Toigo and Giants ready for AHL challenge . . . Canada, Russia on to U18 final . . . Jarvis fills hat for Portland


Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, says his Vancouverfranchise is more than ready to deal with having a bit more competition should the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks move their AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets, to the Abbotsford Centre. . . . The Canucks said Tuesday that they intend to move the Comets, that they are negotiating with the City of Abbotsford, and that the AHL’s board of governors is expected to vote on the move during a meeting today. . . . The Giants play out of the Langley Events Centre, which is 34 km west of the Abbotsford Centre. . . . “It’s no different than the restaurant business, where a guy can open another restaurant just down the street,” Toigo, whose family owns the White Spot restaurant chain, told Steve Ewen of Postmedia. “It’s competition and I think that’s a healthy thing. It keeps everyone on their toes. It gets rid of complacency. It’s going to be more of a challenge. At end of the day, I think we’ll be fine.” . . .

Toigo also pointed out that with the pandemic still running amok, there still are a whole lot of unanswered questions with the start of the 2021-22 season hopefully around five months away.

As Toigo told Ewen: “Are people going to be allowed to come to games? If they are, how many will you be allowed to have in the rink? And, if they are allowed to come, how many are going to want to? There are still a lot of question marks.”

Ewen’s complete story is right here.



F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats scored three times on Wednesday as Team U18Canada dropped Sweden, 8-1, in one semifinal game at the IIHF U18 World championship in Frisco, Texas. . . . Canada had beaten Sweden, 12-1, in a round-robin game. . . . In the other semifinal, Russia edged Finland, 6-5. . . . Canada will meet Russia for the gold medal today (6 p.m. PT, TSN). . . . That means it will be Bedard against Russian F Michkov Matvei, 16, who leads the tournament with 11 goals. Both are eligible for the NHL’s 2023 draft. . . . Matvei also shares the points lead, at 13, with teammate Nikita Chibrikov. Matvei had one goal last night, while Chibrikov, the team captain, scored twice and added an assist. . . . Bedard has 12 points, including six goals, in Canada’s six games. He put up five goals and three assists in his last two games; he had two goals and three assists in a 10-3 victory over Czech Republic in a Monday quarterfinal game. . . . Bedard also is two points shy of F Connor McDavid’s output as a 15-year-old in the 2013 tournament in Sochi, Russia. McDavid had a tournament-high 14 points, eight of them goals, in seven games. . . . This will be only the second time in the U18 event’s history that Canada and Russia have met in the final. In 2008 in Kazan, Russia,, Canada beat Russia, 8-0. Team Canada’s head coach? Pat Quinn.


Stuffing


The WHL’s 2021 developmental season is into its final days. In fact, there are only seven days remaining with 12 teams — two in Alberta, five in B.C., five in the U.S. — scheduled to play 17 games before it’s over. . . . The Edmonton Oil Kings and Medicine Hat Tigers will conclude their seasons tonight. . . .  There were three games on Wednesday night. . . .

In Kamloops, G Taylor Gauthier stopped 26 shots to lead the Prince George PGCougars to a 3-0 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . The Cougars (9-7-3) have points in six straight (5-0-1). . . . The Giants (10-9-0) have lost two in a row. . . . The Cougars moved past the Giants into second place in the B.C. Division. . . . Vancouver’s loss also means that the idle Kamloops Blazers (14-4-0) will finish with more points than any of the other four B.C. teams. The idle Kelowna Rockets (8-3-1), however, are still able to finish higher by way of points percentage — with each team having four games to play Kamloops is at .778 with Kelowna at .708. The WHL ruled that first place in this developmental season will be decided by points percentage because of the difference in games played. . . . The Blazers and Rockets will meet once more, in Kelowna on Monday. . . . Last night, F Koehn Ziemmer scored the Cougars’ first two goals, at 4:36 and 17:31 of the second period. He’s got nine goals, five of them over his past three games. . . . F Tyson Upper (5) got the empty-netter. . . . Gauthier, making his 150th regular-season appearance, earned his first shutout this season and No. 6 for his career. This season, he is 7-6-0, 2.70, .917. . . . Vancouver G Drew Sim made 13 saves. . . . The Cougars were able to dress only 11 forwards and five defencemen, tweeting before the game that “the hub is taking its toll.” . . . D Jack Sander, the Cougars’ captain, played in his 200th regular-season game. . . .

F Gage Goncalves scored the only goal of a shootout to give the host Everett EverettSilvertips a 4-3 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Everett (17-4-0) has won two in a row. . . . Seattle now is 8-12-0. . . . Seattle held 2-0 and 3-1 leads in the second period. . . . F Keltie Jeri-Leon scored first, at 4:49 of the first period, with F Henry Rybinski (5), who also had two assists, making it 2-0 at 1:06 of the second. . . . F Austin Roest (3) scored for Seattle at 9:43. . . . Jeri-Leon made it 3-1 with his 15th goal at 11:02. . . . The Silvertips tied it on second-period goals from F Jackson Berezowski (6), at 16:48, and Goncalves (12), on a PP at 18:19. . . . G Dustin Wolf stopped 28 shots for Everett, four fewer than Seattle’s Berry Jackson. . . .

F Seth Jarvis scored three times as the visiting Portland Winterhawks beat the PortlandAlternateTri-City Americans, 7-2. . . . The Winterhawks improved to 10-8-3. . . . The Americans (7-9-0) had won their previous two games. . . . D Marc Lajoie (1) gave the Americans a 1-0 lead just 45 seconds into the game. . . . Portland then struck for five first-period goals — two from Jarvis, two from F Mason Mannek, who has 10, and one from F Simon Knak. . . . Jarvis completed his second hat trick of the season at 18:47 of the second period when a shot by F Jack O’Brien went in off one of his legs. . . . Knak (14) got his second goal of the night in the third period. . . . F Nick Bowman (3) had Tri-City’s other goal. . . . Tri-City D Lukas Dragicevic, the fourth overall selection in the 2020 bantam draft, picked up an assist on Bowman’s goal. It was Dragicevic’s first WHL point and came in his fifth game. He’s only 108 points behind his father, Milan, who put up 109 points, 34 of them goals, in 240 games split between the Regina Pats, New Westminster Bruins, Tri-City, Spokane Chiefs and Victoria Cougars (1986-90). . . . Tri-City scratched D Luke Zazula, its captain, presumably with an undisclosed injury.



Bologna


Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity.

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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

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Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Brent Hughes has joined the junior B Ridge Meadow Flames of the Pacific Junior Hockey League as head coach. Hughes 55, played four seasons in the WHL (1983-87, New Westminster Bruins, Victoria Cougars) before going on to a pro career that included 357 NHL games. He takes over the Flames from Bayne Ryshak, who was dropped after last season. . . . The SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves have hired Braden Malsbury as their director of marketing, communications and broadcasting. According to a news release, he “will oversee the team’s marketing and communications effort. He also will return to the broadcast booth for his ninth season of calling games in the SJHL.” He had been the radio voice of the Ice Wolves for MBC Radio until being laid off on March 29.


Cheerio

Scattershooting: Ex-player starts Hockey Gives Blood . . . Bruins win emotional opener . . . Holick signs with Yale

Scattershooting


Stu Middleton was playing for the junior B Revelstoke Grizzlies in 2000-01 when his father was killed in a car accident in the Rogers Pass while en route to a game. Since then, Middleton has been wanting to do something with his father’s memory in mind. Following the tragedy involving the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, Middleton hooked up with some former teammates and now a project is underway. It involves the Canadian Blood Services Partners for Life Program and a website — hockeygivesblood.ca. . . . If you are with a team or league, you will want to check this out and you also will want to make this a full-time part of your program. . . . Pam Cowan of the Regina Leader-Post has more right here.



The SJHL issued its players-of-the-week news release on Friday. . . . If you haven’t yet read the news release, it’s right here and it is well worth your time.


When there are tragedies such as the one involving the Humboldt Broncos, major media outlets often send in long-form writers who will attempt to capture the atmosphere in the community. Sports Illustrated assigned Greg Bishop to the story. . . . The top reads: “An unthinkable tragedy struck Humboldt when a bus crash killed 16 members of the Broncos junior hockey team. As the small city recovers, it doesn’t want to be defined by the crash; it wants to be defined by how its heartbroken community responds.” . . . If you haven’t seen it, Bishop’s piece is right here.

Meanwhile, The Globe and Mail gave the assignment to Marty Klinkenberg, who writes that these days “there is no normal” in Humbolt. His piece is right here.


The Estevan Bruins opened the SJHL’s best-of-seven championship final with a 5-2 victory over the Hawks in Nipawin on Saturday night before a sellout crowd of 1,199 fans. They’ll play Game 2 tonight (Sunday) in Nipawin. . . . The Bruins put the game away with two late empty-net goals. . . . This was the first game for both teams since the Humboldt Broncos’ bus crashed en route to Nipawin for a playoff game on April 6. . . . Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post was in Nipawin and filed two pieces. His game story is right here, while a piece looking at the overall scene is right here.



Meanwhile, there is quite a story being written in the AJHL where the Spruce Grove Saints have taken a 2-0 lead over the Okotoks Oilers in the best-of-seven championship final. . . . On Saturday night, the visiting Saints got an OT goal from F Chris Van Os-Shaw, who played the previous two seasons with the Humboldt Broncos, to beat the Oilers, 3-2. That was his second goal of the game. The Saints had tied the game on goal from F Josh Harris with 47 seconds left in the third period. . . . Van Os-Shaw, a 20-year-old from Regina, is ticketed for Minnesota State-Mankato next season. . . . One night earlier, Van Os-Shaw, the AJHL’s regular-season MVP, scored on a penalty shot and drew an assist on Harris’s OT winner in a 4-3 victory. . . . They’ll play Games 3 and 4 in Spruce Grove on Monday and Tuesday nights.



TheCoachingGame

Mark Holick is back in the coaching game, this time in Canada. He has been named head coach of the Yale Hockey Academy’s midget prep team and the director of the midget programs. According to a news release, Holick “will also be working with students this off-season on skill development and will be assisting with student recruitment.” . . . Holick has extensive coaching experience, including more than six seasons as a WHL head coach. . . . Most recently, he spent more than one season as the head coach of Pustertal/Val Pusteria, an Italian entry in the Alps Hockey League. . . . The Yale Hockey Academy is located in Abbotsford, B.C.


The AJHL’s Olds Grizzlys have signed Garry VanHereweghe to a two-year deal as general manager and associate coach, while removing the interim head coach tag from Joe Murphy, who also got a two-year deal. . . . The Grizzlys finished last in the South Division, at 18-37-5, this season, and head coach Adam Redmond and Doug Hergenhein, the director of player personnel and head coach left late in the season. Murphy, who had been associate coach and assistant GM, was named interim head coach at that time. . . . VanHereweghe had been the vice-president of hockey operations with the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles.


The junior B Ridge Meadow Flames of the Pacific Junior Hockey League have signed Derek Bedard as their new general manager, replacing Jamie Fiset, who has joined the Valley West Hawks of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. Fiset, who had been with the Flames through 12 seasons, starting as the goaltending coach, will be the Hawks’ general manager. . . . The Flames also announced that Bayne Ryshak will return as head coach.


The junior B Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League need a new head coach after Ken Law’s contract wasn’t renewed. The Coyotes have been in Osoyoos for eight years, and Law had been there from the beginning. Owner Randy Bedard told Richard McGuire of the Osoyoos Times that “it’s just sometimes you know when it’s time to make a change. You get that feeling where it’s time to freshen up.” . . . Law told McGuire: “I was planning on coming back and was negotiating my contract. Randy just said that he decided to change things up. These things happen.” . . . This season, the Coyotes finished 32-11-2, with two ties, leaving them atop the Okanagan Division, nine points ahead of the Kelowna Chiefs. Osoyoos dropped the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference final in seven games to the Revelstoke Grizzlies. . . . McGuire’s story is right here.

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