Mother Nature has thrown a wrench into the final week of the WHL’s regular-season schedule.
The Regina Pats, who are trying to get into the playoffs, were to have played the Ice in Winnipeg on Thursday and Friday nights. On Tuesday afternoon, on the heels of the NHL’s decision to postpone a game scheduled for tonight between the visiting Seattle Kraken and the Jets, the WHL postponed Thursday’s game between the Pats and Ice.
The WHL’s news release didn’t mention Friday’s game; nor did it mention the possibility of Thursday’s game being rescheduled. These are the only two games left on the Ice’s schedule; the Pats, who are two points out of a playoff spot, are to entertain the Moose Jaw Warriors on Sunday to close out the regular season.
ICYMI, residents of southeastern Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba have been told that the worst blizzard in decades is expected to wreak havoc over the next couple of days.
If the storm is as bad as is being forecast there isn’t any guarantee the Pats will be able to get to Winnipeg for Friday’s game, which would only make things even more interesting.
The WHL’s 22 teams are into the final week of their 68-game regular seasons. Here’s a look at where things are in terms of playoff opponents (GR — games remaining) . . .
- Everett Silvertips — Hold three-point lead over Kamloops, each with two games to play. Will meet Vancouver, Spokane, Prince George or Victoria in first round. . . . Will be without Olen Zellweger, the WHL’s highest-scoring defenceman, until at least the start of the playoffs. . . . GR (2): at Portland on Friday, at Tri-City on Saturday.
- Kamloops Blazers — Three points behind Everett and tied with Portland. . . . GR (2): at home to Prince George on Friday and Vancouver on Saturday.
- Portland Winterhawks — Will finish second or third. Beat host Tri-City in OT on Tuesday night to move into tie with Kamloops. . . . GR (1): at home to Everett on Friday.
- Seattle Thunderbirds — Will finish fourth and will have home-ice advantage against Kelowna in first round. . . . GR (2): at Vancouver tonight, at Tri-City on Friday.
- Kelowna Rockets — Will finish fifth and meet Seattle in first round. . . . GR (2): at Vancouver on Friday, at home to Prince George on Saturday.
- Vancouver Giants — Have three games remaining and are one point ahead of Spokane and Prince George. . . . GR (3): at home to Seattle tonight, at home to Kelowna on Friday, at Kamloops on Saturday.
- Prince George Cougars — Tied with Spokane for seventh with same records (23-28-5), one point behind Vancouver and one ahead of Victoria. . . . GR (2): at Kamloops on Friday, at Kelowna on Saturday.
- Spokane Chiefs — Tied with Prince George. . . . GR (2): at Victoria on Friday and Saturday.
- Victoria Royals — One point behind Prince George and Spokane. . . . GR (2): at home to Spokane on Friday and Saturday.
- Tri-City Americans — Not this season.
- Winnipeg Ice — Will finish atop the overall standings so is assured of home ice through the playoffs. First-round opponent will be Swift Current, Calgary, Regina or Prince Albert. . . . Home game versus Regina on Thursday has been postponed due to impending weather condtions. No word on whether it will be rescheduled. Have to think it won’t be unless Regina is still in playoff hunt. . . . GR (2): at home to Regina on Thursday (ppd.) and Friday. That is assuming Regina is able to get to Winnipeg through what should be the blizzard’s aftermath.
- Edmonton Oil Kings — Will finish second and open against Lethbridge. . . . GR (2): at Medicine Hat on Friday, at Red Deer on Saturday.
- Red Deer Rebels — Will finish third and meet Saskatoon, Moose Jaw or Brandon in the first round. . . . GR (2): at Calgary tonight, at home to Edmonton on Saturday.
- Moose Jaw Warriors — Won 5-2 in Brandon on Tuesday to move two points ahead of Saskatoon. . . . GR (2): at Lethbridge on Friday, at Regina on Sunday.
- Saskatoon Blades — Two points behind Moose Jaw and each team has 37 victories. . . . Three points ahead of Brandon. . . . GR (1): at home to Brandon on Friday.
- Brandon Wheat Kings — Three points behind Saskatoon. . . . GR (2): at Saskatoon on Friday, at Prince Albert on Saturday.
- Lethbridge Hurricanes — Will finish seventh and play Edmonton in the first round. . . . GR (2): at home to Moose Jaw on Friday, at Calgary on Sunday.
- Swift Current Broncos — Holds down conference’s last playoff spot but has only one game remaining. . . . One point ahead of Calgary, two ahead of Regina and Prince Albert. . . . GR (1): at home to Prince Albert on Friday.
- Calgary Hitmen — One point behind Swift Current, two in front of Regina and Prince Albert. . . . GR (2): at home to Red Deer tonight, at home to Lethbridge on Sunday.
- Regina Pats — Tied with Prince Albert, two points behind Swift Current and one behind Calgary. . . . Three games remaining but two are at Winnipeg and the first one, scheduled for Thursday, has been postponed with no word on whether it will be rescheduled. . . . GR (3): at Winnipeg on Thursday (ppd.) and Friday, at home to Moose Jaw on Sunday.
- Prince Albert — Tied with Regina, two points behind Swift Current and one behind Calgary. . . . GR (2): at Swift Current on Friday, at home to Brandon on Saturday.
- Medicine Hat — Sorry. Not this time.
The Everett Silvertips will play out the final week of the WHL’s regular season without D Olen Zellweger after he was injured in the first period of a 4-1 loss to the host Seattle Thunderbirds on Sunday.
The Silvertips aren’t saying, nor are they likely to, anything about the extent of his injury, if there is an injury, or whether he’ll be in the lineup when they open the playoffs. Zellweger is listed as being out day-to-day on Tuesday’s injury report.
Here’s Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald:
“Everett was on the power play when Zellweger skated the puck to the Seattle blue line, passed to a teammate while continuing into the offensive zone, received the return pass, then was plastered along the back boards by T-birds defenceman Samuel Knazko. Zellweger remained motionless on the ice for several moments and had to be attended to by athletic trainers from both teams before he was placed on a stretcher. Zellweger gave the crowd the thumbs up as he was being carted off following a 13-minute delay. Knazko was not penalized on the play.
The good news, according to Tips coach Dennis Williams, was that Zellweger was released from the hospital and rejoined the team just prior to leaving ShoWare Center following Sunday’s game. Williams declined to elaborate on the nature of the injury and said Zellweger had no timetable for a return, beyond being unavailable for the final two games of the regular season.”
TUESDAY IN THE WHL:
In Brandon, the Moose Jaw Warriors opened up a 2-0 first-period lead en route to a 5-2 victory over the Wheat Kings. . . . F Ryder Korczak had a goal and two assists for the Warriors, who scored the game’s last two goals as well as the first two. . . . Korczak has 24 goals. . . . F Nolan Ritchie (33) had a goal and an assist for Brandon, which had won its previous five games. . . . You can bet the Warriors hightailed it out of Brandon when this one was over. With a big, ugly blizzard on the way, the RCMP said it would be closing all major highways in southern Manitoba “around midnight or when it begins to snow.” . . .
In Kennewick, Wash., F James Stefan scored in OT to give the Portland Winterhawks a 4-3 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Stefan’s 34th goal at 1:37 of OT gave Portland its fifth straight victory. . . . The Americans had tied the score, 3-3, on F Parker Bell’s 17th goal at 12:36 of the third period. . . . The Winterhawks had a 43-23 edge in shots.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Cody Beach, who played in the WHL with the Calgary Hitmen and Moose Jaw Warriors, made his NHL refereeing debut on Tuesday night, working a game between the host Arizona Coyotes and New Jersey Devils. He worked alongside Trevor Hanson, a former WHL referee. Beach, 29, played professionally through the 2015-16 season before turning to officiating. Yes, Beach worked WHL games as a referee. He is the younger brother of former WHLer Kyle Beach.
If you’re a regular in these parts, you know that we’re big on organ donation and transplantation in these parts. That’s because my wife, Dorothy, is with us today because of a kidney transplant. And now she is preparing to take part in the annual Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year. . . . The 2022 Kidney Walk will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . The Kidney Walk is a huge fund-raising venture for the Canadian Kidney Foundation and its provincial branches. By participating, Dorothy is able to give something back to an organization that has been such a big part of our lives. . . . If you would like to be on her team by making a donation you are able to do so right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Living Kidney Donor Program
St. Paul’s Hospital
6A Providence Building
1081 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6
Toll free: 1-877-922-9822
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
Or, for more information, visit right here.