving the Okotoks Oilers “to allow for the analysis of a COVID-19 test” as per its return-to-play protocol. The Oilers were to have played the visiting Calgary Canucks tonight (Friday) and the host Brooks Bandits on Sunday.


Chips


The Washington Nationals were to have played host to the New York Mets in one of Opening Day’s most-anticipated games — the starters were Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom — but it didn’t happen “because of contact tracing within the Nationals organization.” . . . MLB decided that out of an abundance of caution the teams won’t play a makeup game on Friday. . . . At the time of the announcement, the Nationals had one player having tested positive and four others quarantined as close contacts. Later, GM Mike Rizzo said that two other players had were positive and another was “likely positive.” . . . Rizzo also said that he has no idea when the Nationals might play their first game.

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The San Francisco Giants will be allowed to have about 8,900 fans for games in Oracle Park, at least to start the MLB season. In order to attend, a fan is going to have to have had a negative test or proof of vaccination. Their home opener is scheduled for April 9. . . . Larry Baer, the Giants’ CEO, told the San Francisco Chronicle: “This is all about April right now. We understand the inconveniences here, but we’ve also heard from our fans that they want to the safest experience possible.” . . . In the meantime, the Oakland A’s, who like the Giants play in California, had 10,436 fans at their home opener last night. The A’s don’t have any requirements attached to attendance. . . .

And this brings us to the Texas Rangers, who could have as many as 43,000 fans in the stands on Monday when they play their home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays. That, U.S. President Joe Biden told ESPN, is “not responsible.” . . . He added: “I think it’s a mistake. They should listen to Dr. Fauci and the scientists and the experts. But I think it’s not responsible.”


——

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.


Computers

Scattershooting on a Saturday night while wondering if that was the longest intermission in history . . .

Scattershooting2

While the sun was shining in Lake Tahoe and forcing the longest first intermission in NHL history on Saturday afternoon, the U of Saskatchewan’s athletic department was dropping a bombshell.

It wasn’t long after Darren Dreger of TSN tweeted that Mike Babcock’s hiring as the U of Saskatchewan’s men’s hockey coach would be announced “next week” when the school made it official.

Dave Hardy, the Huskies’ chief athletics officer, said in a news release that the 57-year-old Babock, who is from Saskatoon, “will lead the Huskies on a full-time volunteer basis for the next two seasons.”

Dreger later tweeted that Babcock “will coach one season, but is heavily involved in hiring an assistant coach to work with him next season before taking over the program the following year.”

Earlier in the week, Hardy told Darren Zary of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix that he had heard from “less than 100 and more than 50” people interested in the vacancy. Hardy said that he hoped to hire someone before April 1.

“It’s a real challenge for our search committee to narrow that down but we’ll do that sort of collaboratively over the next three or four weeks,” Hardy told Zary. “We’ll have a very qualified coach by March 31.”

Babcock, who is to move into his new position in May, takes over from Dave Adolph, the team’s 27-year head coach who announced his retirement on Dec. 7 and will leave on May 1.

Babcock, a defenceman, played one season (1981-82) with the Huskies and one with the WHL’s Kelowna Wings before spending three seasons at McGill U in Montreal. He later coached at Red Deer College (1988-91) and with the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns (1993-94), winning a national title there. He also coached in the WHL for eight seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors (1991-93) and Spokane Chiefs (1994-2000). . . . As an NHL coach, he won a Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings (2007-08) and two Olympic gold medals with Team Canada (2010, 2014).

This season, he has been helping out as a volunteer senior advisor with the U of Vermont Catamounts, and he recently began working with NBC Sports as an NHL analyst.

Babcock was fired as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 20, 2019. He was in his fifth season there. When he was dumped, what was an eight-year, US$50-million contract had almost three years left on it. At the time, Pierre LeBrun of TSN reported that Babcock’s contract with Toronto “had a $3M signing bonus then $5.875M salary every year evenly through 2022-23.”

There since have been allegations that he verbally abused players, in particular Mitch Marner with the Maple Leafs and Johan Franzen in Detroit.



The 15-team AJHL, which hasn’t played since Nov. 21, announced Friday that it ajhlhas received government approval to resume its season. Specific dates apparently haven’t yet been set, but the league said training camps are to open “at the start of March” with games to begin at some point after that. If all goes well, games will be played on weekends through the end of May. . . . The news release didn’t mention a format but there have been reports that teams play be placed in three-game cohorts and play 24 games. . . . The league says that “players, coaches and support staff are currently self-isolating in preparation” for training camps. Players will be free to move on to camps after two negative tests. After that, a positive test will sideline a team for at least 14 days. . . . At this point, there won’t be any fans allowed to attend games. . . . The last line of the AJHL news release reads: “An update league schedule and a list of participating teams will be announced shortly.” By Saturday afternoon there was speculation that as many as three teams may opt out  of the resumption of play. . . . Before suspending play in November, the AJHL had experienced positive tests on at least five teams — the Canmore Eagles, Calgary Canucks, Drumheller Dragons, Olds Grizzlies and Whitecourt Wolverines.


The day before the AJHL announced that it was going to get in some games in PGKingsthe next while, the BCHL revealed that “multiple members” of the Prince George Spruce Kings have tested positive. . . . “At this point,” the BCHL news release reads, “the affected team members and all close contacts have been placed in a 14-day quarantine and anyone showing symptoms will be tested as soon as possible.” . . . The BCHL closed off with: “For the privacy of the people affected, we will have no further comment at this time.” . . . Brendan Pawliw of myprincegeorgenow.com reported that “several members” of the team had tested positive and that “all other billet families, team personnel and staff have been instructed to self-monitor for symptoms and to arrange for a test if symptoms arise.” . . . Pawliw also reported that “general manager Mike Hawes told MyPGNow.com he will not be commenting further on the issue.” . . . The Prince George Citizen reported that “general manager Mike Hawes has been told by the league not to reveal any other information.” . . . You may recall that Andrew Milne, the general manager and head coach of the Canmore Eagles, was hit with a 15-game suspension and fined $1,000 for talking to the media in December after his team was hit by an outbreak.



The Calgary Hitmen have cleared the first hurdle and now are OK to begin on-ice workouts. The Hitmen didn’t get back any positives from 59 tests from Feb. 13 through Friday as they set up shop at the Seven Chiefs Sportsplex on Tsuut’ina National near Calgary. . . .

Meanwhile, Regan Bartel, the radio voice of the Kelowna Rockets, reported that Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, said Friday that the WHL’s 65-page return-to-play proposal “has been received and (is) being reviewed by the provincial health office. We are working on the plan and we will be responding the plan soon.” The plan apparently was received on Feb. 2, although Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said earlier in the week that officials ““haven’t received an updated proposal in the last few weeks.”


Drinks


Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle writes some truth:

“Women’s tennis reached its contemporary pinnacle when Serena Williams met Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open semifinals, and they played it like champions: quietly and with dignity, save those moments of exultation. Somehow, the WTA’s godawful noise machine grinds on with two of the top players, Simona Halep and Garbiñe Muguruza, right at the forefront. Every stroke brings a deafening shriek, as if there’s a gruesome crime in progress. As such, they leave no pleasant memories. They’re just passing through the sport.”


Frigate


The Port Moody Amateur Hockey Association has cancelled all team activities after learning of four positive tests among its membership. . . . According to a statement on the PMAHA website, it became aware of single positives on Feb. 4 and Feb. 9, and two on Feb. 10. . . . It acted on Feb. 10 to pause all activities. Before this, teams were allowed to practice under certain restrictions.



The eight-school Ivy League announced Friday that it won’t be holding any spring sports in 2021. The Ivy League Council of Presidents said the decision had been made “because of ongoing public health concerns related to COVID-19.”



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.


Mars

Paying tribute to ex-Wheat Kings d-man Dietrich . . . WHL planning B.C. bubbles . . . QMJHL has positive test in “protected environment”


NoGuaranteesDon Dietrich, who played three seasons (1978-81) with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He and his wife, Nadine, have three sons, and the family has set up a Facebook page that is titled Don Dietrich — Tribute Page. The page includes this note:

“For those that don’t know, Don has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. We have had so many people reach out to us to share stories of Don and the impact that he has had on their lives. He has thoroughly enjoyed hearing from everyone, so we wanted to give people the opportunity to share some of their own stories and experiences that they have shared with him. Please feel free to share your stories, photos, videos, memories and kind words with us on this page so he can see them all!”

The tributes that are pouring in include this one, from Norm Harris:

“Back in the ’80s the hockey fans in southern Maine had an AHL team, the Maine Mariners. We considered the players royalty.

“Our local high school team wasn’t very good. In 10 years they never had a winning season. It was just a bunch of country kids who grew up on the ponds who could now play in an arena. The winter of 1992-93, Don started to show up to our hockey board meetings as he had decided to settle in the area after his career was winding down. He convinced us to start a learn-to-skate program for the elementary kids so we would have a feeder system.

“The following year we needed a head coach for our high school team. Don stepped up to the plate. The players were so used to coaches who did more yelling and boasting about their own achievements than actually coaching. Don came in and started to teach not only the players but us other coaches from the learn-to-skate program, middle school and the high school assistant. Don would break down why you do certain things that past coaches never brought up.

“Each year that he coached the team’s record improved. Then he got sick and moved back home. The year after he left, the team made the playoffs for the first time and had won three-quarters of its games. It was all a because of Don’s vision.

“He showed us why we treated those pro players as royalty. He knew what it took to get the best not only out of a single player but an organization as well.

“We hold a school alumni game every year. Don graciously came to one a few years back which was a long trip for him. He came down and spent time in the locker room with his old players and worked a few games back on the bench. Before he left he gave back once again to the Bonny Eagle hockey program by donating a few of his books (No Guarantees)

“That year we not only had the most alumni come out to play but we packed the stands with fans as well. Many just to see Don.

“Thank you, sir, for all you have done.”

If you’re on Facebook, take a few minutes and check out this page. You will be blown away by the number of lives that have been touched by Don. If you have a memory or two or even a photo please feel free to post before leaving.


Drumsticks


The GoFundMe page that was set up to benefit the Sopotyk family remains open and has gone past $190,000. Tyrell Sopotyk, who played the past two seasons with the Kamloops Blazers, was injured in a snowboarding accident in January and remains in a Saskatoon hospital. . . . The page was set up by Kathleen Zary, the mother of Blazers F Connor Zary, who has been friends with Sopotyk since childhood. . . . If you haven’t yet contributed to the fund and would like to, the page is right here.


The WHL hasn’t yet released a schedule for games to be played by its five Alberta-based teams starting later this month or early in March. And it appears that it is gearing up to approach health officials in B.C. and Washington state in the hopes of getting the OK to get more teams back on the ice. . . . The B.C. plan is to include bubble-type situations in Kamloops and Kelowna. It will be interesting to see how a plan for games in Kamloops might be welcomed by provincial health officials because the virus has found us in a big way in 2021. . . . There have been 81 cases reported in Royal Inland Hospital, with 51 of those being staff. On top of that, one of the high schools — Sa-Hali secondary — has experienced exposures with at least 12 positives — nine staff and three staff. The school has at least 200 students and 18 staff now in self-isolation. . . . Kamloops This Week has more right here. . . . Marty Hastings of KTW has more on the WHL’s B.C. Division plan right here.

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Meanwhile, in the QMJHL, the Victoriaville Tigers, who have been playing in what the league calls a “protected environment” in Chicoutimi, have had a player test positive. All players and staff will isolate for 14 days and the team has left the protected environment. . . . The league is awaiting more results before releasing an updated schedule.


A report on harassment and bullying in major junior hockey is now in the hands of the president of the Canadian Hockey League (CHL),” report Nicolas Steinbach and Francois Le Blanc of Radio-Canada. “Dan MacKenzie confirmed to Radio-Canada that he had received the document, which has not yet been made public. The independent committee led by former Premier of New Brunswick, Camille Thériault, submitted its report at the end of December.” . . . McKenzie, in an email, told Radio-Canada: “We are in the process of reviewing and determining the next steps. This is an important issue, but we also need to manage the impacts of the pandemic and we are focused on getting our players, CHL staff and community back to safe play. It’s hard to put an exact date, but we’re hopeful that we can answer questions this spring.” . . . Three independent commissioners, including former WHLer Sheldon Kennedy, were appointed to looking into the situation after a class-action lawsuit was filed on June 19. Daniel Carcillo, who played in the OHL, and Taylor Garrett, who played in the WHL, filed the suit. . . . The Radio-Canada story is right here.


Curve

THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: As of 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had reported 786,419 cases of COVID-19 — with 49,562 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 20,215.

CNN, Tuesday, 2 p.m. PT — 26.4 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

CNN, Tuesday, 1:59 p.m. PT — 446,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

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The New Jersey Devils had 14 players on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list on Tuesday — F Jesper Bratt, D Connor Carrick, G Aaron Dell, F Jack Hughes, F Andreas Johnsson, F Janne Kuokkanen, F Michael McLeod, F Kyle Palmieri, D Damon Severson, D Ty Smith, D Matt Tennyson, D Sami Vatanen, G Pavel Zacha and F Travis Zajac. . . . G Mackenzie Blackwood came off the list earlier in the day. . . . The NHL has said that the Devils won’t play again until at least Saturday. . . . The Buffalo Sabres, who played the Devils on Saturday and Sunday, put F Taylor Hall and D Rasmus Ristolainen in the protocol list on Tuesday. The Sabres, who won’t play again until Monday at the earliest, are reported to be unhappy with the NHL, which allowed Sunday’s game to go ahead despite Palmieri having gone on the list after playing in Saturday’s contest.

The Detroit Pistons were back in action on Tuesday, after having a Monday game against the host Denver Nuggets postponed. Last night, the Pistons went into Salt Lake City and played the Utah Jazz. . . . The Monday game was scratched because of contact tracing in the Detroit organization. . . .

Hockey Alberta announced on Tuesday that it has ended its 2020-21 season, meaning its all over for tiered, AAA and AA hockey in that province. However, the association hasn’t given up on having some kind of spring development season should government clearance come at some point. . . .

The Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association has cancelled all provincial basketball championships for this school year.


——

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.


Disk

WHL not playing games, but some players are . . . Two football bowl games gone . . . Hobbs decides to go back home

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, addressed some media folks in a virtual whlgathering on Oct. 15. When the topic of WHL players moving to junior A during the shutdown arose, Trevor Redden of panow.com reported via Twitter that Robison said that if they were affiliated last (season), they’re eligible to play now, and that general managers were to discuss the subject this week.

That meeting apparently took place at some point this week, because the WHL issued a statement late Friday afternoon, stating that it “has granted temporary transfers for WHL roster players to continue their development by playing competitive hockey at the junior A, junior B and under-18 levels . . . through mid-December.”

That something had happened became apparent on Thursday night when the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers announced that they had signed Everett D Gianni Fairbrother, 20.

Then, on Friday morning, the Estevan Bruins revealed there was an agreement between the SJHL and WHL that will allow major junior players to play in the junior A league until Dec. 20. The Bruins did that as they announced the signing of F Cole Fonstad of the Everett Silvertips. Fonstad, 20, is from Estevan.

Everett also has loaned D Dylan Anderson, 18, to the BCHL’s Cowichan Capitals, F Jackson Berezowski, 18, to the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers, and F Ethan Regnier, 20, to the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs.

A news release from the Silvertips indicated that players are allowed “full participation in . . . practices, workout activities and games, until a loan expiration of Dec. 20. . . .”

The WHL has said it will start its next regular season on Jan. 8, with players reporting to teams shortly after Christmas.

According to Ryan Flaherty of Global Saskatoon, Blades D Rhett Rhinehart, who turns 19 next month, is with the SJHL’s Flin Flon Bombers. Flaherty added that G Nolan Maier, 19, “will likely play for Yorkton, although that has not been confirmed yet.”

As well, Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reported F Evan Herman, 18, of the Winnipeg Ice has joined the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard, while Connor Roulette, 17, of the Seattle Thunderbirds is with the MJHL’s Selkirk Steelers.

Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate tweeted that Rebels F Jaxsen Wiebe, 18, is to play for the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks.

The Tri-City Americans have loaned F Parker Bell to the junior B Campbell River Storm of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. Bell, 17, is from Campbell River.

Meanwhile, Regan Bartel, the long-time radio voice of the Kelowna Rockets, tweeted that the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors have run out of goaltenders — three of them are injured — so have added veteran goaltenders Roman Basran and Cole Schwebius, both 19, from the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets at least for this weekend.

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Questions . . . yes, there are questions about the WHL’s agreement with junior A and junior B leagues about the loaning of players.

For starters, what happens to the transferred players if a WHL regular season doesn’t get started?

Also, some of these leagues have moved to a pay-for-play model. So who is paying for the WHL players to play in these other leagues?

Braden Malsbury, the radio voice of the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves via MBC Radio, also has some thoughts in the following tweets:



Grandma


Hartley Miller, the GOAT at 94.3 The GOAT and the analyst on broadcasts of Prince George Cougars home games, offered up this today:

“Leagues like the BCHL and WHL insist they will play a season even if fans are not allowed to their games.
“The financial commitment from those owners should be applauded, but the question remains how safe is it to play?

“There does not appear to be a clear answer but regardless of whether it is a top-notch junior player or one competing at the rec level, the athlete needs to fully understand there is a health risk, even though we remain in the dark how much risk that is.”

That is from his latest Hartley’s Hart Attack, headlined ‘The risk of competition.’ . . . It’s all right here. . . . And if you aren’t a daily reader, you should be.


Nessman


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Among the many thousands who just don’t get the mask thing, there appear to be three options: (1) Wear it under the nose. Perfected by Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth on Sunday Night Football. Gives those droplets a fighting chance. (2) Down around the chin. Extremely fashionable. Shows you might have cared at daybreak. (3) None at all. Because, you know, what the hell, it’s a hassle.” . . .

The Founders League, which comprises 11 prep schools, announced Friday that it has cancelled all interscholastic competition for the 2020-21 season. It includes 10 Connecticut schools and one from eastern New York. . . .

The KHL has postponed Jokerit’s next two games, which were scheduled for Monday and Wednesday, after four positive tests within the organization. Jokerit underwent testing after returning from its latest road trip. . . . Jokerit also had games postponed early in September because of positive tests. . . .

Two of U.S. college football’s bowl games are gone, at least for 2020. The Holiday Bowl was to have been held in San Diego, while the Fenway Bowl, which was to have been played for the first time, was scheduled for, yes, Fenway Park in Boston. . . .

Scotty Walden, the interim head coach at Southern Miss, tested positive earlier this week. He has been the head coach since Jay Hopson left after the season’s first game. . . . The Golden Eagles, who haven’t played since Oct. 3, are scheduled to play Liberty today (Saturday). Their game on Oct. 17 against UTEP wasn’t played because they were going through an outbreak. . . .

The U of Toledo has put its men’s basketball team on hold for two weeks because six players and head coach Tod Kowalczyk tested positive. . . . Marquette’s men’s and women’s basketball teams also have been shut down for two weeks after each experienced one positive test.


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

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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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.



JUST NOTES: Some European teams are using the four-team Karjala Cup as a tuneup for the 2021 World Junior Championship that opens in an Edmonton bubble on Dec. 25. Former NHLer Igor Larionov is coaching the Russian team, with Valeri Bragin, normally the team’s head coach, having recently recovered from COVID-19. Also in the Karjala Cup are teams from Czech Republic and Sweden. The tournament, in Helsinki, runs from Nov. 5-8. . . . Former WHL D Connor Hobbs (Medicine Hat, Regina, 2013-17) has retired from pro hockey after playing three seasons with the AHL’s Hershey Bears. Hobbs is back at home in Saskatoon and taking online courses as the U of Saskatchewan. Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has that story right here.


Leg

Scattershooting on a Monday night while wondering how long they’ll be the Houston Asterisks . . .

Scattershooting

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Columnist Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post, on the cheating mess in MLB:

“This scandal is a perfect illustration of why cheating in professional sports is so bad. It ruins everything. There is no way to fix the damage. And that scar across a sport’s visage is permanent, as with the World Series 101 years ago that is still known by just two words: Black Sox.

“That is why it is so important to make every effort to catch cheaters and crush those who get caught with penalties that get the attention of the next person who is tempted to do the same. We never seem to understand the true weight of the phrase ‘integrity of the game’ until some team or player tries to rip it to shreds to win.”

Boswell’s complete column is right here.

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The person who came up with the idea to feature Cam Hope, the president and general manager of the WHL’s Victoria Royals, in a video as he put together a deal with the Moose Jaw Warriors that brought sniper Brayden Tracey to Vancouver Island deserves a raise in pay. . . . If you haven’t seen the video, it’s about six minutes in length and it’s right here. . . . The script writer got a perfect ending, too, as Tracey scored the OT winner in his first game with the Royals. . . . BTW, I have all kinds of time for Hope, who has never shied away from answering any question that I may have asked him.


Psst! Did you hear about the hockey game that wasn’t able to start on time because one of the referees forgot his pants? No, it wasn’t in the WHL. . . . It was a National Ice Hockey League game in the United Kingdom between the Peterborough Phantoms and Telford Tigers. . . . Officials are required to wear black pants with some padding, and referee Richard Belfitt didn’t have his with him. He ended up finding a pair in the arena’s lost-and-found bin and the game started after a 15-minute delay. . . . That story is right here.



Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, noted the other day that there was only one winless NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball team at that point of the season — Mississippi Valley State at 0-13. . . . “Twelve of those 13 losses were road games for the Delta Devils,” he wrote. “The NCAA loves to refer to its ‘student-athletes’. Surely those 12 road games enhanced significantly the ‘student’ portion of college life for those ‘student-athletes’. . . . The Delta Devils have since split two games, both on the road, and now are 1-14. Last night, they beat the host Alabama A&M Bulldogs, 72-66. The Bulldogs are 5-10.

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After the Miami Dolphins fired offensive co-ordinator Chad O’Shea, Finarelli confessed: “I could not pick him out of a lineup with the WNBA all-star team.”



Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times reports: “It now has been revealed that New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes broke an ankle at his Florida ranch last season when he stepped in a hole while trying to elude a wild pig. Or as Mets publicists immediately tried to spin it, he’s been out because of a bad hammy.”

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One more from Perry: “According to a study conducted by four universities in Ireland, the average doctor visit there lasts 14.1 minutes. Or roughly the same as an NFL video replay review.”



While the Battle of Alberta was showing life in Calgary on Saturday night, thanks to the Kamloops1Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk and Zack Kassian of the Edmonton Oilers, the Battle of the Okanagan blew up in Kelowna as the Rockets and the Kamloops Blazers brawled their way to the conclusion of what was a 7-2 victory by the visitors, who had won 4-1 at home on Friday. . . . Saturday’s game included battling goaltenders as Kelowna’s Roman Basran and Dylan Garand of the Blazers gave fight fans across the Internet an orgasmic moment.

“The league’s got to take a hard look at how their refs are letting it get out of control,” Kelowna head coach Adam Foote told David Trifunov of the Kelowna Daily Courier. “I talked to a league official before the game. I said, ‘They’ve let three hitting from behinds go, and they let 23 (Kamloops F Jeremy Appelt) board a guy.’ They call the right call there to control the game . . . Our guys, I never promote that stuff, but I think they just got fed up.”

The Rockets were upset about a hit by Appelt on F Liam Kindree at 12:49 of the second period.

Trifunov added: “The coach said he thought that precipitated much of the shenanigans at KelownaRocketsthe end of the game. But he also said after Kelowna’s Pavel Novak was suspended eight games for a check-from-behind on the Blazers’ Kyrell Sopotyk on Nov. 11, the Rockets have watched numerous similar calls go nearly unpunished.”

There are a few other WHL teams, like maybe 21 of them, who will be slapping foreheads and chuckling from behind hands over a Rockets coach complaining about the officiating. After all, everyone knows that the Rockets get all the officiating breaks because their owner, governor, president and general manager, Bruce Hamilton, rules the roost.

Right?

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When Basran and Garand tumbled to the ice as their scrap neared its end, the Kelowna goaltender said something to his Kamloops counterpart and the two quickly separated and got to their feet. Basran, though, was favouring his right arm/shoulder as he skated away. . . . Basran is the Rockets’ No. 1 goaltender, having played in 33 games (1,816 minutes) to Cole Schwebius’s 13 (652 minutes). . . . If Basran is injured, remember that the fight took place slightly more than 24 hours after the passing of the WHL’s trade deadline. And remember that the Rockets are the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup that is four months down the road.

——

BTW . . . In the end, the goofiness resulted in one suspension — Kelowna D Kaedan Korczak got three games — and fines totalling $4,500, with the Rockets dinged for $3,000 of that. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia pointed out via Twitter that there were “18 fighting majors in the Kamloops-Kelowna game on Saturday night. That’s more fighting majors than all but five teams have incurred this season in the WHL.” . . . Kamloops has won seven of eight meetings with Kelowna this season, having outscored the Rockets 33-14 in the process. They will conclude the season series on March 13 (at Kamloops) and 14 (at Kelowna).

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Meanwhile, in Calgary, there seemed to be a whole lot of consternation from various NHLcorners because Tkachuk refused to fight Kassian when challenged in the third period of what was then a 3-3 game. Those who are up in arms seem to be forgetting one thing — Why do you play the game? As then-New York Jets head coach Herm Edwards so famously explained more than 17 years ago: “You play to win the game.” . . . Well, Kassian ended up in the penalty box and the Flames, with Tkachuk screening in front of the Edmonton net, scored on the power play as they went on to a 4-3 victory. . . . On Monday, Kassian was hit with a two-game suspension. . . . Gotta think Tkachuk won the night. . . . With the all-star break approaching, Kassian will be eligible to return on Jan. 29 when — you guessed it! — the Flames are scheduled to play in Edmonton.

Paul Stewart, a former NHL referee who was a tough cookie as a WHL/NHL player, has his take on Tkachuk vs. Kassian right here.


The AJHL’s Olds Grizzlys announced on Monday that Joe Murphy, their general manager and head coach, had resigned, effective immediately. . . . Pete deGraaf was named interim head coach. . . . The Grizzlys are 9-17-5 and in sixth place in the seven-team South Division. . . . Murphy, a former Olds player, was in his second season as head coach, his first as GM. . . . DeGraaf is in his third season with Olds.



JUST NOTES: Why do I get the feeling that Houston’s American League time will be known as the Asterisks for the next while? . . . And it would seem that the Boston Red Sox and manager Alex Cora are next up at MLB’s Cheaters’ Waltz. . . . When MLB lowers the boom on the Red Sox, the New York tabloids — the Post and Daily News — should be worth a look. . . . Are the drivers who don’t clean the snow off their vehicles — especially the windows — before leaving home/work the same people who don’t use their turn-signals? . . . All things considered, Boston play-by-play fan Jack Edwards was rather restrained as Bruins F Brad Marchand muffed that shootout attempt last night. Could it be that Edwards simply was in a state of shock? . . . Why do journalists continue to write/report that a team or person has “punched their ticket” to an event? For example, The Canadian men’s volleyball team didn’t punch a ticket to anywhere on Sunday; rather, it qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Summer Games.

Hamilton: No plans “right now” to sell Rockets. . . . Hitmen take out Hurricanes. . . . Calgary, Edmonton to open on Saturday


MacBeth

F Peter Lorentzen (Tri-City, 2001-03) has retired. This season, with the Stavanger Oilers (Norway, GET-Ligaen), he had two goals and seven assists in 31 games. He announced on Feb. 27 that he would retire at the end of this season. . . . Stavanger lost Game 6 of a best-of-seven semifinal to Storhamar, 3-1, on Monday night. . . .

F Jaroslav Vlach (Prince George, 2009-11) has signed a three-year plus option year extension with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, with Liberec, he had seven goals and seven assists in 43 games. He also had four goals and five assists in six games while on loan to Benátky nad Jizerou (Czech Republic, 1. Liga).


ThisThat

The rumours have been strong enough that Bruce Hamilton felt a need to issue a public denial.

Hamilton is the majority owner, president and general manager of the WHL’s Kelowna KelownaRocketsRockets, the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup.

For the last while there have been rumours circulating throughout the hockey community that the Rockets either are for sale, or that Hamilton will guide the organization through the 2020 Memorial Cup and then sell the franchise.

On Tuesday, he told Regan Bartel, the team’s radio voice, that the Rockets aren’t for sale.

“To purchase this thing (franchise) won’t be a small operation, put it that way. It will have to be something big,” Hamilton said. “Someday it will happen, but I have no plans right now to do that. I am enjoying what I am doing. . . .

“It would be news to me if it was sold. I have the most shares, so I don’t think it is going to be sold under my watch right now anyway. I think it is too bad that there is a group of people, I will call ‘agents,’ that phone around and ask questions and then spread rumours which is unfortunate.”

Hamilton, who also is the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, made the point that he still is enjoying his hockey life.

“If my passion wasn’t here, we wouldn’t have bid for the Memorial Cup,” Hamilton said.


If you were following along on Monday night, you will be aware that the WHL playoff game between the visiting Victoria Royals and the Kamloops Blazers was delayed twice Kamloops1due to broken panes of glass.

That glass was due to be replaced anyway, and it all will be gone before another season gets here.

A couple of years ago, the WHL established new standards for boards and glass, and Kamloops’ city council has agreed to fund the necessary changes. Hockey Canada also has been pushing for improvements.

Following Monday’s game, Jeff Putnam, Kamloops’ parks and civic facilities manager, tweeted: “And before next season there will be a brand new board and glass system that is equivalent to NHL standards as well as other facility improvements. The new glass will be ‘acrylic’ which is almost impossible to shatter and much easier to handle for our crew.”

It is believed that the replacement cost will be around $1 million.


The Tri-City Americans have signed G Mason Dunsford to a WHL contract. Dunsford, a 15-year-old from New Westminster, B.C., was a sixth-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . He played this season with the Elite 15 team at the Burnaby Winter Club, and helped his club with the CSSHL championship. . . . He was 2.60, .911 in 23 regular-season games, then went 2.25, .931 in four playoff appearances.


The ECHL’s Fort Wayne Comets have added G Jiri Patera of the Brandon Wheat Kings and D Dalton Hamaliuk of the Moose Jaw Warriors to their roster. . . . Patera, who turned 20 on Feb. 24, was a sixth-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL’s 2017 draft. This season, Patera, who is from Praha, Czech Republic, was 22-20-2, 3.31, .906 with the Wheat Kings. . . . Hamaliuk played out his junior eligibility with Moose Jaw, putting of four goals and 19 assists in 66 games this season.


F Noah Philp of the Seattle Thunderbirds has joined the AHL’s Stockton Heat on an ATO. Philp, who doesn’t have any junior eligibility remaining, had 26 goals and 49 assists in 56 games with Seattle this season.


D Dylan MacPherson of the Medicine Hat Tigers has signed an ATO with the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds. MacPherson, who played out his junior eligibility this season, spent three seasons with the Tigers. This season, he had two goals and 10 assists in 62 games.


In the QMJHL, the Halifax Mooseheads, the host team for the 2019 Memorial Cup qmjhltournament, beat the visiting Quebec Remparts, 3-1, on Tuesday night in Game 7 of a first-round series. . . . The Remparts went into Game 6 in Halifax on Monday with a 3-2 lead in the series. The Mooseheads tied the series with a 6-1 victory. . . . The Mooseheads (49-15-4) had finished first in the Eastern Conference; the Remparts (27-28-13) were eighth. . . . Next up for the Mooseheads will be the Moncton Wildcats, who beat the Baie-Comeau Drakkars, 3-2, in Game 7 last night.


A former WHL linesman worked his final NHL game on Tuesday night . . .


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The only first-round WHL playoff series to go to Game 7 was decided Tuesday night in Lethbridge’s Nicholas Sheran Arena as the Calgary Hitmen beat the Hurricanes, 4-2. . . . The Hitmen will meet the Edmonton Oil Kings in the second round. That series will open with games in Edmonton on Saturday and Sunday. . . . The Oil Kings (42-18-8) finished atop the Central Division; the Hitmen (36-26-6) were third. . . . Edmonton was 7-0-1 in the season series; Calgary was 1-6-1. . . . They have met four times since the trade deadline, with Edmonton winning all four — 3-2, 5-1, 6-1 and 3-1. . . . Among the story lines: Steve Hamilton, in his first season as Calgary’s head coach, spent the previous eight seasons with the Oil Kings, the last four as head coach. . . .

There aren’t any WHL playoff games scheduled until Friday night when two series are to open. . . . The Saskatoon Blades will face the Raiders in Prince Albert, while the Victoria Royals and Vancouver Giants will open in Langley, B.C. . . . The other second-round series will open Saturday night with the Spokane Chiefs visiting the Everett Silvertips. . . .

Steve Ewen of Postmedia — that’s him hard at work in the above tweet — filed a neat story about the Vancouver Giants on Tuesday. It involves head coach Michael Dyck and associate coach Jamie Heward and how they helped unload the team bus in Kent, Wash., the other night, a move that allowed their players to get a bit more rest. . . . That story is right here. . . . Ewen also reported that Giants F Justin Sourdif was in a regular sweater for Tuesday’s practice. Sourdif missed the last five games of the Giants’ six-game first-round victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Vancouver will open the second round in Langley, B.C., against the Victoria Royals on Friday night. . . .

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TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The visiting Calgary Hitmen scored three first-period goals, two of them by F Carson CalgaryFocht, en route to a 4-2 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Calgary won the series, 4-3. It was the only one of the eight first-round series to go the distance. . . . The Hitmen will move on to play the Edmonton Oil Kings in the second round. That series is to open in Edmonton on Saturday. . . . Focht (3) got the Hitmen on the scoreboard, on a PP, at 3:30. . . . F Riley Fiddler-Schultz (1) made it 2-0 at 15:23. . . . Focht (4) upped it to 3-0 at 16:19. . . . The Hurricanes cut into the deficit at 2:49 of the second period as F Zachary Cox (2) scored, then got to within a goal at 12:52 on a goal from D Alex Cotton (1). . . . Calgary wasn’t able to put it away until F Mark Kastelic (5) scored an empty-netter at 19:41 of the third period. . . . Calgary was 1-4 on the PP; Lethbridge was 0-2. . . . G Jack McNaughton stopped 25 shots for the Hitmen, two more than Lethbridge’s Carl Tetachuk. . . . Lethbridge F Logan Barlage was given a slashing major and game misconduct after he hacked Focht off a game-ending faceoff. Should Barlage be suspended, he will serve it at the beginning of the 2019-20 regular season. . . .

The Hurricanes won the first two games of the series — 3-2 and 4-1 (OT) — in the Enmax Centre, before announced crowds of 3,566 and 3,788. . . . With the world men’s curling championship then taking over that arena, the Hurricanes were forced to move to the Nicholas Sheran Arena, the home of the U of Lethbridge Pronghorn women’s and men’s hockey teams. The Hitmen won Game 5 there, 6-5, before 1,200 fans, and clinched the series last night in front of 1,151 fans.


Tweetoftheday

Ticket prices set for 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . Pitter, patter: Bartel back for three more seasons. . . . Oil Kings, Giants have 3-2 leads


ThisThat

The host committee for the 2020 Memorial Cup in Kelowna held a news conference on Friday at which it unveiled the tournament’s logo and ticket prices.

The tournament is scheduled to run from May 22 through May 31, with a maximum of KelMemCupnine games including a possible tiebreaker on May 28.

For now, ticket packages are available to Kelowna Rockets’ season-ticket holders who are renewing for the 2019-20 season, and for fans wanting to become season-ticket holders. One adult season-ticket will set you back $591.50 plus taxes and fees.

So . . . what are Memorial Cup ticket prices in Kelowna’s 6,886-seat Prospera Place, you ask?

From a news release:

“2020 Memorial Cup ticket packages are $567 plus applicable taxes and fees to attend all six round-robin games, possible tiebreaker game, semi-final and final game.”

The 2019 Memorial Cup tournament is scheduled to be held in the 11,093-seat Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, from May 17 through May 26.

The QMJHL’s Mooseheads offered lower-bowl ticket packages to their “full season-ticket members and 15-game pack holders” for $320 plus taxes, with higher seats at $270, plus taxes. Ticket packages for the general public are going for $350 and $450, plus taxes.

The news release from the Kelowna host committee is right here.

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The Kelowna Rockets, the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup, didn’t qualify for the KelownaRocketsWHL playoffs this season, finishing fourth in the B.C. Division after losing a tiebreaker, 5-1, to the Blazers in Kamloops.

Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager, had a message for fans during Friday’s Memorial Cup-related news conference in Kelowna.

“Before we close the door on this season,” Hamilton said, “I want our fans to know that I understand and share in their disappointment of this (season’s) final results. The next couple months are going to be very busy for myself and our scouting staff, but we are excited about the challenge that lies ahead of us to add some new players to our roster.”

Hamilton went on to say: “When I look at our hockey club, I feel we need to add probably four players, and we’re into that already. I’m confident that we’ll get the players we need to make us even more competitive.”

The Rockets hold the fifth-overall selection in the 2019 bantam draft that is scheduled to be held in Red Deer on May 2. It is expected that Hamilton will trade that pick and more in order to get an impact 18- or 19-year-old top-end defenceman or scorer.

——

Pitter, patter . . . let’s get at ’er . . .

Also on Friday, the Kelowna Rockets and radio station AM 1150 announced a broadcast agreement that will run through the 2021-22 WHL season.

The contract includes the return of Regan Bartel as the Rockets’ radio voice.

Bartel will be in his 20th season as the voice of the Rockets in 2019-20. It also will be his 25th season of calling WHL games, as he worked Swift Current Broncos’ games before moving to Kelowna.


If you were watching the Canada-Russia game from Kamloops on Nov. 5, you may MooseJawWarriorsremember seeing F Justin Almeida of the Moose Jaw Warriors leave after his first shift. It turns out that he suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder, something that would plague through the remainder of the season. . . . Almeida, 19, chose not to undergo surgery, which likely would have ended his season, and went on to lead the WHL in assists (78) and finish third in the scoring race, with 111 points. . . . He also signed an NHL contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins. . . . Marc Smith of discovermoosejaw.com has Almeida’s remarkable story right here.


D Josh Brook of the Moose Jaw Warriors has joined the AHL’s Laval Rocket and could make his pro debut today against the host Toronto Marlies. . . . Brook’s Warriors were eliminated from the WHL playoffs this week by the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Brook had 16 goals and 59 assists in 59 games with the Warriors this season. . . . Brook, who will turn 20 on June 17, was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the second round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. He has signed with the Canadiens. . . .

Meanwhile, two forwards from the Red Deer Rebels, who lost out to the Prince Albert Raiders, will be joining the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. . . . Brandon Hagel, who signed a free-agent deal with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, completed his junior eligibility this season by scoring 41 goals and adding 61 assists in 66 games. . . . F Reese Johnson, who also played out his eligibility this season, had 27 goals and 26 assists in 67 games with the Rebels. He also has signed a free-agent deal with the Blackhawks.


Cam Keith has joined the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles as associate general manager and head coach. He spent this season with the Chilliwack Chiefs, as their associate GM and associate head coach. . . . Before that, he spent two seasons (2016-18) as GM/head coach of the Trail Smoke Eaters.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: There were two games on Friday night. . . . The Edmonton Oil Kings won at home, beating the Medicine Hat Tigers, 5-4, to take a 3-2 lead in the series. The Oil Kings get their first opportunity to clinch on Sunday in Medicine Hat. . . . In Langley, B.C., the Vancouver Giants beat the Seattle Thunderbirds, 3-2, and now lead that series, 3-2. Game 6 is set for Kent, Wash., tonight. . . .

There are four other games scheduled for tonight. . . . The Calgary Hitmen and Lethbridge Hurricanes are tied, 2-2, as they go into Game 5. They’ll play in the Nicholas Sheran Arena because the world men’s curling championship is being played in the Enmax Centre. . . . In Spokane, the Chiefs hold a 3-1 lead over the Portland Winterhawks, who may — or may not — have F Cody Glass in their lineup for the first time in the series. . . . The Everett Silvertips, with a 3-1 lead, will entertain the Tri-City Americans. . . . In Victoria, perhaps the most bitterly contested of the first-round series will resume with the Royals and Kamloops Blazers tied, 2-2.

——

FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Edmonton Oil Kings scored four times on 18 first-period shots en route to a 5-4 EdmontonOilKingsvictory over the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . The Oil Kings lead the series, 3-2, with Game 6 in Medicine Hat on Sunday. . . . F Andrei Pavlenko (1) got Edmonton started just 16 seconds into the game. . . . D Linus Nassen (3) tied it for the Tigers, on a PP, only 23 seconds later. . . . F Andrew Fyten (2) gave the Oil Kings a 2-1 lead at 5:08. . . . The home team went up 3-1 at 7:57 when F Trey Fix-Wolansky (1) scored, then made it 4-1 at 18:49 on a goal by F Scott Atkinson (1). . . . F Ryan Chyzowski (2) scored for the Tigers 41 seconds into the second period, but Fix-Wolansky (2) got that one back at 12:31. . . . At that point, Edmonton held a 5-2 lead. . . . F James Hamblin (3) pulled the Tigers to within two goals at 8:12 of the third period, and Chyzowski (3) made it 5-4 at 11:22. . . . But that was as close as the Tigers would get. . . . The Oil Kings got 27 saves from G Dylan Myskiw. . . . G Mads Søgaard stopped 34 shots for the Tigers. . . . Medicine Hat was 1-5 on the PP; Edmonton was 0-4. . . . F Josh Williams was scratched by the Oil Kings, meaning that F Dylan Guenther, the first-overall pick in the 2018 bantam draft, was in the lineup for a second game. . . . If it comes down to Game 7, it would be played in Edmonton on Tuesday night.


D Dallas Hines broke a 2-2 tie early in the third period and the Vancouver Giants went on Vancouverto a 3-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds in Langley, B.C. . . . The Giants lead the series, 3-2, with Game 6 scheduled for tonight in Kent, Wash. . . . Last night, Vancouver opened up a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from D Dylan Plouffe (4), at 7:06, and F Jadon Joseph (4), on a PP, at 12:58. . . . Seattle F Matthew Wedman (3) cut the deficit to one, on a PP, at 14:14, and F Noah Philp (2) tied it, on another PP, at 3:57 of the second period. . . . Hines, a mid-season acquisition from the Kootenay Ice, scored his second goal of the series at 4:43 of the third period, and it stood up as the winner. D Bowen Byram took the puck to the net on the right side. Hines skated in from the left point and got there in time to bang in the rebound of Byram’s shot. . . . Seattle was 2-5 on the PP; Vancouver was 1-4. . . . Vancouver G Trent Miner stopped 25 shots, five fewer than Seattle’s Roddy Ross. . . . Seattle F Nolan Volcan played in his 54th playoff game to set a franchise record. He had shared the record with F Scott Eansor (2013-17). . . . The Thunderbirds were without D Cade McNelly, who completed a two-game suspension, and F Sean Richards, who is under indefinite suspension. . . . F Aidan Barfoot and F Justin Sourdif were among the Giants’ scratches. Sourdif was injured in Game 1, while Barfoot was hut in Game 4 on a hit from behind by Richards. . . . If these teams need a Game 7 to settle things, it would be played in Langley on Tuesday night.


Tweetoftheday

The mayors of Moose Jaw and Saskatoon made a small wager on the outcome of the first-round series between the Warriors and Blades. This is the end result:

Royals and Rebels make deal . . . Broncos now have brother act . . . Turbulent times for BCHL’s Warriors


MacBeth

F Dalibor Bortňák (Kamloops, 2008-11) signed a one-year contract with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, he had seven goals and seven assists in 31 games with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga). He was an alternate captain. . . .

F Jozef Balej (Portland, 1999-2002) signed a one-year contract with Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, with Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, Erste Bank Liga), he had nine goals and eight assists in 30 games.


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The Victoria Royals have acquired F Brandon Cutler, 18, and a second-round selection in VictoriaRoyalsthe WHL’s 2019 bantam draft from the Red Deer Rebels for F Dallon Melin, 16, and a fifth-rounder in 2019. . . . Cutler, from Spruce Grove, Alta., was a ninth-round pick by the Rebels in the 2015 bantam draft. Last season, he had six goals and five assists in 68 games with the Rebels. As a freshman, in 2016-17, he had a goal and two assists in 38 games. . . . Melin, from Camrose, Alta., has yet to sign a WHL contract. . . . He had six goals and 14 assists in 27 games with the midget AAA Sherwood Park Kings last season. He also had one assists in three games with the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. . . . Victoria selected Melin in the second round of the 2017 bantam draft.


The Swift Current Broncos have acquired D Sam Pouliot, 18, from the Red Deer Rebels SCBroncosfor a conditional 10th-round selection in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft. . . . Pouliot had one goal in 16 games with the Rebels last season. He also got into 16 games with the BCHL’s Powell River Kings, drawing three assists. In 2016-17, he had a goal and 12 assists in 36 games with the major midget Vancouver Northwest Giants. . . . Pouliot joins his brother, Ryan, 20, on the Broncos’ roster. Ryan, a 20-year-old defenceman, played the previous two-plus seasons with the Kootenay Ice. The Broncos claimed him on waivers during the summer.



Steve Konowalchuk, who coached the Seattle Thunderbirds to the WHL’s 2017 championship, has joined the NHL’s New York Rangers as an amateur scout. . . . Konowalchuk 45, was the Thunderbirds’ head coach for six seasons. After winning the 2017 Ed Chynoweth Cup, he left for the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks where he spent last season as an assistant coach. . . . With the Rangers, according to a news release, Konowalchuk “will be primarily responsible for scouting amateur players in the Western Hockey League.” . . . That news release is right here.


The BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors have undergone another coaching change, with Jason Beckett coming on board as the team’s third head coach since Aug. 21. . . . Rylan WestKelownaFerster, who had been the general manager and head coach for seven seasons, left the organization on Aug. 21. He had helped the Warriors win a national championship in 2016. . . . Geoff Grimwood, the assistant GM and associate head coach, was named the interim head coach on Aug. 21. However, Grimwood was dismissed on Monday night. . . . Assistant coach Matt Miller also is gone, having left on Monday, while athletic therapist Mike Bois, who had been there through four seasons, chose leave, as well. . . . Asked if he was surprised at being fired, Grimwood told Wayne Moore of castanet.net: “No, because I know the situation right now seems unstable. But I was surprised in the sense that I didn’t think they would pull the rug out on you going into the first week of the season. I thought I would have a chance to get out of the gate and see how we did. I respect that’s the owner’s choice and he has to make decisions he thinks are right. I happen to disagree with that because I think the players needed stability, and right now, it’s just not being provided.” . . . As for the players, Taking Note received an anonymous text early Tuesday afternoon, stating that they left the ice during practice and didn’t return. That later was confirmed by Moore. . . . The Warriors are scheduled to open the regular season against the Smoke Eaters in Trail on Friday night. Trail is scheduled to visit West Kelowna on Saturday night. . . . The Warriors are owned by KD Sports Ltd., which purchased the franchise in August. Kim Dobranski is the majority owner and president.

If you check out the above tweet from Bois, the Warriors’ ex-athletic therapist, you will see that a number of West Kelowna players have retweeted it and/or liked it. . . . Hmmm!


The BCHL’s Coquitlam Express have acquired the junior A playing rights to F Ethan O’Rourke, 19, who is on the roster of the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos at the moment. . . . The Broncos acquired O’Rourke and a third-round pick in the 2020 WHL bantam draft from the Everett Silvertips for D Sahvan Khaira, 20, on July 30. . . . Last season, O’Rourke had five goals and nine assists in 37 games with the Prince George Cougars, then recorded a goal and three assists in 29 games with Everett. . . . The Express got O’Rourke and future considerations from the Prince George Spruce Kings for F Sam Kozlowski, 20. Kozlowski had eight goals and 22 assists in 55 games with the Express last season.


Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, will celebrate the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk. If you would like to support her with a donation — and she is closing in on $2,000 — you are able to do so right here.


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Broncos, Oil Kings swap players, picks . . . A ticket-price increase, or not? . . . Ferster leaves West Kelowna

MacBeth

F Andrej Šťastný (Vancouver, 2010-11) signed a one-year contract with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, he had three goals and one assist with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL).


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The Edmonton Oil Kings and Swift Current Broncos got together on Tuesday and pulled off a deal that includes four players and three bantam draft picks.

Edmonton gets: D Jacson Alexander, 17, D Chad Smithson, 17, and a sixth-round pick in EdmontonOilKingsthe 2019 WHL bantam draft.

Swift Current gets: F Matthew Culling, 17, D Chase Lacombe, 16, a second-round selection in the 2020 WHL bantam draft and a fourth-rounder in 2019.

The trade seems to have been precipitated when Alexander, a first-round pick by the Broncos in the 2016 bantam draft, requested a trade. Alexander, who is from Victoria, began last season with the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies, putting up three goals and six assists in 29 games. While in the BCHL, he had committed to going the NCAA route and playing SCBroncosfor the U of Denver Pioneers. After joining the Broncos, he had a goal and four assists in 32 regular-season games. He had one assist in 26 playoff games.

Smithson, from Winnipeg, had six goals and seven assists in 41 games with the midget AAA Winnipeg Thrashers last season. The Broncos selected him in the seventh round of the 2016 bantam draft.

Culling is from Regina and had 25 goals and 37 assists in 43 games with the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians last season. The Oil Kings picked him in the 10th round of the 2016 bantam draft.

Lacombe is from Moose Jaw. Last season, he had one goal and one assists in 42 games with the midget AAA Moose Jaw Generals. He was a fifth-round pick by Edmonton in the 2017 bantam draft.

The WHL has yet to reveal the particulars of new regulations involving who can and can’t be traded — assuming, that is, that the grand pooh-bahs have intentions of at some point letting fans in on what’s going on — but it seems that neither Smithson nor Lacombe has signed, while Culling is signed.

It’s worth keeping in mind that Jamie Porter, who used to be the Broncos’ director of hockey operations and head scout, now is the Oil Kings’ director of scouting. He will have played a role in Swift Current’s decision to select Alexander in the first round of the 2016 draft.


The Kootenay Ice held a news conference on Monday, after which they issued an all-encompassing news release.

Included in that news release was the pronouncement that “individual game pricing will Kootenaynewnot increase this season, however applicable taxes will no longer be included in the price.”

As one observer wrote in an email: “In other words, ‘we are increasing our ticket prices.’ ”

That emailer went on to do the math . . .

“Last season — $27.00 including taxes (highest single-game ticket price). This meant that the ticket price last season was actually $25.71 plus $1.29 taxes.

“This season — $27.00 plus $1.35 taxes = $28.35.

“Total Increase $1.35 = 5 per cent increase over last season. Actual Ice revenue per ticket went up $1.24 or 5 per cent.”



G Brodan Salmond, who got into 26 games with the Kelowna Rockets last season, is on MooseJawWarriorsthe training camp roster of the Moose Jaw Warriors. Salmond, from Calgary, will turn 20 on Oct. 8. . . . Last season, Salmond was 13-10-1, 3.67, .880 with the Rockets. In 56 career regular-season games over three seasons, he is 28-19-3, 3.26, .885. . . . The Warriors revealed on Monday that veteran Brody Willms, 20, won’t play this season do to hip problems. Their training camp roster also includes sophomore Adam Evanoff (15-4-1, 2.65, .906), who backed up Willms last season, and bantam draft picks Jackson Berry and Ethan Fitzgerald, both of who have signed WHL contracts. Berry, who turns 16 on Dec. 6, was a sixth-round pick in the 2017 draft; Fitzgerald, 17, was taken in the sixth round in 2016.



I don’t know how much you’ve got planned this week, but Stuart Kemp is a busy guy.

He’s the president of the Portland Winterhawks’ Booster Club, and he is leading the way Portlandas they get ready for the Toyota Hockey Family Fest on Sunday at the Winterhawks Skating Center in Beaverton on Sunday, 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Before that, there’s a barbecue on Saturday in Clackamas.

He also had been getting ready for training camp, which started Tuesday and runs through Friday. And, yes, he hopes to see you there.

Oh, and it should be mentioned that he is working hard to recover from two strokes he had earlier in the year. That means he was to see a doctor on Tuesday, has speech therapy on Thursday and again on Saturday.

As he posted Monday night, “See you at upcoming events.”

Hey, Stuart, say hi to Don Hay for me on Sunday!

He added: “I do appreciate your help and will keep you posted on results at Doc and other events. I want to quickly thank all those who’ve read posts and sent messages, some I didn’t talk to in ages. Thanks much!”

Don’t forget that there’s a GoFundMe page for Kemp and his wife, Cathy, and it’s right here.



Rylan Ferster has resigned as general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s West WestKelownaKelowna Warriors. The announcement was made on Tuesday afternoon. . . . Geoff Grimwood, the assistant GM and associate head coach, has been named interim GM and head coach. Assistant coach Matt Miller and goaltending coach Chad Carder remain on staff. . . . Ferster, from Prince Albert, has spent seven seasons with the Warriors, helping them to the RBC Cup in 2016. . . . The Warriors had a regular-season record of 210-150-35 with Ferster in charge. . . . Ferster told Ron Seymour of the Kelowna Daily Courier that “it’s just the right time for me to leave.” Ferster didn’t add anything to that, other than “it’s was definitely an amicable parting. I’m leaving on good terms with the team, which in this business so many times is not the case.” . . . Seymour’s story is right here. . . . Grimwood, 37, is from Victoria. He signed on with the Warriors in July after spending three seasons as the head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers.


If you would like to support my wife, Dorothy, as she celebrates the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk on Sept. 23, you are able to do so right here.


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Hitmen get goalie from T-birds . . . Seattle playoff hero off to Calgary . . . Rockets sign Finnish defender


MacBeth

F Radim Valchar (Portland, Lethbridge, 2007-10) signed a one-year extension with Csíkszereda (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, he had 22 goals and 27 assists in 32 games. He led his team in goals, assists and points, and was third in the league’s points race.


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The Seattle Thunderbirds have traded G Carl Stankowski, who shone as they won the 2016-17 WHL championship but then didn’t play in 2017-18, to the Calgary Hitmen.

In return for Stankowski, an 18-year-old who played minor hockey in Calgary, and a Seattleconditional fourth-round selection, year undisclosed, in the WHL’s bantam draft, the Thunderbirds acquired D Mike Koster, 17, an eighth-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft and a conditional pick in the 2019 or 2020 bantam draft.

“Carl’s medical needs have become very significant and we felt that being close to his home in Calgary would allow his family to more closely monitor his needs,” Seattle GM Bil La Forge said in a news release.

Stankowski, then in his 16-year-old season, took over from injured starter Rylan Toth late in the 2016-17 regular season and sparkled as Seattle won the Ed Chynoweth Cup. CalgaryStankowski, a second-round pick by Seattle in the 2014 bantam draft, was 3-0-0, 2.18, .910 in seven regular-season appearances, then went 16-4, 2.50, .911 in the playoffs. However, hip problems and health issues kept Stankowski from playing last season.

Andy Side of 710 ESPN Seattle detailed Stankowski’s issues in a February story that is right here. . . .

Koster, from Chaska, Minn., has committed to the U of Minnesota for 2020-21. Last season, he had two goals and eight assists in 21 games with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm. He also captained the Chaska High Team, and put up 14 goals and 41 assists in 25 games. Koster is playing for Team USA at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup this week.

“Koster is an elite defenseman who is NCAA committed,” La Forge said. “We feel that we will provide him with a very viable option going forward. We look forward to opening the lines of communication with him.”

In Seattle, the trade means that G Liam Hughes, 19, is alone atop the depth chart. Last season, after being acquired from the Edmonton Oil Kings, he was 16-12-6, 3.15, .909. It is likely that Cole Schwebius, 17, and Eric Ward, 17, will battle for the No. 2 spot. Schwebius, from Kelowna, was a 10th-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft; Ward is a list player from Edmonton.

In Calgary, the Hitmen, who didn’t make the playoffs last season, are looking to replace Nick Schneider, who completed his eligibility by making 61 appearances.

The Hitmen acquired G Nick Sanders, 20, who was limited by injuries to four games with the Prince Albert Raiders last season. Interestingly, Sanders, like Stankowski, has had hip-related problems. Also in the hunt will be Matthew Armitage, who turns 19 on Oct. 30. A fourth-round selection by the Spokane Chiefs in the 2014 bantam draft, he got into 19 games with Calgary last season (4-7-1, 3.55, .890).


There wasn’t anything on the Kelowna Rockets’ website as of Tuesday night, but if Regan Bartel, the team’s radio voice, says they have signed Finnish D Lassi Thomson, well, that’s good enough for me. . . . Thomson will turn 18 on Sept. 24. . . . He is from Tampere. . . . Last season, he had 12 goals and 15 assists in 49 games with Ives U-20 in the Jr. A SM-liiga. He also played six games with the Ives U-18 team, putting up four goals and three assists. On top of that, he played 20 games with the U-18 national team, scoring three goals and adding seven assists. . . . The Rockets selected him in the CHL’s 2018 import draft.



The Calgary Hitmen are looking for an athletic therapist with the news that Kyle Vouriot has signed on with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose as assistant athletic trainer and assistant strength and conditioning trainer. . . . The Winnipeg-based Moose is the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. . . . Vouriot, who is from Winnipeg, was with the Hitmen for three seasons.


Spiros Anastas is the new head coach of the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays. He spent the previous four seasons as head coach of the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns. . . . With the Stingrays, Anastas, 33, takes over from Ryan Warsofsky, who now is an assistant coach with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers. . . . The Stingrays are coming of the best regular season (48-16-7-1) in franchise history. . . . Anastas was 36-68-8 with the Pronghorns. The school’s athletic department announced his departure on Friday, and now is searching for a replacement.


Matt Thomas is the new head coach of the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones. Thomas, a 42-year-old native of Maple Ridge, B.C., spent 11 seasons (2002-13) coaching in the ECHL, with the Atlantic Boardwalk Bullies, Fresno Falcons and Stockton Thunder. . . . From a news release: “He enters the 2018-19 campaign as the ECHL’s sixth-winningest coach with a career record of 342-225-80, just one win back of fifth place all time. He is also the all-time leader in playoff games coached with 97, and ranks third with 49 playoff wins.” . . . Thomas spent the past five seasons as the head coach of the U of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves. . . . In Cincinnati, Thomas replaces Matt Macdonald, who left after four seasons to join the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins as an assistant coach.


Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013. She will celebrate the fifth anniversary on Sept. 23 by taking part in the Kamloops Kidney Walk. This will be the fifth time she has done the Kidney Walk; she has been the leading fund-raiser in Kamloops in each of the previous four years. . . . If you would like to support her this year, you are able to do so right here.


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