Blades give fans chance to gamble on playoff tickets . . . Milne fills hat as Ice dumps Warriors . . . Pickleball big in Washington


The Portland Winterhawks and Saskatoon Blades have qualified for the WHL playoffs and have playoff tickets/packages available for purchase.

It’s interesting to see the different approaches these organizations have taken.

The Blades (34-23-4) are fifth in the Eastern Conference and appear headed for Saskatoona first-round confrontation with the Moose Jaw Warriors (34-22-5). The Warriors, who hold a three-point edge, are scheduled to be in Saskatoon on Friday to conclude the season series. The Blades are 5-2-0; the Warriors, who beat the visiting Blades 7-0 on Saturday, are 2-4-1.

Saskatoon has made available what it calls a Playoff Pass. One adult Playoff Pass sells for $79. “This will guarantee your seat through the entire post-season, no matter how far we make it,” reads a news release on the Blades’ website. “That means you could enjoy as many as 16 playoff games for less than $80!”

So here’s the deal . . . this is an opportunity for you to roll the dice.

If you purchase one adult Playoff Pass and the Blades bow out in a first-round sweep, meaning two home games, well, that will have cost you $39.50 a game. But if they get into the second round and end up playing six home games, it’s $13.17 per game. A third-round appearance and, say, nine home games and it’s $8.78 per game.

“Or,” as Colin Priestner, the Blades’ president and general manager, told me, “you can just buy game-to-game and get the same seat with credit card on file but you’ll pay a higher price each round.”

OK, Blades fans, which will it be?

BTW, a youth Playoff Pass can be yours for $39, with a child’s going for $29.

The Blades haven’t yet revealed single-game playoff ticket prices but a regular-season adult ticket is $25.

Meanwhile, the Winterhawks are third in the Western Conference and could be Portlandheaded for a first-round matchup with the Vancouver Giants or Victoria Royals.

The Winterhawks are selling 11-game packages for various prices, running from US$152 to $362.

Single-game tickets will go on sale once opening-round matchups are set. But a seat will cost anywhere from $18 to $63.50 in the first round. Should the Winterhawks get to the championship final, the prices will run from $20 to $66.50. (BTW, the priciest seats are the ones along the glass.)

Portland’s info, including a seating diagram, is right here.

The IIHF has released the schedule for the U18 men’s World Championship that is to run April 23 through May in Landshut and Kaufbeuren, Germany. . . . With Russia and Belarus having been suspended from international competition, this will be an eight-team tournament. Canada (1), the U.S. (4), Czechia (5) and Germany (8) will be in Group A, with Sweden (2), Finland (3), Switzerland (6) and Latvia (7) in Group B. . . . There are more details right here.


The Columbus Blue Jackets were without head coach Brad Larsen and assistant coach Steve McCarthy, both former WHLers, when they met the visiting New York Islanders on Tuesday night. Yes, both coaches tested positive and entered COVID-19 protocol. With them gone, associate coach Pascal Vincent ran things at the bench. . . . The Blue Jackets dropped a 4-3 decision to the Islanders. . . . Just wondering, but do you think the WHL would let the public know if a team or teams had staff members, say a coach or even an athletic therapist, out of action because of COVID-19? Hey, just thinking out loud.

Dorothy-040719My wife, Dorothy, is fund-raising, again, as she takes part in her ninth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. Unfortunately, this one will be held virtually, again, but she continues to take it seriously. She is more than a little thankful for having had a kidney transplant more than eight years ago, and this is her way of giving back. . . . As of Tuesday evening, Dorothy is the No. 1 fund-raiser in B.C. . . . If you would like to donate to the cause and become a member of her team, you are able to do so right here.


F Mikey Milne scored his 33rd goal just 24 seconds into the game and the host WinnipegIceWinnipeg Ice went on to beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 8-1, in the night’s only game. . . . Before the game was eight minutes old, Winnipeg held a 4-0 lead as F Conor Geekie (21), F Zach Benson (22) and F Jack Finley (24) joined the party. . . . Milne finished with three goals — his first WHL hat trick — and an assist. . . . G Daniel Hauser stopped 22 shots to record the victory. He is 29-2-1, 2.03, .913 this season. . . . The Ice (48-9-5) is the first WHL team this season to crack the 100-point barrier. It leads the Eastern Conference by six points over the Edmonton Oil Kings (46-13-3). . . . The Warriors (35-22-5) are fourth, three points ahead of the Saskatoon Blades (34-23-4).

JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald, who once upon a time was that newspaper’s man on the Silvertips’ beat, tweeted Tuesday that “the Snohomish County-led effort to make pickleball Washington’s official state sport came to fruition Monday when Governor Jay Islee signed the bill into law.” Take that baseball, football and hockey. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia posted this tweet on Tuesday: “(The Vancouver Giants’) injury report, which had been listing C Ty Halaburda (upper body) as sidelined week-to-week, has him now at indefinite. D Alex Cotton (LBI, week-to-week), LW Cole Shepard (LBI, week-to-week), G Jesper Vikam (LBI, week-to-week) and C Zack Ostapchuk (UBI, day-to-day).” The Giants have eight regular-season games remaining, starting with a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader against the visiting Spokane Chiefs. The Giants are tied for sixth in the Western Conference with the Victoria Royals, who have five games left. . . . G Tavin Grant, who played with the Prince George Cougars (2014-18), was the EBUG for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies on Tuesday night as they met the Canucks in Abbotsford. Due to injuries, the Marlies signed G Talor Joseph, 27, who plays for the BCIHL’s Trinity Western Spartans and started him. Grant didn’t get into the game, as Joseph turned aside 34 shots in the Marlies’ 5-3 victory.

Former WHLer Ryan Pilon is the new coach of the Estevan Bears, a U18 AAA men’s hockey team. He takes over from Riley Hengen, who had been the interim head coach since Nov. 24 when Jeff Smith was fired. . . . The Bears just completed their second season in the SMAAAHL. . . . Pilon, 25, played parts of five seasons (2011-15) in the WHL with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Brandon Wheat Kings. He has been an assistant coach with the U18 AAA Beardy’s Blackhawks, who were dropped from the SMAAHL by Hockey Saskatchewan and replaced by the Bears, and the junior  B Delisle Chiefs of the Prairie Junior Hockey League.


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



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.


More allegations of abuse in junior hockey . . . Lawyer busy adding players to lawsuit . . . Former NHLer likely to join

A spokesperson with the WHL has told TSN that it would open an investigation after a former player alleged “he was a victim of sexual and physical abuse” during stints with two teams.

According to TSN’s Rick Westhead, the player sent an email of his complaints to the WHL and copied the email to TSN.

In the email, the player wrote:

“The abuse transformed me from a driven, happy, engaged young man and a solid NHL hockey prospect into a black mass of anger, untrust of people, self-isolation and alcohol abuse. The recent CHL allegations of abuse triggered anger in me and brought forward flashbacks and anguish.”

The player went into the brutish details of the complaints in the email, all of which is in Westhead’s story that is right here.

At one point, Westhead writes: “The complainant confirmed the identities of the alleged assailants to TSN. Several have prominent roles in the hockey industry.”

The WHL has had at least one opportunity in years gone by to deal with a player who has said he was humiliated and “physically assaulted” during his WHL career.

In the book Sudden Death: The Incredible Saga of the 1986 Swift Current Broncos, which was published in 2012, Peter Soberlak described some of what happened to him during his first WHL season with his hometown Kamloops Blazers.

“It was really horrible,” Soberlak, who was 16 at the time, said. “In a lot of cases, I feared going on the bus, feared going on road trips . . . just because of the humiliation and constant verbal abuse. . . .

“What I went through in Kamloops destroyed my confidence. I can deal with that now, but it was just horrific for me. It sucked the life out of me. . . . I was physically assaulted.

“You think I have not suffered — have not had repercussions from what I went through there — serious, absolutely long-term, continuous major repercussions of what happened to me in that situation. I guarantee you I have.”

Seen by some observers as the best player in his age group in Canada at one time, Soberlak was out of the game at 23.

“That’s the only thing I am bitter about in my hockey career,” he said. “My first year in Kamloops . . . it was the worst year of my life.”

Soberlak, now 51, has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, with a minor in sociology, from the University of British Columbia and a Master’s Degree in sport and exercise psychology from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. He is a lecturer and works with the athletic department and its teams at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops.

No one from the WHL has ever contacted him about his allegations in the book of which I was a co-author.

James Sayce, the lawyer working with Daniel Carcillo and Garrett Taylor on their class-action lawsuit against the CHL, has told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News “a lot” of players have joined the lawsuit since it first was filed. . . . Campbell writes: “If the people who run junior hockey in Canada were taken aback by this lawsuit, shame on them. They should have seen this coming because it’s not as though the warning signs were not there. In fact, in filing a lawsuit against the CHL, both Carcillo and Taylor were simply putting on the legal record things they’ve been saying for years now. Carcillo went public with the humiliation he suffered during his rookie season with the Sarnia Sting in 2002-03 two years ago.” . . . Campbell’s latest column is right here.

Dan Fritsche, a former NHLer, says he likely will be joining the class-action lawsuit filed by Daniel Carcillo and Garrett Taylor against the CHL and the three major junior leagues that operate under its umbrella. The lawsuit alleges “hazing, bullying, physical and verbal harassment, physical assault, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.” . . . Fritsche was a rookie on the 2002-03 Sarnia Sting of the OHL, as was Carcillo. . . . “There’s nothing I’ve read that isn’t true,” Fritsche told Aaron Portzline of The Athletic. “I was in that toxic atmosphere. I had to go through all of that rookie shit, all the disgusting things they would make us do. It was so awful, and people knew about it who absolutely could have stopped it. They’d put us in the (charter bus) bathroom, butt-ass naked, six to eight of us (rookies) for 45 minutes as we’re coming home from a road trip. They’d throw a coin in there to make us fight over it, naked, and whoever came up with it got to get out first. Stuff like that, just over and over.” . . . If you are an Athletic subscriber, Portzline’s complete story is right here.

An undisclosed number of Minnesota Twins players have tested positive, although none were at the team’s home park, Target Field, or its spring training facility in Fort Myers, Fla. . . . Derek Falvey, the president of baseball operations, told Fox 9 Sports: “We have players in many different locations. I don’t think this is necessarily a surprise that we may have some positive cases.” . . .

ESPN reported that the NFL has cancelled its Hall of Fame game that was to have featured the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 6. . . . It also is believed that the NFL will delay its induction ceremonies that were to have been held on Aug. 8. . . .

The NBA’s Sacramento Kings have at least three players on their roster who have tested positive — F Jabari Parker, C Alex Len and G Buddy Hield. . . . Sara Hodge of CBS Sacramento has reported that a fourth unidentified player also has tested positive. . . .

Orenburg, a team in Russia’s top soccer league, reported Thursday that it has six players and two staff members who have tested positive. . . . The Russian Premier League returned to play last week. . . . Apparently, Orenburg’s entire team tested negative as recently as Sunday. . . .

The seven-team Canadian Elite Basketball League, which was to have started its season early in May, is planning on opening a month-long tournament without fans in St. Catharines, Ont., on July 15. A single-elimination playoff will end with a championship game on Aug. 9. . . . Devin Heroux of CBC reports: “All seven teams will stay in a bubble-like setting in St. Catharines, playing games at the Meridian Centre and practising at a nearby facility. League officials said players, coaches and personnel will be separated from the general public and strict screening and COVID-19 protocols will be adhered to under the supervision of medical officials.”

Eric Ditto is returning for his seventh season on the coaching staff of the junior B Delisle Chiefs of the Prairie Junior Hockey League. Ditto is preparing for his sixth full season as head coach and his second as general manager. . . . Anthony Radke will be back for a second season as an assistant coach. . . . Ryan Pilon is the other assistant coach. He joined the Chiefs during last season after serving as an assistant coach with the Beardy’s Blackhawks U18 AAA team.

The RINK Hockey Corp., owner of the Rink Hockey Academy, has bought the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy (POE) and Edge of Excellence (EOE) in a deal that is to close on July 1. The sale is subject to the approval of BC Hockey and the Canadian Sport School Hockey League. . . . There is more right here.

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