This is Neekas, Heiltsuk Territory. All of these salmon went into the creek, the creek dried up b/c of no rain so far this fall, and just died, and this is just one reach! Global warming is killing everything. This is such a sad scene. Video credit, Sarah Mund pic.twitter.com/vYhEKwD5mN
Neekas, Heiltsuk Territory, is located on B.C.’s central coast.
The Swift Current Broncos’ board of directors informed shareholders at the organization’s annual general meeting on Tuesday that the 2021-22 WHL season resulted in a net loss of $349,000. . . . “The Broncos had expected to endure another challenging financial year because of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the Broncos said in a news release. “With restrictions limiting fan participation and revenue generation, the organization was required to navigate the difficult year as best as possible, and work towards positioning the club for the exciting years to come. While undesirable, the overall deficiency of revenue over expenses was better than expected, due to key support from the 2021-22 season-ticket holders, the dedicated fan base throughout the year, corporate stakeholders, government programs, and strategic cost management.” . . . The Broncos now have lost money for three straight seasons. They dropped $791,000 for 2019-20, a season that was prematurely ended by the pandemic, and $129,968 for 2020-21, a season that comprised 24 games, all played in Regina. That 2020-21 figure would have been much worse were it not for the $600,000 the Broncos got from the provincial government. . . . According to figures compiled by the WHL, the Broncos drew an average of 1,480 fans to 34 games last season, the lowest figure in the league. That was down from the 1,954 average for 32 games in 2019-20. . . . The Broncos won the WHL’s championship in 2018, but didn’t qualify for the playoffs in 2018-19 or 2021-22. There weren’t any playoffs in 2019-20 or 2020-21 because of the pandemic. . . . The Broncos play their home games in the 2,879-seat Innovation Credit Union iPlex. . . .
Four of the WHL’s 22 teams are community-owned and, as such, are required to present financial statements to shareholders at annual general meetings. The Broncos are the last of the four to hold their AGM. . . . Earlier, the Lethbridge Hurricanes announced a profit of $248,000, and the Prince Albert Raiders said they made $152,191. The Moose Jaw Warriors, meanwhile, reported a loss of $106,719.
A huge trade for this early in the season….looks like Regina trying to add to their scoring depth around Bedard while Seattle adds high picks they can use at the right time later this year.
High price for Oremba but Regina will have him for three years.
The Regina Pats paid a big price to bring F Sam Oremba home from the Seattle Thunderbirds on Tuesday. Oremba, 17, who is eligible for the 2023 NHL draft, cost the Pats three WHL draft picks — a second-rounder in 2023, a first in 2024 and a third in 2025. . . . Regina obviously is hoping that playing in his hometown will spark Oremba’s offensive game. . . . Oremba was the seventh overall selection in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft after putting up 133 points, including 75 goals, in 31 games with the U15 AA Regina Monarchs. . . . Last season, in 56 games with the Thunderbirds, he had four goals and 10 assists. In two games this season, he recorded two assists. . . .
Meanwhile, the Victoria Royals have five 20-year-olds on their roster — two over the limit — after acquiring F Jake Poole from the Kelowna Rockets on Tuesday. . . . The Royals surrendered an eighth-round selection in the 2024 WHL draft in the exchange. . . . Poole, from McAuley, Man., was a sixth-round pick in the 2017 draft. He has 59 points, including 21 goals, in 124 games with Kelowna, including a goal and an assist in three games this season. . . . The Royals, in a news release, admit — with tongue planted firmly in cheek — that they will benefit from the deal simply because they won’t have to face Poole again. Last season, he totalled 14 goals and 18 assists in 48 games, with eight of the goals and 12 of the assists coming against the Royals. . . . The Royals’ other 20-year-olds are G Campbell Arnold, F Riley Gannon, D Anson McMaster and F Caleb Willms, who is out week-to-week with an undisclosed injury. . . . The Rockets show two 20-year-olds on their roster — G Talyn Boyko and F Adam Kydd. However, Boyko went to camp with the NHL’s New York Rangers and was assigned to their AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack, last week. He was a fourth-round pick by the Rangers in the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . Each of the WHL’s 22 teams is allowed to carry three 20-year-old players, with the deadline to declare arriving on Oct. 12. . . . The Royals expect to have Poole in their lineup tonight (Wednesday) when they play in Kelowna.
Mention was made here yesterday about the rough start to the existence of the junior B Ponoka Stampeders, who were trying to make a go of it in Alberta’s Heritage Junior Hockey League. . . . Well, the Twitter account Inside The HJHL (@latesthjhl) was quick to inform us that the Stampeders “have completely folded.” . . . The note added that “all stats from Ponoka games are thrown out . . . it will be a 38-game schedule this season now instead of 40 . . . no changes to divisions; six teams each now . . . no change to playoff format.”
THINKING OUT LOUD — It would be nice to see an NHL club give F Matthew Phillips a real chance. Put him on the second PP unit. Let him play in the top nine forwards. He has scored at every level, but too many NHL people only see his size — somewhere around 5-foot-7 and 140 pounds. Phillips, who had a terrific WHL career with the Victoria Royals, had 31 goals and 37 assists in 65 games last season, his fourth with the AHL’s Stockton Heat. That franchise now is the Calgary Wranglers, the Flames’ AHL affiliate, and Phillips already has been assigned there. . . . When a WHL team lists a player as being out with an “illness” are we to assume it is/isn’t COVID/19? . . . If you haven’t listened to Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, you should. . . . Hockey Canada? The reign is over; the royal court just doesn’t seem to realize it yet.
The OHL’s Guelph Storm has a new head coach in Chad Wiseman, who moved up from associate coach with Scott Walker having left due to health concerns. . . . “In a phone interview,” Tony Saxon of guelphtoday.com, writes, “Walker made it clear that the health concerns are serious, but not critical. He said they are an extension of the health concerns that started in Vancouver when he was an assistant coach with the Canucks but had to step away, namely vertigo linked to blood pressure issues.” . . . Walker also is one of the team’s owner and serves as its president.
Josh Ciocco, an assistant coach with Merrimack College, passed away suddenly on Monday. He was 38. The school announced his death on Tuesday. . . . Ciocco, from Atco, N.J., spent three seasons (2000-03) in the BCHL, playing with the Prince George Spruce Kings (57 games), Vernon Vipers (19) and Salmon Arm Silverbacks (57). . . . He went on to play four seasons at the U of New Hampshire, captaining the team for the last two of those. . . . He was in his fifth season on Merrimack’s coaching staff. Merrimack is located in North Andover, Mass.
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While taking time away from here to do some recharging, reflecting and, well, just re-everything, it hit me that we the people are doing a horrific job . . . just absolutely horrific.
I had always believed that one of the things foremost in our minds as we strolled through life had to be the importance of leaving the world a better place than we found it for our children and grandchildren. Did our parents not leave us with a world that was better than it was when they came into it?
That being the case, there seems no chance of us being able to do that, what with COVID-19 continuing to run rampant; climate change occurring with frightening speed while our leaders, in business, industry and politics, refuse to act with anything close to matching urgency; the political arena having turned into a battle of us vs. them with those of different political stripes seemingly incapable of working together — but, oh my, are they good at pointing fingers! — and we won’t even get into the opioid epidemic, homelessness, mental health, the price of groceries and gasoline, and on and on . . .
Over the past few days, while pondering a lot of what is going on in our world, I got to wondering where we went wrong. If the pandemic that soon will be into its fourth year — yes, fourth! — has shown us anything it is what a horribly selfish people we have become. I don’t know where it all started but the lack of caring and respect we now hold for our neighbours is disgusting. Somehow we have decided that we won’t wear masks indoors, not even when we know that they work to protect family, friends and others. Not only that, we have decided that the elderly, the disabled, the thousands of immunocompromised who walk among us . . . all of them are expendable. Come and take them, Dr. Death. Y’er welcome!
Ed Yong, a writer with The Atlantic who has won a Pulitzer Prize for his writing on the pandemic, writes:
“Recently, after a week in which 2,789 Americans died of COVID-19, President Joe Biden proclaimed that ‘the pandemic is over.’ Anthony Fauci described the controversy around the proclamation as a matter of ‘semantics,’ but the facts we are living with can speak for themselves. COVID still kills roughly as many Americans every week as died on 9/11. It is on track to kill at least 100,000 a year — triple the typical toll of the flu. Despite gross undercounting, more than 50,000 infections are being recorded every day. The CDC estimates that 19 million adults have long COVID. Things have undoubtedly improved since the peak of the crisis, but calling the pandemic ‘over’ is like calling a fight ‘finished’ because your opponent is punching you in the ribs instead of the face.”
As of Monday afternoon, the death toll from Hurricane Ian, which hit Florida on Wednesday, was at 101, a figure that is all over the news. Meanwhile, according to the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University, there were 277 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Florida over the past week, bringing the state’s total to 81,416 since the virus arrived on our doorstep. Hey, just saying . . .
Here’s more from Yong:
“In the spring of 2020, I wrote that the pandemic would last for years, and that the U.S. would need long-term strategies to control it. But America’s leaders consistently acted as if they were fighting a skirmish rather than a siege, lifting protective measures too early, and then reenacting them too slowly. They have skirted the responsibility of articulating what it would actually look like for the pandemic to be over, which has meant that whenever citizens managed to flatten the curve, the time they bought was wasted. Endemicity was equated with inaction rather than active management. This attitude removed any incentive or will to make the sort of long-term changes that would curtail the current disaster and prevent future ones. And so America has little chance of effectively countering the inevitable pandemics of the future; it cannot even focus on the one that’s ongoing.”
Read that last sentence again. Please.
Yong’s complete piece is right here, and it’s well worth your time.
ICYMI, Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band were to have opened a five-city Western Canadian tour in Winnipeg tonight (Tuesday). That won’t happen, though, because the former Beatles drummer has tested positive for COVID-19. Starr, 82, also had to call off shows scheduled for Saskatoon, Lethbridge, Abbotsford and Penticton.
A message from Harold Phillipoff, who played two seasons (1974-76) with the New Westminster Bruins:
“It is with heavy heart than I pass along this sad news . . . after 69 years of marriage, Fran McLean has passed away. She was always there for Ernie and ‘his boys.’
“This leaves Ernie tragically in a financial mess as the pandemic has shut down his mining business, leaving him with just his old-age benefits to pay all the bills.
“Ernie’s sons have set up a PayPal account and E-transfer account for the ‘Help Ernie McLean’ fund. The username for both accounts is PunchMclean@gmail.com.
“I would consider it a personal favour if you could share this post to your friends on Facebook and any other social media. Ernie entertained many for decades and made a huge positive impact on many lives. Let’s show him we enjoyed it and still remember him!”
“Are you ready for some . . . pickleball?” wonders Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “America’s fast-growing pastime is growing up — as in Major League Pickleball — with the MLP finals slated for Oct. 14-16 in Columbus, Ohio, competing for a $319,000 prize pool. The 12-team league plans to expand to 16 next year, with the likes of LeBron James and Drew Brees buying in. Now it’s just a TV contract and a steroids scandal away from official major-league status.”
Perry, again: “Nets guard Kyrie Irving says he turned down a four-year, $100 million-plus extension a year ago because he wanted to remain unvaccinated. Apparently it was a one-shot deal.”
The Ponoka Stampeders are a first-year junior B team trying to find their way in Alberta’s Heritage Junior Hockey League. So far they have lost by scores of 25-1, 20-0, 23-1, 30-0 and 27-1. Yes, they continue to look for players, so if you’re of junior age and looking for ice time, you may want to check them out. . . . NOTE: A late night advisory from the Twitter account Inside the HJHL (@latesthjhl) informs that the Stampeders have folded.
If this headline — COVID, cancer can’t conquer Pats’ Paddock — can’t entice you to read a story, I can’t imagine what might do the trick. Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post recently visited with John Paddock, 68. He is coming off a season in which he stepped in as the Pats’ head coach and beat back COVID-19, something he couldn’t avoid after treatment for lymphoma left him immunocompromised. “I got sick,” Paddock told Vanstone, “and then got really sick.” Of course, what COVID-19 and lymphoma didn’t take into account is that Paddock has coaching in his blood. So the Pats’ vice-president of hockey operations and general manager also is back as the team’s head coach. . . . Vanstone’s story is right here.
Announced attendance at the Hitmen/Pats game yesterday: 3,279. I was there and it looked even emptier. Pretty sad showing for a chance to see Connor Bedard.
It’s early in the WHL’s regular season and the weather has been anything but hockey-like. However, you are free to wonder whether the WHL has some cracks showing when it comes to attendance.
Unfortunately, the WHL continues to have teams play afternoon games after having played the previous night, which is what happened to the Regina Pats — and F Connor Bedard — on Sunday. They dropped a 4-2 decision to the Rebels before an announced crowd of 4,806 in Red Deer on Saturday night, then were beaten, 7-3, by the Hitmen on Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the Prince George Cougars have played four home games — two each against the Tri-City Americans and Kelowna Rockets — and have had announced crowds of 2,497, 2,018, 2,008 and 1,937, in that order.
Regan Bartel, the radio voice of the Kelowna Rockets, couldn’t take it anymore so he chewed a bit on the legs of the Prince George citizenry the other day. If you haven’t seen it, it’s right here.
BTW, if you haven’t seen the ceremonial faceoff prior to the game between Regina and Calgary on Sunday, it’s worth a head-shaking look . . .
Stewart Kemp, the president of the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club, reports that it’s full-speed ahead for the trek east early in January. The deadline to register passed with 28 people having signed on for the 10-day jaunt that will include games in Brandon, Winnipeg, Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw and Regina. The contingent is to include two ladies who are 96 (Ardyce) and 94 (Neree), and who have been making these trips since Kemp took over as president in 2010. “They,” Kemp reports, “are the most enthusiastic to go. They wouldn’t miss this for the world.” . . . Then, he adds, “Oh, this is going to be fun, but really cold!” . . . Manitoba and Saskatchewan cold during the first two weeks of January? Nah. . . .
Jeff Dubois, the commissioner of the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, signed a five-year contract extension the other day. It will take him through the 2027-28 season. Dubois has been the commissioner since March 2020. . . .
Bruce Luebke, who had been the radio voice of the Brandon Wheat Kings for more than 20 years, has been acclaimed for a second term as a member of Brandon City Council. Luebke called his first Wheat Kings game in 1993-94. He and radio station CKLQ parted company in July 2016. . . . Civic elections in Manitoba are scheduled for Oct. 26. . . .
THINKING OUT LOUD — As the host Green Bay Packers were locked in a battle with the New England Patriots on Sunday, the U of Wisconsin fired its head football coach, Paul Chryst. Now that’s a smooth PR move. . . . Took a drive to Vernon and back on Monday afternoon. I am here to report that the price of gas kissing $2 a litre in B.C.’s southern interior isn’t keeping people off the road. . . . The Los Angeles Dodgers went into Monday’s games with a run-differential of plus-333. They also have some pitchers. Let’s just give them the World Series title and get on with life.
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As another hockey season arrives and dictator Vladimir Putin’s Russia continues its war on Ukraine, the impact, or lack of same, on professional hockey hasn’t been much of a story.
But former NHL goaltender Dominik Hasek is working to get it into the headlines.
Here’s a chunk from Ken Campbell of Hockey Unfiltered:
More than a decade after his Hall of Fame career, Hasek has not stopped taking the road less travelled. He’s one of the very few athletes, past or present, who has the courage to speak out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying Russian NHLers should be suspended and Czech players should be barred from playing in the KHL, the league in which he played in the final season of his career. He also thinks that the government in Czechia should bar any Russians playing for the Nashville Predators (winger Yakov Trenin) and San Jose Sharks (wingers Alexander Barbanov and Evgeni Svechnikov) from playing in Prague when the two teams kick off the NHL’s regular season there Oct. 7 and 8.
“It will be a beautiful hockey celebration,” Hasek told Hockey Unfiltered in a telephone interview. “At the same time, however, I am doing everything to ensure that no Russian players can play here and that they cannot make multimillion-dollar advertisements for Russia and its war and killings in Ukraine.”
Hasek also has thoughts on Russians playing in the NHL. Campbell writes: “Hasek believes all Russian-born NHL players should be suspended by the NHL, with the suspensions lifted only if and when they denounce Russia’s actions.”
Of course, there are people in the hockey community who don’t agree with Hasek.
If you haven’t already, you should hunt up Campbell’s Hockey Unfiltered site and check out stories like this one.
Excited to announce Connor Bedard as our latest Player Ambassador.
Are you waiting for the Regina Pats to trade F Connor Bedard, who is the favourite to be the No. 1 selection in the NHL’s 2023 draft? Well, perhaps you shouldn’t be holding your breath. In fact, what if the Pats are working to add to their roster in the hopes of making a run this season? . . . The Kamloops Blazers will be the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup and there has been ample speculation that they are eager to land Bedard. Shaun Clouston, the Blazers’ general manager and head coach, isn’t so sure that Bedard will come available. “I think Regina is going to evaluate things,” Clouston told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week. “The information we have is they’re not trading him right now. They believe they have a generational-type player and they’re going to try to add. So, right now, that’s the direction they’re going and I guess time will tell if they’re able to get to a place where they feel confident kind of going all-in at some point with Connor Bedard as the centrepiece or whether they change that mindset. But that, right now, from our understanding, is their mindset They’re looking to add right now.” . . . Hastings’ complete story is right here.
The Medicine Hat Tigers have added F Alex Drover, 20, to their roster. Drover, from Port-aux-Basques, Nfld., spent the previous four seasons in the QMJHL. He played with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, Saint John Sea Dogs and Rimouski Oceanic, totalling 29 goals and 48 assists in 178 regular-season games. Last season, he put up 37 points, including 14 goals, in 44 games with Rimouski. . . . Drover is one of four 20-year-olds in camp with the Tigers, the others being F Brendan Lee, F Dallon Melin and Finnish F Oskari Kuntonen, who was selected by Medicine Hat in the CHL’s 2020 import draft. Last season, he had six goals and 20 assists in 24 games with KooKoo’s U20 side. Melin is coming off four seasons with the Red Deer Rebels; he had 11 goals and 13 assist in 67 games in 2021-22. Lee was acquired from the Saskatoon Blades last season; he finished with 10 goals and 11 assists in 52 games, 22 of them with the Tigers. . . . Melin had two assists Friday in a 6-3 victory over the host Swift Current Broncos. Lee had one assist; Drover was pointless.
Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle, on the retirement announcement from tennis great Roger Federer:
“Once a teenage brat who would throw his racket on the court, Federer grew up and evolved and became the definition of class and sportsmanship.
“He was doing that in an era of what often seemed relentlessly boorish and unbecoming behavior by professional athletes. When star athletes too often seemed to do something to let their public down, to embarrass themselves or to fail to understand the privilege and position they have.
“Federer never did that. In a modern era of scrutiny and social media, he was a safe harbor.”
The Tofino Resort and Marina, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, is owned by a group that includes retired NHLers Willie Mitchell and Dan Hamhuis. The latter also is one of the six men who own the WHL’s Prince George Cougars. . . . Something happened at the resort on Sunday night that has resulted in a management change, the closure of the place for a week or so, and a whole lot of speculation as to what caused it all. . . . Patrick Johnston of Postmedia has that story right here.
THINKING OUT LOUD — F Nick Suzuki may have been given the captain’s ‘C’ this week, but isn’t F Brendan Gallagher really the captain? Gallagher is one of those players who doesn’t need the ‘C’ to be the captain. . . . If F Connor Bedard really is a generational talent — and all signs point to that being an accurate evaluation — how would the Regina Pats explain it to their fans were they to trade him away? . . . There looked to be a lot of empty seats at Mosaic Stadium on Friday night, but the ticket holders who did show up didn’t hesitate to let their feelings be known as their favourites dropped a 26-24 decision to the Edmonton Elks. Yes, it was ugly. . . . The Roughriders are 3-5 at home. They once were 3-0. Whoops!
I'm so pleased for Kyle Beach, who is transitioning to a new phase in his hockey career. Kyle will be an assistant coach this season with Trinity Western University's men's team in Langley, B.C. He's in a good space and I'm so happy for him.@KBeachy12
Former WHL F Kyle Beach has joined the Trinity Western U Spartans of the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League as an assistant coach. . . . From Ian Kennedy of The Hockey News: “Last fall, Beach made headlines stepping forward as ‘John Doe’ in a case in which Beach was sexually assaulted by Chicago Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich during the 2009-10 season. The case made international news headlines, and eventually resulted in a confidential settlement between the Blackhawks and Beach made in December of 2021.” . . . Beach, 32, is from Kelowna. He played in the WHL with the Everett Silvertips, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Spokane Chiefs (2005-10). . . . Beach and TWU head coach Ben Walter, who is in his first season, were teammates with EC Salzburg in Austria’s EBEL and won championships together in 2015 and 2016. . . . Beach spent the past two seasons with the Ten Art BlackDragons in Austria, playing in Germany’s Oberliga. In those two seasons, he totalled 110 points, including 58 goals, in 68 games.
Gino De Paoli is the new play-by-play voice of the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers. The team made the announcement on Friday, three days after he announced he was leaving the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. He had been the voice of the Oilers for 11 seasons. . . . Scott Roblin handled the Tigers’ play-by-play on CHAT last season after Bob Ridley, the only radio voice the team had known since it entered the WHL for the 1970-71 season, took time off for health-related reasons. . . . Roblin left Medicine Hat over the summer and now is covering sports for Global TV in Saskatoon. . . .
Kevin Kaminski, the general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves, begins the regular season by starting a 10-game suspension. From the Ice Wolves: “The suspension is the result of reports received by the league after the final playoff game of last season that was played March 27. The sanction is under appeal but until this is finalized, we will comply with the suspension and assistant coach Kyle Schneider will lead the bench.” . . . Playing at home on March 27, the Ice Wolves dropped a 5-3 decision to the Humboldt Broncos in Game 6. The Broncos won the series, 4-2. . . . The Ice Wolves opened their regular season on Friday night with a 7-4 victory over the visiting Nipawin Hawks.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
The Prince Albert Raiders told shareholders at their annual general meeting on Wednesday night that they had a profit of $152,191 for their 2021-22 fiscal year.
That is a considerable increase from 2020-21, a season that was shortened considerably by the pandemic. That season, which for East Division clubs featured 24 games and was played entirely in Regina, the Raiders showed a profit of $25,891. However, that included $1,081,179 in government grants, $600,000 of that from the Saskatchewan government.
“From the start of the (2021-22) regular season,” the team said in a news release last night, “the Raiders saw a large number of ticket sales, with the primary reason being it was the first time that the team had played at the Art Hauser Centre since March 6, 2020. The organization also saw a large uptick in promotions, fundraising and advertising, thanks to the ability to host events inside the rink.”
The Raiders’ news release included only three paragraphs on the AGM.
In 2019-20, a season that was halted by the pandemic in March before the regular season was completed, the Raiders lost $331,895. That followed a 2018-19 season in which they won the WHL championship and showed a profit of $633,314.
Four of the WHL’s 22 teams are owned by local shareholders and as such are required to present profit-loss statements at annual general meetings.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes have scheduled their AGM for Sept. 19, with the Moose Jaw Warriors going on Sept. 20 and the Swift Current Broncos on Oct. 4.
The WHL’s other 18 teams all are privately owned.
Gerry James is the only player to play in the Grey Cup (Winnipeg Blue Bombers, November 1959) and Stanley Cup final (Toronto Maple Leafs, April 1960) in same overlapping season. He played with Bombers 1952-62 and Leafs 1954-61, and is in Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and CFHOF. pic.twitter.com/gUv3T0DXIE
The Tri-City Americans, looking to add some experience and some offence to their lineup, acquired F Jalen Luypen, 20, from the Edmonton Oil Kings on Aug. 9. The Americans also got two conditional WHL draft picks — a fifth-rounder in 2024 and a second in 2026 — while giving up F Rhett Melnyk, 18, D Bryson Andregg, 19, and a conditional 2023 second-round selection. . . . Luypen had been picked by the Chicago Blackhawks in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2021 draft and he signed a three-year entry-level deal earlier this summer. . . . But now comes the bad news. Luypen apparently suffered an injury to his left shoulder during last spring’s playoffs and tried to play through it as the Oil Kings made their run to the Memorial Cup. In the end, however, he needed more than offseason rehab, and he now has undergone rotator cuff surgery. The Blackhawks have said that he will be out for up to 18 weeks, which means he won’t be available to the Americans until after Christmas. . . . As a 20-year-old, Luypen is eligible to play in the AHL this season, but one would think the Blackhawks would much prefer him to play with the Americans once he has recovered from the surgery. . . .
Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if the Americans and Oil Kings end up renegotiating any parts of what was an intricate deal. . . . As reported by Alan Caldwell shortly after the deal, here are the original conditions: Edmonton gets the 2023 second if Luypen comes back from the pros by Nov. 15. If he returns after Nov 15 but before Jan 10, it becomes a 2023 third-round pick instead. If he does not return to the WHL this year, Edmonton doesn’t get a 2023 pick at all, and Tri-City gets the Edmonton 2026 second-round pick. The 2024 pick is tied to the 2023 pick — if Edmonton gets Tri-City’s 2023 second, then Tri-City gets Edmonton’s 2024 fifth-round pick. If Edmonton gets the 2023 third-rounder instead, then Tri-City gets the 2024 sixth-rounder instead. . . .
Last season, Luypen put up 64 points, 29 of them goals, in 66 regular-season games. He added four goals and nine assist in nine playoff games as the Oil Kings won the WHL title. He followed that up with a goal and two assists in three Memorial Cup games.
There was good — nay, great — news for fans of the WHL and, in particular, the Saskatoon Blades on Tuesday. That’s when Les Lazaruk revealed that he hasn’t retired, nor has he moved on to another job. Yes, he will be back for a 29th season of calling Blades’ games. . . . Lazaruk tweeted that he “did pursue a job opportunity,” but was told on Monday that he wasn’t going to be offered that position. . . . “I may be 63 years old,” he added, “but doing Blades hockey play-by-play makes me feel more like 36!” . . . You likely wouldn’t be wrong if you guessed that Lazaruk had interviewed for the play-by-play opening that TSN has on the TV crew that covers the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. There has yet to be an announcement on who will replace Dennis Beyak, who has retired from the spot he held since 2011.
The Regina Pats erased a 2-0 deficit and beat the Swift Broncos, 4-2, in an exhibition game played in Estevan, Sask., on Tuesday night. The Pats, who got two goals from F Connor Bedard, hung around after the game to sign some autographs and visit with the fans.
The Portland Winterhawks have hired Brendan Burke, one of their former goaltenders, as assistant goaltending coach. Burke, 32, will work with goaltending coach Andy Moog “to assist in the development of Winterhawks goalies and prospects,” according to a news release. . . . Burke, who is from Scottsdale, lives in the Phoenix area and also works as the goaltending director with the Jr. Coyotes program. . . . Burke spent four seasons (2011-15) with the Winterhawks, then played his 20-year-old season with the OHL’s London Knights. And think about this — he won a WHL title with the Winterhawks (2013), an OHL title and a Memorial Cup championship with the Knights (2016), and three Canada West titles and a national championship with the U of Alberta Golden Bears. . . .
The NHL’s Calgary Flames have added Rebecca Johnston, a three-time Olympic gold medal-winner with the Canadian women’s team, as a full-time member of their organization. According to the Flames, Johnston, 32, “will work within the player development team, assisting in prospect evaluations and on-ice instruction and work with (the Flames Foundation) in grassroots, growing (hockey) in our community.” . . . You may have heard of her uncle — Mike Johnston is the vice-president, general manager and head coach of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. . . .
The QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders have signed general manager and head coach Jim Hulton to a three-year contract. Hulton has been the QMJHL’s coach of the year each of the past two seasons; he was the CHL coach of the year last season. He is going into his eighth season as the Islanders’ head coach and his seventh as GM. . . . Guy Girouard, Charlottetown’s assistant GM and associate coach, signed a two-year deal, as did assistant coach Kevin Henderson, equipment manager Andrew (Spider) MacNeill and athletic therapist Devin Atkin. . . .
Former WHL F Dane Byers has joined the Prince Albert Mintos of the Saskatchewan Male AAA Hockey League as an assistant coach. Byers, 36, is from Nipawin, Sask. He played four seasons (2002-06) with the Raiders before going on to a pro career that concluded after the 2018-19 season. He spent the last four seasons in Europe. . . . With the Mintos, he’ll be working alongside Tim Leonard, who is into his second season of his second stint as the Mintos’ head coach. another former WHLer, is the Mintos’ head coach. He was the head coach from 2002-12 before joining the Raiders for two seasons as an assistant coach. . . .
The junior B Kimberley Dynamiters of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have signed Derek Stuart, their general manager and head coach, to a five-year contract extension that will take him through the 2026-27 season. . . . Stuart has been with the Dynamiters since May 9, 2016.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
I have struggled to try and make any sense out of this massive tragedy. If you know me, I am not often without words … but they have escaped me. Thank you @LerayLeicht and @BronsCarol for placing words to paper on behalf of the Bronco Families. pic.twitter.com/c2W9kual3Y
The Prince Albert Raiders won a WHL exhibition game on Saturday night, beating the Pats, 3-2, in Regina on a goal at 18:23 of the third period by 15-year-old F Dayce Derkatch. “It’s what you always dream of,” Derkatch told Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post. “It’s so special. I’m so honoured and so proud.” . . . He was a third-round selection by the Pats in the 2022 WHL draft. . . . His father, Dale, is in the books as one of the best and most-exciting players in WHL history. Playing with the Pats, he put up 491 points, including 222 goals, in 204 regular-season games. In 54 playoff games, he scored 30 goals and added 73 assists. Add it up — 252 goals, 342 assists, 594 points, all accomplished in 258 games. . . . Vanstone wrote: “Dayce’s ground-breaking goal was scored nearly 41 years after his father registered his first pre-season tally. In his exhibition debut with Regina, Dale had a goal — and two fights — in a 9-4 loss to the host Saskatoon Blades on Sept. 15, 1981. He went on to enjoy a 62-goal, 142-point rookie season.” . . . Dayce signed with the Raiders on Monday and is expected to spend this season with his hometown Regina Pat Canadians of the Saskatchewan Male AAA Hockey League. . . . Vanstone’s story is right here.
If it hadn’t before now, I would suggest that baseball statistics have jumped the shark. Officially. . . . I saw this on Twitter on Saturday morning: “Bo Bichette’s HR last night came on a pitch 16″ off the ground. It was the second-lowest pitch hit for a HR in Bichette’s career & the lowest by a #BlueJays hitter this season.” . . . Seriously! . . . Perhaps the MLB player who homers off the closest pitch to the ground each season gets a lifetime supply of tees?
If you hang out regularly in these parts, you may remember the five-part WHL history that I posted here a while back. Well, a short time ago, I received an email asking where it could be found. . . . If you’re new here and you haven’t seen them, you may enjoy these pieces . . .
Here’s Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times with a look ahead to a major sporting event that is quickly approaching: “Another prestigious sporting event will return to the global stage after being mothballed two years by COVID: the 37th World Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Ireland, on Sept. 21-22. The winner — the Marquis de Sod? — will undoubtedly be decided by the turnover advantage.”
Baseball needs fewer relief pitchers but it does need more relief pitchers who look like country music stars, more blue road uniforms, and more teams from Canada. pic.twitter.com/j6tmC3JMhF
IT’S ONLY MONEY, PART I — Under the subhead ‘Pot, meet Kettle,’ Perry writes: “Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney — the same guy who once said, ‘As far as paying players, professionalizing college athletics, that’s where you lose me . . . there’s enough entitlement in this world as there is’ — has just agreed to a record 10-year, $115-million contract.”
BTW, a national championship would be worth an extra $1 million to Swinney. His average annual salary — $11.5 million — is behind only Nick Saban at Alabama, who is at $11.7 million. No. 3 on the list is Kirby Smart of Georgia, at $11.25 million. . . . The Athletic’s Grace Raynor notes that only one coach (Saban) made at least $9.5 million in 2021. Now there are at least six of them, the other three being Mel Tucker of Michigan State, Ryan Day of Ohio State and Bryan Kelly of LSU. . . . For coaching football. College football.
IT’S ONLY MONEY, PART II — The Nebraska Cornhuskers lost, 45-42, to visiting Georgia Southern on Saturday and promptly fired head coach Scott Frost, never mind that the season is only three games old. Nebraska will pay him US$15 million not to coach, a figure that would have been $7.5 million had it waited until Oct. 1 to make the move. Frost, in his fifth season with Nebraska, watched his guys lose 10-straight one-score decisions. . . . You may recall that Frost was the biggest thing in college football since Knute Rockne when he led Central Florida to a 13-0 record in 2018. Well, he left Nebraska with a 16-31 mark, including 10-16 in the Big Ten. Oh yes, he left with a whack of cash, too. . . . From Shehan Jeyarajah of CBS Sports: “It’s hard to contextualize how badly Nebraska wanted this hire to work. Frost was a beloved son and the apparent chosen one for this program. Unfortunately, his winning percentage goes down as the worst by any full-time Nebraska coach since the Eisenhower administration.”
IT’S ONLY MONEY, PART III — The Tampa Bay Rays are again in Toronto with without reliever Brooks Raley, who isn’t vaccinated and will miss the five-game set with the Blue Jays. The Rays put him on the restricted list, meaning it will cost him US$93,407 in salary. . . . He wasn’t allowed into Canada earlier in the season and that also cost him four days’ pay. . . . What it means is that his decision not to get vaccinated has cost him $186,814. No biggie, though, because the Rays are paying him $4.25 million this season. . . . BTW, when the Rays were in Toronto earlier, reliever Ryan Thompson also wasn’t on the trip because he isn’t vaccinated. But he’s on the injured list this time. . . . The Blue Jays opened with a 3-2 victory on Monday night. They’ll play two today.
It is hard to mis-state the size of the mess in which MLB finds itself these days. It’s hard to argue against outlawing the shift and the pitch clock and the larger bases, but, sheesh, when you are bringing in rule changes that legislate against strategy you really have some issues. Especially when there is — or at least used to be — so much strategy involved in baseball. . . . But, hey, if you really want to improve the offensive side of the game, why not limit pitchers to throwing no harder than 90 mph? Just make any pitch faster than 90 a ball. . . . Hello, Bud Segal, are you interested in being commissioner, again? Please.
Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle has a couple of rule changes that he would like to see MLB implement:
“No more check swings. A check swing, no matter how far the bat goes around, is no swing. These are garbage strikeouts, pure umpire guesswork and satisfying to nobody. Result: Fewer strikeouts, more action.
“If there are five or more people in line at a beer stand, everyone in line gets free beer. Hire more damn vendors. If we want to stand in line, we’ll go to Disneyland or the DMV.”
THE COACHING GAME:
Carter Rigby has joined the Prince George Cougars as an assistant coach. He had been the head coach of the junior B Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Hockey League, who actually announced the signing on Thursday night. The Cougars made their own announcement on Saturday. . . . Rigby played in the WHL, spending time with three teams — the Cougars, Kelowna Rockets and Swift Current Broncos — through 2015. He had been with the Coyotes for the past three seasons. . . . Ken Law has been named the Coyotes’ new head coach. . . .
Eric Williams, a former WHL goaltender, has joined the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs as their goaltending coach. He also works with the BCEHL’s West Valley Giants and the CSSHL’s West Vancouver Academy. . . . Williams, 29, played four seasons (2010-14) in the WHL, spending time with the Prince Albert Raiders and Spokane Chiefs. . . . In Chilliwack, he takes over from Mackenzie Skapski, another former WHL goaltender, who now is the development goaltending coach for the AHL’s Calgary Wranglers.
Chase Johnston is the new radio voice of the Brandon Wheat Kings. He joins them after calling games for the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors for the past four seasons. In Brandon, he takes over from Brandon Crowe, who left the position late last season to join Hockey Canada. . . . The Wheat Kings also announced that their broadcasts are returning to 91.5 FM (Q Country) and 880 AM, both of which recently were purchased by the Jim Pattison Group. . . . It was only a year ago that the Wheat Kings had announced an agreement with Bell Media that put games on Bounce 96.1. Prior to that, the games had been heard on CKLQ from 1992-2021.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Les Lazaruk will be back for his 29th season of calling the play-by-play of Saskatoon Blades’ games. Oh, and he’ll be there for seasons 30 and 31, too, assuming all goes well and the creek don’t rise. . . . That’s because the Saskatoon Media Group (SMG) and the Blades have agreed to terms on a new three-year agreement that will run through the 2024-25 season. . . . This new agreement has the Blades’ games on CJWW, an AM station, for a second straight season. Being on the AM dial, Tyler Wawryk, the team’s director of business operations, said in a news release, creates “some consistency.” Prior to last season, the Blades had bounced among a handful of FM stations. . . . “We’ve appreciated being on some of the different stations at Saskatoon Media Group,” Wawryk added, “but moving back over to 600, which was the original home of Blades hockey on the radio, just has a wider range to cover.” . . . Lazaruk, who at one time was a pretty fair Strat-O-Matic baseball player, said: “Doing Blades’ radio broadcasts is what makes me want to wake up and greet each day, especially when one considers all we have gone through in the last 30 months! However, as the late, great broadcast legend Vince Scully used to say, ‘I need you more than you need me.’ I look forward to bringing you Saskatoon Blades’ action with all the professionalism and excitement I can muster.” . . . There is a complete news release right here.
The Regina Pats have signed Russian F Alexander Suzdalev, 18, whose NHL rights belong to the Washington Capitals. The Pats selected him in the 2021 CHL import draft; Washington took him 70th overall in the NHL’s 2022 draft after he put up 51 points, including 15 goals, in 45 games with the HV71 junior club in Sweden. He signed a three-year deal with the Capitals in July. . . . From a Pats news release: “Born in Khabarovsk, Russia, Suzdalev moved to Sweden when he was seven years old after his father Anatoly Suzdalev had signed a bandy contract with Swedish bandy club, Vetlanda Bandyklubb. He holds dual citizenship, but has represented Sweden at the international level, winning a gold medal with Sweden at the 2022 IIHF World U18 Championships, skating in six games.” . . . Suzdalev also is quite familiar with Pats star Connor Bedard, who played in Sweden during a time when the pandemic had shut down the WHL. “When Connor Bedard played in Sweden, he played for my team (HV71 J18 and J20),” Suzdalev said, “so we know each other pretty well, so that’s where it all started. So when the opportunity came, I thought it was a great one.” . . .
It would seem that the Pats now hold the rights to four imports, the other three being Czech F Stanislav Svozil, who had 10 goals and 31 assists in 59 games with them last season; Austrian F Luca Auer, who was selected in the 2022 import draft, and Czech G Michael Hrabal, who also was selected in the 2022 import draft. . . . Svozil, 19, put up a goal and two assists in three games with Czechia at the 2022 WJC in Edmonton. A third-round pick by Columbus in the 2021 NHL draft, he has signed with the Blue Jackets and could play with their AHL affiliate, the Cleveland Monsters. . . . Auer, 18, was pointless in four games with Austria at the 2022 WJC. He is expected to play at home this season. . . . Hrabal, 17, is expected to play with the USHL’s Omaha Lancers this season. He has committed to the U of Massachusetts for 2025-26.
ANOTHER SIGN THE APOCALYPSE IS UPON US — From The New York Times on Thursday: An infection caused by a brain-eating amoeba most likely killed a child who swam in a Nebraska river over the weekend, health officials said Thursday. It would be the first such death in the state’s history and the second in the Midwest this summer.
THIS IS WHY WE LOVE BASEBALL — After the host Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Boston Red Sox, 8-2, on Thursday, ESPN Stats & Info tweeted this: “This is just the third time the Pirates have scored at least 7 runs on the Red Sox. The others were a 9-1 win on Sept. 17, 2014 and a 7-3 win in Game 1 of the 1903 World Series, when the Red Sox were the Boston Americans. . . . Cy Young pitched for Boston that day.”
This is how strongly folks felt about the senseless destruction of forest due to fire. Ye Olde Manning Park Gallows sign was installed on #BCHwy3 in Manning Provincial Park after the “Big Burn."
The Kamloops Blazers have promoted Robbie Sandland to assistant general manager. He had been the director of player personnel. Sandland has been with the club since 2018, first as the head scout in B.C. He was named director of player personnel in 2019. . . . He will continue to work alongside Shaun Clouston, the team’s general manager and head coach, and Tim O’Donovan, the organization’s other assistant GM. . . .
The BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks have an opening after assistant coach Carter Cochrane left the team, having, according to a news release, “accepted a new opportunity.” Cochrane had been with the Silverbacks for three seasons. . . .
Alec Dillon has joined the junior B Victoria Cougars of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League as goaltending coach. The 6-foot-5 Dillon, 26, played seven games with the Edmonton Oil Kings in 2015-16 (2-2-1, 3.81, .871) after having been a fifth-round pick by the Los Angeles Kings in the NHL’s 2014 draft. But he was plagued by injuries — he underwent at least four hip surgeries — and retired after playing two seasons at the U of Victoria.
THINKING OUT LOUD — OK. You didn’t watch much, if any, of the 2022 World Junior Championship that is soon to wrap up in Edmonton. It’s August. You’re fed up with Hockey Canada. Whatever. Will you be back on the bandwagon when the 2023 tournament opens in Halifax and Moncton on Dec. 26? . . . Is it just me or are there far more gravel trucks on our streets and highways than there used to be? . . . QB Nathan Rourke of the B.C. Lions was lighting it up again on Friday, this time in Regina, before he left in the fourth quarter with an injury to his right foot. The Lions were up 28-10 at the time, and they won by that same score. Lions fans now will hold their breath and hope that Rourke can answer the bell for B.C.’s next game — at home to the Roughriders on Friday. BTW, there isn’t a QB controversy in Regina. Cody Fajardo is the starter . . . unless that sore knee doesn’t allow him to play, which may have contributed to his exit late in the first half of this one.
RORY WITH AN ACE — Rory McIlroy has been outspoken against those golfers who turned their backs on the PGA Tour for the Saudi Arabian cash of the LIV circuit. To which Patrick Reed, who isn’t the most-liked golfer in the world, said: “He’ll never win a Masters to complete a career Grand Slam.” . . . That is said to have brought this response from McIlroy: “The only chance Reed has of getting a Grand Slam is at Denny’s.”
The Brandon Wheat Kings are saddened to learn of the passing of Al Gibbs.
Al aka“Gibby” has been a part of the BWK family for over 30 years working as the away penalty box attendant and timekeeper. He will be greatly missed.
The WHL released its 2022-23 regular-season schedule on Tuesday afternoon with each of the 22 teams to play 68 games — 34 home and 34 on the road.
And, yes, there will be some interlocking play between conferences, something that was missing in 2021-22.
So . . . all you Western Conference fans who are planning on watching your home club play the Regina Pats and superstar F Connor Bedard in your building please take two steps forward. . . .
Uhh, sorry, not so fast U.S. Division fans. You are going to get visits from the six Central Division teams, but not from East Division clubs. B.C Division cities will get to see the East Division teams once each, but not the Central Division teams.
Bedard, who will turn 17 on July 17, is the favourite to be the first-overall selection in the NHL’s 2023 draft. Despite his age, he is preparing for his third WHL season, that is if you include the development season that was played early in 2021 when the pandemic wiped out what would have been the 2020-21 regular season.
Prior to that season, Hockey Canada granted Bedard exceptional status, the first WHL player to be given the right to play an WHL entire season at 15. Playing in a semi-bubble situation in Regina, Bedard, who is from North Vancouver, B.C., had 12 goals and 16 assists in 15 games before leaving to play for Team Canada at the 2021 IIHF U-18 World Championship in Frisco, Texas. He had seven goals and seven assists in seven games as Canada won gold.
Then, with each team playing a 68-game 2021-22 regular-season schedule, the WHL chose not to have its teams cross over and play in the other conference. Playing strictly within the Eastern Conference, then, Bedard put up 51 goals and 49 assists in 62 games. He also captained Canada’s U-18 team at the 2022 IIHF U-18 World Championship in Germany in April. He totalled six goals and an assist in four games, although Canada lost a quarterfinal game.
With a generational player like Bedard on one of its teams, and considering the pandemic-related circumstances that impacted the past two seasons, the WHL could have scored a public relations coup had it made sure that each of its teams played at least one game in every other arena in 2022-23. But it chose not to do that, so while the Pats are scheduled to visit each of the B.C. Division’s five teams, from Nov. 25 through Dec. 2, they won’t be venturing into the five-team U.S. Division.
That’s really too bad because assuming Bedard is the No. 1 selection in the 2023 NHL draft and depending on which team selects him, he may well be preparing for his final WHL season. That would mean the fans of U.S. Division teams could miss out entirely on seeing Bedard.
And that’s a cryin’ shame.
Unless you’re a member of the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club and have booked a seat on their 2023 East Division tour. The Winterhawks are scheduled to play in Regina on Jan. 14 and Stewart Kemp, the Booster Club’s president, tells me that they have 25 of 50 slots already filled.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The WHL’s 2022-23 regular-season schedule is to open on Sept. 23 and wrap up on March 26. . . . According to the WHL, 585 of the 748 scheduled games “will be played on weekends or holidays.” . . . The 2023 playoffs are to begin on March 31. . . . The 2023 Memorial Cup is scheduled for May 26 through June 5 in Kamloops. . . . The defending-champion Edmonton Oil Kings will open at home to the Red Deer Rebels on Sept. 23. . . .
The Winnipeg Ice is to open the new season with 13 straight road games. The Ice is to open on Sept. 24 in Brandon against the Wheat Kings and finish the trip back in Brandon on Oct. 28. That trek will include five games in the B.C. Division. Neither the WHL nor the Ice explained why the season-opening road trip in news releases. However, the U of Manitoba Bisons men’s team, which also plays in the Wayne Fleming Arena, has scheduled four early-season home games at the Rink Training Centre in Oakbank before getting into their regular home rink on Nov. 11. So perhaps the Wayne Fleming Arena is undergoing more renovations. . . .
There will be one game on Dec. 18 (Edmonton at Calgary) after which the WHL will pause until a seven-game slate on Dec. 27. . . .
At this point, the schedule has the Seattle Thunderbirds playing all of their home games at the accesso Showare Centre in Kent, Wash., with the Everett Silvertips having all their home games in the Angel of the Winds Arena. In 2021-22, the teams met in one game at Climate Pledge Arena, the home of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken. Everett won the game, 4-0, before an announced crowd of 8,381. . . . The Calgary Hitmen, according to their schedule, will play all their home games at the Scotiabank Saddledome, which also is to be the home arena for the NHL’s Calgary Flames and their AHL affiliate, which has relocated from Stockton, Calif., as well as the NLL’s Calgary Roughnecks. Hmm, that is going to be one busy facility. . . .
As you read in this space on Sunday night, Norm Daley has joined the Kamloops Blazers as their president. Daley, who also will be the alternate governor, was introduced at a Monday morning news conference. He replaces Don Moores, who died of a heart attack on June 30, 2021, at the age of 65.
The WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors, who have a long relationship with the Snowbirds aeronautic team, have undergone a branding change that includes a complete overhaul of their logo. The logo that had been a red Indian chief sporting a headdress now is circular and includes one of the Snowbirds planes — a Canadair CT-114 Tudor. . . . Ben Lypka of the Abbotsford News tweeted on June 29 that the Warriors had “filed a trademark” for the new logo. . . . The Warriors had announced in October 2020 that they were reviewing their brand. “This is not a knee-jerk reaction to what other sports teams have done,” Alan Millar, then the Warriors’ general manager, told the Regina Leader-Post at the time.“This was something that we’ve been having internal discussions about for a couple of years. I think it got to a point where we felt this was the right time and the right thing to do.” . . . The Warriors officially made the move on Tuesday. From a news release: “After two years of consultation with local stakeholders, community leaders and the Indigenous community, the Warriors launched a new brand on Tuesday.” . . . The news release is right here.
Headline at TheOnion.com: Nation unable to enjoy baseball without dozens of pitchers hitting .124.
G Ivan Fedotov won the KHL championship with CSKA Moscow earlier this year and had planned to play for the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers next season on a recently signed entry-level contract. Instead, his plans were interrupted by officials over the weekend and now, according to J.P. Barry,his agent, he is ensconced at a remote military base. . . . The Associated Press has more on the Fedotov story right here.
Phillip Sitter of the Ames Tribune reported:
“The men’s hockey club at Iowa State University engaged in years of alcohol abuse, hazing and coercing money out of club members in exchange for status during ‘Rookie Parties,’ ‘Kangaroo Court’ and ‘Rookie Run’ events, according to university investigations’ findings.
“On (June 23), those findings led the club’s suspension to be extended to include all competition for the coming school year. All activities of the Cyclone Hockey Club were suspended in May after allegations about hazing and other concerns were brought to university administration in April.”
Interestingly, Sitter also wrote that “team and club community members, however, denied the university’s findings in a statement provided through an attorney on (June 23). The statement said the university mischaracterized the events and it accused Iowa State of using the allegations as a means to restructure management of the club.”
On the subject of those golfers who have filled their bank accounts with Saudi Arabian money, Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel asks: “Why do we expect American golfers to have more ethics and morals than American corporations, American sports leagues and the American government — all of which do business with nefarious nations?”
You may be aware that Phil Mickelson got US$200 million to join the LIV Tour, while Dustin Johnson got a cool $150 million. Charles Barkley piped up: “Hey, for $150 million I’d kill a relative, even one I liked.”
THE COACHING GAME: The Coachella Valley Firebirds, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken, have hired Jessica Campbell as an assistant coach. She is the first female assistant coach in the AHL’s history. Most recently, Campbell has been working with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm. She also was an assistant coach with the German national men’s team at the IIHF World Championship. With the Firebirds, she will work alongside head coach Dan Bylsma. . . . The Firebirds will play their first season in 2022-23. . . .
The junior B Columbia Valley Rockies of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have signed Emery Olauson to a “long-term contract” as their general manager and head coach. The length of the contract wasn’t revealed. He joins the Rockies, who play out of Invermere, B.C., from the Edmundston Blizzard of the Maritime Junior Hockey League with whom he had been head coach and assistant GM. His resume also includes a stint as GM and head coach of the KIJHL’s Grand Forks Border Bruins. . . . With the Rockies, he replaces Briar McNaney, who has joined the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers as an assistant coach. . . .
Doug Houda, who played four WHL seasons (1982-86), has signed on with the NHL’s New York Islanders as an assistant coach. He has been an NHL assistant coach for the past 16 seasons — 10 with the Boston Bruins and the past six with the Detroit Red Wings. Houda, 56, played three-plus seasons with the Calgary Wrangers, then finished up his WHL career by playing 35 games with the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . .
The MJHL’s Portage Terriers have added Robbie Moar to their coaching staff as an assistant to Blake Spiller, their long-time general manager and head coach. Moar played in the MJHL, mostly with the Neepawa Natives and he spent two seasons (2019-21) there as an assistant coach. In 2021-22, Moar, a 29-year-old native of Portage la Prairie, played with the South East Manitoba Hockey League’s Portage Islanders.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
— Victoria Cougars Hockey Project (@victoriacougars) July 1, 2022
Archie Henderson, a legendary figure from the WHL’s past, will retire from his role as the Edmonton Oilers’ director of pro scouting after the NHL draft that is to be held in Montreal on Thursday and Friday. Henderson, 65, has been with the Oilers through three seasons. He had been with Detroit but moved to Edmonton when Ken Holland left the Red Wings to join the Oilers as their general manager. . . . The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Henderson played 23 NHL games after being a 10th-round selection by the Washington Capitals in the 1977 draft. . . . A native of Calgary, he played three seasons (1974-77) in the WHL — 86 games with the Lethbridge Broncos and 78 with the Victoria Cougars. In those 164 games, he totalled 26 goals, 29 assists and 700 — yes, 700! — penalty minutes. . . .
On Nov. 19, 1974, Henderson was involved in one of the most memorable scraps in WHL history. The Broncos were in Regina to play the Pats, who had a guy named Bob Poley in their lineup. At the time, the 6-foot-4, 244-pound Poley was a defensive end with the junior Regina Rams, but was still four years from starting his CFL career with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. On this day, he was four days past his 19th birthday, while Henderson was two years younger. . . . Regina was leading 5-2 at 14:20 of the second period when Henderson and Poley came together. . . . Gyle Konotopetz, then of the Regina Leader-Post, wrote that Henderson “picked a fight” with Poley, who had never fought while wearing skates. “When Henderson dropped his gloves, Poley was caught off-guard,” Konotopetz wrote. “But, after taking a couple of punches, Poley tackled Henderson as if he were playing defensive end for the Rams and returned a few of his own punches.” . . . Later, Henderson said: “The second time I hit him I thought I knocked him out, but then he just nailed me. Where’d they get him anyway? Boy, is he strong.” . . . Yes, the fans booed Henderson, who said: “I think the fans are a little unreal here. He can’t even skate. At least I can play hockey.” . . . Earl Ingarfield, then the Broncos’ head coach, said Regina coach Bob Turner had put Foley on the ice “for a reason. That took the sting out of us. . . . It’s a good thing (Henderson) fell. (Poley) would have beaten the (bleep) out of Archie.” . . . Turner felt Poley, who hadn’t gotten even one shift as the Pats had lost their previous three games, had given his club “the shot in the arm we needed.” . . . The Pats went on to win the game, 9-3, to move within one point of the second-place Broncos in the Eastern Division. The starting goaltenders were a couple of guys who would go on to become rather well-known— Ed Staniowski of the Pats and Lorne Molleken of the Broncos.
By now, perhaps you’re wondering how it was that Bob Poley ended up wearing a Regina Pats’ uniform.
Well, in 1974-75, the legendary Norm Fong, who would go on to a lengthy career as the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ equipment manager, was the Pats’ trainer/equipment manager; one person did both jobs back in the day. Fong also played some Friday night hockey, as did Poley and Roger Aldag, another aspiring football player.
Bob Turner, the Pats’ coach, was in the market for some size and toughness. One night he asked Fong if any of “those Rams kids . . . do any of them skate?”
So . . . Fong spoke with both of them.
“Roger didn’t want to have anything to do with it,” Fong recalled, “but Poley jumped at the chance.”
Poley dressed for his first game on Nov. 15, 1974 — a 6-6 tie with the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings — but didn’t see even one shift.
That led to the encounter with Lethbridge’s Archie Henderson on Nov. 19. Then, on March 11, the New Westminster Bruins went into Regina and came out with a 5-5 tie. The Bruins wound up in a post-game altercation with a Regina broadcaster after that one and coach Ernie (Punch) McLean ended up with a five-game suspension.
“It almost has reached the point where you have to go out and recruit some big stupid guy who can beat up everybody else,” Turner said after that one.
Ten days later, the Pats were in New Westminster. The Bruins won, 6-1, on March 21. The Pats beat the Cougars, 4-2, in Victoria the next night, then returned to New Westminster for a rematch on March 23 in McLean’s first game back from his suspension.
“We were playing in New West and Kerry Fraser was the ref,” Fong recalled. “They always pulled that crap where they’d have one of their guys shoot a puck in your end and then they’d come get the puck and challenge everybody. Poley shot a puck into the New West end and went and got it . . . and nobody touched him.”
Poley didn’t get a lot of ice time; in fact, his first shift came late in the game.
“With just over four minutes remaining in the game,” wrote Lyndon Little of the Vancouver Sun, “Turner sent 6-foot-5, 235-pound Bob Poley lurching off the bench to line up against Harold Phillipoff, one of the biggest of the Bruins. A former member of the Regina Rams . . . Poley — known affectionately as the Hulk from Hudson’s Bay — was along on the road trip, Turner candidly admits, to straighten out the Bruins.”
Turner told Little: ““I sent him out there to kick the bleep out of Phillipoff. I didn’t like the way he was picking on Mike McCann.”
“But,” Little wrote, “with the fans pleading for what they felt would be a classic matchup, McLean prudently replaced Phillipoff. And so the jockeying continued for the remainder of the game. Whenever Poley came on, Phillipoff would withdraw, despite the fact the Regina player was pointedly challenging the New Westminster bench.”
McLean explained his thought process: “I’m not going to risk having one of my best players break his hand on that guy’s skull. If I tried a crazy stunt like that I’d be suspended for life.”
At the time, Philipoff had 26 goals and 31 assists. Poley played 25 games with zero points and five penalty minutes to show for it. Then, in 11 playoff games, he had 10 PiMs.
But wait . . . there’s more . . .
“At the end of the game, they were lipping off and Poley went over to their bench,” Fong said. “All our guys are crapping themselves on their way to the dressing room and Poley’s out there . . . the whole New West team is in their bench and he’s chasing them into their locker room. Kerry Fraser comes over and says, ‘Bob (Turner), you’ve got to come out here and get this . . . monster off the ice. He’s chasing those guys into their dressing room.’ But nobody would fight him.”
Ahh, yes, those were the days, weren’t they?
On the day the CHL held its 2023 import draft, there were reports in the Russian media that G Ivan Fedotov of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers had been detained in Russia.
According to Joshua Manning of euroweeklynews.com, Fedotov “has been detained over suspicions of ‘dodging the Russian Army.’ ” He apparently was taken to a military registration and enlistment office.
Fedotov, 25, played this season in the KHL with CSKA Moscow. The team won the Gagarin Cup as KHL champions.
In April, Fedotov said he would be playing with the Flyers next season.
Of course, news like this makes one wonder if there might be more Russian players in this same situation. That also likely is why some players, like Flyers D Ivan Provorov, who played with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, chose not to return to Russia this offseason.
Two Russian players and one from Belarus were among 64 selected by teams in the CHL’s 2022 import draft on Friday.
Wait a minute, you’re saying. Didn’t the CHL announce in April that Russians and Belarusians were ineligible for the draft, thanks to the invasion of Ukraine?
Well, as the CHL news release wrapping up the draft pointed out: “All non-(20-year-old), import players that were previously drafted in the CHL import draft but were deleted by a CHL team before the 2022 cut-down date were eligible to be re-drafted by another CHL club in the 2022 import draft.”
The Brandon Wheat Kings used their first-round selection on Russian D Andrei Malyavin, 18, who played last season with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. He had two goals and 11 assists in 44 games.
JUST NOTES: Nine of the CHL’s 60 teams didn’t participate in the 31st import draft. All told, six goaltenders, 18 defencemen and 40 forwards were selected. . . . Of the 64 players taken, 23 were from Czech Republic. . . . Of the WHL’s 22 teams, only the Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders and Winnipeg Ice sat out. . . . The WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers held the first overall selection and took Slovakian F Adam Sýkora, who will turn 18 on Sept. 7. He had 10 goals and seven assists in 46 games with HK Nitra of the Slovakian League last season. He also had two goals and an assist in six games with the Slovakian national team at the IIHF World Championship. Sýkora’s father, Roman, had one assist in eight games with the Tri-City Americans in 1997-98 before going on to play two seasons with the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters. . . F Nikita Zozulia, 17, was the lone Ukrainian player to be selected, going to the OHL’s Flint Firebirds in the first round. He played last season with the U-16 Anaheim Jr. Ice Dogs. . . . BTW, 47 of the CHL’s 60 teams didn’t take part in the draft’s second round. Of the WHL teams, only the Vancouver Giants, Regina Pats, Kamloops Blazers and Everett made second-round selections.
The WHL rights to F Brad Lambert, a high-profile Finnish player who might be a first-round pick in the 2022 NHL draft, have been traded by the Saskatoon Blades to the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . In return, the Blades received fourth- and sixth-round selections in the WHL’s 2023 draft, a conditional first-round selection in 2023 and a conditional second-rounder in 2024. The 2023 fourth-rounder originated with the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Saskatoon had selected Lambert, whose father, Ross, is a former Blades player, in the 2020 CHL import draft. Brad also is a nephew to former WHL player/coach Lane Lambert, now the head coach of the NHL’s New York Islanders. . . . With the 2022 CHL import draft having been held Friday, days before the NHL draft, the Blades had to make a decision on whether to keep Lambert’s rights or give them up in order to make a selection. With that pick they took Czech D Tomas Ziska, 17, who had one goal and 13 assists in 31 games with a junior team this season. . . . Their other import slot belongs to sophomore Belarusian F Egor Sidorov, 18. . . . NHL Central Scouting had Lambert rated No. 10 among European skaters going into the NHL’s 2022 draft. . . . “This was definitely a unique situation all-around,” said Saskatoon general manager Colin Priestner in a statement, “given he’s a high-profile player with family connections to Saskatoon, but we’ve had his rights for over two full years and we felt the odds of him ever playing junior hockey in Canada were quite low and this way we get three good assets guaranteed up front plus two more really high picks if he ever plays in Seattle. We felt after two years of communications we’d exhausted all our options in recruiting him since he’s been playing pro hockey in Finland since he was 16-years-old.” . . . According to the Blades, they will get the conditional draft picks should Lambert sign with Seattle. . . . That likely will be a tall task for the Thunderbirds, who are looking to fill vacancies created by two of their leading scorers — Henrik Rybinski and Lukas Svejkovsky. Because Lambert, who will turn 19 on Dec. 19, will be drafted off a European roster, he will be eligible to play in the NHL, AHL or with Seattle next season.
Meanwhile, three teams from the WHL’s U.S. Divisions selected players in Friday’s import draft after losing 19-year-olds to pro contracts back home. . . . The Everett Silvertips took Czech F Dominik Rymon, 18, and Swiss G Tim Metzger, 17, after F Niko Huuhtanen signed with Jukurit of Liiga. He put up 37 goals and 40 assists in 65 games as a freshman with Everett last season after being the second-overall selection in the 2021 import draft. . . . The Silvertips still have Czech F Michal Gut on their roster, but, as a 20-year-old, he would be a two-spotter should he return. Still, he put up 18 goals and 53 assists in 53 games last season. . . .
As mentioned here the other day, Czech F Petr Moravec has left the Tri-City Americans to sign a junior contract at home with Mountfield. He had 16 goals and 19 assists in 68 games as a freshman in Tri-City last season. . . . The Americans had the fourth-overall pick and took Czech F Adam Mechura, 19. . . . Czech G Tomas Suchanek, who is heading into his second season, is the Americans’ other import. . . .
The Spokane Chiefs dropped F Yannick Proske and D Timafey Kovgoreniya prior to the draft, while retaining the rights to Czech D David Jiricek, who is the fourth-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting going into the NHL draft that is scheduled for July 7 and 8. The Chiefs selected Jiricek, now 18, in the 2020 import draft, but he has stayed at home to play for HC Plzen and the Czechia national team. . . . Proske, 19, had 12 goals and 18 assists in 58 games with the Chiefs last season and is returning to the German DEL’s Iserlohn Roosters, who chose not let him return to Spokane. . . . On Friday, the Chiefs took Italian F Tommaso De Luca, who will turn 18 on Dec. 19, then passed in the second round.
A former WHLer who knows his way around the movie/television scene and who once owned a chunk of an NHL team checks in. . . . What? You don’t know the name? You never SAW him play? Google is your friend. . . .
It’s officially the first day of Summer!! Also, to my friends and relatives up north, Happy Canada day… pic.twitter.com/19TWiUDMKV
Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton): Anti-vaxxer demands you produce a single study showing mRNA vaccines are safe — no not that one.
THE COACHING GAME: The SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks have signed Levi Stuart as an assistant coach. Stuart, 26, spent the previous three seasons with his hometown team — the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials. In Nipawin, he’ll work alongside general manager and head coach Tad Kozun, who signed a two-year deal on March 29. Before joining Merritt, Stuart worked with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants as a video coach. . . .
The junior B Sicamous Eagles of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have signed Connor McLuckie as an assistant coach. From Cranbrook, he played in the KIJHL with the Fernie Ghostriders and Golden Rockets in 2011-12, then had his playing career ended by injuries in 2012. He spent the past three seasons on the coaching staff of the East Kootenay Tier 1 Avalanche, last season as head coach. . . .
The QMJHL’s Val-d’Or Foreurs have signed head coach Maxime Desruisseaux to a contract extension, the length of which wasn’t revealed. Desruisseaux is preparing for his second season as the club’s head coach. . . .
Jeremy Colliton is the new head coach of the Abbotsford Canucks, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. He takes over from Trent Cull, who now is an assistant coach with the parent club. . . . Colliton spent most of the past four seasons as the head coach of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. He was fired last season. . . . Colliton, 37, played four seasons (2001-05) with the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders.
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The Edmonton Oil Kings won their third WHL championship on Monday night, beating the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds, 2-0, to win the best-of-seven series for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, 4-2.
The Oil Kings last won the title in 2014 when they needed seven games to get past the Portland Winterhawks in the final. They also took seven games to sideline Portland in the 2012 final. Those teams also met in the 2013 final, with Portland winning in six games.
The Oil Kings went on to win the Memorial Cup in 2014, the last time a WHL team has won the national title.
Edmonton, the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed, skated through these playoffs in 19 games, going 16-3. The Oil Kings swept the No. 7 Lethbridge Hurricanes and No. 4 Red Deer Rebels before taking out the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice, 4-1.
The Thunderbirds, meanwhile, were the Western Conference’s No. 4 seed. They got past the No. 5 Kelowna Rockets, 4-1, then went seven games against both the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks and No. 2 Kamloops Blazers. In the process, Seattle became the first team in WHL history to win two Game 7s in the same playoff season on the road. The Thunderbirds trailed Portland, 3-1, in that series, then fell behind Kamloops, 3-2.
Sebastian Cossa is the one responsible as he stops all 27 faced – including 23-of-23 in last 40 minutes. Joins Dustin Slade (VAN, 2006), Mac Carruth (POR, 2013), Laurent Brossoit (EDM, 2013), Stuart Skinner (SC, 2018) and Ian Scott (PA, 2019) as goalies with 5+ SO in playoffs. https://t.co/309FIpXw2n
Last night, the Oil Kings came out determined to get more pucks and bodies to the Seattle net. . . . F Jakub Demek (5) opened the scoring, on a PP at 7:15 of the first period, corralling a loose puck in the Seattle crease off a shot by F Josh Williams and tucking it home. . . . Edmonton went ahead 2-0 at 3:44 of the second period as D Kaiden Guhle set a franchise record with his eighth goal of these playoffs. The previous Oil Kings record belonged to Martin Gernát, who scored seven times in 2012. One year later, he scored six more. . . . Guhle was named the playoff MVP. . . . Guhle also played for the Prince Albert Raiders, who won the Ed Chynoweth Cup in 2019. That was the last time the WHL completed a playoff season as COVID-19 resulted in the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 postseason. . . . F Jake Neighbours drew two assists. . . . After getting ahead 2-0, the Oil Kings went into a 1-2-2 defence that oftentimes looked more like 1-4. . . . Edmonton G Sebastian Cossa stopped 27 shots. He finished the playoffs at 16-3, 1.93, .919, with five shutouts. . . . Seattle got 34 saves from G Thomas Milic, including 20 in the first period when his guys were outshot, 21-4. . . . Edmonton was 1-for-4 on the PP; Seattle was 0-for-6. . . . Seattle was without D Tyrel Bauer, who served the second of a two-game suspension. . . . Edmonton played again without F Dylan Guenther. . . . The Oil Kings will join the host Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL and the QMJHL-champion Shawinigan Cataractes at the four-team Memorial Cup tournament that opens on June 20 in New Brunswick.
#OHLChampionship#HAMvsWSR: For first time since 2013, the J. Ross Robertson Cup will be awarded after Game 7, forced by @SpitsHockey with their triumph in Game 6. After not scoring in series, Daniel D'Amico is the hero again with 2 goals, 1 shorthanded, 7 in 3 do-or-die games.
Meanwhile, the OHL championship for the J. Robertson Cup is going to a seventh game. The host Windsor Spitfires beat the Hamilton Bulldogs, 5-2, on Monday night to tie the series, 3-3. . . . They’ll decide the whole thing in Hamilton on Wednesday night. . . . F Daniel D’Amico led the Spitfires with two goals as they erased a 2-1 second-period deficit with the game’s last four goals. . . . F Logan Morrison had both Hamilton goals.
With his two goals, @BulldogsOHL Logan Morrison now ties Corey Perry on this list. Up to 18 straight games with a point, plus the last 4 from the regular season. Fourth 2-goal game of postseason (held goalless six times) after recording 3 in the first 68. https://t.co/3s98u7e2mk
The Regina Pats held a spring camp on the weekend and Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post was there. No, he wasn’t competing for a spot on the Pats’ protected list; he was there in search of a story, and he found two. . . . For starters, John Paddock, the Pats’ general manager and head coach, told Vanstone that the plan is to build around F Connor Bedard, meaning that the organization is more likely to acquire players than to trade away their star. . . . That story is right here.
Vanstone also chatted with Paddock about a health scare with which the latter dealt during this hockey season. Paddock left the coaching game in early February and didn’t return as he dealt with COVID-19 and lymphoma. Everything seems under control now, though, and Paddock is planning on being behind the Pats bench when a new season arrives. That story is right here.
Before arriving in Toronto for a four-game series with the Blue Jays, the Baltimore Orioles placed OF Anthony Santander, one of their best hitters, and southpaw reliever Keegan Akin on the restricted list. From Sportsnet: “The moves suggest Santander and Akin could not cross the border due to an insufficient COVID-19 vaccine status. Unvaccinated people cannot enter Canada or the United States without a quarantine period.” . . .
From the San Francisco Chronicle: The Golden State Warriors are going to their broadcaster bench for Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night against the Boston Celtics. Tim Roye, the Warriors’ radio play-by-play announcer on radio station 95.7 The Game, tested positive for the coronavirus and was knocked out of action for the broadcast. Roye will also miss Game 6 Thursday in Boston. . . .
From The New York Times: The Rolling Stones postponed a stadium concert in Amsterdam on Monday, after Mick Jagger tested positive for the coronavirus. The announcement came shortly before the show was to begin and after some fans had already entered the stadium, the AP reported. . . .
From Entertainment Weekly: One day after performing on the Tony Awards, Hugh Jackman has tested positive for COVID-19 for the second time and will miss performances of ‘The Music Man.’ . . .
From ESPN News Services: NBA commissioner Adam Silver canceled plans to attend Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics on Monday night in San Francisco because of the league’s health and safety protocols. Silver typically attends all Finals games. The league did not say if Silver had tested positive for COVID-19 or been deemed a close contact of someone who had, nor did it release any details about his health.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The MJHL’s Neepawa Titans have added Zak Hicks and Landon Cameron as assistant coaches. Hicks played in the MJHL with the Winkler Flyers under then-head coach Ken Pearson, who now is the Titans’ head coach. Cameron is a familiar face in Neepawa, having been involved with various levels of hockey in the community.
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The Edmonton Oil Kings could become the WHL’s first playoff champion since the spring of 2019 with a victory over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds tonight (Saturday).
The Oil Kings returned home Wednesday night after having won twice in Kent, Wash. — 4-0 on Tuesday and 3-2 earlier Wednesday. That put the Oil Kings in control of the series for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, with a 3-1 lead.
Keep in mind, however, that the Thunderbirds haven’t been an easy out in these playoffs. In fact, this game will mark the sixth time that Seattle will have faced elimination. Yes, the Thunderbirds are 5-0 in elimination games, having come back from a 3-1 deficit against the Portland Winterhawks and 3-2 against the Kamloops Blazers. In the process, the Thunderbirds became the first team in WHL history to win two Game 7s on the road.
If they are to win this series, they’ll have to do it on the road, too. Because the arena in Kent is busy with high school graduation ceremonies, this series is running on a 2-2-3 format with as many of the last three games as needed to be played in Edmonton. Should a sixth game be necessary, it would be played on Monday with the Thunderbirds designated as the home team. If needed, Game 7 would be be played on Tuesday.
Seattle will be without D Tyrel Bauer, its captain and a dominating shutdown defender, tonight and again on Monday if there is a Game 6. Bauer, 20, who has signed with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, drew a two-game suspension for an early first-period hit on Edmonton F Brendan Kuny on Wednesday. Bauer was given an interference major and game misconduct on the play. Kuny received medical attention from personnel from both teams, was placed on a backboard, then removed from the ice surface on a stretcher and taken to an area hospital. He rejoined his teammates before the night was done and returned with them to Edmonton where he was examined by the team’s medical staff on Thursday. Kuny, a 20-year-old from Ardrossan, Alta., won’t play again in this series.
The Prince Albert Raiders hold the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champions, having won it in 2019. The WHL was closing in on its 2019-20 playoff season when the COVID-19 pandemic forced cancellation of the remainder of the season late in March. There wasn’t a true regular season in 2020-21 — with teams playing an abbreviated development season — before things resumed in earnest last fall.
The Oil Kings are gunning for the organization’s first WHL title since 2014. They went on to win the Memorial Cup that spring, the last time a WHL team has won it.
The 2022 Memorial Cup is scheduled to run from June 20-29 in Saint John, N.B.
The only team assured a spot in the four-team tournament to date is the host Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL. They were eliminated in the first round, then fired head coach Gordie Dwyer on May 26, replacing him with Gardiner MacDougall, the head coach of the U of New Brunswick Reds for 22 seasons. MacDougall is to return to the Reds when the tournament is over.
Nathan Staios, in return to lineup after missing 5 games, burns former squad with tying goal scoring with the extra man with 2 minutes left. 'Dogs 2nd extra man goal this season. Staios finished T-7th in defenceman goals in season (15). Team improves to 13-1-2-0 when he scores https://t.co/B6CF0NL4Bg
Meanwhile, the OHL playoffs continued on Friday night in Windsor where the Hamilton Bulldogs beat the Spitfires, 3-2, in OT. . . . F Will Cuylle gave Windsor a 2-1 lead at 12:41 of the second period, and the Spitfires nursed that edge into the last two minutes of the third period. . . . D Nathan Staios then pulled Hamilton even at 18:03 with G Marco Costantini on the bench for an extra attacker. . . . D Gavin White won it with his second goal of the playoffs, at 7:31 of extra time. The goal came 10 seconds after the conclusion of a Hamilton PP opportunity. . . . They’ll play Game 5 in Hamilton on Sunday, with Game 6 scheduled for Monday in Windsor. . . .
In the QMJHL, the visiting Charlottetown Islanders scored four times in the second period on Thursday night and went on to beat the Shawinigan Cataractes, 7-0. . . . G Francesco Lapenna earned the shutout with 16 saves. . . . Shawinigan still holds a 3-1 lead in the series with Game 5 scheduled for Charlottetown tonight. . . .
Remember that all of these playoff games are being televised by TSN.
THE COACHING GAME:
The Kamloops Blazers announced on Friday that Mark Holick is leaving the organization for “personal reasons” after one season as associate coach. . . . Shaun Clouston, the Blazers’ general manager and head coach, told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week: “Originally, the plan was for Mark to move his family up here. There were some schooling- and work-related situations with his wife and the roads closed there for half the winter. That didn’t make it easier. And there is a situation right now they’re dealing with that was just going to make that move impossible. When you added everything up, it just wasn’t going to work out with him and his family moving forward.” . . . Clouston said that the Blazers, who will be the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup tournament, are likely to hire two full-time assistant coaches before the 2022-23 season gets here. . . . Hastings’ story is right here. . . .
The Calgary Hitmen have signed assistant coach Matt Stajan to a two-year extension. A veteran of 1,003 regular-season NHL games, Stajan just completed his first season on Calgary’s coaching staff. He works alongside head coach Steve Hamilton and fellow assistant Trent Cassan. . . .
The Regina Pats have signed five members of the their hockey operations staff to what the team referred to as “multi-year contract extensions.” . . . Assistant coach Brad Herauf is preparing for his eighth season with the Pats. A Regina native, he stepped in as interim head coach early in February and remained in that position through season’s end as John Paddock, the general manager and head coach, was sidelined with health-related issues. . . . Ken Schneider, the club’s other assistant coach, just completed his first season on the coaching staff. He previously had scouted for the Pats for three seasons. . . . Rob Muntain, the goaltending coach, is returning for his 12th season with the club. . . . Greg Mayer, the athletic therapist, is preparing for his 19th season. He is the longest-serving member of the hockey operations department. . . . Gord Cochran, the Pats’ equipment manager, will be back for his ninth season in Regina.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Prince George Cougars have acquired F Chase Wheatcroft, 20, from the Winnipeg Ice for a fourth-round selection in the WHL’s 2023 draft. Wheatcroft, from Calgary, was acquired by the Ice from the Lethbridge Hurricanes during the 2021-22 season. In 55 games, he totalled 16 goals and 22 assists. He added a goal and five assists in 15 playoff games. . . . Wheatcroft is the second 20-year-old forward picked up by the Cougars of late. Last month, they added Nolan Boyko from the Saskatoon Blades. He and Wheatcroft were teammates in Lethbridge at one point. . . .
Cole Waldie will be the play-by-play voice of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars when another season gets here. The former radio voice of the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings has joined the Cougars as their director or broadcasting, communications and public relations. Waldie spent the past three seasons with the Spruce Kings. He replaces Fraser Rodgers, who left after five years with the Cougars to return to the BCHL’s Penticton Vees as their vice-president of business operations and director of broadcasting, communications and public relations. . . .
A couple of interesting notes from the annual meeting of the junior B Fernie Ghostriders of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. For starters, accountant Jason Traska reported that despite attendance being limited to 500 fans per game for a lot of the season the organization was able to pay off a $40,000 COVID-19 loan and have money left over. As well, the blog Rider News reported: “Oddly enough, overall attendance was down but beer sales were up, and that’s great news for the Fernie Brewing Company and anyone who sells Tylenol.” . . . Oh, and did we mention that seven people — yes, SEVEN — attended the AGM.
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