Thunderbirds drop two after racist incident . . . COVID-19 takes chunks out of Fighting Irish, two baseball leagues, NHL


Earlier this week, Geoff Baker, a reporter with the Seattle Times, was writing about Brendan Lee, a forward with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips who was born Everettin Seattle and is of Chinese heritage.

Baker wrote about how Lee was “jolted” by last week’s mass shooting in Atlanta in which six women of Asian descent were killed, something that brought stories of anti-Asian harassment to the forefront.

Baker wrote: “Lee said neither he nor his immediate family have felt targeted, though he’s aware of fears within the broader Asian community. He hopes there’s some role he can play, through hockey, in projecting a positive image of Asian Americans — within that diverse community and beyond.”

Lee told Baker: “It’s horrible what happened. And with the platform I have, I think I can be an influencer. Maybe have somebody look up to me that’s a kid, who can see an American Asian playing hockey — and that it’s a kid from Seattle.”

Let’s move ahead to Thursday now, when Baker was writing this:

“Two teenage forwards with the Seattle Thunderbirds major junior hockey Seattleteam have been released for the remainder of the season for a racial-taunting incident in which the squad’s lone Black player alleged he was called a racial slur and had a banana waved in front of him.

“The players, age 17 and 18, had been suspended the Thunderbirds’ first two Western Hockey League games last weekend after team officials investigated a complaint of racial harassment against a 17-year-old teammate.

“On Thursday the team informed the suspended players they were no longer on the team and would be flown back home to Canada shortly, and removed their names from the roster.”

Baker reported that the Thunderbirds have said neither player will be back next season, although the team will maintain their rights and could trade them.

“Both are awaiting further instructions on when they can return to Canada due to tightened border restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he wrote. “The 17-year-old is from Alberta, the 18-year-old from British Columbia.”

The victim texted Baker: “I am very disappointed with what happened, but I appreciate and respect the way my organization has handled this situation. That’s all I am going to say, and now I just want to focus on our season at hand.”

Baker’s wonderful story on Lee is right here.

Baker’s story involving the Thunderbirds is right here.


Oh boy, is the general manager of the Ottawa Senators going to be sorry about losing his cool in this age of social media, or what? This was Pierre Dorion after his club lost in OT to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night . . .


The Regina Pats broke a 1-1 tie with four straight goals en route to a 5-3 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders in the Regina hub on Thursday. . . . F Carson WHL2Denomie, who went into this developmental season with 35 goals in 198 regular-season games, scored his seventh goal in as many games for the Pats (2-3-2). He also had an assist. . . . Regina F Connor Bedard had two assists, giving the 15-year-old 12 points as he has started his WHL career on a seven-game point streak. . . . F Cole Carrier also had a goal and an assist for Regina, with D Ryker Evans adding two assists. . . . The Raiders (2-3-2) are winless in four games (0-3-1) after opening this developmental season by earning five points in their first three games. . . . Regina lost its captain, F Logan Nijhoff, to a kneeing major at 5:24 of the third period. . . . Prince Albert was without its captain, D Kaiden Guhle, for a fifth straight game due to a hand injury. . . . The Raiders dressed only one goaltender, Carter Serhyenko, because Cam Paddock is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. . . . Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, told Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW that “we had a goalie from another team (WInnipeg Ice) in the stands, so if something (had) happened to Carter, he would have dressed. It’s part of the bubble. It’s the way it is.” . . .

In the night’s other game, F Ridly Greig’s first goal of the season, shorthanded at 4:11 of the third period, broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Brandon Wheat Kings a 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Ice. . . . F Connor Geekie gave the Ice a 1-0 lead in the first period, but Brandon scored three times — F Nate Danielson, F Rylen Roersma and F Jake Chiasson — in a span of 2:17 before the period ended. . . . F Peyton Krebs and F Owen Pederson pulled the Ice (5-2-0) even, the latter scoring on a PP at 2:09 of the third. . . . Winnipeg had won five straight since opening with a 3-2 loss to Brandon on March 13. . . . The Wheat Kings (5-2-1) were without D Braden Schneider for a second straight game. He is listed as day-to-day with what is believed to be an injury to his right knee.


Scarecrow


It was a big day for COVID-19 on the sporting front Thursday. First, it took the Notre Dame Fighting Irish right out of the chase for the NCAA men’s hockey title. And then it took big chunks out of two summer baseball leagues that used to feature lots of U.S. college players. Oh, and it got into the coach staff of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres for the second time this season . . .

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The Fighting Irish were to have taken part in the NCAA Northeast Regional hockey tournament in Albany, N.Y., this weekend. But they have had to withdraw due to COVID-19 protocols. . . . According to head coach Jeff Jackson, “With multiple positives and contact tracing it became clear that for the safety of our team and others in the tournament we could not proceed.” . . . Notre Dame was to have played the Boston College Eagles on Saturday. That game has been declared no-contest and the Eagles moved directly into Sunday’s regional final against either St. Cloud State or Boston U. . . . Interestingly, Notre Dame was in the tournament as a late invitee after St. Lawrence U had to withdraw because of COVID-19 protocols. Notre Dame couldn’t be replaced because the NCAA had set a Monday night deadline for replacements to be made.

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The pandemic has forced quite a shuffling of the deck with the Western Canadian Baseball League. . . . The Edmonton Prospects, Lethbridge Bulls, Okotoks Dawgs (two teams) and Sylvan Lake Gulls have said that they will play the 2021 season using only Canadian players. . . . According to the league, the Fort McMurray Giants and Medicine Hat Mavericks continue to discuss their options. . . . At the same time, “due to the COVID-19 restrictions, border issues and the uncertainty of any changes,” five other teams — the Brooks Bombers, Moose Jaw Miller Express, Regina Red Sox, Swift Current 57’s and Weyburn Beavers — have decided to sit out the 2021 season. . . . At the same time, Taylor Shire of Global Regina tweeted that the “Yorkton Carinals and Melville Millionaires have left the WCBL and, according to WCBL president Kevin Kvame they both ceased operations.” . . .

From a news release issued by the Red Sox:

“Player and staff testing protocols will need to be in place at an estimated cost of $40,000 per team, as well as quarantine costs amounting to $2,000 per player. Interprovincial travel continues to be restricted, and the US/Canada border remains closed at this time. The WCBL is exploring options for an ‘All Canadian League’ in Alberta, which would also be subject to quarantine, testing, and border restrictions, presenting a challenge for the league. The Saskatchewan franchises have made the decision to defer the resumption of operations until 2022.”

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Marker

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The West Coast League, a wood-bat summer baseball league, has revised its 2021 schedule in order to remove international travel from its regular season, but it is leaving open the possibility of a playoff format involving teams from both Canada and the U.S. . . . The WCL, which features 15 teams, didn’t play in 2020. . . . In Canada, the Kelowna Falcons have opted out of the 2021 season, leaving the Victoria HarbourCats to play against three first-year teams — the Edmonton Riverhawks, Kamloops NorthPaws and Nanaimo NightOwls. . . . American teams in the league are the Bend Elks, Corvallis Knights, Cowlitz Black Bears, Portland Pickles, Ridgefield Raptors, Walla Walla Sweets, Bellingham Bells, Port Angeles Lefties, Wenatchee Apple Sox and Yakima Valley Pippins.

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Kevyn Adams, the Buffalo Sabres’ general manager, served as head coach on Thursday night as the team lost 4-0 to the Penguins in Pittsburgh. That’s nhl2because Don Granato, who was named interim head coach last week after Ralph Krueger was fired, and interim assistant coach Matt Ellis were in self-isolation. . . . This is the second time this season that the Sabres’ coaching staff was impacted by the virus. Earlier, Krueger tested positive and missed some time. . . . The Sabres have six victories this season; they have been shut out seven times. . . .

Meanwhile, the New York Rangers had assistants Jacques Martin and Greg Brown back behind the bench for last night’s 8-3 victory over the host Philadelphia Flyers. But head coach David Quinn has yet to be cleared to return from COVID-19 protocol, so former WHL player/coach Kris Knoblauch continues to work as head coach. Under normal conditions, Knoblauch is the head coach of the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Rangers’ AHL affiliate. . . . Knoblauch will stay with the Rangers at least through Saturday’s game in Philly. . . .

Marc Bergevin, the general manager of the Montreal Canadiens, expects his club to return to the ice next week. He said Thursday that one player had tested positive — forwards Joel Armia and Jesperi Kotkaniemi — and that it was a variant. . . . So far, the Canadiens have had four games postponed — three against the Edmonton Oilers and one with the Ottawa Senators. . . . If all goes well, the Canadiens will return to practice on Monday and play in Ottawa on Tuesday. . . . The NHL now has postponed 41 games because of COVID-19.


And how are things going out west? Hey, thanks for asking . . .

Justin McElroy, CBC Vancouver — 800 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C., the highest number since the very height of the second wave, as the province’s trendline is going up VERY sharply now. . . . Active cases jump by almost 300, now the highest since January 8. . . . Five new deaths and hospitalizations up.

Oh, hey, things are going great in Alberta, too . . .

CBC News — Alberta reports 764 new cases of COVID-19 and 3 more deaths. The province confirms 191 variants of concern cases. 294 people are in hospital, 55 in ICU. . . . Variant cases now make up more than 20 per cent of the total.

Party on, Garth!


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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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: The Spokane Chiefs have promoted Chris Baird to director of hockey operations. He had been assistant director of hockey operations since 2017. He first was hired by the Chiefs in 2006-07 as a part-time video co-ordinator. . . . The AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders have named Adam Manah as general manager — he will continue as head coach — and Jeff Woywitka as assistant GM. Manah has been with the Crusaders since 2015 when he was associate coach. He took over as assistant GM and head coach in 2016. Woywitka has been associate coach since 2016. The moves were necessitated by the firing of general manager Kyle Chase on March 19. Chase, who had been part of the organization since 2004, had been GM since 2016. Shane Jones of the Sherwood Park News has more on Chase’s dismissal right here.


Anger

Great Scott! Raiders goalie turns sniper as mates run win streak to 12 . . . Blichfeld, Glass (again) lead ‘Hawks . . . Giants romp past Pats

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Ian Scott of the Prince Albert Raiders became the eighth goaltender in WHL history to score a goal when he notched an empty-netter in a 3-1 victory over the visiting Tri-City Americans on Friday night.

On Wednesday, in a 2-0 victory over the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers, Scott had taken a shot at an empty net, only to have the puck hit the scoreclock in the Art Hauser Centre.

Given another opportunity two nights later, Scott made no mistake.

“He made a liar out of me. I thought it’d be tough in this building,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid told Jeff D’Andrea of panow.com. “He got good wood on that one, he hammered it and it went in. Last time it was a two-goal lead, and that time it was one, so I’m glad he hit the net or it would have been a faceoff in our end again. Good for him.”

Scott told D’Andrea: “I mentioned to Habby, maybe I not go so high, just kind of a bullet down the middle. I guess it worked out. I thought it was going to get picked off. It was a pretty congested middle . . . got lucky.”

D’Andrea’s complete story is right here.

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Here’s a look at the other seven goaltenders who have WHL goals to their credit, in chronological order . . .

Nov. 29, 1989 — Olaf Kolzig, Tri-City Americans 5, Seattle Thunderbirds 2, at Kennewick, Wash. He grabbed a Seattle clearance behind his net and lofted a wrist shot the length of the ice and just inside the left post.

“That was the coolest thing, for sure,” Kolzig, who also had an assist, told Annie Fowler when she looked back six years ago.“Ron Hextall was my idol. He was the first to score. Up to that point, I hadn’t been having a good season. I got back from Washington (Capitals training camp) with a bad attitude. My save percentage and goals against weren’t worth anything at that point.

“They had pulled their goalie, and we were up 4-2. The puck went behind the net. I went back to get it, and I want to say I lifted it 20 feet in the air, but it was about three feet. By the time it was halfway down the ice, it started to curl, and it just went inside the post.”

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Jan. 3, 1991 — Chris Osgood of the host Medicine Hat Tigers scored in a 4-2 victory over the Swift Current Broncos. Like Kolzig before him, Osgood fired the puck the length of the ice for his goal.
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Dec. 29, 1992 — Jeff Calvert came on in relief for the Tacoma Rockets and scored a goal and added an assist as they erased a 4-0 deficit to beat the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors, 6-4.

Calvert, who is from Moose Jaw, had taken over for starter Todd MacDonald at 9:30 of the first period with Tacoma trailing, 3-0.

Former Tacoma defenceman Dallas Thompson once told me: “I would bet he was the only goalie in history to score in a game he never started.”

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March 28, 1994 — Jason Clague of the Red Deer Rebels was credited with the winning goal in a 4-2 victory over the host Lethbridge Hurricanes. He is the only WHL goaltender to have scored a goal during a playoff game.

“It will likely get more humorous every time I tell the story, but I think the main thing for us tonight was winning the game,” Clague told Cameron Yoos of the Lethbridge Herald.

Yoos described the goal:

Clague’s historic marker came in the third period with Red Deer clinging to a 2-1 lead, its first lead in the series. On a delayed penalty call, Hurricanes goaltender Slan Matwijiw began skating to the bench for an extra attacker while teammate Dominic Pittis handled the puck behind the Rebels’ goal. Pittis spoiled Ivan Vologjaninov cruising through the slot and fed a pass lo the middle. Vologjaninov wound up for a one-time slapshot, but fanned on the puck, which then slid the length of the ice into the open goal.”

Matwijiw told Yoos: “It was kind of a sick feeling.”

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March 5, 2004 — Jordan McLaughlin of the Prince George Cougars scored at 19:05 of the third period in a 4-1 victory over the host Vancouver Giants.

“This is definitely a career highlight for me,” McLaughlin said. “Every time a team pulls their goalie, the possibility of scoring is in the back of your mind. We had a two-goal lead and the puck was dumped perfectly into me, so I saw it as a perfect opportunity.”

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Feb. 1, 2014 — Chris Driedger of the Calgary Hitmen was credited with a goal in a 5-2 loss to the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, B.C.

Driedger was awarded the game’s first goal, at 5:45 of the first period, when, during a delayed penalty against Calgary F Jake Virtanen, Ice G Mackenzie Skapski headed to the bench for the extra attacker. Kootenay D Jagger Dirk whipped the puck around the boards to F Zach Franko, who attempted a pass to the point. However, the puck zipped past F Jaedon Descheneau, who had come of the bench as the extra attacker, and into the vacated net. Dreidger had made the save that led to Dirk getting the rebound. As the last Calgary player to touch the puck, Driedger was given the goal.

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March 19, 2016 — Stuart Skinner of the Lethbridge Hurricanes gave his side an 8-3 lead in what would be a 9-3 victory over the host Medicine Hat Tigers.

“It was funny because before the period I (said) ‘If they pull their goalie, give me the puck,’ ” Skinner told Dale Woodard of the Lethbridge Herald. “Surprisingly enough, they dumped it in and I had an open chance. I got it over everyone and somehow it went it. So I’m pretty excited. I definitely felt good when it was in the air and when it went in it was a feeling I can’t really describe right now. It was a really exciting moment. I have shivers going through my whole body, so it’s really cool.”


“In moving on Thursday to free owners of the OHL from treating their employees as such ohlunder law,” writes Cathal Kelly of The Globe and Mail, “Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government congratulated itself on ‘protecting the long-term sustainability of local junior teams.’

“The government’s news release on the matter referred to its support of ‘the People Protecting Amateur Hockey,’ which would be a pretty good name for a secessionist group of Saskatchewan freedom fighters.

“The upshot here is that Ontario Hockey League players are excluded from the Employment Standards Act. They exist legally under the slippery formulation of ‘student athletics.’ ”

Kelly’s complete column is right here.


Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate has joined the club advocating the death of the loser point, at least in the WHL. . . . The column that gained him admittance into the club is right here.


If you stop off here and enjoy what you see — or even if you don’t — feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and make a contribution. Thanks in advance.


FRIDAY NIGHT HIGHLIGHTS:

F Ridley Greig had a goal and two assists to lead the host Brandon Wheat Kings to a 4-1 BrandonWKregularvictory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Brandon (10-4-6) has points in three straight (2-0-1). . . . Medicine Hat (9-11-3) has lost five in a row (0-4-1). . . . The home team took control with two first-period goals, from Greig (3) and F Linden McCorrister (4). . . . F Baxter Anderson (1) scored for the Tigers at 1:34 of the second period. . . . Brandon F Ben McCartney, who has four goals, put it away with a pair of third-period scores, Greig assisting on both of them. . . . Greig was playing his first game since returning from the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. Greig, 16, is from Lethbridge. He was the eighth-overall pick in the 2017 WHL bantam draft. This season, he has three goals and seven assists in 15 games. . . . G Ethan Kruger stopped 34 shots to earn the victory in his fourth appearance of the season. He is 2-0-2, 2.69, .915. . . . The Wheat Kings held a 53-35 edge in shots, including 26-7 in the first period. . . . G Jordan Hollett went the distance for the Tigers. . . . D Schael Higson, who hasn’t played for Brandon since Oct. 16, is back skating so could be nearing a return. He had 12 points, nine of them assists, in eight games when he went out.


G Ian Scott scored a goal and stopped 24 shots to help the Prince Albert Raiders to a 3-1 PrinceAlbertvictory over the visiting Tri-City Americans. . . . The Raiders (19-1-0) have won 12 in a row. . . . The Americans (12-7-0) are 7-3-0 on an 11-game road trip. They are 2-3-0 in the East Division. . . . On Wednesday night, Scott had taken a shot at an empty net, only to have the puck strike the scoreboard (see above tweet). In a similar play last night, Scott reached the promised land for goaltenders. . . . F Krystof Hrabik (6) gave the Americans a 1-0 lead at 1:11 of the third period. . . . D Sergei Sapego (6) tied it, on a PP, at 5:44. The Raiders claimed Sapego, who is from Belarus, on waivers from the Americans last season. . . . Raiders F Brett Leason drew an assist on Sapego’s goal to run his point streak to 20 games. . . . D Brayden Pachal (2) broke the tie at 7:06 and Scott added the insurance at 19:44. . . . This season, Scott is 16-1-0, 1.47, .947.


G Ethan Anders stopped 28 shots to lead the host Red Deer Rebels to a 7-0 victory over Red Deerthe Kelowna Rockets. . . . Red Deer (14-5-1) has won three in a row. . . . The Rockets (8-13-1) have lost four in a row (0-3-1) and are 1-3-1 on a six-game road trip. This was the third time they have been blanked this season and the second time in four games. . . . Anders has two shutouts this season and three in his career. This season, he is 12-4-1, 2.80, .922. . . . F Brandon Hagel (14) got the Rebels started with a shorthanded goal at 11:03 of the first period. Hagel also had two assists. . . . The Rebels got goals from seven different players, including F Dallon Melin (1) and F Jeff de Wit (13). . . . Red Deer was 2-4 on the PP and also scored twice while shorthanded.


G Jack McNaughton turned aside 19 shots as the Calgary Hitmen skated to a 5-0 victory Calgaryover the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . The Hitmen (7-12-2) have won two in a row. . . . The Ice is 7-13-3. . . . This was the Ice’s first home game since the Green Bay Committee, which had been struck in an attempt to sell tickets and sponsorships to aid the team, ceased operations on Tuesday. The committee cited a lack of engagement by the Ice’s ownership for the decision. . . . The announced attendance was 2,395 as they honoured the Cranbrook Colts, a team that started out in junior B and moved to junior A before folding when the Ice arrived in 1998. . . . McNaughton, a 17-year-old freshman from Calgary, posted his first WHL shutout in his 10th appearance. . . . F Ryder Korczak, who went into the game with two goals, scored twice for Calgary, opening the scoring at 6:26 of the first period and closing it at 19:49 of the third. . . . F Jake Kryski had a goal, his 10th, and an assist in his 299th regular-season game. . . . Calgary had a 42-19 edge in shots, including 19-5 in the third period.


F Taylor Ross scored in the fifth round of the shootout to give the host Lethbridge LethbridgeHurricanes a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Lethbridge improved to 9-6-4. . . . Edmonton (13-7-3) has points in 10 straight (8-0-2). . . . The Oil Kings thought they had won it at 1:38 of OT when they believed that F Trey Fix-Wolansky had scored. In fact, the Oil Kings left the Ice in celebration, but had to return when it was ruled no goal. . . . Edmonton took a 2-0 lead on second-period goals from F Vince Loschiavo (11), on a PP, and F Jalen Luypen (3). . . . F Jake Elmer got Lethbridge to within a goal at 4:32 of the third period, and Ross tied it at 18:52, with G Reece Klassen on the bench for the extra attacker. . . . Klassen finished with 35 saves. . . . The Oil Kings gave G Dylan Myskiw his sixth straight start and he responded with 29 saves. They also have returned G Sebastian Cossa, who turns 16 on Nov. 21, to the midget AAA Fort Saskatchewan Rangers.


F Joachim Blickheld struck for three goals and added an assist to help the Portland PortlandWinterhawks to a 5-2 victory over the Everett Silvertips. . . . The Silvertips had beaten the visiting Winterhawks, 3-2 in a shootout, on Wednesday night. . . . Portland (13-6-2) has points in seven straight (6-0-1). . . . Everett (15-7-0) had won its previous five games. . . . F Jake Gricius (10) scored, on a PP, to give the Winterhawks a 1-0 lead at 3:40 of the first period. . . . F Jalen Price (3) tied it at 8:04. . . . Blichfeld scored the game’s next three goals, giving him a WHL-leading 20 snipes. He scored once in each period — at 10:09 of the first, 18:58 of the second and 3:05 of the third. . . . Blichfeld now has 43 points in 21 games and trails only Edmonton F Trey Fix-Wolansky in the scoring race. Fix-Wolansky has 46 points. . . . F Cody Glass had three assists for Portland. He has 38 points, 31 of them assists, in 18 games. . . . Glass is on an eight-game point streak, with 18 points, including 15 assists, in that stretch. . . . Everett F Connor Dewar had an 11-game point streak snapped. He put up 12 goals and nine assists over that time.


D Nolan Reid scored twice as the Spokane Chiefs doubled the visiting Seattle SpokaneChiefsThunderbirds, 4-2. . . . The Chiefs (11-7-3) have won three in a row. . . . The Thunderbirds ((7-9-2) have lost seven straight (0-6-1). . . . F Carter Chorney (8) got the Chiefs started at 11:13 of the first period, with F Zack Andrusiak (9) scoring shorthanded at 2:52 of the second for Seattle. . . . Reid, who has five goals, broke the tie at 1:26 of the third period and F Adam Beckman (9) provided the Chiefs with a 3-1 lead at 10:50. . . . Seattle F Tyler Carpendale (1) and Reid, with an empty-netter, traded goals down the stretch. . . . The Chiefs remain without injured F Jake McGrew.


F Milos Roman scored twice and added an assist, while F Davis Koch had three assists, Vancouverhelping the Vancouver Giants to a 10-4 victory over the Regina Pats in Langley, B.C. . . . Vancouver improved to 14-4-2, while the Pats (7-14-0) lost their second in a row. . . . The Giants took control with the game’s first four goals, all in the first 15 minutes. . . . Roman now has 10 goals. . . . F Tristen Nielsen scored twice for Vancouver his first goals since coming over from the Calgary Hitmen in a deal that had F James Malm go the other way. . . . F Yannik Valenti also had two Vancouver goals, giving him four. . . . F Nick Henry had three goals and an assist for Regina, with F Jake Leschyshyn getting a goal and two assists. Henry has 11 goals; Leschyshyn has 14. . . . Vancouver outshot Regina, 45-28, including 19-10 in the first period and 17-8 in the second. . . . The Pats were without F Logan Nijhoff, who served a one-game suspension after he took a boarding major and game misconduct during a 5-2 loss to the host Kootenay Ice on Tuesday.


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