Canada’s U-18 staff has WHL flavour . . . Blades salute former GM/head coach . . . WHL playoff spots undecided with nine games remaining

Nolan Baumgartner, a former WHL player and most recently an assistant coach with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, and David Struch, also a former WHL HockeyCanadaplayer who started the season as the Regina Pats’ head coach, have been named to the coaching staff of the Canadian team that will play in the IIHF U-18 world championship. . . . That tournament is to be held in Landshut and Kaufbeuren, Germany, from April 23 through May 1. . . . Team Canada’s coaching staff also includes Kori Cheverie, who will be the first female to coach one of the country’s national men’s teams. She spent five seasons (2016-21) as an assistant with Ryerson U’s men’s team and this season worked with the Canadian women’s Olympic team. . . . Baumgartner was a defenceman with the Kamloops Blazers when they won the 1994 and 1995 Memorial Cup titles. He had been part of the Vancouver Canucks organization since 2012 until he was let go in a regime change this season. He was with the Canadian men’s Olympic team at the Winter Games in Beijing earlier this year. . . . Struch spent nine seasons with the Regina Pats before being fired as head coach earlier this season. He played four seasons (1988-92) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . The U-18 team’s coach staff also includes assistant coach Todd Miller, who is a former head coach of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals and was an assistant coach with the Brandon Wheat Kings in 2020-21, and goaltending consultant Brad Kirkwood, who works with the Calgary Hitmen and the U of Calgary women’s and men’s teams. . . . The complete news release is right here.


Courage


The WHL’s 22 teams are into the final two days of their 68-game regular seasons. There are nine games remaining, with seven of them scheduled for tonight. . . . Here’s a look at where things are in terms of playoff opponents (GR — games remaining) . . .

WESTERN CONFERENCE

  1. Everett Silvertips — Will finish atop the U.S. Division and the conference. One point ahead of Portland, which is out of games. . . . Will be without Olen Zellweger, the WHL’s highest-scoring defenceman, until at least the start of the playoffs. . . . GR (1): at Tri-City tonight.
  2. Kamloops Blazers — Actually third in the conference, two points behind Portland, but are second seed as B.C. Division winners. . . . GR (1): at home to Vancouver tonight.
  3. Portland Winterhawks — One point behind Everett, two ahead of Kamloops. . . . GR (0).
  4. Seattle Thunderbirds — Will finish fourth and have home-ice advantage against Kelowna in first round. . . . GR (0).
  5. Kelowna Rockets — Will finish fifth and meet Seattle in first round. . . . GR (1): at home to Prince George tonight.
  6. Vancouver Giants — Tied with Prince George for sixth, one point ahead of Victoria and two up on Spokane. Each of the four has one game remaining. . . . GR (1): at Kamloops tonight.
  7. Prince George Cougars — Tied with Vancouver for sixth, one point ahead of Victoria and two ahead of Spokane. . . . GR (1): at Kelowna tonight.
  8. Victoria Royals — Two points behind Vancouver and Prince George, one ahead of Spokane. Beat visiting Spokane last night. . . . GR (1): at home to Spokane tonight.
  9. Spokane Chiefs — Slipped to ninth spot as they lost while Victoria and Prince George won on Friday night. . . . One point out of a playoff spot. . . . GR (1): at Victoria tonight.
  10. Tri-City Americans — Not this season.

——

EASTERN CONFERENCE

  1. Winnipeg Ice — Will finish atop the overall standings so is assured of home ice through the playoffs. First-round opponent has yet to be decided. . . . GR (1): Ice will be designated as home team in Regina tonight.
  2. Edmonton Oil Kings — Will finish second and open against Lethbridge. . . . GR (1): at Red Deer tonight.
  3. Red Deer Rebels — Will finish third and meet Brandon in the first round. . . . GR (1): at home to Edmonton tonight.
  4. Moose Jaw Warriors — Will finish fourth and have home-ice advantage in first-round series with Saskatoon. . . . GR (1): at Regina on Sunday.
  5. Saskatoon Blades — Will finish fifth and meet Moose Jaw in first round. . . . GR (0).
  6. Brandon Wheat Kings — Will finish sixth and meet Red Deer in the first round. . . . GR (1): at Prince Albert tonight.
  7. Lethbridge Hurricanes — Will finish seventh and play Edmonton in the first round. . . . GR (1): at Calgary on Sunday.
  8. Prince Albert — Moved from 11th place into eighth with a 4-1 victory over the Broncos in Swift Current last night. . . . GR (1): at home to Brandon tonight.
  9. Swift Current Broncos — Actually tied for eighth with Prince Albert but have run out of games. . . . One point ahead of Calgary, two ahead of Regina. . . . GR (0).
  10. Calgary Hitmen — One point behind Prince Albert and Swift Current, one in front of Regina. . . . GR (1): at home to Lethbridge on Sunday.
  11. Regina Pats — In 11th place, two points behind Prince Albert and Swift Current, one behind Calgary. . . . GR (2): at home to Winnipeg tonight in what is an Ice home game, at home to Moose Jaw on Sunday.
  12. Medicine Hat — Sorry. Not this time.

FRIDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference:

F Kyle Crnkovic broke a 1-1 tie at 11:56 of the second period as the host Saskatoon Blades edged the Brandon Wheat Kings, 2-1. . . . That was his 39th goal this season. . . . Nolan Maier, the winningest regular-season goaltender in WHL history, stopped 35 shots for the Blades. He earned his 122nd career victory in his eighth straight start and his 60th appearance of the season. . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders scored the game’s last three goals to beat the Broncos, 4-1, in Swift Current. . . . F Carson Latimer (17), who also had two assists, snapped a 1-1 tie at 4:27 of the second period, with F Vladislav Shiloh (9) adding insurance, on a PP, at 13:16. . . . The winners got 32 saves from G Tikhon Chaika. . . .

In a game that was moved from Winnipeg to Regina due to inclement weather and poor driving conditions in the Manitoba capital, the Ice scored five times in the first period and beat the Pats, 6-1. . . . Pregame chatter about the Pats, fighting for their playoff lives, maybe taking advantage of home cooking turned out to be much ado about nothing. . . . In fact, the Ice, the WHL’s best team in this regular season, led this one 5-0 at the 11:09 mark of the first period. . . . The Ice had 14 players get at least one point, but only two — F Jakin Smallwood (25) and F Conor Geekie (25) — had two. Each had a goal and an assist. . . . G Daniel Hauser stopped 21 shots to record the victory. This season, he is 33-3-1, 1.94, .916. . . . The announced attendance, for what was a Winnipeg home game, was 2,799. . . . Oh, yes. The Pats had advertised this as Guaranteed Win Night. The meant each fan in attendance received a coupon good for a regular-season game in 2022-23. . . .

F Yegor Klavdiev scored his second goal of the game in OT to give the Lethbridge Hurricanes a 5-4 victory over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Klavdiev, who also had one assist, notched his 21st goal at 1:00 of extra time. . . . F Brayden Edwards (9) also scored twice for Lethbridge. . . . D Cole Jordan (3) had given the Warriors a 4-3 lead at 16:20 of the third period, only to have F Alex Thacker (13) pull the Hurricanes even at 19:05. . . .

Ridley
Bob Ridley, the radio voice of the Medicine Hat Tigers, was back where he belongs on Friday night. (Photo: Scott Roblin/CHAT-TV)

G Sebastian Cossa stopped 21 shots to help the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 3-0 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat. . . . Cossa put up his sixth shutout of this season and the 14th of his career. This season, he is 33-9-3, 2.28, .913. . . . The Oil Kings scored once in each period, with all three goals coming from freshmen — F Cole Miller (9), F Dawson Seitz (7) and F Shea Van Olm (8), who also had two assists. . . . The Oil Kings were 7-0-1 in the season series. . . . Bob Ridley, the only radio voice the Tigers had known prior to the start of this season, returned to the microphone for their final game of this season. Health issues had kept him on the sidelines to this point. . . .

——

Western Conference:

The host Victoria Royals struck four times in the first period and went on to beat the Spokane Chiefs, 7-3. . . . The Royals jumped into a 4-0 lead at 10:31 of the opening period. . . . F Marcus Almquist scored two of those early goals, giving him seven. Almquist, from Denmark, enjoyed his first career two-goal lead. He has scored six of his even goals in his past eight games. . . . F Tarun Fizer, the Royals’ captain, had a goal, his 16th, and two assists. . . . F Chase Bertholet had a goal, his 24th, and two assists for Spokane. . . .

F Jonny Hooker snapped a 2-2 tie at 7:57 of the third period as the Prince George Cougars went into Kamloops and beat the Blazers, 4-2. . . . The Cougars led 2-0 early in the second period, only to have the Blazers tie it early in the third. F Reese Belton (14) pulled the home side even at 4:42, with Hooker’s 17th goal putting the visitors back in front just 3:15 later. . . . The winners got 43 stops from G Ty Young. . . .

The Seattle Thunderbirds got three goals from F Jared Davidson as they beat the Tri-City Americans, 6-4, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Davidson, who has 42 goals, has put up hat tricks in two straight games. He went into this season with 39 points, including 19 goals, in 130 games. This season, he has 89 points in 64 games. . . . Seattle got three assists from D Jeremy Hanzel. . . . F Jake Sloan scored twice, giving him 17, and added an assist for the Americans, with F Parker Bell (18) adding a goal and two helpers. . . .  F Samuel Huo got No. 30 for Tri-City. . . . Seattle’s three 20-year-olds — F Henrik Rybinski, F Lukas Svejkovsky and D Ryan Gottfried — were given the night off. . . .

F Colton Dach’s OT goal gave the Kelowna Rockets a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . Dach scored his 29th goal at 1:12 of extra time. . . . F Adam Kidd (18) pulled Kelowna into a 2-2 with a PP goal at 12:27 of the third period. . . . F Zack Ostapchuk (25) had given the Giants a 2-1 lead, on a PP, just 39 seconds into the third. . . .

F Jaydon Dureau scored twice to help the Portland Winterhawks to a 5-1 victory over the visiting Everett Silvertips. . . . F Michal Gut (17) gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 3:45 of the second period. . . . The Winterhawks then rolled their way to five straight goals. . . . Portland was 3-for-5 on the PP, with Dureau’s second goal, and 24th of the season, coming after Everett F Jonny Lambos was tossed with a kneeing major. . . . G Taylor Gauthier stopped 24 shots for Portland. He is 24-4-0, 2.16, .931 since being acquired from the Prince George Cougars. . . . The Silvertips got 44 saves from G Koen MacInnes.


Lettuce


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders fired Jeff Woywitka, their head coach and assistant general manager, on Friday. Woywitka started as associate coach in 2006-07 and was named head coach in November, after the firing of Adam Manah. The Crusaders were 16-16-3 under Woywitka, and grabbed the Viterra North Division’s last playoff spot. The Fort McMurray Oil Barons beat the Crusaders, 4-1, in a first-round best-of-seven playoff series. . . .

The junior B Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League announced on Thursday that head coach Carter Rigby will be back for a second season. “Rigby . . . took the Coyotes from dead last in the 2019-20 pre-COVID season (21 points) to top of the KIJHL (72 points) in his first full season as head coach, earning him the top coach award in the Bill Ohlhausen Division,” reads the team’s news release. Rigby, 28, played five seasons in the WHL (Kelowna, Swift Current, 2011-15). . . .

F Michael Misa of the Greater Toronto Hockey League’s Mississauga Senators U16 AAA team has been granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada and is expected to be the first overall selection in the OHL’s draft, which is scheduled for April 29. Misa is the sixth player to have been granted exceptional status in order to play in the OHL as a 15-year-old, the others being F Shane Wright, D Sean Day, F Connor McDavid, D Aaron Ekblad and F John Tavares. . . .

The junior B Aldergrove Kodiaks of the Pacific Junior Hockey League have hired Ron Johnson as their head coach. He replaces Chris Price, who had been head coach for two-plus seasons. Price has joined the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs as assistant coach and strength and conditioning coach. . . .

D Keith McInnis has signed a tender with the USHL’s Waterloo BlackHawks. McInnis, who turned 16 on Jan. 8, is from Red Deer and was selected by the Rebels in the fifth round of the WHL’s 2021 draft. He played this season at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C.


Sucks


If you’re a regular in these parts, you know that we’re big on organ donation and transplantation here, primarily 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. . . . You should know that Dorothy was all smiles on Friday morning when an NHL team’s head coach joined her team with a donation. Talk about an ear-to-ear smile!


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Comcast

Lori Sopotyk: ‘They didn’t sugarcoat anything and told him he would never walk again’ . . . Joseph wants semi driver deported . . . Virus hits Vegas coaching staff


“They didn’t sugarcoat anything and told him he would never walk again,” Lori Sopotyk told Mart Hastings of Kamloops This Week on Tuesday. “He’s paralyzed from the belly button down and it’s a long, long journey ahead for all of us. That was the first thing out of his mouth, his hockey, that he would never skate again. And he felt like he had let everyone down.” . . . Lori was referring to Kyrell, her 19-year-old son, who was injured in a snowboarding accident near North Battleford, Sask., on Friday and is in a Saskatoon hospital. He played the last two seasons (2018-20) with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers. . . . Hastings’ complete story is right here. . . .

A GoFundMe page, launched by Kathleen Zary, the mother of Blazers F Connor Zary, has surpassed $160,000. It is right here should you wish to donate.


Chris Joseph, a former WHL/NHL defenceman, and his wife, Andrea, lost their son, Jaxon, in the accident that occurred almost three years ago when a semi-trailer pulled out onto a Saskatchewan highway in front of the Humboldt Broncos’ bus. But unlike Scott Thomas, who also lost a son in the accident, Joseph doesn’t want Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to be allowed to remain in Canada whenever he is freed from jail. Thomas, whose son, Evan, died in the crash, has written a letter in support of Sidhu’s plea to avoid deportation. . . . “As much as I can admire someone who finds that forgiveness,” Joseph told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, “I personally don’t have it yet, don’t know if I’ll ever get it to be quite honest. Everyone’s forgiveness journey is their own journey. I just can’t understand why you cannot forgive while he’s on a plane back to India.” . . . One thing that Joseph and Thomas can agree on, meanwhile, is the need for a serious upgrade to some of the rules and regulations around Canada’s trucking industry. . . . Campbell’s complete piece is right here.


Just wondering, but what have you accomplished during this pandemic? Trent Miner, a goaltender with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, has been studying and working towards a private pilot’s licence. “I always wanted to do this,” Miner, 19, told Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun, “but obviously didn’t have any time to get into it until this summer.” . . . Miner started the process by taking lessons at the Brandon Flight Centre in May. Now the only thing standing between him and his licence is a written exam. . . . These days, Miner is in camp with the AHL’s Colorado Eagles. . . . Bergson’s story is right here.


Here’s a snippet of the Tuesday morning post from Jack Finarelli (aka The Sports Curmudgeon):

“If 2021 were destined to be a ‘normal sports year’ teams would be setting up facilities in Florida and Arizona for the onset of spring training about now. Instead, there are reports this morning that Arizona officials have sent a letter to MLB asking for a delay in the start of spring training there because of the high rate of COVID infections in Maricopa County. The report I read in the Washington Post said that the officials there do not have the authority to order such a delay, meaning this could evolve into a negotiation with MLB. Unfortunately, any negotiation with MLB will have to involve the MLBPA as well; history tells us that those two entities have difficulty agreeing on even basic things like Tuesdays always following Mondays.”

You are able to catch all of his musings at sportscurmudgeon.com.


The latest 31 Thoughts from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman includes lots on the weekend deal between the Winnipeg Jets and Columbus Blue Jackets, and also some interesting stuff with former Everett Silvertips D Shaun Heshka. It’s all right here.


With one member of the Vegas Golden Knights’ coaching staff having reportedly tested positive, the NHL team had to sideline all of its coaches, at least for Tuesday night’s game against the visiting St. Louis Blues. As a result, Kelly McCrimmon, the former owner/general manager/head coach of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, made his NHL coaching debut. He is the Golden Knights’ general manager. . . . On the bench with McCrimmon were Manny Viveiros, a former WHL coach and player who is the head coach of the team’s AHL franchise, the Henderson Silver Knights; Jamie Heward, a former WHL player and coach who is an assistant coach with Henderson; and former NHL player Joel Ward, also an assistant in Henderson. . . . The Blues won the game, 5-4 in a shootout. The Golden Knights hit four posts in regulation, one in OT and another in the shootout. . . . F Brayden Schenn, who spent three seasons (2007-10) with McCrimmon’s Wheat Kings, scored the shootout winner. . . . The Golden Knights’ coaching staff comprises head coach Peter DeBoer; assistants Ryan Craig, Ryan McGill and Steve Spott; goaltending coach Mike Rosati; and video coach Tommy Cruz.


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News — Anyone entering Manitoba, including people coming from Western Canada, will have to self-isolate for 14 days starting Friday. . . . The travel restriction is designed to stop non-essential travel, by land or by air, and applies to people visiting the province and returning Manitobans.

CBC News — Sask. extends public health orders as daily death toll reaches new high. The measures will remain in effect until Feb. 19. They were set to expire on Jan. 29.

CBC News — Saskatchewan saw its deadliest day of the pandemic, with a record-high 14 fatalities reported on Tuesday. The previous record came on Dec. 21, when 13 people died after being diagnosed with the virus. The province has now reported 268 COVID-related deaths since the pandemic came to the province. Of those, 115 deaths have happened in 2021.

If you’re wondering how the NCAA men’s basketball season is going, check out this piece right here by Ryan Young of yahoo!sports.

The New York Times — The coronavirus death toll in Britain surpassed 100,000 on Tuesday, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying he accepted responsibility as fatality rates continue to soar. “I am deeply sorry for every life that has been lost,” he said.

AFP News Agency, Tuesday, 1:39 p.m. PT — Global coronavirus cases pass 100 million mark, AFP tally shows.

Ron Johnson, who got into five games with the Montreal Expos in 1984, has died in Tennessee from complications related to COVID-19. He was 64. Johnson spent 25 seasons as a minor league manager, most recently with the Triple-A Norfolk Admirals, who are affiliated with the Baltimore Orioles.

Sekou Smith, who worked as an analyst for NBA TV, died Tuesday after contracting COVID-19. He was 48.


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: The ECHL is expected to announce today (Wednesday) that it will have a franchise in Savannah, Ga., in time for the 2022-23 season. The team will play out of the Savannah Arena, a facility that is under construction.

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