Ice in command going home . . . Oil Kings eliminate host Rebels . . . Milic, Svejkovsky lead Thunderbirds in road victory

And then there were seven. . . . Yes, what once was a field of 16 WHL playoff teams is down to seven following the departure of the Red Deer Rebels on WHLplayoffs2022Wednesday night. The Edmonton Oil Kings now are 8-0 in these playoffs after completing a sweep of the Rebels with a 4-2 victory in Red Deer last night. . . . The Oil Kings await the winner of the other Eastern Conference semifinal in which the Winnipeg Ice holds a 3-1 lead over the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . .

In the Western Conference, the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds scored a 5-0 victory over the No. 3 Winterhawks in Portland. The Winterhawks hold a 2-1 lead in the semifinal with the next game in Kent, Wash., on Friday. . . .

There is one game scheduled for tonight and it features the other Western Conference semifinal with the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers, holding a 2-1 edge, facing the No. 8 Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. The host Giants won, 3-2, on Tuesday night.

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WEDNESDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference

WinnipegIceIn Moose Jaw, the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice rode three second-period goals to a 5-3 victory over the No. 4 Warriors. . . . The Ice holds a 3-1 edge in the conference semifinal. They’ll play Game 5 in Winnipeg on Friday night. . . . F Mikey Milne (8) got Winnipeg started at 16:28 of the first period, only to have F Jagger Firkus (5) tie it at 18:57. . . . The Ice took a 3-1 lead on two quick goals early in the second period, as F Jack Finley (6), at 6:45, and F Owen Pederson (5), on a PP, at 7:20, found the range. . . .Firkus (6), who also had an assist, cut into that lead, on a PP, at 13:09, but F Matt Savoie (4) got that one back just 29 seconds later. . . . F Cole Muir (1) stretched Winnipeg’s lead to 5-2 at 3:55 of the third period. . . . Moose Jaw D Majid Kaddoura (2) rounded out the scoring at 11:22. . . . Finley has goals in five straight games during which time he has totalled six goals and four assists. . . . F Ryder Korczak had three assists for Moose Jaw. . . . G Daniel Hauser stopped 30 shots for the Ice, four more than Moose Jaw’s Jackson Unger. . . . The Warriors were without F Robert Baco, who was hit with a TBD suspension after taking a charging major and game misconduct in Game 3. . . .

EdmontonIn Red Deer, the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings unleashed a 51-shot attack as they beat the No. 3 Rebels to complete a sweep of their conference semifinal. . . . The Oil Kings, who led 1-0 after the first period, took control with two goals 31 seconds apart in the first minute of the second. . . . F Jalen Luypen (3) had scored at 15:51 of the first period. Then F Dylan Guenther (8), scored eight seconds into the second and F Carter Souch (5) made it 3-0 at 0:39. . . . F Jhett Larson (3) pulled the Rebels to within two at 8:20, but Guenther (9) stretched the lead to three at 18:34. . . . D Blake Gustafson (2) got a shorthanded score for the Rebels at 13:47 of the third period. . . . Guenther also had an assist for a three-point outing. He’s got 12 points in eight playoff games. . . . The Oil Kings held a 42-10 edge in shots through two periods. . . . G Sebastian Cossa turned aside 14 shots for Edmonton. In these playoffs, he is 8-0, 1.48, .932. . . . The Rebels got 47 stops from G Connor Ungar.

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Western Conference

SeattleIn Portland, F Lukas Svejkovsky scored once and added three assists, and G Thomas Milic turned aside 28 shots, leading the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds to a 5-0 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . This was the Winterhawks’ first loss in seven playoff games this spring. . . . Portland holds a 2-1 lead in the conference semifinal. This series is following a 1-2-1-1-1-1 format. They return to Kent, Wash., for Game 4 on Friday. . . . F Jared Davidson (5) gave Seattle a 1-0 lead at 6:14 of the first period, the third time in three games that the Thunderbirds opened the scoring. . . . Svejkovsky (5) scored at 5:29 of the second period, and F Conner Roulette (1), on a PP, made it 3-0 at 7:29 of the third. . . . Seattle added two empty-netters, from Davidson (6), who also had an assist, and F Lucas Ciona (5). . . . Milic, who had three shutouts in the regular-season, posted his second of these playoffs. He is 5-3, 1.82, .929. . . . Seattle was 1-for-4 on the PP; Portland was 0-for-3. . . .

As an interesting aside to this series, it seems that Dan Leckelt, one of the Thunderbirds’ owners, wasn’t enthralled with the officiating in Game 1, a 4-2 victory by visiting Portland, on Friday night.

He retweeted a tweet by a fan that read: “The reffing in this game has been disgusting. Our boys have been absolutely molested with no calls, yet they (bleeping) call a soft penalty on us in a tied game with 4 (bleeping) minutes left. #whlrefssuck”

Portland D Clay Hanus broke a 2-2 tie on a PP at 16:21 of the third period.

Leckelt later tweeted: “Development leagues need to develop more than players.” He may or may not have been referring to the WHL. What do you think?


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: F Riley Kidney scored at 16:14 of the third OT period to give the Acadie-Bathurst Titan a 4-3 victory over the host Halifax Mooseheads on Wednesday night. It was the third-longest game in QMJHL history. . . . The Titan held a 72-46 edge in shots. . . . Halifax won the first two games of the best-of-five series on the road, but now has lost twice at home. The deciding game is scheduled for tonight in Bathurst, N.B. . . .

Tim Speltz, the former long-time general manager and governor of the Spokane Chiefs, is the latest recipient of the WHL’s Governors Award. According to the WHL, this is the “highest honour” that it “bestows on an individual who has been associated with the league.” . . . Speltz was the Chiefs’ GM for 26 years before leaving the join the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs as director of western area scouting in 2016. He was promoted to head of amateur scouting in 2018 and filled the role for three years. He now is the general manager of the Henderson Silver Knights, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. . . .

Brett Smith announced via Twitter on Wednesday that he has left the Prince Albert Raiders. The team’s manager of communications and community relations, Smith had been with the Raiders for six years. . . .

The Dauphin Kings won the Turnbull Cup as champions of the MJHL on Wednesday night, scoring a 2-1 victory over the host Steinbach Pistons in Game 7 of the final series. F Brayden Dube broke a 1-1 tie at 11:33 of the third period. . . . Dube, 16, is from Roblin, Man. He was a second-round selection by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL’s 2020 draft and has signed with them. . . . The Kings, who last won the MJHL title in 2010, will represent the league at the Centennial Cup tournament that opens next week in Estevan, Sask. . . .

Rylan Ferster is the new general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies. The team announced on Twitter earlier this week that Craig Didmon wouldn’t be back after 12 years with the organization. His contract expired and wasn’t renewed. . . . Ferster, who has spent the past two seasons working with the Philadelphia Hockey Club, previously has coached in Victoria. He spent two seasons (2004-06) as head coach of the BCHL’s Salsa and, after a regime change, spent 2006-07 as the Grizzlies’ head coach.


Stupid


From The New York Times: Bill Gates, who has donated millions to pandemic relief efforts, tested positive for the coronavirus, he said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, in the world of MLB, the Cleveland Guardians were to have played against the host Chicago White Sox on Wednesday. But the virus had other ideas. From MLB: “Following multiple positive COVID-19 tests within the Guardians organization, their game vs. the White Sox has been postponed to allow for continued testing and contact tracing.”


Virus



My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.

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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.


Stove

Pickles’ owners, including Roughriders’ punter, are sweet on Winterhawks . . . AHL pulls plug on its season

A group that includes Saskatchewan Roughriders punter Jon Ryan has expressed interest in purchasing the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks.

Dwight Jaynes of NBC Sports Northwest in Portland reported Monday afternoon that the Picklesowners of baseball’s Portland Pickles are kicking the tires.

The Winterhawks have been owned by Calgary oil man Bill Gallacher since 2008, but now are in receivership after a number of his companies filed for bankruptcy last week.

“They have a broker in Toronto who is running the file on behalf of the finance company,” Alan Miller, one of the Pickles’ owners, told Jaynes. “And a representative of our company has had a conversation with them. I love hockey. Been to Winterhawks games. My partner, Jon Ryan, has had plenty of experience in hockey — he comes from Regina, Saskatchewan, and he tells the story that he was cut from five different teams in that league.”

The Pickles play in the West Coast League, a wood-bat summer league for college players.

Jaynes’ complete story is right here.

At the same time, Merritt Paulson, who owns soccer’s Portland Timbers and the Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League, has told The Oregonian/OregonLive that he isn’t interested in purchasing the Winterhawks. . . . That story is right here.

Meanwhile, Scott Sepich, a Portland journalist who has covered the Winterhawks, posted a series of tweets on the current situation:

“According to documents I’ve read, Bill Gallacher anticipated defaulting on the loan and Portlandpledged to the lender in November that he would try to sell the Winterhawks by January. That obviously did not happen, nor was there any public statement that the team was for sale.

“Gallacher also seemed to have an agreement to sell a $5 million stake in the Lausanne Swiss hockey team but that seems to have fallen through. He also put a home up for sale in Scottsdale, AZ (that he bought for $11 million) for $26 million in 2018, but it never sold.

“Nearly half of the original $20 million loan in December 2018 was earmarked for arena improvements for the team in Lausanne. Other big chunks were for exercising stock options in two companies. It was a short-term loan, with repayment due in December 2019.

“The WHL had to sign off on the loan since the team was being used to secure the loan. The league approved, acknowledging that the ownership of the team would be at risk if there was a default on the loan.

“Financial statements for the Winterhawks are omitted from the public documents. However, a balance sheet for Audible Capital (the parent company) lists the Winterhawks as an asset of $2,587,166. Not sure where that number comes from (is that what he paid for the team?)

“A study of CHL team values conducted in 2016 (likely inflated as it was part of the labor lawsuit about player compensation) pegged the Hawks as worth more than $36 million. I can’t imagine that’s anywhere near accurate (especially now) but $2.5 million seems way low.”



With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team by making a donation right here. . . . You also would light up her life. . . . Thank you.


The AHL cancelled the remainder of its regular season and its playoffs on Monday. . . . AHLThe AHL had suspended play on March 12. . . . According to the league, “The standings — sorted by points percentage — and statistics as of March 12 are considered final and official, and will serve as the basis for determining league awards for the 2019-20 season.” . . . When another season gets here, the AHL will have a new commissioner as this was Dave Andrews’ last go-round. A former head coach of the WHL’s Victoria Cougars (1982-84), Andrews has been the AHL’s president and CEO since 1994. . . . This season also marked the end of a franchise in San Antonio, with the Rampage relocating to Henderson, Nev., for 2020-21.


It never hurts to begin your Monday with Peter King’s Football Morning in America — even if I am in Canada. . . . This week, King started off by chatting with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who has come to prominence during the pandemic. . . . If you are wondering what leagues are up against in trying to get back on the playing field — or the ice surface — you should give this piece a read. . . . King asked Dr. Fauci what would happen if four players from an NFL team’s 53-man roster tested positive on a Saturday night. The response: “You got a problem there. You know why? Because it is likely that if four of them are positive and they’ve been hanging around together, that the other ones that are negative are really positive. So I mean, if you have one outlier (only one player testing positive), I think you might get away. But once you wind up having a situation where it looks like it’s spread within a team, you got a real problem. You gotta shut it down.” . . . The complete piece is right here, and it is most enlightening. . . . Come for Dr. Fauci and stay for some great anecdotes involving Don Shula, the winningest head coach in NFL history who died on May 4.


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.”


“Veteran musher Lance Mackey’s 21st-place finish in this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race was vacated after the veteran musher’s drug test turned up positive for methamphetamine,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “So chalk up another triumph for the sport’s investigative initiative, Operation Yellow Snow.”


Solo

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while contemplating the Blue Bombers’ victory and the end of the Legend of Shorts Guy . . .

Scattershooting

A Manitoban by birth, I quite enjoyed watching the Winnipeg Blue Bombers win the Grey Cup on Sunday, beating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 33-12, in Calgary. . . . I was most thrilled for Richie Hall, the Bombers’ defensive co-ordinator. There was a time during the season when you might have thought his first name was Much-Maligned. You won’t find a nicer person in all of football, indeed, in all of the sporting world. Yes, this victory looks good on him.

There might be a lesson for a whole lot of sporting fans in the following two tweets . . .


You know it’s the Grey Cup when a guy who hasn’t worn pants, only shorts, for 18 years becomes a big story. It was a story during the week, and it was a bigger story after the game when, yes, he put on a pair of pants.


In light of Don Cherry’s firing by Rogers Sportsnet, you may have been wondering whether the 17 Canadian WHL teams will continue with the third annual promotion that goes by the name RE/MAX Presents: WHL Suits Up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation. . . . Chris Young of The Canadian Press asked the WHL about it on Thursday. He got this email response: “At this time, we continue to review this matter with the stakeholders involved (sponsor, charity, member clubs). We will provide a further update when we are able.” . . . To date, it’s been crickets from the Kidney Foundation of Canada and RE/MAX.

It is hard to comprehend how the WHL will be able to maintain the status quo considering why Cherry was fired and that the league has this statement on its website:

“The WHL is committed to remaining a world leader in the development of players, coaches and officials for the NHL, U Sports and Hockey Canada while continuing to offer the finest player experience and academic opportunities. The WHL also continues to be recognized for a high standard of competition, fair play and integrity while playing an active role in communities, minor hockey programs and local charitable initiatives throughout the region.”

In the first two years of the promotion, the Kidney Foundation has benefitted by more than $460,000. However, the foundation and RE/MAX also should have acted a whole lot quicker than this to sever ties with Cherry.

I know it’s not that easy, not with thousands of Don Cherry/Ron MacLean bobbleheads sitting in a warehouse somewhere and all of those jerseys being produced for the teams to sell at auction. But you can’t continue to talk about inclusivity and diversity and be involved in something like this.

It pains me to write this because of the volunteer work we do in the Kamloops kidney community, but the time has come for all involved to go in a different direction.



A report from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “In the latest MLB cheating update, now there’s reports that Houston players wore realistic-looking electronic bandages that buzzed in real time to relay signs stolen from the opposing catcher. Astros GM Maxwell Smart declined comment.”


The Edmonton Oilers had more than a few fans in Vegas on Saturday night where they dumped the Golden Knights, 4-2. By the look of things, some of those fans went home with some money in their jeans.


Here’s Larry Brooks in the New York Post: “Through Friday, 17 of the NHL’s 31 teams had won nine, 10 or 11 games. While 26 — 26! — teams somehow could claim records of .500 or better. That’s parity, folks, only it is spelled P-A-R-O-D-Y.” . . . There’s more, including Brooks’s thoughts on the Mike Babcock firing, right here.

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What’s that? You’re wondering about the WHL? Well, including Sunday’s games, nine of the 22 teams had won 11, 12 or 13 games. At the same time, 15 teams somehow could claim records of .500 or better.


There has been a lot of chatter the last while as to just how inclusive hockey is (or isn’t). In the middle of all this, the Saskatchewan Hockey Association has told the midget AA and midget AAA programs at Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation that they are done after this season. . . . Alex MacPherson of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix writes right here about the decision, and there is more right here.


Why do we like Patti Dawn Swansson’s musings in these parts? Well, it might have something to do with the River City Renegade’s snark. And, well, she definitely took the snark pills before penning, er, tossing darts in her latest piece, which is right here. If you haven’t already, try it; you’ll like it.



JUST NOTES: You’re wondering: What happened to Mike Babcock with the Toronto Maple Leafs? In short, someone hired an old school head coach then chose to bring in a new school general manager. In the end, the new guy won the battle and in the world of pro sports that isn’t a surprise. Just don’t expect Babcock to surface in Seattle, the expansion franchise having made a huge commitment to the world of analytics. . . . Would someone please get a charger for that woman on the bus. Thank you. . . . F Hendrix Lapierre of the QMJHL’s Chicoutimi Sagueneens suffered his second concussion of this season — and his third in eight months — on Thursday when he absorbed an open-ice hit. Lapierre, who had two goals and 15 assists in 19 games when he was injured, has been projected as a first-round selection in the NHL’s 2020 draft.


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